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Retirement plan sponsors fret over investment woes, compliance

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Investment volatility, benefit costs and regulatory compliance issues are the top concerns of retirement plan sponsors, according to a Willis Towers Watson P.L.C. survey released Wednesday.

Just over one-half — 53% — of respondents to the Retirement Plan Governance Survey ranked investment volatility as one of their top three concerns, while 49% ranked benefit costs as a top concern, and 47% ranked regulatory compliance as a top three concern.

That high percentage of plan sponsors citing regulatory compliance is understandable, the survey notes.

Over the past two years, 31% of respondents have had their retirement plans audited by the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the survey.

“The fact that one in three retirement plans have been audited should send a wake-up call to many plan sponsors,” David Speier, a senior Willis Towers Watson retirement consultant in Arlington, Virginia, said in a statement.

“Regulatory compliance is a top concern, and there is room for a fair number of employers to improve the management of this risk,” Mr. Speier added.

The survey, conducted in February and March, is based on the responses of more than 300 employers who sponsor defined benefit pension or defined contribution plans, or both.