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Collective Investment Trusts Show Gains Over Mutual Funds in DC Plans

The Callan Institute’s 2018 Defined Contribution Trends report is showing that sponsors of plans, including 401(k) and 457 plans, are looking at options besides mutual funds. Callan found that in 2017 fewer plans offered mutual funds (79.5%) than in previous years. According to the survey, mutual fund prevalence has decreased 15.5 percentage points since 2011 when it was 95%. Over the same period, use of collective trusts increased from 43.8% in 2011 to 65% in 2017. Callan conducted the annual Defined Contribution (DC) Trends Survey online in September and October of 2017. The survey incorporates responses from 152 DC plan sponsors. Collective investment trusts, or CITs, which can use the same strategies as a mutual funds and allow more customization, are sponsored by banks and trusts and are offered by major financial advisers. The Wall Street Journal, which reported on the survey, quoted advisory firm representatives who noted that CITs typically have lower management and distribution costs than mutual funds. CITs are not regulated by the SEC. The report also cited an ALPS survey which predicts that assets in CITs could surpass $3 trillion by the end of 2018, up from $1.9 trillion at the end of 2015.