U.S. Retirement End-Investor 2023

Personalizing the 401(k) Investor Experience

Segment, Analyze, Strategize

  • Explore the adoption and development of advisor managed account programs
  • Assess competition for individual retirement account (IRA) rollovers
  • Understand the implications of new IRA-related laws and requirements


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US Retirement End Investor 2020 Detail

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Jeremy Fodaski

Jeremy Fodaski

Senior Account Manager


This annual report represents Cerulli’s investor-level retirement research. The report features detailed coverage of the IRA market, including Cerulli’s IRA rollover sizing model, with in-depth market analysis and projections. The report also includes comprehensive coverage of 401(k) plan participants and IRA owners, examining savings behavior and sources of financial stress. Additionally, this research explores retirement investor trends for different age and wealth cohorts.

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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

Personalization takes Center Stage in the Defined Contribution Value Chain

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.

Across the $6.8 trillion 401(k) market, recordkeepers, asset managers, plan sponsors, and technology providers are finding new ways to deliver personalized solutions as they strive to attract, retain, and grow participant assets. Our latest research highlights four areas of focus:

  • Participant communications, including participant website user experience designs and multimedia content.
  • Financial wellness programs that seek to use participant data to personalize participant education initiatives to both provide guidance on and facilitate recommended next best actions to get their financial houses in order.
  • Investment options, including target-date funds which have added capabilities to automatically customize asset allocations and glidepaths to individual participants. Also covered are decumulation-oriented retirement income products with personalized features, such as access to professional guidance and advice resources.
  • Providers of financial guidance, planning, and advice to plan participants are seeking to better scale business models for participants who could benefit from help with their finances but may not require, or want, a holistic financial planning relationship. For those who do, technology innovations and data-sharing agreements are enabling advisors to improve relationships with participants and to even bring in-plan assets under the umbrella of their assets under management without requiring a rollover out of the plan.

Learn more about the increasing role personalization is playing in the defined contribution ecosystem with our latest report, U.S. Retirement End-Investor 2023: Personalizing the 401(k) Investor Experience. In addition to covering personalization initiatives in the defined contribution marketplace, this research offers complete sizing of the 401(k) and individual retirement account (IRA) markets, representing Cerulli’s most comprehensive investor-level retirement research and includes analysis of the savings and decision-making behavior of 401(k) participants.

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