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Safer in a crowd

Who wants to be first? Not DC execs

There's an old joke in the defined contribution industry — which is more true than funny — that when it comes to trying something new, everyone wants to be second.

Now, Alight Solutions has documented this attitude when it asked 187 DC plan executives in a recent survey about their approach to innovation.

Only 1% agreed with the statement: "We want to be innovative and the first to try something new."

Robert Austin, Alight's director of research, said this reluctance of executives to stick their necks out or dip their toes into the waters of innovation was "a little concerning, but not surprising."

Another 17% of DC executives said they didn't want to be first but are "generally among the early adopters," according to the survey. Respondents worked for plans that have enrolled a combined 8 million participants.

Mr. Austin, based in Charlotte, N.C., said fear of litigation helps lead to cold feet among many executives.

The Alight survey noted 4% of respondents said the threat of lawsuits is a "major factor" in their innovation hesitation, while 49% said litigation risk was "a contributing factor."