DC Provider Mobile Capabilities Increasing

Retirement plan providers continue to place more emphasis on their mobile presence, according to Corporate Insight research.

Corporate Insight’s latest Retirement Plan Monitor report update finds that in the past year, providers have launched new phone apps, tablet apps and revamped mobile sites.

Only MassMutual introduced a mobile app while three firms unveiled tablet apps: The Principal Financial Group, T. Rowe Price and TIAA-CREF. The tablet apps all mirror the firms’ existing mobile platforms, offering participants a consistent cross-platform experience.

The Principal and T. Rowe Price introduced new responsive participant sites, thus revamping the mobile browser experience. The new responsive designs not only provide a uniform experience from desktop to mobile but also offer sleeker interfaces and improved organization and navigation.

Most firms with existing mobile platforms enhanced their offerings, including the addition of transactions and tools. Charles Schwab and Transamerica both added transactions for the first time to their mobile platforms – bringing the total amount of firms that offer mobile transactions up to 11 out of 18 – and four expanded their existing capabilities. This time last year, four of 17 firms offered transaction capabilities.

Fidelity, The Principal, Transamerica and Voya Financial added mobile-friendly retirement tools, allowing participants to assess their retirement readiness. Three of the tools allow participants to conduct transactions directly from the results interface. The addition of tools and transactions increases participant engagement and encourages beneficial account changes, Corporate Insight says.

Additional features, such as message centers and document sending capabilities, are slowly appearing on mobile platforms. Sending documents, a feature added by one firm, allows participants to use a phone’s or a tablet’s camera to upload documents, similar to depositing a check on a mobile banking app.

Corporate Insight suggests that going forward, firms should continue to add transactions, tools and features such as the document upload to the mobile experience and continue to incorporate responsive design, considering the increased dependence on phones and tablets over traditional desktop computers.

Looking at actual 401(k), 403(b) and 457 accounts, Retirement Plan Monitor explores the plan participant experience offered by leading defined contribution plan providers. The research analyzes the online and offline user experience, with a focus on website design and usability, online education tools, transaction capabilities, participant account documents, plan fees and more.