DCIF is committed to producing high-quality, thought and leadership research that highlights the issues and opportunities available to those responsible for DC scheme investment strategies.

In addition to these research projects, which are launched at free-to-attend CDP accredited events, all the group’s research reports are available to download free of charge.

A Complex Puzzle

A detailed report looking at the investment challenges facing DC schemes and asset managers today


Living with Covid: Tracking Members’ Views on Responsible Investment

One year on from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we checked in with members to see how their thoughts on the impact of the pandemic have changed, and whether the financial challenges of the last year have affected their interest in responsible investment.



What’s holding UK DC schemes back from investing in private markets? The DCIF explores the current barriers and how they can be overcome.


What do DC scheme investment gatekeepers think about illiquid assets?

On Tuesday 25th May, the Pensions Policy Institute revealed its findings from interviews with ten “gatekeepers” of DC scheme investment decision-makers: Four consultants, two trustees and four DC scheme providers. The research took place between 19th April and 7th May 2021 and was sponsored by the DCIF.

Growing Pains: Master trusts beyond auto-enrolment

Three years on from our first state of the nation report on master trusts, this report is a comprehensive study of how 18 major master trusts’ investment strategies are evolving.

The Key to Unlocking Member Engagement

This report examines how defined contribution (DC) savers are becoming more concerned about ESG issues. Global crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and greater environmental awareness are driving change. But are pension schemes keeping up?

The Good Citizen’s Guide to ESG

This step-by-step guide explains how pension schemes can have thoughtful & structured conversations about ESG.

Master Trusts: What does success look like?

This paper – the third in a three-part series – examines how master trusts assess cost versus value

Master Trusts: Weathering the market’s highs and lows

This paper – the second in a three-part series – explores the investment hurdles master trusts must overcome

MASTER TRUSTS: Are we going in the right direction?

This paper – the first in a three-part series – explores how master trusts are approaching investment

Five Years of Freedom: Evolution, not Revolution

Our largest research project of 2019 examines how the pensions industry and consumer behaviour has evolved, five years on from the introduction of freedom and choice.

The Gender Pensions Gap – Can it be Closed?

Women in their late 50s have around 50% less pension savings than men according to a report from the Pensions Policy Institute and the DC Investment Forum. Find out how we can close the gap.

Adapt or Die – the pensions industry needs to fundamentally rethink the way it communicates

The pensions industry needs to fundamentally rethink the way it communicates in order for the industry to remain relevant – this was the key conclusion and message from a panel of experts with a range of perspectives at a recent DC Investment Forum (DCIF) event.

Making responsible investment tangible

The DCIF collaborated with a group of industry experts on its flagship 2018 responsible investment-focused research. Those experts reunited to discuss in more depth how pension funds can make responsible investment more meaningful to members.

What is CDC and how might it work in the UK?

CDC schemes could offer a middle ground between Defined Contribution (DC) and Defined Benefit (DB). Despite the fact that CDC has been discussed several times in recent years in the UK context, there is still some uncertainty about how it would work in practice. This research, by the Pensions Policy Institute in association with the DC Investment Forum and Royal Mail, seeks to demystify CDC and address the key considerations as it develops in the UK.

Retirement: What’s the full story?

How are defined contribution (DC) schemes navigating drawdown on members’ behalves? What are the challenges associated with investment design, in the wake of freedom and choice? And does today’s retirement data tell the full story? A group of industry experts gathered to discuss the trends they are observing in this fast-moving landscape.

Navigating ESG: A practical guide

The DCIF’s flagship research report for 2018 provides pension schemes with all the rationale they need to become more responsible investors. From a quantitative study of DC savers’ attitudes to an outline of the rationale schemes could use when communicating with them, we hope this paper demystifies the subject and provides a useful framework.

DC investment landscape analysed in Cass report

A new report by Cass Business School for the DC Investment Forum (DCIF) analyses the investment strategy of the UK’s trust-based Defined Contribution schemes in 2017.

Master Trusts – Investment Designs: A Comprehensive Study

A major new study into investment strategies of UK Master Trusts commissioned by the Defined Contribution Investment Forum (DCIF) was launched on 9 February.  Seventeen Master Trusts were canvassed about their current investment design strategies and the issues currently facing them.

Barriers to Innovation White Paper

DC experts at a DCIF round table discussion voiced their concerns that members are not receiving access to the most innovative ideas in the investment universe. This paper examines a selection of barriers to investment innovation, with two specific focuses: to what extent the charge cap limits innovation, and the degree to which schemes are currently able to access illiquid asset classes.

The Engagement Barometer

The Defined Contribution Investment Forum’s industry research – The Engagement Barometer – has revealed that people who have higher incomes, and who are members of higher social grades, are more engaged with the pension savings process than those with lower earnings.

Global Plans of DC Investment Design

The DCIF commissioned Tor Financial Consulting Ltd to better understand defined contribution plan investment design in five markets: United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile and their relevance to the UK. In this paper we cover the main investment products and savings vehicles used and the outcomes achieved for individuals.

Mind the Gap – The case for relaxation of daily dealing requirements for DC pensions

There is a gap in investment standards between Defined Contribution and Defined Benefit pensions. Daily dealing imposes limits on investment options for DC schemes. However, daily dealing is not a regulatory requirement. In addition we have published a copy of the full report that was created to present the case for long term investing in DC schemes.

DCIF Glossary

A free glossary that will help people to understand some of the terminology and acronyms they will encounter as they consider DC pension investment matters.

Innovation under the Charge Cap

To discover how the industry is adjusting to the charge cap, and to find out what challenges remain, the DCIF gathered a panel of industry figures including trustees, consultants, and asset managers to discuss their perspectives on this new reality.

Identifying new ways to engage with savers in DC pensions

Within Defined Contribution pensions, there is a growing need for thinking about new ways to engage with savers. This paper investigates one possible new approach: that some funds could be built around a “social” objective.

Default fund design and governance in DC pensions

This report – created in partnership with the NAPF – focuses on eight case studies of DC pension schemes that have been through the process of DC default fund creation, review or improvement. We hope that this report provides a helpful and practical guide to those running DC pension schemes.

A new age of retirement

This report is a contribution to the debate on changes to traditional retirement models in the UK as a result of demographic pressures, longevity and the move from defined benefit to defined contribution pension schemes. This represents a new age of retirement. Current investment solutions for DC schemes have been developed to cater for the traditional cliff-face model of retirement. The DCIF believes that to cater for the new age of retirement new investment solutions need to be developed for both pension accumulation and decumulation.

At retirement solutions for the new pensions era

A study into the impact of the pension freedoms on DC schemes’ retirement strategies

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