Ninety-six percent of households with incomes of $75,000 or more are online. Yet, despite investing millions in propriety websites and digital communications capabilities, financial services companies find that only a fraction of their customers actively utilize the digital capabilities they provide. 

For wealth management and retirement adviser firms in the retirement space, digital engagement is particularly low. Only 1-5% of customers at these firms actively utilize the digital-engagement options they are offered.

How can plan administrators and sponsors increase digital adoption and enhance customer engagement? Rather than waiting for participants to show up at the firms’ websites, it’s time for a go-to-them strategy.

Also see: "Understanding the retiree benefit of HSAs."

Financial services typically utilized a digital approach that focuses on attracting plan participants to a provider’s website via email. This is a come-to-me strategy. It requires participants to go through multiple steps, remember passwords and navigate to get to what they want on each provider site.

On the other hand, retail brands always head to where the action is. From Main Street to the mall, to consolidated sites like Amazon and iTunes, retailers seek out the best opportunities for digital and physical visibility, literally putting their wares where their customers will be. That’s the essence of “go-to-them.”

Financial services firms employ a “Go-to-Them” strategy in choosing their bricks-and-mortar retail locations. In an online parallel, as consumers increasingly congregate at certain digital destinations, it could be time for wealth management and retirement adviser firms to “go-to-them” digitally as well.

Bit by bit, consumers are taking more of a multichannel approach. Yet, among financial services firms, even retail banks still struggle to persuade consumers to forego paper statements and bills.

This highlights another argument for a go-to-them strategy. When you give consumers a single cloud-based portal to access all their communications — a digital version of the old-school mailbox — it becomes extremely convenient for them to review their retirement communications. They can work their way through one digital pile, and review statements, disclosures, prospectuses and more, and do so as easily as they review their pile of physical mail.

The cloud advantage

With a consolidated cloud-based portal, mutual funds, plan administrators and sponsors can engage participants with relevance, timeliness and agility. This offers an opportunity to plug into analytics, gain greater customer perspective and provide more value.

Consolidation is something that customers want, and younger customers want most.

Millennials now account for more than half the workforce and most express an interest in using a consolidator. Already moving past email, these younger consumers are increasingly mobile, increasingly social and digitally native. They’ve come to expect the agility they find in consolidated retail and social spaces. By providing a consolidated cloud-based portal that will put all these experiences in one place — including their retirement communications — creates a destination that can help to create a richer multichannel experience.

Also see: "DB plans advised to be proactive in 2016."

As retirement service providers consider how to deliver on a go-to-them strategy, it will be critical to assess how different options meet important objectives:

  • Controlling brand and message
  • Measuring effectiveness
  • Assuring data security and regulatory compliance

Plan administrators and advisers are under pressure to increase participation rates without spending more. However, attempts to change behavior often fail to connect when you rely solely on traditional channels of engagement. By breaking out of the box and finding new ways to target  changes in demographics and communication preferences, firms may find it’s not only easier to reach targets, but also more cost-efficient.   
Jackson is vice president, strategy and development, at Broadridge Digital Solutions.

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