Photo of a plan sponsor discussing trends in nonqualified deferred compensation plans with key employees..

Trends in nonqualified deferred compensation plans

For the 14th year, the annual nonqualified deferred comp plan research results are in, and they reveal that plan sponsors view this offering as a valuable retention tool while plan participants say the main reason for participating is to save for retirement. The latest research results provide timely statistics and trends from the view of plan sponsors and participants—and can help you benchmark against your peers and gain valuable insights.

The key findings from this year’s study prove continued value and need for deferred comp plans—even during a pandemic.

View the summary of key research findings (PDF)

What employers had to say

  • Helping employees save for retirement is still highest priority followed by providing competitive benefits and using the plan as a retention tool
  • Still unlikely to make plan changes
  • More view the plan as valuable for retention than recruiting this year
  • The role of the financial professional is still valued
  • Attitudes toward the plan are positive

What key employees told us

  • Most participants say the plan plays an important role in their decision to take a new job or stay with their current employer
  • Saving for retirement remains a top priority
  • The majority say the plan plays an important role in helping them meet their retirement goals
  • Employer match heavily impacts participation
  • Most plan to keep their deferral amount the same during upcoming enrollment

Read the latest research

Get an inside look at employers’ and key employees’ viewpoints and experiences with a deferred comp plan.

Hear how an employer uses a deferred comp plan to enhance its benefits plan for recruiting and retaining a strong leadership team.

Between June 7-25 and September 7-24, 2021, Principal conducted an online survey with employers having existing nonqualified defined contribution plans and key employees who were currently deferring into a nonqualified plan with Principal. A total of 191 completed surveys were received from employers and 1,529 from key employees.

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co. (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Co. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., 800-247-1737, Member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. Principal National, Principal Life, Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. and Principal Securities are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392. May lose value • Not a deposit • No bank or credit union guarantee. Not insured by any Federal government agency.