What are the Pros and Cons of Defined Benefit Plans?

Nov 2, 2022


Welcome to Advisor Research Partners, your reliable source of information in the business and consumer services industry. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the pros and cons of defined benefit plans, helping you make informed decisions for your financial future.

Understanding Defined Benefit Plans

Defined benefit plans are retirement plans that guarantee a fixed amount of income to employees upon retirement. These plans are managed and funded by employers, offering employees a stable and predictable source of income in their golden years.

Now, let's dive deeper into the pros and cons of defined benefit plans to give you a clearer picture of their advantages and potential drawbacks.

Pros of Defined Benefit Plans

1. Guaranteed Retirement Income

A significant advantage of defined benefit plans is the guarantee of a fixed income during retirement. Unlike defined contribution plans, where the retirement income may fluctuate based on market performance, defined benefit plans provide a stable source of income, ensuring financial security in retirement.

2. Employer Responsibility

Employers are responsible for managing and funding defined benefit plans, alleviating the burden from employees. The employer's commitment to provide a reliable retirement income can bring peace of mind to employees and allow them to focus on other aspects of their financial planning.

3. Professional Investment Management

Defined benefit plans are typically managed by professional investment managers who make informed decisions to maximize returns and minimize risk. This expertise ensures that the plan's investments align with the retirement income goals, protecting the interests of the employees.

4. Tax Advantages

Contributions made to defined benefit plans are often tax-deductible, providing potential tax advantages for both employers and employees.

Cons of Defined Benefit Plans

1. Cost and Complexity for Employers

Defined benefit plans can be costly and administratively complex for employers. The responsibility of funding the plan and ensuring its sustainability requires careful financial planning and ongoing management. This can be a significant burden for businesses, especially smaller ones.

2. Limited Flexibility for Employees

Unlike defined contribution plans, defined benefit plans offer limited flexibility to employees. The income during retirement is predetermined and may not account for individual circumstances or specific financial goals. Employees may have less control over their retirement savings and investment decisions.

3. Lack of Portability

Defined benefit plans are tied to the employer, and changing jobs can impact the benefits received. In some cases, employees may have to forfeit a portion of their defined benefit if they switch employers before meeting certain eligibility criteria. This lack of portability can be a disadvantage for individuals with varied career paths.

4. Potential Plan Underfunding

In certain situations, defined benefit plans can face underfunding issues, where the plan's assets are insufficient to cover the promised retirement benefits. This can lead to reduced benefits for retirees or put financial strain on the employer to make up the shortfall. It is crucial for employers to regularly monitor the plan's funding status to mitigate this risk.


Defined benefit plans have their share of advantages and disadvantages. While they provide a steady retirement income and alleviate investment responsibilities for employees, they can also be costly and lack flexibility. Employers must carefully assess their financial capabilities and employees' needs when considering offering defined benefit plans.

At Advisor Research Partners, we specialize in providing consulting and analytical services in the business and consumer services industry. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in making informed decisions about retirement plans and other financial matters.

Great breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of defined benefit plans!
Nov 8, 2023