BPAS released its online Participant Education Center (PEC) in December as new component in its education process that aims to drive retirement plan participant outcomes. Education is a critical component to a successful retirement program, the company contends. The site is central to BPAS’ Roadways to Retirement program.
“As we work with advisers and corporate trustees at BPAS, we focus both on automatic and elective ways to improve retirement readiness,” says Paul Neveu, president of BPAS plan administration and recordkeeping services.
The site has four modules:
- Learn: Has resources for ongoing participant education, such as a virtual classroom, a financial resource center, and a library.
- Research: Participants can research funds, view real-time market data, and read commentary about the markets throughout the day.
- Interact: An “Ask an Expert” Forum lets participants ask questions of a BPAS panel of experts on a range of topics.
- Plan: Participants can plan using a risk tolerance questionnaire, and a library of financial planning calculators and tools. A special section, “The Journey to Ten Times Pay,” gives real-life examples from other participants.
According to Brian Nicholson, senior sales relationship manager at BPAS, site traffic has averaged around 1,200 visits per day across laptops, tablets, and mobile devices.
The virtual classroom and “Ask an Expert” features seem to be getting the most visits, say Nicholson and Neveu. Based on participant questions and feedback, the firm plans to roll out more content in these areas. “When you consider participants with balances over $25,000, most will log on to the website 15 or 20 times for every time they attend an education meeting,” says Neveu.
The firm scrutinized the type and complexity of questions to the call center and designed content to differentiate account-specific questions from those that are tax, legal or philosophical in nature. The site can automatically route questions to the appropriate forum. Questions can range from “What are the current rules for beneficiary designations?” to more complex questions about non-discrimination testing rules, 72(p) loan limits or frequent trading rules.
Planned enhancements include moving toward gamification with quizzes that test participant knowledge about retirement planning concepts. Additional modules are being added to the virtual classroom. BPAS will be adding a special section to the PEC geared to 1081 plans in Puerto Rico over the next month, as well as additional content geared at health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).
“We are trying to engage participants on important topics, while making it fun,” Nicholson says. “There are exciting things you can accomplish through the creative use of technology when you keep it engaging.”
BPAS is a national provider of retirement plan administration and related services.