One size doesn’t fit all — especially when it comes to communicating with millennials about retirement. The traditional approach of delivering standardized marketing programs may have suited the baby boomers, but the millennials are quickly changing the communications landscape. Retirement providers are squarely focused on reaching this emerging demographic of more than 84 million young Americans, with personalized, targeted communications via their devices of choice.

While millennials are more technologically advanced than earlier generations, they are not necessarily a better prepared generation when it comes to retirement savings. Their financial perspectives have been shaped by a turbulent economic period, and retirement plan providers are still struggling for better ways to communicate, gain their trust and help them on the path to future financial security.   

Also see: "Employers out of touch with employee perception of benefits."

There is a looming retirement crisis in America.  Among all employees in the workforce, 30% have saved zero dollars for retirement — while a shocking 50% of tech-savvy millennials have no retirement savings. Recent Forrester research shows that less than 25% of Millennials participate in workplace retirement plans when not auto-enrolled and 21% don’t know whether their employer plan provides access to investing advice. As a result, communications that explain plan specifics in simple language and through technology-centric channels may help turn inertia into positive investment behavior.

As the first digitally native generation, millennials are accustomed to instant access of information, and are comfortable receiving and acting upon communications received through digital and social media channels. While a preference for digital media makes millennials more accessible to targeted communications, implementing technology platforms to reach them across the litany of channels they prefer has been a challenge for retirement plan providers. 

Many providers lack the resources to rewire their technology to adopt a multi-channel strategy, and are still heavily reliant on print communications.  As communications costs reach upward of 30% of retirement plan administrative costs, firms are looking for new ideas to more efficiently and effectively engage workers.

Also see: "Lost in translation: Annual funding notices confound readers."

In today’s digital era, enhancing the value of communications efforts by making it easier to interact with retirement plan participants is a key to more active participation. Services that increase engagement, plan participation and efficiency can enable plan providers to grow their business and better serve future retirees.

  • Multiplatform: First, these solutions allow firms to reach plan participants with a consistent experience where they already communicate across mobile, social media, email and Web interactions, digital mail boxes and cloud solutions, as well as traditional print.
  • Simplicity: Second, they provide simplified access to retirement plan communications and regulatory requirements. They also make it easy for plan participants to store documents and have one-touch access to cloud-based archiving, regardless of the platform.
  • Engagement: Third, it’s not enough to just reach current and potential plan participants, it’s about education and changing behavior. Fifty-six percent of respondents in the previously noted Forrester study indicated that employer communications around retirement savings were ineffective at changing their behavior. With the ability to capture participant preferences and market intelligence, today’s digital solutions help create intelligent marketing programs that are targeted, personalized and timely. 

When plan providers embrace new technology they can truly understand and effectively communicate with their audiences. The next generation of digital engagement is cost effective, secure and easy to implement and manage. Adopting a new approach to participant communications that factors in the unique characteristics of each generation, as well as the specific needs and preferences of each individual, is key to building and sustaining business. Further, it can help millennials — the largest and most digital generation in American history — secure their future retirement.
Slavin is senior vice president for retirement solutions at Broadridge Financial Solutions, where he is responsible for business strategy in defined contribution and the retirement channel. With more than 30 years of industry experience, he has led growth into the retirement channel through acquisitions and new product development. He is a featured speaker at the industry’s top conferences and is a member of SPARK’s Board of Directors. He also has been named a top 100 influencer in the defined contribution industry six times.

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