Best Practices: Retirement Plan Participant Phone App Home Screens

by on Apr 15, 2019

In Corporate Insight’s recent Retirement Plan Monitor Report regarding participant phone app home screens and plan dashboards, we determined best practices that emerge for three main aspects of the user experience: approach (i.e., comprehensive vs. multi-screen landing pages), plan data and resources.


Home Screen Approach Best Practices

Most recordkeepers take a multi-screen approach:

  • Include a home screen to display overall portfolio data – Home screens can be defined as screens that provide portfolio-level information and resources; they are uniquely positioned to paint an overall picture of retirement status for participants. Some firms take advantage of this space, while others use it merely as a plan selection screen.


  • Offer additional, specific information on plan dashboards – Firms should use plan dashboards to supplement home screens, drill down on plan-specific data and expand upon certain elements from the home screen.


More than half of firms in the recent report take a multi-screen approach, to varying degrees of success: three firms offer home screens with retirement readiness information, while another three offer home screen plan selectors with minimal accompanying data. Only Fidelity offers a home screen for participants with multiple plans, while TIAA offers a home screen that summarizes all accounts that participants hold with the firm, including non-retirement accounts.


Home Screen Data Best Practices


Home screens and dashboards generally provide the data that participants care about most:


  • List critical data on the home screen – A strong selection of plan data is the cornerstone of an effective retirement plan home screen; firms should aim to list only the most important data points rather than all data available via the desktop site.



It is seldom appropriate to load a mobile app home screen with the same quantity of information found on a desktop site. Most firms prioritize the data that matters most to participants and display it in a digestible manner, although some metrics remain scarce, including vested balances and holdings lists.


Most firms incorporate data visualizations:


  • Maximize mobile devices’ limited screen space with data visualizations – Pie charts and graphs can serve multiple functions and better communicate data than long lists of numbers.


  • Make data more digestible with graphs and other visuals – Firms should incorporate data visualizations with features like color coding and tappable sections that reveal more information, helping make data more intuitive.


AXA offers a rate of return graph, TIAA provides a historical contributions graph, and a donut chart on Empower’s home screen depicts the projected contribution amount for the current year. Meanwhile, Charles Schwab, Merrill and TIAA offer the most visuals, incorporating three within their home screens and dashboards.


TIAA Home Screen Data Visualizations


Home Screen Resources


Firms do not consistently integrate on-screen resources:


  • Encourage engagement through on-screen resources – Salary deferral transactions on home screens and dashboards, various help options and income projection tools can help supplement other plan data and benefit participants.


Merrill uniquely provides home screen customization options and a to-do list feature. TIAA offers a Goal feature that lets participants manage and track their progress. Fidelity lets participants hide balances for an extra layer of security.


Merrill Dashboard Resources


For more best practices on designing mobile app home screens and dashboards that improve the user experience for retirement plan participants, read the full report.