DC Plans Face Often-Overlooked Operational Risks

In today’s environment, market risk tends to receive the most attention from the media and from stakeholders, but managing operational risk has become more important as plans have grown in size and complexity. Many experts believe operational risk, rather than market risk, is the leading threat to a plan’s reputation due to the breadth and complexity of the individual risks in this category.

Operational Risk in Context: Other DC Plan Risks


Operational Failures Can Lead to Losses

For DC plans, operational risk encompasses potential losses attributable to failures in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) compliance, participant financial reporting, transaction processing, data security, technology, business continuity and vendor management.

Print an overview of operational risk.

Potential Consequences

The consequences of operational risk failures can be severe, including sizeable losses, litigation or threatened tax status of plan assets.

Benefits of Managing Operational Risk

Effectively managing operational risk may lead to improved service quality, reduced costs, improved participant decision making and strengthened compliance.

A first step is adopting a framework that includes:

  • Governance structure
  • Audits and assessments
  • Management of cybersecurity risks
  • Peer reviews and benchmarking
  • Comprehensive investment policy
  • Key performance and risk measures

Learn More about Recognizing and Managing Operational Risk in Segal’s Publications:

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Wendy Carter

Wendy Carter

VP, National Public Sector Defined Contribution Practice Director

Julian Regan

Julian Regan

SVP, Public Sector Market Leader, Segal Marco Advisors