Last year, the Department of Labor established an e-delivery rule allowing plan sponsors to communicate retirement plan information electronically. But is there more that can be done to get participants to login more often?
A recent Cogent Syndicated study from Escalent provides some answers. According to the study, most industry experts are quick to recognize that the benefits of DC plan participant digital include:
- higher rates of client satisfaction;
- expanded cross-sell opportunities;
- greater overall financial wellness;
- reduced call-center volume; and
- fewer email inquiries.
But successfully engaging participants on online recordkeeping platforms continues to be a challenge that providers’ marketing teams have grappled with since the inception of platforms, the study notes. So Escalent asked respondents to its DC Participant Planscape study to specify what inspired them to log in (or not) and what could make provider websites “more enticing.”
Over the past year, more than 8 in 10 participants (81%) reported logging in to their plan provider websites, but the majority of these visits were solely transactional, prompted by a desire to check account balances (56%) and review investment options (33%), notes Sonia Davis, senior product director at Escalent. “While older cohorts are taking the initiative to log in for informational purposes, Millennials are compelled by a multitude of factors spanning mobile app notifications, social media links and texts,” writes Davis.
In contrast, participants who have steered clear of their plan provider websites deem their account statements to be sufficient (38%) or find it quicker to speak with a person (21%). Others turn to their financial advisor for questions or admit to forgetting their log-in passwords, the study notes.
On a cautionary note, however, more than one-tenth of Millennials have found the online information uninteresting or irrelevant or had trouble finding answers to their questions—areas plan providers can address more readily, Davis notes.
Regardless of recent log-in activity, the firm asked all DC participants to rank the top five features that would encourage them to log in to their plan provider’s website more frequently. According to the findings, email/text alerts linking to new information and online dashboards with real-time account information top the list across all generations. Online tools and calculators, retirement income/expense worksheets and simplified descriptions of plan investments round out the top five ways providers can generate more website visits.
Here are the top 10 responses based on respondents who ranked the following factors No. 1 in order of importance:
- An email or text that alerts me to new information (10%)
- An online dashboard with real-time account information (9%)
- Online tools and calculators (6%)
- Retirement income/expense worksheets (6%)
- Simplified descriptions of plan investment options (6%)
- Easier log-in (6%)
- Market updates and commentary (5%)
- Enhanced data security (5%)
- Easy-to-use trading platform (5%)
- Short educational videos (2%)
The survey also breaks down those responses by generation. For example, Millennials and Gen Xers were found to be amenable to a variety of influencers, including easy-to-use traditional platforms, short educational videos, better mobile capabilities and personalized education, such as real-life stories and inspirational savings tips.
Ultimately, the goal isn’t just getting participants to log in, but keeping their attention and inspiring them to come back for more education and updated information, says Davis. “Developing the tools that will engage participants with provider websites is a win-win, as it boosts cross-sell opportunities and decreases call and email service volumes for providers while also helping participants better prepare for retirement and secure their financial futures,” she emphasizes.
The findings are based on a survey of 4,600 DC plan participants actively contributing to a DC plan and/or having at least $5,000 in a former employer’s DC plan.