PANC 2010: Participant Education in the Age of Technology

When it comes to participant communications, the retirement plan industry is stuck between the old methods of snail mail and emails and the new world of social media.

T. Henry Yoshida, The Maresh Yoshida 401(k) Group, says Webinars are a good method of communication to plan sponsors and participants. He told attendees of the PLANADVISER National Conference that Webinars are good for clients with multiple locations, and employees like the idea of sitting at their computer rather than gathering for a meeting.  

Mary Hollingsworth, Senior VP, Director of Client Communications, Product and Business Support at Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, agrees that right now participants are more comfortable with Web messages than with communications on social network sites, except maybe the youngest demographic. In addition, she says blogs are more accepted; advisers can share information and participants can comment and discuss issues.  

Kenneth Catanella, Senior Vice President, Investments for UBS Institutional Consulting – The Catanella Institutional Consulting Group, says in these down economic times, he has given presentations about the market history and how long it takes for an upswing to occur. “If you can’t talk with client in the worst of times, they really don’t need you in the best of times,” he says. Catanella suggests advisers include their phone number and an invitation to talk within any presentation.  

Yoshida adds that advisers can link from their Web sites to stories on publications Web sites to provide participant and sponsor education.