Best in Class DC Providers

DC plan providers are evaluated and rated according to feedback from their own clients.


THE 2019 DEFINED CONTRIBUTION (DC) SURVEY summarizes plan sponsor satisfaction with 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. Responses were gathered via an online questionnaire distributed to approximately 30,000 DC plan sponsors listed in the PLANSPONSOR magazine database, as well as to client lists supplied by DC recordkeepers; a total of 2,698 usable responses were received by the close of the survey late this past November. 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 24 for details). A total of 23 providers qualified for listing in at least one market; more information on the markets serviced by these and other providers can be found in our 2019 Recordkeeping Survey.

Best in Class (BIC) Awards are based on sponsor satisfaction within a given area of service. Ratings were derived from the percentage of respondents “completely satisfied” (9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) less those that were “dissatisfied” (6 or less). 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 are presented by market to reflect differences in the competitive landscape. Leaderboards are used to show the highest scoring providers in certain areas. For more information, email surveys@issmediasolutions.com.

Net Promoter Score® (NPS)*

Although there are several possible techniques for measuring and reporting client satisfaction, the goal of each is to help inform and drive improvements in client service. Over time, market researchers have worked to distill client satisfaction into a single number that effectively communicates the strength of a client relationship without ignoring or overweighting certain respondents. In some ways, it is as much art as it is science.

Last year, PLANSPONSOR migrated its measurement of service satisfaction to Satmetrix Systems’ Net Promoter System (NPS). Because of its correlation with positive business outcomes—e.g., client retention, long-term growth, etc.—NPS has become somewhat of an industry standard for benchmarking customer loyalty.

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 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.


Further Observations on Survey Coverage

Our Annual PLANSPONSOR Recordkeeping Survey, published each June, profiles more than 50 defined contribution (DC) plan recordkeepers, yet results from our 2019 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution (DC) Survey, published here, include data on only 23 providers. This raises an important question: Why are more recordkeepers not included in the DC Survey?

The quick answer is that our methodology prevents us from listing providers that fail to reach the quotas specific to each market. Although we send out around 30,000 invitations each year to our list of magazine subscribers, many providers (see table below) fall short of qualifying for listing.

While we do not publish results for providers that fail to meet quotas, readers may find it useful to understand how ratings compare in aggregate. When we look specifically at responses received from invitations sent directly to our internal lists, providers that qualified for the 2019 DC Survey may have a slight edge over those that did not, as their net recommendation rates are roughly 20 percentage points higher than those of their unlisted peers.

However, such comparisons would undoubtedly benefit from a larger pool of respondents, which is why we need your support/feedback. Please email surveys@issmediasolutions.com to be added to our list of invitees or for more information on how you can help improve the accuracy and coverage of the 2020 DC Survey.

Net Recommendation Rate

Qualifying providers
Other providers
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

= Listed in the DC Survey;  = Represents the market, but not listed in the DC Survey

ProvidersAssets($MM)MicroSmall – ASmall – BMidsizeLargeMega
1Fidelity Investments


3Empower Retirement$540,356
4The Vanguard Group, Inc.$454,383
5Alight Solutions$444,110
6Voya Financial$308,740
7Principal Financial Group$215,618
8Wells Fargo$212,774
9Bank of America$203,732
10Prudential Retirement$203,164
11Transamerica Ret Solutions$186,376
12T. Rowe Price$174,961
13Conduent HR Services, LLC$162,002
14Charles Schwab$149,915
16John Hancock$138,417
18Newport Group$122,688
19ADP Retirement Services$76,128
20American Funds$67,885
21AIG Retirement Services$67,315
22Lincoln Financial Group$67,055
25Alliance Benefit Group$50,322
Other Notable Providers      
29AXA Equitable


30Paychex, Inc.$28,544
31MetLife Resources$24,576
34Mutual of America$10,923