TMCnet Feature
December 09, 2020

How to Use Technology to Encourage Employee Retirement Investing

Retirement is something we all look forward to. But enjoying it to its full requires financial stability, which requires some planning.

While it’s not solely an employer’s responsibility to help workers plan for their retirement, they do have a vested interest. Workers who feel supported in their retirement goals are more likely to stick around. Those who need to catch up late in the game may have to go elsewhere for a better-paying job.

The good news is, employers can do a lot to make retirement planning easier. From choosing the right financial services to educating workers on how to invest efficiently, employers can make a big difference by using modern investing tools. Here are five ways to help your employees invest in their future using technology:

1.Stick to Low-Fee Tools

Some workers assume their retirement accounts are simply provided by their employer, at no cost to them. But many 401(k) plans come with hidden asset fees, which can eat away at retirement balances and deter employees from investing in the first place.

While some 401(k) fees are unavoidable, there are ways employers can limit them. Some small business 401(k) providers offer no asset-based fees for employees. Others keep fees low by offering only low-cost options, like index funds.

Larger employers might be able to cut deals with platforms to keep fees low. But companies with just a dozen or so employees don’t have that sort of leverage. If you’re looking to further cut costs for your employees, ask your provider whether your company could cover some of the costs typically shouldered by enrollees.

2.Focus on User-Friendliness

It’s not enough for a 401(k) plan to come with few employee fees. If employees are to actually use the platform, it has to be easy to use. 

One reason researchers who investigated why 401(k) balances are substantially lower than their potential cited is system immaturity. Employees who aren’t familiar with the 401(k) system need a user-friendly way to learn the ropes. 

With any 401(k) platform you’re considering, check for:

  • A balance display: Users need to be able to see at a glance how much the account contains.
  • A projections model: For planning purposes, workers should be able to see how much they’ll have at retirement, given how much they’re currently contributing.
  • A “recent activity” list: Nobody wants to feel like their retirement account is a black box. Recent transactions should be displayed clearly.
  • Personalized investing advice: Not everyone has the same risk tolerance. Make sure the 401(k) platform you’re interested in includes a quiz to help employees choose investments that align with others.
  • Customer service options: When the topic is as important and confusing as retirement investing, employees shouldn’t have to deal with automated menus. Choose a retirement platform that comes with 24/7 phone-based customer service, as well as text- and social media-supported service.
  • Transfer features: Most or all of your team members will have old retirement accounts from prior jobs. How easy does the platform you’re considering make it for them to roll the balance into their new account?

Technology doesn’t have to be impersonal or frustrating. The right platform can suggest individualized plans and show employees just how much they can expect to have in retirement.

3.Educate Through Multiple Channels

A sizable share of Americans don’t save any of their annual income. Whether that’s due to financial reasons or a lack of interest, business leaders need to educate employees on how, when, and why they should invest in their retirement.

For example, the average American worker doesn’t know exactly when they should start investing. Roughly one-quarter of workers start saving when they’re in their 30s; another quarter wait until their 40s. Because of this, individuals end up having to work long past their retirement age to afford their lifestyle.

To retire at age 65, investors should put 10% to 17% of their current income into a retirement account. Ideally, they should start when they’re 25-years-old; otherwise, they should begin as soon as they can. What’s the best way to get the message across? With technology, of course.

The best approach is to virtually enroll employees in an investing workshop. Alternatively, you could include investing tips in your e-newsletter. You could also start a channel in your instant messaging tool for investing-related conversations.

4.Introduce Automated Investing

Most companies give their employees an option to automate their savings, meaning a portion of their paycheck is sent directly to their retirement account. Some retirement accounts are rebalanced automatically. But who says investing automation should stop there?

Employers can offer other automated solutions, including auto-escalation of contributions, auto-enrollment, and robo-investing services. Automated solutions are a great way to make retirement investing less overwhelming for employees who might not feel comfortable with it.

Online investment platforms are easy to set up and can help employees build a diversified investment platform. Most of them come with account-by-account automation options, enabling experienced investors to be more hands-on while giving new ones a hand.

5.Take Advantage Of Mobile Apps

These days, retirement plan enrollment happens online. But what happens after your employees are done enrolling? Can they actually use the account without booting up their computer?

Most financial institutions offer mobile apps to let investors monitor their portfolio from the palm of their hand. Through these apps, they can keep track of investments, see what’s performing well, and shift funds around. They have customizable notification settings, ensuring users know when a fund’s prospectus comes out or a dividend is paid.

Before choosing a 401(k) provider, ensure their mobile app works on every team member’s phone. Especially with niche apps, both Apple (News - Alert) and Android devices aren’t always supported. Ask someone with each type of phone to download the app to try it out before committing.

As an employer, you should want your employees to have a robust retirement. Technology can help them plan, invest, and save their way to the finish line. Give your team a leg up with their retirement, and they’ll give you their best while they’re still working.

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