Tuesday, October 19 2021

Early versions of web portals for plan members only provided information on account balances and investment options. Today’s innovative portals supplement this basic information with retirement income planning analysis and member-specific advice on improving retirement outcomes. Layout and site designs and user interaction features are also changing, based on behavioral finance research and observations of participants’ interactions with their portals.

A difficult trifecta

Presenting information is only one goal of designing a portal, according to Jane Souza, senior vice president of digital platforms at Fidelity. Plan participants want their personal information to be combined with Fidelity’s expertise and presented clearly to encourage the right behaviors, a change that requires behavioral analysis. “It’s not enough to know who they are and tell them what to do,” Souza says. “You have to pair that with a presentation that is the most compelling way to get them to make that change. “

These requirements create what Souza calls a “very sophisticated trifecta”. Artificial intelligence systems can analyze participants’ needs and behaviors and act on recommendations, but effective design is still needed to motivate participants to make changes. “Now I know what to tell you to do, (but) how can I present it to you in the way most likely to grab your attention and force you to make the decision?” Souza asks.

Figure 1 shows an example Loyalty Scheme Portal home page that includes the member’s health and insurance accounts in addition to the DC scheme information. The center graph uses a trip analogy with a progress report. The employee’s financial goal is to save $ 50,000 by age 30, but she is currently on track to a projected balance of $ 42,617. The plus and minus signs on the Contribution Rate box allow participants to see how changes to their savings rate affect their projected savings against the Milestone goal.

Vanguard is also taking its DC plan portals in new directions, according to Lauren Valente, manager of member experience and record keeping services for the Vanguard Institutional Investor Group. In an email response, she explains that the revamped portal’s holistic planning approach gives plan members insight into their current and future retirement savings. When members log in, they quickly see how much they’ve saved now, their future retirement income, and the next best step in getting or staying on track for retirement.

The site uses proprietary integrated technology, the Vanguard Retirement Readiness Tool, to aggregate savings data, including current plan savings, Social Security, and other external assets. The tool calculates how much money or income participants will have in retirement and compares those numbers to an estimate of what they will need. The home page also serves as a “nudge” – the next best step for each participant that can be accomplished with a few simple clicks – like saving a few extra dollars to reach the company game or signing up for annual increases. automatic savings, Valente adds.

Figure 2 shows the Vanguard site design example. Participants see account balance information, a retirement income projection, and a recommended action step in a left-to-right stream on the top page. If a participant wants to do additional planning, view statements, review investment performance, make changes to investments, etc., the links for these tasks are easily visible.

Use of participants

Both companies report active use of their portals. According to Souza, more than 4 million unique users access the loyalty plan pages, of which 70% come from desktops and 30% from phones or tablets. Most visitors first review their plan balance, but the Milestone approach often leads to further investigation. “It’s not just about showing them their balance, but giving them a context that says based on what you earn, in order to replace that income, you should have that number of dollars by your next raise. five years, ”Souza explains. “And, from there, we’ll often see users change their contribution rate to increase or change their investment allocation. This prompts them to dig a little deeper into the site.

More than half of Vanguards’ 4.4 million DC participants logged into their plans web portal through June 30, 2017, according to Valente, 35% of which were on a mobile device. However, when participants chose to complete a transaction, the majority of digital transactions were made using a desktop computer rather than a mobile device, she adds.

Look ahead

The next phase of portal design must recognize that the delivery of digital information goes beyond desktop and mobile screens. Emerging points of interaction include wearable devices and home voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. These new channels can change the way participants interact with the platforms of their plans. “Not only do we have to be sophisticated in the information we present to them; we also need to think about all the different ways they might consume it, ”Souza explains. “I think over the next two years that will be the real challenge from a digital perspective. “


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