In our third year of producing this annual report, we have revisited key themes of previous years including relative performance of DC governed default solutions and the shift toward more growth-seeking assets.

This year we also explore prevailing trends such as the rise of private markets and at-retirement offerings while delving deeper into the different approaches providers take to their asset allocations, currency hedging and active management.

The next few years will arguably be some of the most critical in the life of governed DC default solutions. In a rapidly changing environment, it is becoming ever more important to have the information you need to appreciate how your default is performing, its relative strengths and weaknesses and how it will evolve in the future. Our technology-led consultancy provides the clarity you need to focus on the items that matter the most to your scheme and your members’ outcomes.     

Should you be interested in understanding more, get in touch with your typical Barnett Waddingham contact or reach out to one of the experts included on this page.

Alongside this annual report, we have produced our annual report on sustainable investment in the governed DC default market. If you are interested any more of our investment insights, please find more information here.

Key takeaways:

  • All solutions reported on posted a positive return over the year of 2023 across all age cohorts. However, there was a significant gap between the best and worst performers, led primarily by strategic asset allocation. The gap was almost 10% in the growth phase and around 8% at-retirement.
  • Mansion House and long-term asset funds (LTAFs) have invigorated interest in illiquid asset classes but allocations remain very limited across governed DC default solutions. 
  • Achieving a meaningful allocation to illiquid asset classes throughout the glidepath is essential to truly improve member outcomes – and remember LTAFs are not a ‘silver bullet’.
  • Commercial constraints are driving many providers to launch new more expensive governed DC default solutions in order to access illiquid asset classes. It will be interesting to see how these new solutions interact with existing solutions. 
  • At retirement investment solutions remain underdeveloped. Understanding how the target portfolio of a Governed DC Default solution interacts with a provider’s retirement solution (including investment pathways) is critical for employers and trustees. Providers are developing their offerings in this space.
  • The next few years will arguably be some of the most critical in the life of governed DC default solutions as they look to introduce allocations to private markets and meet the needs of members as they enter retirement – all amidst an ever-changing market and regulatory environment. A general shift in investor attitudes from ‘cost’ to ‘value’ is essential, with solution design articulated clearly in terms of how it benefits members themselves.

DC governed default investment strategy insights

Our research covers 22 governed DC default investment strategies, available through the leading master trust, contract-based and own-trust solutions. 


Sustainability in DC governed default investment strategies

Our third annual review explores the importance of providers’ commitment to sustainable investing and the actions they have taken.

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Large DC schemes analysis 2024

Our fourth annual large DC scheme research includes data from nine leading DC providers covering 109 large DC schemes with combined AUM of just under £128bn.

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