DC Survey: Recordkeepers

Perspective Matters: All recordkeepers can deliver exceptional service—but not all of their sponsor clients experience it.



The following pages summarize plan sponsor satisfaction with defined contribution (DC) recordkeeper offerings in 23 areas of participant and sponsor services covering five broad categories: technology, education, plan administration, fees and investments, and account/client service teams. Results were compiled from the 2018 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution Survey, which distributed approximately 40,000 questionnaires to DC plan sponsors listed in the PLANSPONSOR magazine database, as well as to client lists supplied by DC recordkeepers. A total of 3,126 usable responses were received by the close of the survey this past November 28.

To qualify for inclusion in the published results, a provider had to meet quotas in each of six asset-based markets (see charts starting on page 28 for details). A total of 23 providers qualified for listing in at least one market; details on these and other providers can be found in our 2018 Recordkeeping Survey, available at www.plansponsor.com.

Best in Class Awards are based on sponsor satisfaction within a given area of service. Ratings were derived from the percentage of respondents “completely satisfied” less those that were “dissatisfied”—i.e., on a 10-point scale, awarding 9s and 10s vs. 6 or below, respectively. The three highest-scoring providers in each service category earned a Best in Class Award, as did those providers with a net satisfaction rate above the asset group’s benchmark score (also listed in each chart).

Service Commendations were given to recordkeepers that did not receive Best in Class honors but exhibited strong client satisfaction within a service attribute—i.e., more than 67% of clients were “completely satisfied” with the service offering.

Results also include the percentage of completely satisfied ratings received across all categories in each major area of service and the provider’s Net Promoter ScoreSM (see below). For more information, email brian.okeefe@strategic-i.com.

Why Use Net Promoter Score® (NPS)* to Measure Client Satisfaction?

The measurement and reporting of client satisfaction is somewhat of an art, with researchers choosing from a pallet of measurement scales and reporting frameworks to paint a picture of client sentiment, and our annual DC Survey represents a canvas on which we report plan sponsor satisfaction with recordkeeper products and services.

This year, PLANSPONSOR migrated its measurement of “recommendation likelihood” and service satisfaction to Satmetrix Systems’ Net Promoter System, adopting its 11-point scale—i.e., 0 through 10—to replace our 7-point scale. Because of its correlation with positive business outcomes— i.e., client retention, long-term growth, etc.—NPS has become somewhat of an industry standard for benchmarking customer loyalty, and its measurement framework was viewed as an improvement over our historical measures.

NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are “detractors”—giving a score of 6 or less—from the percentage who are “promoters”—giving a 9 or 10. The thinking is that this measure gives equal importance to clients who love a company’s product or services as it does to those who are less happy—and possibly at risk of leaving for a competitor that offers something better. “Passives”—7s and 8s—are thought to be only somewhat satisfied and do not influence the final score. For additional information, please visit www.netpromotersystem.com.

Overall, the Net Promoter System has its own collection of promoters and detractors, but such debate overlooks the fact that the exact measure is less important than consistency of measurement throughout the process.

*Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.