servicing strategies | PLANADVISER August/September 2014

Tools of Engagement

The technology advisers increasingly use to involve participants

By Jill Cornfield | August/September 2014
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Wesley Allsbrook

Retirement plan advisers may not always see eye to eye on all aspects of practice management, but a growing number is embracing technological resources that engage participants by way of visual appeal, real-life scenarios and videos.

Technology’s latest application across retirement plans now invites participant engagement and usage on a very personal level. “We’re getting people to visualize their retirement needs in a different way,” says Sean S. McLaughlin, senior vice president, client relations and business development, at Prudential Retirement in Hartford, Connecticut.

Voya Financial decided to create more engaging participant tools by making its offerings more visual, according to Chris Lange, the firm’s head of digital strategy for retirement solutions in Windsor, Connecticut. “Showing people their balance is not getting the point across,” she says. Voya’s myOrangeMoney® website, for example, illustrates whether current assets will meet a future monthly income goal. Users can drill through a series of circumstance-based question screens, finding calculators and other tools sprinkled along the way.

“It’s a visual depiction of the future,” Lange says. Sliders—movable levers that show, for instance, possible changes and variations—let people learn about different financial topics while they play in a graphic and interactive way. “It is highly appealing to everyone—especially to women and Millennials, who expect online financial tools to be interesting and dynamic.”

Any population can be challenging if you are unsure what message to send, says Stig Nybo, president of pension sales and distribution at Transamerica Retirement Solutions in San Francisco. Still, he points out, participants in their 20s can be especially tough to reach.

“Young adult participants are complacent about the dangers of running short of retirement income,” Wells says, “because, for them, the golden years remain far off and are far less of a priority than bills they face now.”

Several strategies and techniques can engage this elusive demographic, starting with avoiding the very word “retirement.” Nybo’s advice: “Better to go with phrases such as ‘financial security’ and words such as ‘choice.’” Communicating through text messages, email and social media also works.