Sufficiently preparing for retirement extends far beyond simply stowing away money in an employer-sponsored plan or personal IRA. Numerous external factors can greatly influence a person’s ability to save for retirement, many of which have nothing to do with traditional retirement topics, such as proper asset allocations and contribution rates. Leading recordkeepers recognize this, and throughout 2016 there has been a growing, industry-wide focus on helping participants develop retirement plans that fit within the greater context of their financial lives. Firms are creating holistic retirement plan websites that allow participants to account for outside financial accounts, goals and obligations to drive better financial outcomes. This Retirement Plan Monitor Report is the first installment in a two-part report series focusing on the financial wellness resources provided on the participant websites of our coverage firms. This month’s report examines the financial wellness educational content accessible from the authenticated participant site of each RPM firm while the March report will focus on related participant site tools and calculators.
Over the past year, providing thorough financial wellness education has emerged as one of the most prevalent trends in the digital retirement industry, with 40% of RPM firms either completely overhauling or making significant improvements to existing content in the past 12 months and 80% currently offering enough resources to warrant inclusion in this report. The firms analyzed in the pages that follow typically cover a variety of financial wellness topics, with 63% providing educational materials that cover at least half of the 38 identified topics. However, quality of content is as important as quantity and diversity as high-quality material engages and resonates with participants, increasing the likelihood of information retention. Roughly 56% of firms employ narratives in some content to make information more relatable and engaging. While interactive resources, such as worksheets and checklists (56%) and curriculum-based lessons or tutorials (50%), are also fairly common, there is still plenty of room for industry-wide growth in this arena. Firms generally provide easy access to educational content, with 75% centrally housing the majority of resources within an education center and 88% providing homepage quick links to either the center or featured content.