Remote work has become commonplace amid the global pandemic and made recordkeepers’ digital capabilities—and, by extension, mobile experiences—more important. Providing best-in-class retirement apps can drive engagement and promote positive saving behaviors, leading to better retirement outcomes.

According to Voya Financial, there was a 70% increase in mobile app logins in the first half of 2020. Our own research shows this trend toward mobile began before the pandemic. We surveyed DC plan participants in 2016 and 2019, asking questions about the importance of mobile platforms and app features and functionality. In 2016, 39% of respondents said mobile access to the participant site is “very important” or “extremely important,” compared to 45% in 2019. Survey respondents also reported logging in to mobile platforms more often than desktop sites. While 33% of respondents reportedly log in to the mobile platform at least once per week, only 25% of respondents reported the same for desktop sites.

Best-in-class retirement apps can drive engagement and increase satisfaction

Here, we outline some noteworthy findings from our survey data:

  • Participants who log in to apps less frequently report lower contribution rates. Those who reportedly log in to mobile platforms at least once a month tend to have a higher salary deferral rate, with 39% of these respondents contributing at least 11%. Conversely, fewer respondents (23%) who log in less than once per month contribute the same. These infrequent-login respondents mostly contribute 3%–6% (41%).
  • Participants who log in to apps less frequently are less engaged. As far as mobile app activities, 20 of the top 23 most common app activities were performed more often by respondents who log in at least once per month. These include activities like seeking education, using retirement readiness tools and changing investment elections.


Respondents who log in to their retirement apps frequently report higher contribution rates

best-in-class retirement apps can drive engagement

What could lead to this engagement gap? One notable observation is that frequent-login respondents are reportedly more satisfied with their plan providers’ mobile platforms than infrequent-login respondents (87% versus 79%, respectively). Closing the satisfaction gap could increase mobile usage and lead to better retirement outcomes. We next explore tangible ways that best-in-class retirement apps can drive engagement and do just that.

Mobile best practices to close the satisfaction and engagement gaps

Fidelity's mobile app home screen offers valuable data and visualizations within a clean display. This is one example of how best-in-class retirement apps can drive engagement.
Fidelity NetBenefits App Home Screen

Mobile apps generally offer less data and fewer features than participant sites. So, recordkeepers must prioritize the content that participants value most. Here, we highlight a key area according to survey respondents—the home screen—and discuss related best practices.

  • Home screens and dashboards should prioritize the data that participants value most. This includes plan balance (82%), vested balance (74%), contribution rate (70%) account activity lists (70%) and performance data (69%).
  • It is important that firms ensure screens maintain clean displays. Organizational devices can help accomplish this, including expandable sections, intrapage tabs/toggles and content carousels. View-by options are another way to offer more data without increasing screen length.
  • Visualizations aid data digestibility. Visuals—especially those that include view-by options and dynamically update—are another effective way to communicate an abundance of information in a digestible manner.

To hear more about best practices for recordkeepers’ mobile apps, sign up for our upcoming webinar on how best-in-class retirement apps can drive engagement.

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