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Financial Wellness and Participant Perspectives
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Welcome to DCIIA's online resource library for DCIIA and member thought leadership. If you have resources to contribute in this topic area contact us at

DCIIA posts links to member content as a service to our members, plan sponsors, and the broader retirement industry. Some sites may require registration. Posting these links does not imply endorsement and we are not responsible for non-DCIIA content. Please advise us of any broken links or other updates.

DCIIA Publications

Five Practical Barriers to Better Retirement Outcomes
April 2020

This paper helps plan sponsors identify and address five potential roadblocks to successful retirement outcomes: missing participants, 401(k) loan leakage, movement of assets out of plans via rollovers, participants leaving the plan at retirement, and obstacles to in-plan annuities. The goal is to raise awareness of these barriers and encourage action.

A Financial Wellness Primer
Why Financial Wellness?
July 2017

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a working definition of financial wellness, survey the nascent body of research surrounding these programs, and highlight some demographic groups where financial wellness programs may be most likely to add significant value.

Plan Leakage
A study on the psychology behind leakage of retirement plan assets
February 2016

The results from an industry survey of 5,000 retirement plan participants confirm that plan leakage remains an issue that ultimately is undermining the critical public policy goal of preserving assets for retirement savings.

Rethinking DC Communication and Education
December 2013

The thoughts and suggestions contained in this paper are intended to be a first step in rethinking the way we approach retirement savings communication and education.

Member Publications

The Financial Wellness Knowledge Gap for Employers
February 2020

Research by MassMutual shows that the deployment of financial wellness programs at the workplace is expected to nearly double within the next few years. Currently, 42 percent of employers offer financial wellness programs.

Test Your Retirement Income Knowledge
Winter 2020

Edelman Financial Engines shares highlights and insights from a retirement income quiz administered by the American College of Financial Services New York Life Center for Retirement Income.

Cashing Out: The Systemic Impact of Withdrawing Savings Before Retirement
October 2019

The Savings Preservation Working Group recently published "Issue Brief Volume 1" with the stated goal of better understanding "the impact of cash‐outs on the retirement system." The SPWG "reviewed recent empirical research reports, surveys, and simulation models estimating cash‐outs. The results of this review, including our assessment of the available studies, are memorialized in this report."

Promoting Employee Wellness: A Strategy for Retirement Plan Sponsors
September 2019

Transamerica notes: “Physical and financial wellness go hand in hand, and by recognizing the strength of the connection, desirable outcomes may be achieved for employers and employees alike.”

Plan Participant Taking Sustainability Seriously
August 2019

In this video from Natixis, we learn why one plan participant chose a sustainable target date fund in his 401(k) plan.

DC Pulse Survey: Driving Well-being through Retirement Preparedness
April 2019

BlackRock notes: “Participants want more from their retirement plans and plan sponsors are looking to deliver. This year’s survey offers key takeaways for plan design, investments and in-plan retirement income options–and reveals the surprising link between retirement planning and current well-being.”

Boosting the Effectiveness of Retirement Plan Communications
January 2019

This white paper from Empower Institute notes: “Cutting back on jargon and delivering communications where participants want them can help put employees on the right track.”

2019 Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Wellbeing

This report is based on an annual survey that Alight Solutions administers to employers in an effort to capture the changes they intend to make to their retirement and financial wellbeing plans in the year ahead.

How Much Retirement Savings Is Sufficient?

Northern Trust provides planning guidelines for workers seeking to maintain their living standards before and after retirement. The framework considers salient features of law, regulations and lifecycle spending patterns in the U.S. and estimates target savings and replacement rates for a number of worker situations. Their analysis reveals that consistent, and achievable, contributions are one of the key ingredients to preparing for a secure retirement.

The $10,000 Hurdle

In this paper, Northern Trust notes: “When looking at the retirement marketplace, we recognize a number of financial hurdles that participants face. But there’s one mental hurdle in particular we continue to advocate for: that participants in defined contribution (DC) plans strive to cross the $10,000 balance mark as early as possible.”

The Making of a New Retirement Journey Map
November 2018

Wells Fargo shares the results of a comprehensive survey of working and retired Americans on their attitudes and behaviors around planning, saving and investing for retirement.

To Spend or Not to Spend
September 2018

BlackRock identifies the motivations and biases—behavioral and financial—behind why some retirees are spending down asset balances while others are not.

The Road to Retirement Success: Strategies to decode human nature and improve employee savings
August 2018

This white paper from Great-West Financial | Empower Retirement helps financial professionals and employers understand some of the common biases workers bring to investing and saving. Most important, it will provide a framework to help counteract these bad habits and encourage people to make more sound long-term investment decisions.

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services: The winding road to retirement
June 2018

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services’ Fifth Financial Stress Survey helps provide a glimpse into the financial lives of plan participants, looking for new ways to help them prepare for a financially confident retirement. The survey results help to connect the dots from participant need to financial wellness imperative.

The New Rx for Retirement: Solving the equation to maximize retirement and health savings
June 2018

This white paper from Great-West Financial | Empower Retirement presents a savings optimization model to help determine how to allocate funds between retirement plans and HSAs for maximum spending power in retirement.

The State of Retirees – How Longer Lives Have Changed Retirement
May 2018

United Income reports that current retirees are healthier, wealthier, and living longer than any previous generation. But little is known about how and where they are using that additional vigor, money, and time. To find out, they compiled retirees’ health, financial, time-use, political, and geographic data from the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, Internal Revenue Service, University of Michigan, Centers for Disease Control, NOAA, and RAND.

Scoring the Progress of Retirement Savers
April 2018

This paper from Great-West Financial | Empower Retirement includes survey results from more than 4,000 American workers aged 18 to 65. Based on individual responses, it estimates the percentage of working income that American households are on track to replace in retirement.

2018 Defined Contribution Plan Participant Survey
January 2018

J.P. Morgan Asset Management's 2018 survey finds that although DC plan participants are making progress and gaining confidence overall, more work is needed to understand the state of the participant, motivate participants to save, and streamline investment decision-making.

American Century Investments’ 6th Annual Survey of Retirement Savers

American Century Investments continues to find that investors of all ages rely heavily on their employers for planning and saving for retirement. The findings further punctuate the biggest savings challenge workers face is the ability to do it well enough and early enough at a time when they are juggling other financial obligations.

At a Glance: Student Loan 401(k) Match Program

This “At a Glance” commentary from Mercer notes that in June 2018, Abbott announced a 401(k) plan “match” for employees making student loan payments. This piece “discusses the Abbott case and provides insights for employers when considering a similar offering to address the student debt challenge.”

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