Throughout 2018, Retirement Plan Monitor – Institutional coverage set firms improved site features and unveiled new capabilities and resources. Three prominent trends embody most of the changes that recordkeepers made to sponsor sites: the modernization of user interfaces, an increased focus on mobile capabilities and the continued development of plan health resources. In addition, multiple firms enhanced educational suites and security practices.
Lincoln Financial Group and VALIC both overhauled and replaced their plan sponsor sites last year, introducing new and modern interfaces that match the participant counterpart sites and offer more unified color schemes with larger, more stylish fonts. Both sites offer some level of responsive design, but TIAA went further and launched the first plan sponsor mobile app within the RPM-I coverage set.
Last year saw four RPM-I firms—Empower Retirement, Lincoln Financial Group, Principal and Vanguard—introduce or enhance plan health resources. Empower and Principal now offer new participant engagement metrics. Empower also offers managed account usage statistics and includes new plan health data organization options. Vanguard launched a new plan health report resource that includes benchmarks, visualizations and plan information; meanwhile, Lincoln added plan health data and the ability to customize its selection and organization.
Just 33% of coverage set firms unveiled enhanced educational suites last year, centralizing resources but not necessarily adding new content. Charles Schwab and Voya made their existing resources findable from the plan sponsor website. Schwab’s revamped Fiduciary Center links to industry news, trends and insights; Voya added homepage links that lead to its Insights sitelet, which houses workplace benefits and retirement research as well as some legislative and market news. Lincoln’s new Knowledge Center centralizes the educational content, organizing resources by topic. Principal was the only firm to add participant-directed resources, most of which are available in both Spanish and English. VALIC, meanwhile, introduced a dedicated section on the plan sponsor homepage with links to content.
While participant sites allow more flexibility regarding security profiles, sponsor sites must follow more stringent security practices due to the sensitive information they house. Three firms—CUNA Mutual, T. Rowe Price and VALIC—added two-factor authentication this year. Merrill Lynch updated its requirements for accessing the Reporting section on the site. While sponsors previously had to enter a code upon accessing the section, they can now review the Reporting dashboard but must enter a code to view specific reports.
Many sites still employ outdated interfaces, but we view the revamped Lincoln and VALIC interfaces as signs of impending improvement. Similarly, with TIAA’s mobile app introduction, we anticipate an uptick in mobile offerings across the plan sponsor space; since publishing the 2018 RPM-I Update, Empower Retirement introduced responsive design to its plan sponsor site. We especially foresee a trend toward improved plan health offerings, with more benchmarking information, participant-level data, filtering and grouping options and modeling features.