According to eMarketer, in 2016, over 31 million Americans who accessed the internet did so solely using mobile devices. The company expects that number to rise to over 41 million by 2020. Americans’ growing dependency on mobile devices for internet access means recordkeeping firms must ensure that participants can engage with their retirement plans from their smartphones and tablets. For many firms, this means introducing new mobile apps or building out the functionalities of existing ones so that users can review their account data and perform transactions from their devices. Further, data from our recent study, Satisfying Today’s Retirement Plan Participant, shows that people still strongly prefer native apps to mobile websites. Among the survey respondents who indicated they had logged into their retirement plan from a mobile device in the past six months, 93% did so from a phone app compared to only 15% from a mobile website.
Last month, Prudential launched smartphone and tablet apps that allow users to easily review balance, performance, investment and contribution data and update their salary deferral elections in a few simple steps. With this addition, 75% of Retirement Plan Monitor firms provide account access through phone apps and 45% via tablet apps. Given the number of firms with existing apps, new app releases are relatively rare: since the start of 2016, two RPM firms introduced phone apps and one introduced a tablet app. However, eight firms have made significant additions to their mobile apps during this timeframe. For example, MassMutual added a contribution rate change transaction to its phone app and TIAA added a fund exchange transaction to both its phone and tablet apps. Numerous firms have also taken steps to modernize their apps by incorporating new mobile technologies: seven firms introduced touch ID login, two added 3D touch and four added mobile notifications.
Prudential Mobile App – My Account Tab, Investments Tab and Contribution Rate Transaction Screen
As the number of mobile device-reliant internet users rises, so does the number of participants whose only means of accessing their plans is through their smartphones and tablet apps. While some firms will work to improve their mobile-optimized websites to accommodate these users, we also expect firms to continue to roll out and improve mobile apps.