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Plan Participants Welcome Virtual Education

401(k) Education

New research finds that in a year of widespread isolation due to the pandemic, remote and virtual meetings resulted in connecting with more plan participants because of greater flexibility and accessibility. 

The research by Transamerica centered on how retirement plan sponsors and participants on their platform have fared during the pandemic and how the requirement to move from in-person to virtual education has affected engagement.

According to the firm’s findings, there was a 25% year-over-year increase in employee education meetings in 2020. The research also suggests that the increase in virtual education seemed to have a direct correlation to other improved metrics:

  • participants who met with a retirement plan consultant had an average contribution rate that was 32% higher than those who did not; and 
  • there was a 38% higher participation rate for retirement plans whose employees met with a retirement plan consultant versus those who did not.

Transamerica’s virtual education program allows an employee to select a date and time that works for their schedule—including nights and weekends. In addition, an employee can meet with a retirement planning consultant by using their phone or computer, accommodating an instant face-to-face interaction. If the call is via computer, participants can benefit from screen-sharing for a more in-depth account review.

According to Transamerica, feedback from participants about their meetings with retirement plan consultants was positive:

  • 98% said the sessions were “beneficial,” with most saying the sessions were “very beneficial” (88%);
  • 98% of participants were satisfied with their interaction with the retirement plan consultant; and 
  • 91% were pleased with the ease of scheduling and accessibility to meetings with retirement plan consultants.

Noting that it was necessary to move to an entirely virtual model with the pandemic, the firm found that virtual education removes most logistical considerations, making it more convenient and flexible for sponsors and employees, explains Phil Eckman, Transamerica’s Chief Operating Officer of Workplace Solutions. “Plan sponsors lauded the convenience of scheduling meetings, as Transamerica offered virtual meeting opportunities over a fifteen-day period, and the employers didn’t need to corral employees to provide education,” he says. “Their employees also expressed appreciation for the convenience to speak with a retirement planning consultant virtually on their schedule.”

With more companies shifting to a permanent work-from-home or hybrid structure, Eckman suggests that these statistics show that virtual meetings with retirement plan consultants will be even more important and an effective means to give people the information they need to prepare for retirement.