Research | Published in December 2016

Reseach Year in Review

Presenting a selection of our proprietary research results

By PLANSPONSOR staff | December 2016

PS1216 YIR Header


 Having the ability to analyze and benchmark retirement plans and services is key to keeping a retirement plan competitive, benefiting plan participants and attracting potential key hires. Looking across industries allows you to see performance trends and assess potential plan options. And, if you are considering expanding or repositioning your plan, industry information is an extremely valuable tool for assessment purposes.

For these reasons, in almost all issues of PLANSPONSOR our research or editorial department includes a proprietary research report or a buyers’ guide geared to one or more of the various types of plan sponsors to help them gauge their retirement plan’s progress.

This Year in Review section includes excerpts from our 2016 surveys and buyers’ guides, condensed, with the full reports available on

Over the next several pages are highlights of our 2016 Third-Party Administrator Survey, Recordkeeping Survey, Participant Survey, HSA Buyers’ Guide, Stock Plan Administration Buyers’ Guide and Defined Contribution (DC) Survey.

For more information on survey results and/or on how to be included in a future edition of a survey or guide, email Brian O’Keefe at

2016 Third Party Administrator Survey

A Third Party Administrator (or TPA) is an organization that is hired by the 401k plan sponsor to run many day-to-day aspects of retirement plans. These include amending and restating plan documents; preparing employer and employee benefit statements; assisting in processing all types of distributions from the plan; preparing loan paperwork for plan participant; testing the plan each year to gauge its compliance with all IRS non-discrimination requirements as well as plan and participant contribution limits; allocation of employer contributions and forfeitures; calculating participant vested percentages; and, preparing annual returns and reports required by IRS, DOL or other government agencies.This survey includes Third Party Administrators firms from the very small to the very large. The survey participants have offices in all but seven US states. About 75% of participants are "nonproducing TPAs," meaning they sell no investment products. The respondents represent more than 175,000 plan and 12.5 participants in various types of employer-sponsored retirement plans.

last published:August 2016

2016 Recordkeeping Survey

As a complement to our Defined Contribution Survey - which measures how satisfied DC clients are with their providers - our annual Recordkeeping Survey gives employers the chance to see exactly which products and services each provider offers, as well as listing information on total assets and overall client demographics. This survey, as opposed to the DC survey, is comprised of data collected from the providers themselves.

last published:June 2016

PLANSPONSOR 2016 Participant Survey

The PLANSPONSOR Participant Survey examines the attitudes and behaviors of American workers participating—or not—in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. It gathers data about savings rates, employer expectations and confidence levels, among other measures.

last published:April 2016

2015 PLANSPONSOR DC Survey: Plan Benchmarking

PLANSPONSOR's Defined Contribution Survey - Industry Trends gathers data from thousands of plan sponsors about their plan design and administration, providing industry benchmarks. The survey is a study in contrasts and a demonstration of some surprisingly striking similarities among plans of varying sizes.

last published:January 2016