In our research at Corporate Insight, we often refer to the proliferation of mobile platforms within the retirement industry as a sign of modernization and innovation. For the past two years, our Monitor Awards have discussed a burgeoning, industry-wide investment in native apps. Earlier this year, we published a blog post that considered the influx of new apps and app enhancements that firms introduced throughout 2017. While much of this reporting is exclusive to the participant side, TIAA recently emerged as the first firm in our Retirement Plan Monitor—Institutional coverage set to break that mold. The firm launched a plan sponsor mobile app with the goal of making plan administration easier, more secure and more tailored to real-life needs.
There are currently only three firms (20%) in the RPM—I coverage set that have responded to the consumer desire for mobile accessibility by providing responsive sites. TIAA instead launched a native mobile app. The firm does not aim to provide all the content and capabilities of its robust website within its app. Rather, TIAA developed the app with functionality in mind, prioritizing specific uses that administrators use most frequently and have requested access to “on the go.” The firm also sought to leverage mobile technology that makes for secure and user-friendly experiences, including biometric login and push notifications.
Two notable features include a predictive participant search option and an action items notification section that generates push notifications. The participant search tool lets sponsors search by participant name, generating a list of employees they may be seeking. Whether a plan sponsor receives a question from an employee while walking down the hallway at work or gets a time-sensitive inquiry while away on vacation, the mobile app allows them access to participant data immediately, remotely, and of most importance, securely. The action items section highlights time-sensitive tasks on the app’s home screen. Though some more complicated items are not supported by the app, critical actions such as loans approval can be easily fulfilled through the app. When sponsors receive loan requests, push notifications alert them and link them directly to the approval process. Both features underscore the goal of the app: to help sponsors fulfill their roles and service their employees more effectively and efficiently.
“Mobile technology has been a powerful driver of convenience in our personal lives from shopping to banking and everything in between. We believe our plan sponsor mobile app will create the same convenience in the institutional segment, enabling a better experience for plan sponsors and their participants,” said Scott Blandford, TIAA’s chief digital officer.
Home, Loan and Payroll Center Screens
The mobile app’s initial launch emphasizes the importance of a slow roll-out. To avoid clutter, the firm focused on simple design, including only the features that the firm was confident sponsors would use on mobile devices. As the app continues to take hold, the firm claims it will consider which other features should be implemented and for whom. As an industry innovator, TIAA will hopefully inspire other firms to consider implementing apps of their own if they have not already.