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Non-Profits Prioritize Retirement Plan Compliance and Financial Wellness of Employees In 2020

Non-profit organizations with 403(b) retirement plans will prioritize employee retirement readiness, financial wellness and regulatory compliance heading into 2020, according to a new Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) survey, sponsored by Principal Financial Group®.

“At a time of increased legislative activity and high-visibility litigation targeting some 403(b) plans, plan sponsors have responded with a renewed commitment to compliance and an enhanced focus on the role of the fiduciary,” said Hattie Greenan, director of research and communications at PSCA. “At the same time, it is noteworthy that non-profit employers are continuing to focus on improving participant outcomes by helping them more effectively take advantage of their workplace retirement plan.”

2020 403(b) Plan Sponsor Priorities

Top priorities (by percentage)

  • Keeping the plan in compliance and reducing fiduciary liability (54%)
  • Increasing participation rates (43%)
  • Increasing deferral rates (42%)
  • Adding financial wellness (32%)
  • Reducing plan cost (24%)

Most anticipated plan changes (by percentage)

  • Changing the number of investment options (14%)
  • Changing/adding automatic enrollment (10%)
  • Adding Roth (9%)
  • Changing contribution formula (6%)
  • Adding an investment policy statement (6%)

The full report is available for download at:

The PSCA report surveyed nearly 300 403(b) plan sponsors to illustrate how these organizations approach retirement plan management. In addition to retirement readiness, sponsors are adapting to recent changes in the regulatory environment.

“Plan sponsors can play a powerful role in helping their employees prepare for lifelong financial security,” said Luke Vandermillen, vice president of retirement and income solutions at Principal®. “It’s encouraging to see employers increasingly offer plan features, educational resources and access to financial advisors to equip their employees to save for their future while managing the complexities of debt in the year to come.”

Report Highlights

PSCA Survey Highlights More than half (54%) of 403(b) sponsors are focused on compliance and reduction of fiduciary liability. They reported plans to increase internal oversight processes, seek outside counsel and/or engage in research and education to stay current on retirement plan regulations and responsibilities – ranging from participant communication to overseeing service providers and monitoring fees.

Plan sponsors are committed to improving retirement readiness by increasing participation rates (43%) and deferral rates (42%). More than three-fourths (78%) of respondents indicated that they will address these areas by increasing education and more than forty percent (48%) will provide access to a financial advisor (48%). For years, the highest priority of plan sponsors was to increase the number of employees in the plan. This continues to be one of the highest priorities for plan sponsors in 2020, with one third (30%) making plan changes to increase retirement readiness.

Plan sponsors continue to focus on financial wellness as a priority (32%).
Thirty-two percent of plan sponsors – including 58% of organizations with more than 1,000 plan participants – have prioritized adding financial wellness tools to their plans in 2020. They expect to provide employees with tools related to budgeting (76%), debt management (68%), emergency funds (56%) and student loan debt (51%).

Cybersecurity expected to increase in importance
While only 5% of respondents cited cybersecurity as a priority for 2020, this seems likely to increase in the months ahead amidst growing concerns about identify theft and security of plan balances.

The full report is available for download at

About the Plan Sponsor Council of America
The Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA), part of the American Retirement Association (ARA), is a diverse, collaborative community of employee benefit plan sponsors, working together on behalf of millions of employees to solve real problems, create positive change, and expand on the success of the employer-sponsored retirement system. With members representing employers of all sizes, we offer a forum for comprehensive dialogue. By sharing our collective knowledge and experience as plan sponsors, PSCA also serves as a resource to policymakers, the media and other stakeholders as part of our commitment to improving retirement security for millions of Americans.

About Principal®
Principal helps people and companies around the world build, protect and advance their financial well-being through retirement, insurance and asset management solutions that fit their lives. Our employees are passionate about helping clients of all income and portfolio sizes achieve their goals – offering innovative ideas, investment expertise and real-life solutions to make financial progress possible. To find out more, visit us at

Insurance products and plan administrative services provided through Principal Life Insurance Co. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 800-547-7754, member SIPC and/or independent broker-dealers. Principal Life, and Principal Securities are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, Iowa 50392.
PSCA is not an affiliate of any company of the Principal Financial Group.
Principal, Principal and symbol design and Principal Financial Group are trademarks and service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.
© 2019 Principal Financial Services, Inc.


Lonnetta Ragland, Principal,, (515) 878-1504
Hattie Greenan, PSCA,, (540) 323-7828    

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