Mercer Launches Web Tool for Participants

Mercer said it launched on online educational program to help individuals stay on track with their long-term financial objectives while also acknowledging their concerns in the volatile economic environment.

“Feel better about retirement” is an interactive program available to employees whose 401(k) plans Mercer administers, as well as the general public. It uses an “financial ailment” theme to address participants’ investment fears and encourage positive retirement planning, according to a Mercer news release. The campaign will be updated quarterly to stay current with the economic environment.

Each quarter, participants will be able to “check their symptoms” of a new financial ailment and investigate their “treatment options.” The first phase, “401(k) mattressitis,” explores the effects of withdrawing money from a qualified retirement savings plan—addressing participants who might be tempted to hide their money, perhaps under the figurative mattress, rather than invest it for retirement. It explores strategies for managing investment risk.

“Planning for retirement in a volatile and rapidly changing economic environment can be a major challenge, which is why we are proactively addressing our participants’ anxieties with this interactive educational program,” said Suzanne Nolan, director of Marketing and Communications for Mercer’s outsourcing business, in the news release.

Mercer said its offering is based on key findings from the 2008 Mercer Workplace Survey (see “Retirement Have Lowered Expectations“) and on a comprehensive analysis of recent Mercer participant account activity. While most participants said that saving for retirement remains a major financial goal, three key trends reveal difficulty in maintaining their investment plans:

For the second year in a row, “just keeping up with my monthly expenses” is respondents’ biggest financial worry.

Forty-three percent of participants lack confidence in their ability to calculate and plan for how much money they may need in retirement.
An increasing number of participants have shifted funds into more conservative plan options such as capital preservation funds in recent months, and more participants are decreasing their contribution rates.

The program is available to the general public at