DC 2.0: Three Paths to Extra Equitable Retirement Applications


Among C-suite and monetary executives at each for-profit and nonprofit organizations, 99% are dedicated to serving to workers save for retirement and 84% consider they’ve made vital progress towards attaining their group’s range, fairness, and inclusion (DEI) objectives. That’s in keeping with a December 2021 PNC Survey on institutional social accountability.

Despite these commitments, many workers stay underprepared for retirement. Specifically, low- revenue employees, girls, and folks of shade are inclined to have considerably much less entry to retirement plans, and when these teams do have entry, they accumulate fewer retirement plan property relative to different demographics. Thus, constructing a extra equitable retirement program is crucial to creating higher retirement outcomes for workers and serving to organizations obtain DEI-related objectives.

So, what does the present retirement panorama seem like and the way can we tackle these disparities? We suggest three main strategies: automated plan design options, artistic matching contribution formulation, and progressive schooling methods.

The Current Retirement Landscape

Workplace retirement financial savings automobiles, reminiscent of outlined contribution (DC) plans, are some of the widespread ways in which US employees save for retirement. DC plan applications within the United States totaled $11 trillion in property as of This autumn 20211 and supply over 80 million contributors with tax-deferred retirement accounts. As outlined profit plans — pensions — proceed to lower in quantity and with Social Security going through quite a few funding-related headwinds, we consider DC plans will develop ever extra crucial to retirement outcomes.

Yet statistics present that DC plans aren’t benefitting all demographic teams equally. Income stage is a key first determinant of retirement readiness, and workers in decrease wage teams battle throughout the board, with decrease entry to, participation in, and take-up charges for DC plans.

Defined Contribution Plan Access, Participation, and Take-Up Rate by Wage Percentile

In phrases of gender, a barely higher share of girls work for employers that supply retirement plans (69% vs. 65%), in keeping with a 2020 National Institute on Retirement Security research, however a barely higher share of males are eligible to take part in these plans (89% vs. 85%) and select to take action (81% vs. 79%). This means women and men take part in DC plans at equal charges (47%). However, there’s a vital gender hole in retirement revenue: Women aged 65 and older have a median family revenue of $47,244, or 83% of the $57,144 median family revenue of males aged 65 and over.

What explains this retirement wealth hole? The gender pay hole and employment gaps for being pregnant, youngster care, and caregiving for elders or spouses all could play a task. Also, divorce can result in worse monetary outcomes for ladies than males. These and a bunch of different causes could negatively affect girls’s retirement outcomes.

Household Retirement Plan Access, Participation, and Take-Up Rate by Race and Ethnicity

Households with Access to Retirement Plans Households Participating in Retirement Plans Household Take-Up Rate Average Household Retirement Account Balance
White 68% 60% 88% $50,000
Black 56% 45% 80% $20,000
Hispanic 44% 34% 77% $20,000
Other* 61% 54% 88% $34,000

*Defined as “a various group that features these figuring out as Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, different race, and all respondents reporting a couple of racial identification.”
Source: “Disparities in Wealth by Race and Ethnicity within the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances,” Federal Reserve Bank, 28 September 2020

The numbers are even worse throughout race and ethnicity traces. The previous desk demonstrates the decrease ranges of entry, participation, and common balances for households of shade. The common account steadiness disparity is very alarming.

While plan sponsors attempt to design plans that enhance retirement outcomes, these statistics present that fairly much more must be achieved. To tackle this, three methods are value contemplating.

Tile of Defined Contribution Plans

1. Automatic Plan Design Features

Automatic enrollment is a tried-and-true technique to extend retirement property. An organization’s new hires robotically begin contributing to the agency’s DC plan at a pre-set deferral fee. The contributions are invested within the plan’s certified default funding different — usually a target-date fund (TDF) — till the workers re-direct their investments.

Auto-enrolled workers have a tendency to stay enrolled — and on the deferral fee set by the plan’s automated enrollment function. Default enrollment helps overcome two key retirement financial savings challenges: lack of understanding and inertia.

  • Knowledge describes the assorted lifetime experiences and formal and casual schooling that leads an worker to employment with a selected firm. While some folks profit from a background by which monetary literacy was distinguished, many don’t. For instance, low-to-moderate revenue communities are much less more likely to know or be solicited by monetary advisers due largely to a perceived mismatch between the neighborhood’s anticipated want and the monetary adviser’s anticipated alternative. This could cut back the chance that members of such communities will probably be accustomed to or prioritize saving for retirement.
  • Inertia is a broad class, however our focus right here is on two main varieties. Due to private monetary causes — price range constraints, debt, and so forth. — many workers don’t consider they will put aside cash for retirement. Other workers merely don’t take the time to arrange their retirement plan. They see it as “one thing to get to later” or in any other case delay enrolling within the retirement plan. What begins as “I’ll get to it tomorrow, subsequent week, effectively positively subsequent month” can result in months, years, or perhaps a working lifetime of delayed retirement financial savings.

