How target-date managers weight equity along a fund's glide path has had the greatest bearing on performance during the bull market.

Over the past seven years, a 1-percentage point increase in equity exposure has yielded a 6-basis point annualized improvement in performance, according to the findings in Morningstar's 2017 Target-Date Fund Landscape report.

Since 2012, managers have been increasing retirement investors' equity exposure. The industry average equity exposure for a 2020 vintage—held by those knocking on retirement's door—is 51.2 percent, a 5 percent increase over the past five years.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.