The Challenges with Participant Education

Challenges with Participant EducationIn the 401(k), 403(b), and 457 Defined Contribution (DC) marketplaces, it is generally the participant who is charged with the financial decisions related to how they accumulate assets for retirement through how they spend those assets, and countless other important decisions along the way. Considering the numerous ways in which employees learn, want, and need to be communicated with, as well as the enormous volume of decisions participants have to make throughout their investing career, one would have to ask themselves if offering an annual visit at a benefits fair with a financially oriented person is the best way of addressing the varied types of issues that need attention.

While offering onsite educational services is important, there is much more to consider. Effective employee communication and education is crucial to the success of any retirement plan. A well-designed education plan helps to ensure effective and consistent communications with participants, improves participant understanding and decision-making, and leads to greater levels of employee satisfaction and retirement readiness.

In our experience, successful education and communications services are derived by working with the client to oversee the education services of the recordkeeping vendor or other third-party providers. Under this type of structure, we are able to remain objective, help the client develop education goals, set the strategy, and oversee the execution of the strategy against the objectives outlined by the client. We have found the best way to do this is to have the vendors create a written calendar of events that will be carried out to execute on the client’s directions and intentions. This way, we have a deliverable that can be monitored and measured. 

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