While automated enrollment doesn’t have an effect on entry, it could actually improve participation amongst eligible workers, in keeping with a 2021 research. Indeed, 84% of employees cited the function as a main motive for earlier saving. This tracks with the numerous rise in plan sponsor adoption over the previous decade. In 2011, solely 45.9% of plans featured automated enrollment, in keeping with the Plan Sponsor Council of America. In 2020, 62% of plans did. Automatic enrollment helps workers overcome data and time-related boundaries, so we count on extra plans will undertake the function.

Tile for Is There a Retirement Crisis? An Exploration of the Current Debate

For plan sponsors that need to add or increase an automated enrollment function, these further concerns could assist maximize the affect:

  1. Setting the default automated enrollment deferral fee to a better beginning quantity. We consider the upper the default deferral share, the extra seemingly automated enrollment will enhance worker retirement outcomes. The desk under illustrates the default deferral percentages for plans with automated enrollment. Six p.c is essentially the most often-used fee.
  2. Adding automated escalation, whereby the worker contribution quantity will increase, as much as a pre-specified quantity in share increments, annually except the worker opts out.
  3. Conducting automated re-enrollment: Each yr, workers who’ve opted out of enrollment within the DC plan should re-opt out.
  4. Examining whether or not the certified default funding different (QDIA) is offered to all workers and if it would enhance retirement readiness for workers who don’t in any other case change their funding choice.

Implicit in all these methods is the concept convincing an worker to not opt-out, or take no motion, is less complicated than convincing them to opt-in, or require motion. By making participation the best possibility for workers by automated enrollment, extra are more likely to stay enrolled within the plan in contrast with the variety of workers who would take part in the event that they needed to take private motion to opt-in.

Default Deferral Percentage in Plans with Automatic Enrollment

1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 6% >6%
Percent of Plans 1.0% 5.2% 29.0% 12.9% 16.1% 32.9% 2.9%

Source: Plan Sponsor Council of America’s sixty fourth Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(ok) Plans (2021)

2. Creative Matching Contribution Formulas

An employer matching contribution is a main incentive to take part in DC plans. Put merely, employer matching contributions really feel like “free cash” to workers.

Despite this, two main challenges have emerged. First, completely different research have estimated billions of {dollars} in unrealized accessible “matching” that eligible workers don’t entry. Second, for low-to-moderate revenue workers, an identical contribution made as a hard and fast share of their wage may not be sufficient to enhance their retirement consequence. As an instance, if an worker solely saves $100 in a given yr and the employer matches that $100, absolutely the greenback worth of $200 in retirement contributions is unlikely in mixture to meaningfully enhance the worker’s retirement readiness.

With this in thoughts, two methods can enhance retirement outcomes: minimal employer contribution ranges and stretch-matching.

Secure Retirement graphic

A. Minimum Contribution Levels

As the title implies, minimal contribution ranges are greenback thresholds set to explain a minimal quantity that an employer will contribute to an worker’s account, usually provided that the worker takes set actions associated to their very own contributions. An instance could be, “Employer will contribute the higher of 100% on the primary 4% of an worker’s deferrals or $1000.” In this case, if the worker defers 4% of compensation to the DC plan and that quantity is lower than $1,000, the employer sometimes makes a “true-up” on the finish of the yr to convey the employer match in greenback phrases to $1,000. This method, the minimal employer contribution would by no means be lower than $1,000 per worker. (Changing your plan’s matching contribution system could require an modification to your plan doc. Please seek the advice of your ERISA counsel or plan doc preparer for extra info.)

As an instance, PNC will contribute a minimal of $2,000 in matching contributions annually if an worker contributes no less than 4% of their eligible compensation each pay interval throughout the yr and is employed by PNC on the final enterprise day of that yr. This minimal match helps make sure that eligible workers incomes lower than $50,000 yearly get an additional increase to their retirement financial savings. (The minimal match is prorated for hourly workers and people who are eligible for lower than a full yr.)

Minimum contribution ranges can present further monetary assist to assist improve potential retirement revenue for workers with decrease pay. Of course, this technique just isn’t with out price — for instance, the minimal contribution quantity per worker relative to what the match would have been in any other case. With that in thoughts, provisions that encourage optimistic worker habits, reminiscent of PNC’s requirement that they contribute no less than 4% to obtain the minimal match, can sharpen the affect towards bettering worker retirement outcomes of this extra price to employers.

