The company’s interactive, self-service system has dramatically improved enrollment rates during clients’ retirement planning meetings.

Elena Malykhina, Technology Journalist

September 8, 2006

3 Min Read

National Model

More than 1 million people are enrolled in MassMutual's retirement services. The parent company, MassMutual Financial Group, has some 13 million clients and $395 billion in assets under management.

While the program has been a boon for MassMutual enrollments, it also helps address what some consider to be a national crisis: U.S. workers not saving for their retirements or saving too little, considering the U.S. government's considerable debt, uncertainly about the future of Social Security, and rising health care costs for seniors.

MassMutual hopes e4 will serve as a role model for interactive education in retirement planning. "It demonstrates our willingness to go where no other provider has gone before to help the American worker save for retirement," Sheridan says. The company has several patents pending for the system, which it developed with help from systems integrator Ameranth Wireless. MassMutual has won several awards from the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America for its achievements in retirement education and communication.

MassMutual faced a fair number of challenges in getting the system up and running. One of the most difficult was packaging the system in a way that would easily pass through airport security systems. MassMutual even met with officials from the Federal Aviation Administration to explain how e4 worked.

Securing personal data also was a concern. In addition to encrypting the wireless networks set up during enrollment meetings, each participant has to enter a personal password on the Pocket PC to access his or her information. Specialists' laptops are encrypted, too.

So far, e4's been free of problems, but there's room for improvement. Ingalls Health's Smith says she'd like MassMutual to develop a 20-minute version of the 45-minute program, since hospital employees need to return to their patients quickly. However, a consolidated program couldn't sacrifice clarity. "So much information can be confusing and overwhelming to people who aren't knowledgeable about investment," Smith says.

That's the trick: MassMutual has to educate clients' employees about retirement planning without losing their interest and get them to take action about their financial futures sooner rather than later. So far, e4's interactive, self-service approach is the closest it's come to a perfect success rate.

Building A Nest Egg Can Be Fun

MassMutual's vision was to make retirement planning less overwhelming and more action-oriented for eligible participants of employer-sponsored retirement plans. The result is e4, MassMutual's custom Electronic Enhanced Enrollment Experience. It walks participants through the retirement plan enrollment process, letting them enroll instantly using a secure handheld wireless device.

MassMutual piloted e4 early last year, with very good results. Among nonparticipating employees who attended an e4 meeting, 90% took action, on average. Good news for retirement plan sponsors who've struggled with enrollment rates hovering around 50%. Even more promising is that the enthusiasm is contagious--employees are excited about the enrollment experience and are sharing that excitement with other employees.

Following an e4 meeting, the plan sponsor receives a report detailing action taken by each employee without stacks of paper forms to process. E4 helps them reduce their administrative burden and meet their obligations as a plan fiduciary.

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About the Author(s)

Elena Malykhina

Technology Journalist

Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she followed the world of advertising. Having earned the nickname of "gadget girl," she is excited to be writing about technology again for InformationWeek, where she worked in the past as an associate editor covering the mobile and wireless space. She now writes about the federal government and NASA’s space missions on occasion.

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