Data and Research

Provider Education Resources Enter the 21st Century

Of the 36 education topics identified by a recent survey, 50% of the firms cover more than half of the topics, and 33% cover beyond two thirds.

By John Manganaro editors@strategic-i.com | September 06, 2017

The Retirement Plan Monitor report from Corporate Insight suggests retirement plan provider firms have consistently introduced new, higher quality resources to participant websites, and many of the firms tracked by the research now provide “engaging resources across a variety of mediums.”

These resources cover “comprehensive selections of retirement topics,” Corporate Insight reports. “Of the 36 topics identified, 50% of the firms in this report cover over half of the topics, and 33% cover over two thirds.” The most common topics for firms to cover include investment types (100%), defined contribution plans and Social Security (89% each) as well as investment styles/risk profiles, loans, rollovers and contribution basics (83% each). “Impressively, half of firms provide interactive lessons or tutorials, and videos are the most common content medium.”

As laid out by the Corporate Insight research, the proliferation and evolution of retirement educational resources continue to be among the most prevalent trends within the digital retirement space. Since the beginning of 2016, 17 firms within the Retirement Plan Monitor coverage set have introduced new retirement readiness resources to participant sites—and 12 of those firms have done so in this year alone.

“Many have unveiled excellent selections of curriculum-based lessons or tutorials,” the research finds. Some providers have even launched modules consisting of “animated, interactive slides that include videos and gamification elements” and provide thorough coverage of broader topics beyond just retirement planning.

The analysis highlights one provider that, at the start of this year, introduced a “Retirement City Game,” described by researchers as “a resource that exemplifies the trend of engaging, interactive educational resources. Participants start as 23-year-olds and complete challenges by answering multiple choice questions, playing mini games, watching videos, using educational tools and learning trivia. To increase engagement through the spirit of competition, when participants answer questions or play games, they are shown the percentage of other users who answered correctly or the average user score, respectively.” The game also takes steps to encourage action.

While the presentation of materials varies quite a bit across the providers considered, there is more uniformity concerning the topics covered. More than two-thirds of firms offer materials on understanding and comparing defined contribution plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and Roth accounts. After these topics, there is a significant drop off in uniformity, however, with less than one-third covering annuities and health savings accounts (HSAs) and only one firm offering resources on pensions.

More information from the latest Retirement Plan Monitor report, including individual rankings and analysis of top providers, is available here