The SPARK Institute released its guidelines on the integration of guaranteed lifetime income options on 401(k) and other defined contribution (DC) plan recordkeeping and web platforms.
The SPARK Institute guidelines allow recordkeepers to translate information delivery and decision making supported by all income product providers to their own systems. The common approaches are not specific to any one recordkeeper, middleware, or product solution. These new guidelines are completely voluntary for SPARK Members and are not a requirement for offering a lifetime income option.
“We recognized the need to go beyond the existing SPARK income data standards and provide guidelines on the use of the data and product integration,” says Tim Rouse, executive director for the Institute. “Working through a member task force, we created the guidelines to support participant level guarantees and related messaging and disclosures for various income products on the market today.”
According to SPARK, although participant experience and related technology varies across recordkeepers, there are core functions that exist on all platforms, such as exchanges, withdrawals, loans, and required minimum distributions. While the focus of the guidelines is participant web-based transactions, they may be translated to other areas such as call center servicing.
“Having a consistent approach that supports all products will minimize the initial and ongoing costs and maintenance for the recordkeeper,” says Rouse. “These standards also reflect the extent to which guaranteed lifetime income products have adopted a standard approach.”The new SPARK Guaranteed Income Touchpoint Guidelines are available at no cost to recordkeepers and providers of lifetime income products by contacting The SPARK Institute at 860-658-5058, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.