Respondents, by Geography
Respondents, by Plan Size
Respondents, by Plan Type Offered
Respondents, by Recordkeeper Category
Respondents, by Industry
It has long been known that plan size correlates to differences in plan design, with larger plans—i.e., those with $200 million or more in plan assets—adopting more progressive features long before their smaller counterparts. Larger plans were among the first to adopt automatic enrollment and remain twice as likely to offer the feature today. They also come with a size and scale that can lead to higher levels of plan oversight and lower investment fees. Collectively, plan size may be the most important yardstick by which to benchmark your retirement plan.
Offers Automatic Enrollment
Uses a Default Deferral Rate of Less Than or Equal to 3% of Salary
Uses a Target-Date Fund as a Default Investment
Uses an Investment Committee for DC Plan
Uses an Investment Policy Statement for DC Plan
Average Asset-Weighted Expense Ratio of All Investment Options
The 401(k) plan is by far the most common employer-sponsored retirement plan. Not surprisingly, this also means that 401(k) plan benchmarking data is often easier to come by than similar data focused on 403(b), 457 or other retirement plans. However, plan types—like industries—are commonly connected to specific employee populations. They are also subject to different regulatory requirements. Combined, these factors can lead to different plan design considerations, most notably in areas related to eligibility, retirement income creation, and in-person advice and guidance.
Offers Systematic Withdrawals at Retirement
Offers In-Plan Retirement Income Products
Offers Plans With Immediate Eligibility Upon Hiring
Offers Participants One-on-One Meetings With Financial Planner/Adviser Outside of the Plan
Many DC plan recordkeepers service thousands of plans, allowing them to construct proprietary benchmarks based on actions their clients take. But this may also exhibit “hidden” bias, as clients share the common trait of having self-selected into the same grouping—e.g., the charts below show adoption of certain plan features based on responses from six recordkeepers similar in survey counts and response profiles. The range of values highlights the potential limitations of single-provider benchmarks and reinforces the key role independent, cross-provider sources play in the process.
Clients That Offer Defined Contribution Plan and Health Savings Accounts
Clients That Use a Safe Harbor Plan Design
Clients That Use a Default Deferral Rate of Less Than or Equal to 3 Percent of Salary
Clients That Offer Automatic Escalation
Clients That Place a Limit on Automatic Escalation
Recent politics might lead some sponsors to believe their plan designs need to account for regional leanings. However, many design features show only small differences in adoption when viewed on a regional basis. While common plan success measures—e.g., plan participation rates, participant deferral rates and average participant account balances—are consistent across many regions, it is worth noting that Southern states underperform their peers in these areas, which suggests that sponsors in that region may want to consider other factors when looking to improve outcomes.
Plan Participation Rate (Median Value)
Participant Deferral Rate (Median Average Value)
Participant Account Balance (Median Average Value)
Employers primarily compete for talent within an industry context and need to offer retirement programs that attract and retain the right people, which means finding a relevant group of peers/competitors is a critical part of any plan benchmarking exercise. For example, employees of retail organizations likely have needs and expectations that differ from those in white-collar industries such as law firms. So that gives rise to differences in plan design—e.g., law firms are more likely to use re-enrollment and offer profit-sharing contributions and Roth conversions.
Offers Nonelective or Profit-Sharing Contributions
Allows In-Plan Roth Conversions for Its DC Plan/s
Has Used/Tried ‘Re-enrollment’ in the Past 3 Years