U.S. Retirement Markets 2020

Exploring Opportunities in the Small Plan Market

Master the U.S. Retirement Market

  • Assess the competitive landscape within the small plan 401(k) market and gain strategic insights and recommendations for retirement providers looking to establish and retain business in the small plan market
  • Review up-to-date Taft-Hartley DC and multiple employer plan (MEP) sizing, along with survey findings detailing 401(k) plan sponsors’ attitudes toward pooled employer plans (PEPs)
  • Learn more about recordkeeping services and fee arrangements, trends in plan design, financial wellness, and participant behavior, and the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
  • Assess plan sponsors’ strategic priorities, investment menu construction, retirement income offerings, financial wellness objectives, and service provider relationships


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Drew O'Hearn, CFP

Drew O'Hearn, CFP

Director, Account Management


Explore the most up-to-date and comprehensive sizing of the U.S. retirement market across the various segments of the U.S. DC, defined benefit (DB), and independent retirement account (IRA) markets. This report leverages findings from Cerulli’s 2020 401(k) Plan Sponsor Survey and 2020 DC Recordkeeper Survey, conducted in partnership with the SPARK Institute and DCIIA, focusing on topics related to financial wellness, fee structures, retirement income, and recent legislation. In addition, it provides a special look at the strategic and fiduciary considerations for participating in the PEP market and keys for winning and retaining business in the small plan market moving forward.

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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

New Regulation Paves the Path to Bridging the Coverage Gap

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.

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act allows employers without a common nexus (i.e., employers operating in unrelated industries or geographic areas) to join a pooled employer plan (PEP). Public policy advocates and market practitioners suggest PEPs could be instrumental to helping close the retirement plan “coverage gap” by enabling small business owners to achieve costs savings through economies of scale and offload some of the administrative burdens associated with offering a standalone retirement plan. For providers, PEPs may represent an opportunity to achieve a stronger presence in the small plan market.

As recordkeepers, asset managers, third-party administrators (TPAs), and intermediaries navigate PEP opportunities, configuring an effective service model will be crucial. Cerulli suggests the flexibility around the type of individual or entity that may serve as a PPP, along with the range of fiduciary responsibilities involved in operating a PEP, could lead to a variety of models. Learn more about the PEP opportunity and approaches to grow marketshare in the small plan market with our latest insights found in U.S. Retirement Markets 2020: Exploring Opportunities in the Small Plan Market.

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