Trust Study Tile

B. Stretch-Matching

This second possibility encourages the worker to contribute extra. Often, to easily maximize the motivation profit, contributors will solely defer as much as the utmost match fee — for instance, electing a deferral fee of 4% with an employer match system of 100% on the primary 4% of contributions. In behavioral finance phrases, this resembles anchoring bias: The first quantity workers see — an employer match system of 100% on the primary 4% of contributions — turns into an arbitrary benchmark. They assign that means to the 4% quantity and infrequently come to affiliate it with “sufficient to attain retirement readiness.”

To fight this bias, stretch-matching requires the worker to contribute above the utmost employer match fee to obtain the total match. As an instance, an employer may reengineer the above system to match 50% on the primary 8% of contributions. In this situation, the worker’s “anchor” is about at an 8% contribution fee, which inspires larger web contributions with out altering the greenback price of the employer match.

To make sure, this technique just isn’t good. For instance, lower-income workers could be unable or unwilling to contribute a better share — above 4%, for instance — thus leaving the employer match on the desk and probably decreasing their mixture, employee-and-employer, contribution charges in greenback phrases. In this manner, a stretch match may truly damage lower-income workers somewhat than assist. That’s why it is very important monitor participant habits carefully and modify as wanted following any modifications to a plan’s matching system.

3. Innovative Education Strategies

Automatic options, matching methods, and different plan design modifications can solely go thus far in driving participation within the plan. Employees should pay attention to why and the way they need to contribute to their DC plan and be given the instruments to attain the monetary capacity to take action. Comprehensive monetary schooling and enhanced worker communications are essential to this equation.

Financial Analysts Journal Current Issue Tile

A. Comprehensive Financial Education

Good monetary schooling begins with knowledge. Quantitative plan knowledge might help determine if sure teams are under-engaged or unengaged within the plan. Are they not taking part in any respect? Do they’ve low balances or a low deferral fee? Are they not receiving the total match? Surveys can bolster quantitative knowledge with qualitative worker suggestions. Then employers can design focused schooling methods primarily based on each knowledge and direct worker response. Once employers have the info, they will work with monetary suppliers to customise holistic monetary wellness applications for his or her workforce. These can vary from on-site schooling periods the place an educator visits the workplace, manufacturing facility, and so forth. to dwell or on-demand webinars, to points-based studying portals that incentivize worker participation, amongst different potential choices.

There are loads of jokes about all that we realized at school as youngsters as an alternative of fundamental monetary ideas — “sq. dancing,” for instance. Financial schooling methods give workers the instruments to make up for these misplaced studying alternatives and to assist them construct the requisite data base to attain monetary wellness and retirement readiness. The PNC survey of C-suite and monetary executives discovered that whereas solely 57% of employers provide monetary schooling at this time, 29% are planning to supply it sooner or later. We count on this pattern to proceed within the coming years.

B. Enhanced Employee Communications

The greatest schooling technique is a failure if it by no means reaches workers. That’s why communication could also be a very powerful a part of worker schooling. There are a number of elements to an efficient communication technique:

  • Various Media at Various Times: Different workers reply to completely different communication sources in another way. Some choose articles to learn, some choose dwell courses, some choose on-demand movies, and others choose different issues. An efficient communication technique contains as many alternative knowledge sources as doable, inside motive, in order that workers can choose what works greatest for them.
  • Clear and Concise: Financial and retirement matters will be sophisticated, and business jargon will be complicated. Education needs to be easy and use clear and concise language. The extra comprehensible the knowledge, the simpler the schooling methods are more likely to be.
  • Accessibility: Employee communications, instructional supplies, web sites, and movies have to be designed to be used by your entire workforce, together with workers with various accessibility or non-English language wants. An necessary consideration is whether or not the worker schooling supplier gives coaching with options which can be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), reminiscent of closed captioning, and so forth.
  • Inclusive Language: Inclusive language acknowledges range and conveys respect to all folks. When plan sponsors function inclusive language of their vernacular, together with retirement paperwork and communications, they might help workers to really feel heard and understood and probably improve participant engagement. As extra organizations improve their deal with DEI in hiring, retention, coaching, and past, making certain worker profit communications mirror this precedence could also be crucial.

Tile for T-Shape Teams report

Slightly over half of respondents (55%) to the December 2021 PNC Survey say that lower than 50% of their workers benefit from monetary wellness applications. Through an method that begins with knowledge, customizes the expertise primarily based on worker demographics and requests, and successfully communicates the ensuing schooling program, employers can meet workers the place they’re and improve their engagement.

