Blueprint for Defined Benefit Plan OCIO Services | Mercer

Wealth and Investments

A Blueprint for Defined Benefit Plan OCIO Services

Written by Gordon Fletcher
Partner, US Delegated Defined Benefits Segment Leader, Mercer

 

An OCIO takes on some of the responsibilities of a Defined Benefit (DB) plan’s fiduciaries and support staff, and, in technical terms, will take ERISA 3(38) fiduciary responsibility for those investment and operation decisions that have been delegated by the fiduciaries. The potential scope of an OCIO is wide and deep, with OCIOs being able to take on operational actions as well as a strategic role as a DB plan progresses along its journey.

The Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) space has dramatically expanded over recent years, with outsourced assets and the number of firms offering this service growing by more than 50% from 2013 to 2015. Pension plans assessing OCIO providers are now faced with a bewildering array of 80 different firms offering a range of services. There has been a concurrent expansion of the scope of services, with OCIOs now providing a more comprehensive service than they did previously. For investment committees looking at OCIO services, there is a lack of clarity. The question we seek to answer here is: What services should a defined benefit (DB) plan expect as part of an OCIO relationship, and what services might not be in a basic package but nevertheless be desirable?

This paper is most relevant to DB fiduciaries (i.e. plan and investment committees) and support staff who are:

  • Looking to hire an OCIO and want to understand what services an OCIO should provide in the current market
  • Planning to replace their existing OCIO and want to understand how the expected level of service offering has grown substantially over recent years
  • Seeking to educate themselves about the OCIO space

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