While it's been generally acknowledged that a high rate of participation is the appropriate benchmark to gauge the success of an employer-sponsored DC plan, a new research project has revealed that other factors might be better used to measure 401(k) plan success.

Diversified recently polled a swath of plan sponsors and found that, to the contrary, participation rates are no longer seen as the primary driving factor in plan success. This year's survey showed that only 52 percent of plan sponsors judge participation rates as the appropriate benchmark, down considerably from 2011.

Instead, explains John Killoy, VP and managing director of Diversified's Retirement Education and Planning Services Group, more plan sponsors have concluded that average deferral rates are instead a much more important factor in measuring the effectiveness of a 401(k) plan.

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