This maybe greater than anything has the best potential to spice up worker monetary wellness and retirement outcomes.


Employers really feel chargeable for serving to workers put together for retirement. Beyond the productiveness declines and different statistics {that a} lack of economic wellness is related to, employers are beginning to see their retirement plans as a pillar of an institutional social accountability technique. Implicit in that is the notion that firms can do effectively by doing good and particularly by serving to workers who may want it essentially the most. With time and continued effort, we hope this may lead to extra equitable retirement outcomes for all.

If you preferred this submit, don’t neglect to subscribe to the Enterprising Investor.

1. Data accessible at https://www.ici.org/analysis/stats/retirement

All posts are the opinion of the creator. As such, they shouldn’t be construed as funding recommendation, nor do the opinions expressed essentially mirror the views of CFA Institute or the creator’s employer.

Image credit score: ©Getty Images/John M Lund Photography Inc

Professional Learning for CFA Institute Members

CFA Institute members are empowered to self-determine and self-report skilled studying (PL) credit earned, together with content material on Enterprising Investor. Members can file credit simply utilizing their on-line PL tracker.

For extra info or to ask a few free outlined contribution plan evaluation, please attain out to your PNC Representative.

The materials offered herein is of a basic nature and doesn’t represent the availability by PNC of funding, authorized, tax, or accounting recommendation to any particular person, or a advice to purchase or promote any safety or undertake any funding technique. Opinions expressed herein are topic to vary with out discover. The info was obtained from sources deemed dependable. Such info just isn’t assured as to its accuracy.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (“PNC”) makes use of the advertising title PNC Institutional Asset Management® for the assorted discretionary and non-discretionary institutional funding, trustee, custody, consulting, and associated companies offered by PNC Bank, National Association (“PNC Bank”), which is a Member FDIC, and funding administration actions performed by PNC Capital Advisors, LLC, an SEC-registered funding adviser and wholly-owned subsidiary of PNC Bank.

PNC doesn’t present authorized, tax, or accounting recommendation except, with respect to tax recommendation, PNC Bank has entered right into a written tax companies settlement. PNC Bank just isn’t registered as a municipal advisor beneath the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

“PNC Institutional Asset Management” is a registered mark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Investments: Not FDIC Insured. No Bank Guarantee. May Lose Value.

Christopher M. Dall, CFA

Christopher M. Dall, CFA, is the senior product chief, Defined Contribution Retirement Solutions, for PNC Institutional Asset Management® (PNC IAM). In this position he leads PNC IAM’s efforts to supply 3(21) funding advisory, 3(38) funding administration, monetary wellness, and worker schooling companies for outlined contribution plans. He gives useful oversight to the Retirement Plan Advisors and Employee Education Consultants who’re chargeable for offering outlined contribution options to plan sponsors.
Dall joined PNC in 2015 as an Associate Investment Advisor. Most not too long ago, he served as Content Manager, working carefully with the IAM enterprise and Marketing groups to create thought management and different content material for the Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) and DC Retirement Solutions Groups. In addition, he has authored content material featured on the CFA Institute’s Enterprising Investor weblog and has offered on associated matters at varied business conferences and native market occasions. He serves because the vice chairman of the Interfaith Employee Business Relations Group and is a member of the PNC IAM Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group.
Dall graduated with a bachelor’s of science in finance from Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Dall holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) designation. He additionally studied at Oxford College and Emory University.

Bradley Bonno

Bradley Bonno is a retirement gross sales and repair director for PNC Institutional Asset Management® centered on driving technique and accountability as he leads our Fiduciary Investment Services gross sales and repair efforts. He gives useful oversight to the Retirement Plan Advisers (RPAs) and Employee Education Consultants (EECs) working inside Institutional Asset Management who’re chargeable for the supply of companies to our outlined contribution plan shoppers. Bonno’s insights and views on monetary wellness and participant schooling within the retirement business have been featured in a number of articles, webinars and interviews. He has been a supervisor and director with PNC Institutional Asset Management for 18 years main conversion, relationship administration, and worker schooling groups throughout his tenure. Prior to becoming a member of the agency, Bonno labored with Federated Investors’ Retirement Plan Services group for greater than six years. During his final 4 years with Federated, he served because the group’s conversion supervisor. In all, he greater than 26 years of expertise within the retirement plan business. Bonno graduated with a bachelor’s of science in enterprise administration and accounting from Ohio State University.

