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The Retirement Fun House: The Battle to Engage Participants

In light of the fact that this week is National Retirement Security Week, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what recordkeepers are doing on the front lines to motivate retirement plan participants to save, invest wisely, and otherwise ensure that their retirement is, well, secure. 

In the inaugural edition of our newest feature, A Closer Look, we discussed how most efforts to engage retirement plan participants are horribly ineffective.  These efforts do little to “move the needle” in terms of increasing voluntary participation rates, or even rudimentary engagement figures, such as the number of participants who have recently (or ever) signed in to the recordkeeper’s website (note to plan sponsors: you may wish to check this figure, it may be shockingly low!).

Fortunately, it appears that recordkeepers are beginning to recognize that the same old types of retirement plan communication are not working. A recent example was captured by my colleague, Jeff Snyder, as he covered the 2017 NAGDCA conference.  In Jeff’s travels, he came across a recordkeeper that is taking a big bus across America as part of their Realize Retirement Adventure, which, I will dub the “Retirement Fun House” (because, well, I like that name better). This “Retirement Fun House” is a 7-20 minute interactive experience with games and puzzles designed to engage participants to take action with respect to their retirement savings.

Now, I have no idea what is actually inside the bus - it could be tremendously effective or not at all.  And frankly, I am not even certain that anything can make retirement fun for the average individual (that’s why we see terms such as “financial independence” replace “retirement,” since, for many, retirement seems like a boring, far-a-way concept). But last year, the same recordkeeper tried a lighter version of this endeavor and claimed that within two months, voluntary participation increased an average of 10% at each stop on their tour.  Even if this endeavor is not quite that effective, credit is due to the recordkeeper for thinking outside of the box.  Clearly, more of the same old communication isn’t helping to drum up engagement; therefore, recordkeepers and plan sponsors need to find concepts and communication methods that resonate with their audiences.  

I can’t wait until next year when I hear this recordkeeper is unveiling the “Retirement Thrill Ride”! Just kidding, of course, but come to think of it, that might not be a bad idea….

Note: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice.

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