10 Technological Developments of 2015

Mobile application development figured largely throughout the year.

Technological developments continue to augment the retirement planning industry, and 2015 was no exception.

Mobile applications. Recordkeepers are focused on technological developments, particularly more mobile transaction capabilities. The aim is to allow participants to do more with their portfolios instantaneously. Of particular interest is a focus on creating one-click enrollment via mobile apps.

Robo advisers. More practices are offering digital advice delivered by robo advisers. According to Cerulli, this is a great way to introduce a client to a new firm at a low cost.

Technological edge. Technology gives advisers a tremendous edge, according to Fidelity Clearing & Custody. Technologically savvy advisers have nearly 40% more assets under management, attract more Gen X and Gen Y advisers and are more adept at expanding their geographic reach, according to Fidelity. To become technologically savvy, Fidelity says advisers need to rely more on social media, email alerts and text messages to communicate with clients and prospects. They also need to use video conferences, more software and platforms, data aggregation, cloud-based storage and e-statements.

Integration. As advisers adopt more software and platforms, they need to make the effort to ensure that they are integrated, according to Celent. For instance, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, automated portfolio rebalancing and retirement income projections could be tied together. As well, front and back office systems need to be paired.

iPads. Advisers can use iPads preloaded with information and materials to hold webinars, instead of individual client meetings.

NEXT: Retirement income calculators

Retirement income calculators. Retirement income calculators are very useful for participants and help advisers have more meaningful conversations and relationships with participants—particularly calculators that ask participants about savings vehicles other than their 401(k) plan. Calculators should also permit users to adjust projections by changing savings rates or their projected date for retirement.

Electronic delivery of statements. Electronic delivery of plan information—notices, disclosures and statements—can benefit plan participants and lower plan costs due to the elimination of printing and mailing, according to SPARK. In fact, SPARK estimates that switching to electronic delivery as the default would save plans $200 million to $500 million annually. Furthermore, information delivered electronically can be more easily customized.

Simplifying rollovers. Making roll-ins automatic would prevent participants from cashing out when they move to a new employer, according to Retirement Clearinghouse. The organization says it takes 19 hours to complete all the steps of rolling money over from one plan to another and can take five to six weeks to complete.

Investment automation. Investment automation could provide customized diversification and rebalancing, which would lead to better returns, Transamerica says.

Targeted communication. Advisers can rely on technology to created targeted communication for participants based on their age, life stage and circumstances. Customized communication should also be directed at times participants are more likely to act, such as when they plan to take a loan, at life stage changes such as getting married, when taxes are filed or after they have attended an education meeting.