Courtney Cervantes

Courtney Cervantes is a senior retirement plan advisor with PNC Institutional Asset Management®. In this position, she serves because the proprietor of the shopper relationship and advises on investments, fiduciary course of, participant engagement and supplier benchmarking. She gives fiduciary compliance schooling and assist and retains shoppers abreast of business and legislative modifications. Cervantes brings greater than 16 years of institutional consulting expertise with institutional consulting expertise with outlined profit and outlined contribution plan sponsors on all facets of their funding applications, together with funding supervisor construction, supervisor choice funding coverage formulation, asset allocation technique, and ongoing supervisor monitoring. Prior to becoming a member of PNC, she was a director at Willis Towers Watson, serving as a lead funding marketing consultant for certified retirement plans, together with Fortune 100 and 500 firms. In her position, Cervantes helped to formalize a prudent monitoring course of for the agency’s retirement plan clientele, together with efficiency reporting, supervisor choice and ongoing monitoring, service supplier collaboration, funding coverage steerage, target-date fund glidepath suitability evaluation, and plan benchmarking. Cervantes graduated with a bachelor’s of enterprise administration in finance from the University of Iowa. She is at present pursuing her grasp’s of enterprise administration from DePaul University in Chicago.

Domenique DiSilvio

Domenique DiSilvio is a retirement gross sales and repair director for PNC Institutional Asset Management® centered on driving technique and accountability as she leads our Fiduciary Investment Services gross sales and repair efforts. She gives useful oversight to the Retirement Plan Advisers (RPAs) and Employee Education Consultants (EECs) working inside Institutional Asset Management who’re chargeable for the supply of companies to our outlined contribution plan shoppers. Prior to taking over her present position in 2017, DiSilvio was a retirement gross sales supervisor chargeable for overseeing a group of RBDOs who help shoppers and prospects with their group’s retirement companies wants. Previously, she was a senior relationship supervisor with the Vested Interest group, a Vested Interest senior account supervisor and group chief. Prior to becoming a member of the agency in 1999, DiSilvio was a retirement plan administrator with Federated Investors. She graduated with a bachelor’s of arts in English literature from and a grasp’s of enterprise administration from Robert Morris University. DiSilvio holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst and Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF) designations.

Jonathan McClain

Jonathan McClain is a director for the outlined contribution apply in PNC Institutional Asset Management® (PNC IAM). He is chargeable for main the brand new enterprise and shopper service efforts for PNC IAM’s largest and most complicated outlined contribution plan relationships. He works immediately with shoppers and prospects to assist them prioritize and obtain their plans’ objectives.
Prior to assuming his present position, McClain served as a principal marketing consultant inside the Defined Contribution apply of Mercer Investment Management. He offered retirement options by guiding retirement plan committees with funding choice and monitoring, plan design concerns, fiduciary schooling, and plan governance.
McClain graduated with a bachelor’s of science in economics and political economic system from Portland State University. He holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF), Certified Retirement Plan Specialist, and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designations. He acquired the AIF® designation by the Center for Fiduciary Studies which assures that these chargeable for managing or advising on investor property have a basic understanding of the rules of fiduciary responsibility, He acquired the CRPS® and CRPC® by the College for Financial Planning. McClain was named to the 2018 and 2019 Financial Times Top 401 Retirement Advisors, an inventory of elite professionals who specialise in advising US employers on their outlined contribution plans. McClain additionally acquired nationwide recognition in 2015 when he was named a Top Plan Advisor beneath 40 by the National Association of Plan Advisors

Jessie Miller

Jessie Miller is a senior communications lead for PNC Institutional Asset Management®. In this position, he’s chargeable for creating and managing content material together with thought management, analysis, and actionable insights developed for institutional traders and their workers. Miller graduated with a grasp’s of arts in communications from Syracuse University and with a bachelor’s of arts in liberal arts from Tiffin University.

Krishna Subramanian

As an analyst for PNC Institutional Asset Management®, Krishna Subramanian is charged with sustaining robust relationships with shoppers. He commonly gives thought management, schooling, and insights to shoppers concerning each charitable and retirement property. He manages portfolios in accordance with relevant fiduciary requirements and the shopper’s funding targets. He works with every shopper to find out asset allocation primarily based upon their distinctive wants. He additionally helps the event of recent enterprise relationships. Prior to his present position, Subramanian was an Institutional Asset Management Intern at PNC and a Data Strategy Intern at Dow Jones. Additionally, he served as President and Senior Analyst of Panther Equity, a University of Pittsburgh student-managed funding fund. Subramanian graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s of science in enterprise administration in finance and enterprise info programs from the University of Pittsburgh. He has volunteered with the Global Brigades Water program in Honduras, serving to to construct sustainable water infrastructure, and is concerned with a number of meals banks and environmental initiatives in his area people.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here