Trends and Tips: Participant Site Retirement Educational Resources

by on Oct 24, 2017

Over the past two years, one of the most prominent trends in the digital retirement space has been the proliferation and evolution of retirement educational resources. Recordkeepers have consistently introduced new resources to participant sites, building out educational centers that cover comprehensive selections of retirement topics. The quality of resources continues to improve, and many leading firms now provide wide selections of excellent resources that communicate information in highly engaging and relatable manners.

In our recent report on retirement educational resources, we analyzed retirement-specific educational content available on the participant sites of leading retirement plan providers, assessing the competitive landscape through our Retirement Plan Monitor product. Here are our top tips for improving a participant site’s suite of retirement educational resources:

  • Cover a wide range of retirement topics. As an educational subject, retirement includes a vast range of topics. The importance of certain topics relative to others varies significantly from person to person, particularly in terms of participants’ life stages and where they are in the retirement planning process. Therefore, firms should provide resources that cover a large selection of topics to accommodate a range of participants. Here is a list of some of the topics that RPM firms’ resources most commonly cover:


  • Compounding
  • Contributions
  • Defined contribution plans
  • Diversification
  • Investment styles/risk profiles
  • Investment types
  • IRAs
  • Loans
  • Retirement income needs
  • Rollovers
  • Roth accounts
  • Social Security


  • Offer a variety of content mediums. People have a range of preferences when it comes to modes of information absorption so a range of mediums helps accommodate different learning styles. Also, participants access educational resources with different acumen levels and goals, with some seeking quick answers to basic questions and others looking to invest time in building a foundation of retirement knowledge. Because different mediums inherently vary in terms of the level of content complexity and detail, format variety helps ensure participants have access to resources suitable to their varying knowledge levels, digital savvy and goals. Wells Fargo’s selection of retirement educational resources spans a significant range of mediums, including articles, videos, prerecorded and live webinars, checklists and worksheets. In its unique Retirement City virtual world, participants complete challenges by answering multiple choice questions, playing mini games, watching videos, using educational tools and learning trivia.

Wells Fargo Retirement City Game

  • Provide curriculum-based, interactive resources. Best-in-class retirement resources are curriculum-based: they begin with the more basic elements of a topic before moving on to more nuanced ones, they maintain clear explanations and avoid industry jargon, and they end with follow-up options such as links to related materials and lists of recommended next steps. They are also interactive, integrating elements that require users’ participation, like exercises and multiple-choice questions, and often personalize content based on users’ responses to embedded questions. The most engaging resources also include different media formats. John Hancock’s private site My Learning Center offers a comprehensive series of animated, interactive slides that include video and gamification elements.

John Hancock Interactive Educational Module Slide

  • Make traditional resources as engaging as possible. While multimedia resources tend to be more engaging, there are several steps firms can take to garner participant attention with more traditional mediums, particularly articles, studies and white papers. Incorporating narratives and real-life examples as well as visuals can help make content more relatable and digestible. Firms can also offer resources targeted toward participants of certain demographics or life stages. Prudential’s Bring Your Challenges sitelet incorporates text-based articles that highlight real participants’ retirement journeys filterable by topic, age, life event and medium. The sitelet further engages participants by allowing them to rate and share articles.

Prudential Educational Sitelet Stories