DCIIA Courting Retail Investment Advisers

The well-known industry association opens its umbrella in yet another sign of retirement and wealth advisement drawing closer.

An influential retirement industry investment association is opening its tent to retail investment advisers in yet another sign of the convergence of retirement planning and wealth management, according to its new head of operations.

“Investment advisers represent a really important part of the retirement ecosystem,” says Lisa Massena, the chief operating officer of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association, which has retirement industry members from across the industry. “We are seeing a blurring of the lines between people who might have seen themselves as only retail advisers in the past but are now advising on retirement plans.”

In Massena’s work with the industry, she has seen retail investors moving “up-market” toward small plan advisement, even as institutional consultants look “down-market” to meet growing demand from smaller plan sponsors. “Each has important things to share, and each has important things to work on and bring back to their businesses to make them better,” she says.

Massena took the head operations role with DCIIA in December of last year after running her own retirement savings consultancy. She was also the founding executive director of OregonSaves, creating the nation’s first automatic IRA program, and on the asset management side, was a senior vice president at State Street.

The need to have wealth advisers at the table stems in part from rampant aggregation in recent years in which firms are bringing former independent retirement advisories and registered investment advisories under one roof, Massena says. Acquisitions are being done on a near monthly basis by firms such as Creative Planning, CAPTRUST, Heffernan Financial and many more. Meanwhile, investment giants such as Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs are leaning into workplace benefit programs with retirement savings programs.

In June, DCIIA will host a policy forum with the SPARK Institute, a retirement plan industry advocacy group, in which SECURE 2.0 will be discussed. Massena expects there will be discussion of near-term implementations such as mandatory auto-enrollment and pension-linked emergency savings programs going into effect in 2024. She also anticipates talk of the saver’s match, not starting until 2027, in which lower-income employees will be eligible for a federal matching contribution of up to $2,000 a year.

This June, DCIIA will hold the Advisor Institute Forum, in conjunction with retirement, insurance, benefits, and wealth management provider Hub International, in Kohler, Wisconsin, on an invitation-only basis. Massena says it is a new opportunity for advisers to discuss key retirement investing issues that, while relatively slow-moving in many aspects, also seem to be changing by the day.