Wellness resources that educate participants on a variety of financial topics—beyond just maximizing the 401(k) benefit—are crucial for an effective and holistic retirement planning experience.
But it is also important to consider the choice and information ecosystem in which financial wellness resources are presented, according to a new Corporate Insight report, “Providing the Tools to Build Financial Wellness: Analyzing Participant Site Financial Wellness Tools and Calculators.”
The analysis finds retirement plan service providers “recognize the importance of providing retirement plan participants with the resources they need to assess and improve their financial wellness, with 85% offering access to multiple financial wellness tools on their participant sites. The growing popularity of online financial wellness tools and calculators is among the most notable trends in the retirement space.”
Corporate Insight finds 40% of firms polled have introduced new financial wellness resources since the start of 2016. Most have made at least a reasonable effort to effectively organize and present their tools.
“The firms examined in this report generally provide easy access to their financial wellness resources, with almost 90% providing dedicated calculator sections or pages, 73% of which centralize access to all tools,” researchers explain. “The coverage group, however, has little consistency with respect to the topics covered by the available tools.”
As the report suggests, “college savings planners” are the only tools offered by more than half of the firms monitored and are available on 65% of sites. This is despite a fairly slow general uptake among investors of solutions such as 529 college savings plans.
Researchers further observe that just five of the additional 28 financial wellness topics asked about are addressed by more than one-quarter of firms. These include: IRAs (47%), taking advantage of compounding (41%), Social Security benefits (41%), life insurance (35%) and saving for a specific goal (29%).
Other findings show nearly half of the firms (47%) “exclusively offer third-party resources through the same provider, such as Dinkytown or DST, leading to general consistency in the user experiences of these firms’ tools. Approximately 88% of firms frequently incorporate data visualizations into results; however, firms often fall short of providing additional desirable result features, such as calls to action (41%) and scenario comparisons (6%).”