In establishing criteria for its annual Monitor Awards, given for best practices in online and mobile innovation for 2016 by defined contribution (DC) plan recordkeepers, Corporate Insight surveyed close to 1,500 participants and found the top-15 features most commonly identified by participants as “very important” or “extremely important” saw a considerable amount of change since the 2013 survey.
In total, six of the top-15 features in 2013 no longer appear within the top 15 in the 2016 study. Most notably, five of the new site features that appear within the top 15 are related to account information: ability to view recent account activity, YTD rate of return, plan fees, general holdings-level performance and the ability to view performance of individual holdings across multiple timeframes. These website features replace transaction confirmations, quarterly statements, two account history-related features and customer service response time.
While the 2013 version of the study asked participants which transactions they completed within the previous six months, the 2016 version also asked how important they deem each transaction type. The data shows that participants place the highest value on rollovers, contribution rate changes and future investment election management capabilities, followed by fund exchanges and withdrawals, significantly more than the abilities to take loans or conduct rebalances.
Among individuals who indicated that they accessed their plans via mobile devices over the previous six months, phone app usage rose from 82% to 93%, while tablet app usage remained at 29% and mobile site usage rose from 9% to 15%.NEXT: Focus on income projections and financial wellness
Corporate Insight noted that retirement income projections have emerged as the clear preferred method among recordkeepers for communicating retirement readiness information to DC plan participants. The increased popularity of income projections is among the most prominent trends in the digital retirement arena, as nine different Retirement Plan Monitor (RPM) firms either added an income projection directly to the participant site homepage or enhanced an existing homepage projection resource.
Participants are also beginning to recognize the importance of income projections as 57% of survey respondents stated that it is either “very important” or “extremely important” to have access to one directly on the homepage, representing a 24% increase from the 2013 survey results.
Throughout 2016, there has been a growing, industry-wide focus on helping participants develop retirement plans that fit within the greater context of their overall financial lives. Creating holistic retirement plan websites that allow participants to account for outside financial accounts, goals and obligations can drive better financial outcomes, Corporate Insight says.
Many recordkeepers in the RPM coverage group have recognized the importance of holistic retirement planning, and have greatly enhanced the overall financial wellness resources available on the participant websites. This year, seven firms added new financial wellness tools and six added significant new financial wellness-focused content.
More information about the Monitor Awards is here.