U.S. Defined Contribution Distribution 2020

Adapting to Changes in the Regulatory Environment

Interpret, Innovate, Expand

  • Evaluate the implications for retirement plan providers and considerations for DC product development as a result of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act and recent regulatory guidance from the Department of Labor
  • Review comprehensive sizing of the DC market in the U.S. by market segment and plan size
  • Analyze product development and distribution trends, challenges, and opportunities in the DCIO asset manager, CIT provider, and target-date fund manager spaces
  • Explore new data covering the DC intermediary landscape, which draws findings from advisors working across a wide range of plan asset segments


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US Defined Contribution Distribution 2020 Detail

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Drew O'Hearn, CFP

Drew O'Hearn, CFP

Director, Account Management


Explore product development and distribution trends in the defined contribution (DC) market. This report contains updated DC market sizing by plan type and market segment, along with findings from proprietary surveys of DCIO asset managers, target-date managers, CIT providers, and DC plan intermediaries.

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Each report is lead authored by a senior Cerulli analyst with significant industry experience. The report incorporates qualitative and quantitative inputs, based on Cerulli’s proprietary research process. For more on our research process, click here.

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A Note from the Author

How Will Regulation Drive Market Changes?

Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Senior Analyst

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Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Senior Analyst

Shawn leads the U.S. Retirement research practice, which focuses on the defined contribution (DC) and individual retirement account (IRA) markets. He also leads and supports strategic consulting projects for asset managers on their DC-related market entry and product distribution strategies.

Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Shawn worked as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School, where he co-authored case studies on investment management for professional and personal investors and managing and innovating in financial services. Prior to that, he worked in the Currency Management group at State Street Global Markets, employing currency overlay strategies for large asset managers and asset owners.

Full biography here.

56% of defined contribution investment-only (DCIO) asset managers expect to increase their defined contribution (DC)-focused environmental, social, and governance (ESG) marketing and distribution efforts during the next 12 months. Yet, recent regulation has contributed to a lack of adoption by DC plans.

Nearly half (48%) of DCIO asset managers surveyed by Cerulli consider the DOL’s proposal in June 2020 one of the most significant barriers to adoption of ESG products in DC plan. On top of these regulatory headwinds, retirement plan providers suggest confusion related to ESG investing has also contributed to a lack of adoption by DC plans. In the absence of universally accepted definitions and terminology, providers should consider taking a step back to address the fundamentals of ESG investing in order to facilitate more nuanced discussions with their DC clients.

Learn more in The Cerulli Report—Defined Contribution Distribution 2020: Adapting to Changes in the Regulatory Environment.

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