In the retirement space, the 1990s was perhaps the era of the IVR, or interactive voice response. The past decade, participants have been flocking to the internet in growing numbers, with the IVR fading from view. According to Vanguard, 81% of all transactions are done via the internet, with 16% using a call center representative, and a minimal 3% using the IVR. (See Figure 104 in Vanguard's How America Saves 2012) Principal reports that mobile technology is helping to produce positive outcomes for participants by driving increased engagement and interest in one's own account - whether in the form of mobile apps, mobile websites, or text messages. (See page 24 of Principal's The Total View 2011)
OneAmerica has done some digging into generational differences in using technology. Key findings in its online survey of 6,300+ participants include:
- >60% of participants <age 40 found online retirement calculators most helpful, versus 51% for ages 41 to 50, and 41% for those >age 50
- 67% of those >age 50 found articles most helpful, versus 45% in the age 20 to 30 bracket
- 24% of those age 20 to 30 found mobile apps most helpful, versus 12% for those between ages 40 and 50, and 7% for those >age 50
- Blogs and social media are similarly preferred more by the younger groups
Additional details from the OneAmerica report are available in its news release.
It will be interesting to continue to follow these trends in the coming months and over the next few years. While the smartphone market is slowing down a but, it is still growing. Tablets continue to pick up steam in their growth, so for the foreseeable future, it is likely that we will see even greater usage of online and mobile tools by retirement plan participants.