Is It A Relic From The Past?

What does your participant statement say about your company, your brand ethos, and your commitment to simplifying information in a way that helps people make important financial decisions? Not just important financial decisions, but perhaps some of the most important financial decisions a person will ever make in their lifetime.

For the past year, I have been looking at participant statements from a variety of recordkeepers, representing a wide-swath of plan sponsors. And if I were to summarize these statements I would say they are: anti-engaging, anti-trust building, and lack empathy. This isn’t just my opinion — you can see the same thing in industry survey data from participants and plan sponsors.

The retirement industry collectively spends a lot of time, money, and other resources on developing new apps, gamification strategies, and social media campaigns all in an attempt to grab attention and increase engagement. Yet, the greatest engagement opportunity is sitting right under our nose — the participant statement.

For too long the retirement industry has viewed the participant statement as a utility, an activity that is highly regulated, controlled, and compulsory. The statements that currently exist in the industry seem to serve business procedure and cost optimization strategy. They are devoid of a human-centric experience, and in 21st century communications, this is sub-optimal. Or more simply put — they are a design relic from another era.

This is incredible considering the statement is often the only guaranteed touch point with your customer. In the fast-paced, information-dense world we live in, one of the few moments of real focus and attention is the moment a participant rips open that statement (or views it). You have a captive audience with a current customer for at least twenty seconds, (a huge amount of time in the world of marketing). This is perhaps the biggest engagement opportunity you will have.

In that moment, you have the chance to shape and define your customers’ impression of your company. You also have the opportunity to establish higher levels of trust, to engage at deeper levels, and to help them make financial decisions that are important to their long-term savings success.

It isn’t hard to imagine what would happen if we designed statements around the users’ needs as opposed to operational needs. It would be a transformative experience that would improve savings and financial behavior, and in doing so, would be a huge differentiator in the industry.

Let’s put the statement relics on a shelf where they belong (next to the dense, jargon-filled enrollment kits) so that we can take a fresh look at delivering statements that are — engaging, intuitive, and pleasurable.

As a starting point, ask this question of your participants, “How does your statement make you feel about us”?