Group Planning

Defined Contribution Specialists Address Pandemic Impacts

 Nearly six in ten (DC) advisors agree that Covid-19 is severely thwarting the growth of their DC business

Findings from Retirement Plan Advisor Trends™, an annual Cogent Syndicated™ study from Escalent show as new RFP activity remains largely on hold, DC specialists with over $50 million in DC AUM are working overtime to guide their existing clients through the pandemic.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nearly six in ten defined contribution (DC) advisors (58%) agree that the COVID-19 pandemic is thwarting the growth of their DC business. As new RFP activity remains largely on hold, DC specialists with over $50 million in DC AUM are working overtime to guide their existing clients through the pandemic. These and other findings are from Retirement Plan Advisor Trends, an annual Cogent Syndicated study from Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics firm.

“In stark contrast to their peers, DC specialists are increasing the assistance they’re offering to plan participants in assessing rollover and distribution options, long-term financial planning, one-on-one investment advice and retirement income strategies,” said Sonia Davis, senior product director at Escalent. “Moreover, they cite a sizable uptick in providing plan sponsors with regulatory updates and consulting with clients on plan design, services and features.”

Stemming from the heightened focus on client service and support, the latest findings reveal DC advisor expectations of providers are also evolving. This underscores the value of firms developing effective DC advisor outreach and engagement strategies. According to the study, a handful of DC plan providers have differentiated themselves, earning strong, positive recall among DC specialists for their COVID-19-related information and content.

Top 10 Firms for COVID-19 Communication Recall
1. American Funds
2. Vanguard
3. Fidelity Investments
4. Merrill/Merrill Edge
5. Alliance Benefit Group
6. ADP Retirement Services
7. Empower Retirement
8. Capital Group
9. Principal Financial Group
10. T. Rowe Price

Base: DC Specialists (plan advisors with $50M+ in DC AUM)
Source: Escalent. Cogent Syndicated. Retirement Plan Advisor Trends™. September 2020.

“These are extraordinarily complex times for anyone to navigate financially, including the most seasoned DC advisors,” said Linda York, senior vice president at Escalent. “Firms must remain fixated on providing superior participant education, regulatory guidance and plan design options, as the support rendered throughout the pandemic will undoubtedly fuel future client recommendations for years to come.”




About Retirement Plan Advisor Trends
Cogent Syndicated, a division of Escalent, conducted an online survey of a representative cross section of 501 plan advisors from August 18 to September 2, 2020. Survey participants are required to have an active book of business of at least $5 million and be actively managing DC plans. Strict quotas are set during the data collection period, and post-fielding statistical weighting (where necessary) is applied. The data have a margin of error of ±4.38% at the 95% confidence level. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.
About Escalent
Escalent is a top human behavior and analytics firm specializing in industries facing disruption and business transformation. As catalysts of progress for more than 40 years, we tell stories that transform data and insight into a profound understanding of what drives human beings. And we help businesses turn those drivers into actions that build brands, enhance customer experiences and inspire product innovation. In December 2019, Escalent acquired Javelin Strategy & Research, a research-based advisory firm with deep expertise in the digital financial ecosystem, to become an even more formidable player in the financial services space. Visit to see how we are helping shape the brands that are reshaping the world.