Wiz Bang Participant Websites Not a Panacea

We couldn’t agree more!

Judy Ward’s terrific article in the May/June edition of PLANADVISOR Magazine hits the nail on the head. Entitled “High Tech Meets High Touch,” the article illustrates how thoughtful advisors blend technology and coaching to successfully engage plan participants. Bemoaning the fact that many service providers spend millions on their retirement calculators and participant websites, only to find that less than 20% of participants even log on to their site once a year, Ms. Ward interviewed a number of successful retirement plan advisors to find the balance between technology and touch.

James Lyday, managing director of Pensionmark Nashville is representative of the others interviewed for the article. Everyone thinks participants need snazzy feature such as gamification to get motivated to engage. “A customized retirement income illustration is by far the home run to engage people,” says Lyday, a 2019 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Advisor of the year finalist. Indeed, most participants need real help from a trusted advisor in translating their retirement outlook data into an action plan to improve their situation.

Based on her interviews, Ms. Ward puts forth four simple ideas for how to blend technology and touch to build participant engagement: demystify the website calculator, narrow the financial wellness focus, create a blueprint one on one with participants, and capitalize on smartphone apps.

Sadly, having 100 widgets for a participant to use on their website seems to be a critical hiring criteria for many plan sponsors. Retirement plan advisors would do well to note the lessons learned from the experiences of others and educate plan sponsors that wiz bang participant sites are “shiny objects” and not true employee education.

If you’re tired of shiny objects, call Northwest Plan Services. We help our clients implement thoughtful, efficient and effective solutions.