Defined contribution plans are expanding efforts to provide financial advice and retirement planning tools, said a survey from Aon Hewitt published Wednesday.
Among the survey’s results, 69% of DC plans offered online investment advice last year, up from 56% in 2013; 53% of plans offered phone access to financial advisers vs. 35% in 2013; 49% offered third-party investment advice, up from 44%; and 47% offered managed accounts last year vs. 39% in 2013.
“There’s an awareness among sponsors that lots of people need help and that different people need different types of help,” said Rob Austin, director of retirement research, in an interview. “Sponsors are realizing the greater diversity of their workforce.”
For example, Mr. Austin said that online advice tools are becoming more sophisticated in asking participants questions about financial matters beyond their retirement accounts. Phone-based advisers are doing the same, he added.
The Aon Hewitt survey also said 34% of respondents made changes in their plans to reduce costs last year vs. 27% in 2013. Cost-cutting efforts included moving to passive options from active ones, switching to institutional-priced funds from retail funds and changing providers, Mr. Austin said.
Aon Hewitt’s survey was based on 248 DC plans — both clients and non-clients — most of which are 401(k) plans. The plans serve nearly 6 million participants. The online survey was conducted in September and October.