Next-level retirement programs

Next-level retirement programs

How to better leverage advances in technology to improve your employee retirement program.

December 19, 2017

Advances in technology have impacted the world as we know it. According to a study by CGI, 90% of consumers prefer online banking services, regardless of their age, income, place of residence or type of financial institution.

Is your credit union keeping up with your employees’ expectations for accessible, personalized retirement planning?

Here is how you can better leverage advances in technology to take your employee retirement program to the next level.

1. Leverage retirement income calculators. Retirement income calculators are a common tool found on retirement websites. But they’re not all equally effective.

In recent years, some retirement calculators have changed their default display from emphasizing the total amount saved to-date to showing the monthly retirement income the account is projected to generate.

This change is beneficial since monthly income might appear more attainable to plan participants than a lump sum, especially to younger employees. But the switch to emphasizing monthly retirement income is just the first step. The next is to make it easier for users to understand how to adjust that amount.

For example, CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions offers its 401(k) plan participants a tool that prominently displays the projected monthly income and three main levers that can affect that amount:

  • Contribution percentage.
  • The target percentage of current income that retirement assets will replace.
  • The year the employee intends to retire.

Adjusting any of these levers shows users in real time the effect on their projected monthly income and whether they’re on target to reach their retirement goal. Being able to analyze this level of detail boosts engagement and allows participants to feel in control of their retirement.

In fact, after deploying this new layout in 2015, the average monthly number of engaged plan participants increased by 30% through 2016.

2. Offer a mobile app. Willis Towers Watson’s 2016 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey of nearly 5,100 U.S. employees found that two-thirds of millennials and baby boomers agree that mobile apps are either important or very important to managing and tracking the value of their retirement savings.

If you haven’t already, work with your retirement plan provider to offer participants an app specific to your retirement program. A dedicated app gives you a versatile communication channel that enables employees to engage with their retirement plan anytime, anywhere.

Some apps and mobile devices allow users to log in with their fingerprint or a facial ID to add an extra layer of security. Other retirement planning apps have a one-touch feature similar to the “What’s my balance?” button on a credit union’s mobile banking app, allowing the participant to see their current retirement account balance and rate of return with the touch of a fingerprint.

3. Use actionable data insights. The growing field of data analytics has created tools that give administrators important advantages, including:

  • More frequent data updates that improve your ability to track the immediate and long-term effects of program changes. This informs planning strategies, such as the amount of matching funds to set aside. Historically, plan administrators have received updated data about participation rates, contribution percentages, investment allocations, and retirement outcomes semiannually. But today, this data can be updated every pay period, so you can react more quickly if necessary.
  • The ability to direct messages to specific audiences and assess whether the messages have been received and acted upon. Administrative tools exist to help you target your communications directly to people are most likely to act on them.

For example, why send employees who max out their 401(k) contributions an email about why they should max out their 401(k) contributions? Administrators can now link data, such as email open rates, to changes in contribution percentages, and adjust tactics accordingly.

Targeted messaging is especially important for participants who are in or near retirement age, and for those who are especially at-risk of a retirement income shortfall.

Web technology has fundamentally changed how retirement plan participants engage with their program.

But this technology changes rapidly, so keep a watchful eye on what’s new in this arena and how it can benefit your employees.

JASON HANSON is the director of e-commerce for CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions.