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Defined Benefit Plans

The Principal® is the number one provider of Defined Benefit (DB) pension plans[1] and a leader in pension risk management[2]. We have more than 70 years of experience[3] and serve more than 2,400 DB pension plans with over 330,000 participants[4]. All told, our subsidiary Principal Global Investors, Inc., has nearly $70 billion in assets under management through our full-service and investment-only business.[3]

We offer a full range of DB pension plan services, including:

  • Traditional DB plans — active or frozen
  • Cash balance plans — active or frozen
  • Full-service or unbundled arrangements, in which we coordinate with your outside actuary, third-party administrator (TPA), and/or Registered Investment Advisor to provide services

Pension Risk Management Services

Risk management is a key component in helping meet your organization's pension plan goals. It is important to find a strategy that helps address your plan's unique needs.

We help you understand and evaluate all of your options. We are solution-neutral and give you access to the people, investments and insurance products needed to help implement an effective risk management strategy.

Our consulting team includes 25 independent enrolled actuaries with an average of more than 23 years of experience.[4]

We offer a broad range of risk management capabilities:

  • Retain/Manage Risk
    • Liability Driven Investing
    • Dynamic Asset Allocation
    • Plan Design
  • Transfer Risk
    • Lump Sums
    • Annuity Purchases

With any option, outsourcing can be an important component. We offer professional data management and plan administrative services. This can help reduce fiduciary risk for you as a plan sponsor and provide a strong foundation for future risk management.

Termination Support

Have an active or frozen DB plan that you need to terminate? We can help you through the termination process, from developing a cost effective and efficient exit strategy to managing the final distribution of assets to participants.

Investment Choices

We provide investment expertise to help you create a professionally-managed, diversified portfolio for your defined benefit retirement plan.

We make available a mutual fund or group annuity platform. Both platforms provide an attractive mix of more than 80 Sub-Advised Investment Options[4],[5], which are:

  • Managed by just under 50 investment managers (selected through our due diligence process) from the industry's leading investment firms[4]
  • Designed to be appropriate for retirement savings under employer-sponsored plans and cover a wide range of asset classes

For even more choice and flexibility, our Mutual Fund Network provides access to more than 3,700 mutual funds from more than 200 fund families.[4]

Investment Advisory Services

The Principal provides access to investment advisory services through Principal Financial Advisors, Inc.[6],[7], a registered investment adviser and member company of the Principal Financial Group.

When appointed as the plan's ERISA Section 3(38) investment manager, Principal Financial Advisors will:

  • Develop and implement a customized asset allocation strategy based on your plan's unique situation
  • Take fiduciary responsibility for investment decisions[8]
  • Provide ongoing monitoring, communication and consultation


PLANSPONSOR DB Administration survey, July 2014
The Principal is ranked "Best in Class" for actuarial consulting skills and services, including providing guidance to effectively manage my DB plan, Chatham Partners 2013 Client Satisfaction Survey.
As of 9/30/2014
As of 12/31/2014
Sub-Advised Investment Options include the Principal Stable Value Fund, Principal Funds, the Principal TrustSM Target Date Collective Investment Funds, and the Principal Life Separate Accounts available through a group annuity contract with Principal Life Insurance Company, Des Moines, IA 50392.
Principal Financial Advisors, Inc. is a registered investment adviser and member company of the Principal Financial Group®
Asset Allocation strategies are developed using Separate Accounts available through a group annuity contract of Principal Life Insurance Company.
The plan sponsor remains the "named fiduciary" of the plan, but you select Principal Financial Advisors, Inc. as your plan's investment adviser.

Investors should carefully consider a mutual fund's investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses prior to investing. A prospectus, or summary prospectus if available, containing this and other information can be obtained by contacting a financial professional, visiting, or calling 1.800.547.7754. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Before directing retirement funds to a separate account, investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the separate account as well as their individual risk tolerance, time horizon and goals. For additional information contact us at 1.800.547.7754 or by visiting

The investment fiduciary support and services apply to covered plan investment options that are part of a Qualified Retirement Plan recordkept by Principal Life. 404(c) and QDIA coverage applies only to plans subject to ERISA. No member company of The Principal assumes any additional fiduciary responsibility for any nonqualified deferred compensation plan. No part of the investment fiduciary support and services applies to nonqualified deferred compensation plans subject to 409(A), 457(f) or 457(b) plans for employers under §457(e)(1)(B). For purposes of plans not subject to ERISA, Principal Life indemnifies, where applicable, the Plan Representative who signs the Service Agreement.

Investment options are subject to investment risk. Shares or unit values will fluctuate and investments, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

Principal Life is not a fiduciary in the broader context of operating any plan. The selection of any investment options on behalf of a plan is the fiduciary responsibility of the appropriate plan fiduciary, which is not Principal Life, nor any affiliate. Principal Life does not guarantee performance of any investment option [other than the portion of a group annuity contract that constitutes a guaranteed benefit policy as described in ERISA §401(b)(2)]. Principal Life does not guarantee that any investment option will meet the criteria of any particular plan's investment policy statement, include reasonable fees, or otherwise be suitable for use by any specific plan. The fiduciary tasks undertaken by Principal Life do not eliminate all responsibilities of the relevant plan fiduciaries for the prudent selection of any investment option for a retirement plan. Plan fiduciaries remain subject to a varying amount of ongoing responsibility, depending on the structure of the plan the fiduciary serves and the nature of the plan fiduciary's position. Please consult with your counsel or other adviser as to the responsibility of a plan fiduciary with regard to the selection or retention of any plan investment option by a plan fiduciary.

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities are offered through Princor Financial Services Corporation, 1.800.547.7754, Member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. Securities sold by a Princor Registered Representative are offered through Princor®. Principal Funds Distributor, Princor and Principal Life are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392. Investment options may not be available in all states or U.S. commonwealths. Separate Accounts are available through a group annuity contract with Principal Life Insurance Company. See the group annuity contract for the full name of the Separate Account. Principal Life Insurance Company reserves the right to defer payments or transfers from Principal Life Separate Accounts as permitted by the group annuity contracts providing access to the Separate Accounts or as required by applicable law. Such deferment will be based on factors that may include situations such as: unstable or disorderly financial markets; investment conditions which do not allow for orderly investment transactions; or investment, liquidity, and other risks inherent in real estate (such as those associated with general and local economic conditions). If you elect to allocate funds to a Separate Account, you may not be able to immediately withdraw them.



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For more information

Learn more about Defined Benefit plans;
visit The Principal Blog.

Have a question? Call us at 1.800.986.3343

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