The Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association and the SPARK Institute are partnering on three projects in 2020 to tackle shared goals and bolster research capabilities.
The groups will host two public policy events in Washington — one April 29-30 that will focus on the legislative and regulatory changes affecting the domestic retirement industry, and the other June 23-24 that will concentrate on global retirement public policy and the expansion of pension reform around the world.
Previously, each group held separate public policy forums, but a combined effort will be better for all involved, said Tim Rouse, executive director at the SPARK Institute, which represents retirement industry players such as record keepers, investment advisers, mutual fund companies and benefit consultants.
"By coordinating (these events) we hope to be able to have a more concentrated event for folks, more senior level policymakers participate, and also allow for our members to be more judicious in the time they spend away from the office for these events," he said.
Priorities where the use of blockchain technology could be especially helpful were identified following a SPARK and DCIIA forum on blockchain technology for the U.S. retirement system last fall. Now, DCIIA and SPARK are jointly coordinating an effort to use project teams to develop a cost-effective industry solution for plan data sharing. Of note, members thought it would be valuable to explore the possibility of creating a participant digital identity to help reduce leakage out of the system and to reduce or eliminate missing participants, Mr. Rouse said.
The blockchain project "demonstrates the power of our organizations coming together and being able to bring the different parts of the retirement savings ecosystem together to look at big issues and figure out if there are solutions we can coalesce around," said Lew Minsky, executive director of DCIIA, whose members include investment managers, consultants and advisers, law firms, record keepers, insurance companies and plan sponsors.
The groups also hope to leverage each other's' expertise and resources to bolster their collective research capabilities. Through the announced partnership, SPARK will become a founding member of the DCIIA Retirement Research Center and use its capabilities to conduct primary research on record-keeping issues.
Mr. Minsky said there have been conversations with other like-minded organizations and there may be opportunities to bring more into the fold. "It's important to bring the key parts of the (retirement savings) ecosystem together, pulling in the same direction, ultimately identifying areas of common interest and working collaboratively," he said.