U.S. Defined Contribution Distribution 2022

Tailoring Solutions to the Consultant-Intermediated Fiduciary Landscape

Interpret, Innovate, Expand

  • Understand the intersection of wealth management and retirement planning
  • Evaluate in-plan guaranteed income products
  • Learn about environmental, social, and governance (ESG) adoption under a new Department of Labor (DOL) regime
  • Explore consultant/aggregator trends and perspectives


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US Defined Contribution Distribution 2020 Detail

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Maeve Flanagan

Maeve Flanagan

Associate Director, Account Management


This annual report focuses on product development and distribution opportunities for asset managers and other providers in the defined contribution (DC) market. The report also features detailed 401(k) plan sizing and coverage of retirement plan intermediaries (advisors and consultants), along with sizing of the advisor-sold DC market.

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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

Meet the Newest Addition to the Target-Date Landscape: Annuities

Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Shawn O'Brien, CFA


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Shawn O'Brien, CFA

Shawn O'Brien, CFA


Shawn oversees the Retirement practice at Cerulli Associates. In this role, Shawn oversees and mentors a team of analysts responsible for publishing research on the trends in defined contribution (DC) and IRA markets. Additionally, Shawn provides strategic oversight to Cerulli’s consulting projects focused on opportunities in the retirement space. Shawn frequently speaks at industry summits and conferences. Shawn is also responsible for overseeing the firm’s Data Analytics team.

Prior to joining Cerulli Associates, Shawn was a researcher at Harvard Business School where he co-authored case studies alongside professors Adi Sunderam and Luis M. Viceira focused on investment management for individual and institutional investors. Shawn started his career in investment operations at SSgA where he covered the firm’s equity collective investment trusts and institutional separate accounts.

Full biography here.

In the 36 months following the passage of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act—which includes well-documented lifetime income provisions intended to remove barriers to offering lifetime income products in DC plans—several asset managers have come to market with new guaranteed income, and non-guaranteed, retirement income products for the defined contribution (DC) market. In fact, according to our research, one in four target-date managers offers a target-date fund with an annuitization component.

The rise in product development comes as retirement income becomes the most top-of-mind issue in the defined contribution investment-only (DCIO) asset manager community. 88% of DCIO asset managers relay that conversations with plan sponsors, advisors, and consultants related to in-plan retirement income have increased in the past 12 months.

While some guaranteed income (and non-guaranteed) products and solutions released following the SECURE Act are a step in the right direction, there is plenty of room for innovation. Explore our views on this topic, receive complete and updated defined contribution market sizing, and evaluate DC-focused investment strategies and vehicles and DC intermediaries with this report.

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