The majority (64 per cent) of consulting and advisory firms said their plan sponsor clients are looking to improve financial wellness programs, according to a new defined contribution plan consulting survey by PIMCO.

The same percentage (64 per cent) of respondents said plan sponsors want to improve participant retirement education and evaluate investment fees. The survey was conducted this February and March and includes responses from 12 consulting and advisory firms that serve about 2,500 Canadian DC plan sponsors.

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All consultants agreed active management is important to some degree and most (73 per cent) said active management in Canadian equity small cap is extremely important, while 60 per cent said the same about alternatives.

Slightly more than half (55 per cent) of respondents said they expect the highest growth in manager selection and monitoring, governance reviews and evaluating financial wellness programs. Meanwhile, 27 per cent said setting up a retirement tier, evaluating retirement income, minimizing fiduciary liability, reviewing cybersecurity capabilities of service providers and evaluating administration fees are top priorities for plan sponsors.

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“As North American populations age, the ability to generate income has become more important for those entering or already in retirement,” said Rene Martel, head of retirement at PIMCO, in a press release. “We expect demand for income to increase in the years ahead as savers shift their focus from acquiring wealth to efficiently turning their assets into an income stream to meet spending needs in retirement.”