By enabling a new skill, participants in plans recordkept by Prudential Retirement can get retirement account information by asking Amazon’s Alexa.
Scott Gaul, SVP and head of sales and strategic relationships at Prudential Retirement, tells PLANADVISER that in the firm’s focus on financial wellness, it thinks participant engagement and the use of digital products is important. He points to research from Adobe Digital Insights that finds 51% of U.S. consumers use some type of voice assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices dominate the marketplace. In addition, according to Gartner, Inc., a technology market research firm, by the year 2020, 30% of web searches will be via voice technologies.
Gaul said Prudential also looked at how many participants are using its tools today and for what most are leveraging participant websites. Those enrolled in Prudential’s defined contribution, defined benefit cash balance and non-qualified retirement plans who have an Alexa-enabled device and a registered account on the Prudential Retirement website can say, “Alexa, ask Prudential Retirement for my account balance,” and receive balance information. Account holders can also check rates of return and outstanding loan balances—the top three reasons they log into the Prudential Retirement website.
Gaul explains that participants have to enable the skill, by downloading the application. He points out that, “Account security is our highest priority, so Alexa/Amazon does not have access to stored usernames and passwords.” He also notes that after asking Alexa the question, participants will be asked for a PIN number to ensure it is them, and the information automatically closes after 16 seconds to limit the chance of information getting to others who may be listening.“The trend of engaging participants differently through technology will increase in the future,” Gauls says. “Our new Prudential Retirement skill allows individuals to quickly and easily access information, which hopefully will give them awareness of their situation, and hopefully lead them to action to improve their financial wellness.”