Over the course of the last two years, the Retirement Plan Monitor group at Corporate Insight has done extensive research into the mobile capabilities of our coverage firms. When analyzing the phone and tablet applications made available to retirement plan participants, one of the things we look for are the transaction capabilities provided within the apps, such as rebalancing assets, changing allocations, and changing the contribution rate. In the February 2013 RPM Report, which focused on mobile capabilities as a whole, not a single firm in the Retirement Plan Monitor coverage group offered either a phone or tablet app that featured transaction capabilities. By the time the topic of phone apps was revisited in July of 2014, four firms offered transaction capabilities on their phone apps: ING (now Voya Financial), The Principal Financial Group, T. Rowe Price and Vanguard. Furthermore, by August 2014, when tablet apps were specifically reviewed, two firms – VALIC and Vanguard – offered transaction capabilities on their tablet apps. Recently, Fidelity joined the party by adding a new My Contributions section to its phone app and mobile-optimized website that allows participants to change their contribution rate.
The new My Contributions section was added to the scrollable component at the bottom of the Retirement Accounts overview page on both the phone app and mobile website. This section displays the participant’s current pre-tax and Roth contribution rates, and a Details link that leads to a dedicated Contributions page.
Retirement Accounts Overview – New My Contributions Section
To change the contribution rate, users can simply click the Change box located at the top right of the screen and use the “+” and “-” icons presented on the following page to adjust the rate. Users can adjust both their pre-tax and Roth contribution rates.
Contributions Page (Left) and Change Contributions (right)
The Contributions page on both the mobile site and phone app also offers access to a new, convenient Estimate the Dollar Amount calculator that requires participants to input their annual gross salary, pay frequency, and federal and state tax rates.Using this information, the calculator generates participants’ contribution amounts and take-home pay reduction per paycheck for their current contribution rate. The app also offers a Learn More intra-page tab that details how pre-tax contributions and Roth contributions work over time.
Estimate the Dollar Amount Calculator – Inputs (Left) and Results (Right)
With Fidelity adding the ability to change a contribution rate from its mobile app, the trend of adding transaction capabilities to mobile offerings continues upward. While the need to make a transaction on a retirement plan may be less dire than that of a banking or brokerage client, offering this feature is a huge convenience. According to an April 2014 report by the University of Missouri, 70% of U.S. adults use tablets and/or smartphones, which has grown seven percent since the beginning of 2013. Even more importantly, the greatest increase of use was among the 55 or older age group, up from 38% in 2013 to 50% in 2014. Given these usage trends, the demand to conduct transactions from the convenience of a phone or tablet app will only continue to grow, and adding these capabilities to mobile apps may help firms increase the overall customer experience of their retirement-bound savers.
 University of Missouri Study is accessible from: http://www.rjionline.org/research/rji-mobile-media-project/2014-q1-research-report-1#sthash.fLNXMJOM.dpuf