Press Release

401(K) Plan Sponsors Prefer To Retain Retiree Assets, according to PIMCO Consultant Survey

Three out of four consultants prefer to retain retiree assets in plan


Newport Beach, California (July 26, 2023) – Approximately 70% of large institutional consultants and a growing cohort of advisory firms, known as aggregators, continue to focus on retaining retiree assets, according to the 17th Annual Defined Contribution (DC) Consulting Study conducted by PIMCO, a global leader in active fixed income with expertise across public and private markets.

Retaining retiree assets allows sponsors to maintain 401(k) plan scale and purchasing power, allowing for potential cost savings for clients, according to institutional consultants. In addition, advisory firms reported that retaining assets would help them provide former employees with better retirement outcomes. Allowing flexibility in income distribution, adding retirement education/tools, and including retiree-focused investment options were among the most popular consultant recommendations for plans seeking to hold onto retiree assets.

PIMCO surveyed 36 consultants and advisory firms, which serve over 25,000 clients, as part of the firm’s effort to capture the breadth of views in the industry as well as services available amid rapidly changing demographics of plan participants. Published results were based on responses from firms with more than $7.3 billion in DC assets under management.
“As a generation of working Americans approach retirement, employers must expand their suite of offerings to include not just savings and investing solutions for its employees, but also thoughtful guidance on spending as workers transition to retirement,” said Rene Martel, Managing Director and PIMCO’s Head of Retirement. “Personalized retirement solutions will continue to be a key theme in the near future, particularly in default options.”

Other survey findings:

  • Target-date funds (TDF) continue to dominate as the unanimous recommended default option, with nearly all consultants and advisors surveyed ranking it as their number one choice. Key indicators in evaluating TDFs include glide path, fees, and quality of underlying funds.
  • Consultants and advisors diverge, however, on what kind of default TDF retirement income solution will prove most popular. Advisors expect to see the most growth in “dual-QDIAs,” hybrid solutions that begin as a TDF then, at a certain point, transition into a managed account. Institutional consultants are split between traditional TDFs and “hybrid” solutions such as dual-QDIAs and TDFs with embedded guarantees.
  • The majority of consultants believe participants in managed account retirement solutions (MAs) do not regularly keep their personal information current, and instead believe that recordkeeping systems contain enough participant data to help personalize portfolios.
  • The Department of Labor’s “Final Rule,” which defined fiduciaries’ duties in regards to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, had little to no impact among consultants; however, concerns with legislation was reported as the top reason for why plan sponsors may avoid ESG adoption.
  • Consultants and advisors both strongly prefer actively managed or a blended active/passive approach for “core menu options,” the selection of investment solutions offered to investors by their plan sponsors. Plan menu sizes—the number of options offered—have remained consistent in recent years.

A summary of the survey’s key findings can be found here:

About the Survey

In its 17th year, the PIMCO US Defined Contribution Consulting Study seeks to help consultants, advisors and plan sponsors understand the breadth of views and consulting services available within the defined contribution (DC) marketplace. Our 2023 study captures data, trends and opinions from 36 consulting and advisory firms who serve over 25,000 clients with aggregate DC assets in excess of $7.3 trillion. All responses were collected from January 17, 2023 through March 22, 2023.

Media Contacts

Michael Reid
Global Head of Corporate Communications – New York

Agnes Crane
U.S. Corporate Communications – New York

Joy Sheetz
U.S. Corporate Communications – New York

Laura Batty
U.S. Corporate Communications – Newport Beach

Lisa Papas
U.S. Corporate Communications – Newport Beach

Laura Thomas
UK & EMEA Corporate Communications – London
+44 203 640 1520

Wendy Svirakova
UK & EMEA Corporate Communications – London
+44 203 640 1237

Li Anne Wong
APAC Corporate Communications – Singapore
+65 6491 8068



PIMCO is a global leader in active fixed income with deep expertise across public and private markets. We invest our clients’ capital across a range of fixed income and credit opportunities, drawing upon our decades of experience navigating complex debt markets. Our flexible capital base and deep relationships with issuers have helped us become one of the world’s largest providers of traditional and nontraditional solutions for companies that need financing and investors who seek strong risk-adjusted returns.

The survey results contain the opinions of the respondents at the time of the survey and may not reflect current opinions or investment strategies. These results may or may not match the views of PIMCO and are not intended to be reflective of PIMCO’s opinions on the market or any particular investment style or strategy. This material is distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.

Except for the historical information and discussions contained herein, statements contained in this news release constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements may involve a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, including the performance of financial markets, the investment performance of PIMCO's sponsored investment products and separately managed accounts, general economic conditions, future acquisitions, competitive conditions and government regulations, including changes in tax laws. Readers should carefully consider such factors. Further, such forward-looking statements speak only on the date at which such statements are made. PIMCO undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of such statements.