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Part 4: Customization can help

Most advisors surveyed believe that more customization versus off-the-shelf options would help make TDFs more useful and more attractive to clients.
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Plan advisors appear to agree, at least somewhat, with one subset of their clients: Most advisors surveyed (59%) believe that more customization versus off-the-shelf options would help make TDFs more useful and more attractive to clients. In fact, the most commonly cited reason advisors say they don’t use TDFs in the plans they advise is the lack of customizability (33%).

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Many of the concerns advisors listed in the open-ended “other” category support the survey’s overall findings, particularly around a TDF’s suitability for a particular group of participants. A comment from one retirement plan advisor with more than 25 years of experience in the industry hits on multiple suitability issues at once. “TDFs look only at age and not where we are in the interest rate cycle,” he says. “Retirement date is not a terminus date, and many clients still need growth well after their retirement date.”

While most TDFs do not explicitly factor the interest rate cycle into their glide paths, many do address the need to maintain exposure to growth beyond the target retirement date—particularly through the choice of a “through” glidepath, although perhaps not at the level advisors would like to see.

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