Defined Contribution Services

Building healthy qualified retirement plans that minimize risk and maximize participant outcomes

Retirement Plans for the 21st Century—And Beyond

As qualified retirement plans continue to evolve, so too does the definition of plan success. It’s no longer just about deferral and participation rates. It’s about how well your plan design, investment menu, governance process, and administration function as one to drive retirement readiness while mitigating fiduciary risk.

This new definition means you have to look at your plan in a new light.

Using our proprietary diagnostic tool, we thoroughly examine the critical dimensions of your plan to identify its strengths and weaknesses. Based on our findings, we then work with you to develop a road map for improving its overall health.

A well-designed 401(k) or 403(b) plan helps employees retire on their terms.

Learn Where Your Retirement Plan Advisor Stands in This Era of:

  • Increased litigation
  • Department of Labor regulations and IRS audits
  • An aging workforce and delayed retirements
  • Behavioral finance and financial wellness

Easing Your Fiduciary Risk and Administrative Responsibilities

With complex regulatory requirements and the threat of personal liability for plan fiduciaries, maintaining your 401(k) or 403(b) plan can be a time-consuming and overwhelming process. Let us take some of the responsibility off your shoulders.

  • Increased Fiduciary Protection

    We can serve as a 3(21) co-fiduciary or 3(38) fiduciary investment manager, assuming some or all of the responsibility for selecting and monitoring your plan’s investments. We’ll help you determine which level of delegation is right for you based on your plan committee’s investment knowledge, preferred involvement, and risk exposure.

  • Streamlined Execution and Coordination

    Your HR and benefits teams have numerous responsibilities competing for their attention. We coordinate and help execute all the investment and administrative tasks related to your defined contribution plan—giving them more time for their other priorities.

  • Cost Efficiencies

    Between administrative expenses and investment fees, the cost to maintain your defined contribution plan can quickly add up. We analyze your current fee structure to identify cost-saving opportunities without sacrificing value.

Best-In-Class Retirement Plans. Financially-Confident Employees.

With increasing attention focused on fiduciary roles and responsibilities, maintaining a sound retirement plan is more important than ever before. Our retirement plan advisors help you review and redesign all aspects of your plan to increase its effectiveness and drive better results.

  • Plan Design

    Your automatic plan features, loan policies, and distribution flexibility help shape employees’ savings behavior. Our analysis of these provisions helps you encourage maximum participation while limiting “leakage.” Proposed design changes may include increasing the default contribution percentage, adding auto escalation, or permitting systematic withdrawals.

  • Plan Governance

    How do you prove you’ve met your fiduciary obligations? It starts by establishing and following documented policies and procedures. We conduct fiduciary training for your plan committee and help you draft a committee charter, prepare meeting agendas, and record plan decisions in meeting minutes. You also have access to an online fiduciary file, so you can respond quickly to inquiries. Our annual governance calendar keeps key compliance tasks top of mind.

  • Investment Architecture

    Building an investment menu involves a myriad of decisions—number of options to offer, mix of asset classes, active or passive funds, to name a few. We help your committee create a diversified investment menu that aligns with your organization’s goals and the financial sophistication of your employees.

  • Vendor Management

    The decision to outsource plan functions to a third party requires careful consideration. Excessive fees can erode the retirement readiness of your employees. We conduct RFPs, benchmark fee structures, and evaluate the value of the services being provided to help you select the best providers for your plan.

  • Retirement Readiness

    The most effective plans are the ones that have a 90%+participation rate, a 10%+ contribution rate, and 90% of plan assets invested in a target-date fund or professionally managed account. Hitting these thresholds depends not only on your plan design and investment menu but also on participant education. We offer employees comprehensive, objective guidance to help them understand how retirement planning fits into their current financial picture.

Philip Steele, Partner
Our experienced retirement plan team takes a modern approach to plan design that maximizes value for both employers and employees.

Philip Steele, Partner

Defined Contribution Consulting Services—An Extension of Your Benefits Team

The oversight of retirement plans extends far beyond investments. With increased litigation coupled with a complex regulatory environment, it’s important to select a retirement plan advisory firm that has the experience and expertise across all aspects of your plan to deliver maximum value to your participants and your bottom line. That’s Cerity Partners.

A Reputation for Fiduciary Excellence

We are a Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX)-certified firm. So you can trust that our advice is always in the best interest of your organization and its employees.

This certification is only awarded to financial services organizations that undergo a rigorous, independent assessment of their business practices, including transparency, objectivity, and client service. To learn more about CEFEX, please visit

How Healthy is Your Retirement Plan?

Find out with a complimentary Plan Health Smartcard™ Report.

Our in-depth assessment measures the five critical dimensions of plan success: plan design, investments, fiduciary governance, retirement readiness and vendor management.

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