The average defined contribution plan returned 6.9% in the fourth quarter but posted a loss for 2011, according to the Callan DC Index, which tracks net asset flows and defined contribution plan performance.
Despite the fourth-quarter gain, a poor third quarter gave the index its first annual loss since 2008, with a one-year return of -1.1% as of Dec. 31. It trailed the average corporate defined benefit plan, which had a one-year return of 2.9%.
The average corporate DB plan returned 5.2% in the fourth quarter.
The overall index turnover in 2011 — flows as a percentage of total index market value — was 1.79%. The typical calendar year turnover is 3%. The low turnover for the year is attributed to participant fatigue with turbulent markets.
The turnover for the fourth quarter equaled the historical average of 0.71%, the same as the previous quarter.
The Callan DC index comprises nearly 80 DC plans, mostly 401(k) plans, with more than $90 billion in assets