Demand Growing for Participant-Focused Mobile Tech

March 11, 2013 ( – Two-thirds of defined contribution (DC) plan providers have launched mobile initiatives focused on plan participants, with more companies planning them, LIMRA found.

LIMRA’s report, “Moving Ahead With Mobile: Mobile Technology Initiatives Among Defined Contribution Plan Providers,” also indicates roughly one in two plan providers view investments in mobile technology as a way to keep pace with competitors in an increasingly mobile business environment.

Participants want the option of accessing information about their retirement plans anytime and anywhere, Mary Art, research director, technology and distribution research at LIMRA, told PLANSPONSOR. “The demand is growing for that as more people acquire smartphones and tablets,” she added.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, smartphone ownership has grown to 45% of adults, and tablet ownership has increased rapidly from only 4% of adults in September 2010 to 25% in August 2012.  People are conducting much of their day-to-day financial activities like shopping, paying bills and banking on their mobile devices, so it is reasonable to believe consumers will expect to be able to manage their retirement plans this way as well, Art said.

LIMRA’s research found the largest number of plan providers (seven out of 19) will direct their attention to mobile apps, followed by mobile versions of their websites (five out of 19). Nearly all plan providers with mobile initiatives are either already taking advantage of HTML5, or plan to do so, as they develop mobile tools for their stakeholders.

Thirteen out of 19 providers surveyed said they want to use mobile technology to provide better service to plan participants, while eight out of 19 said they want to use it to keep pace with competitors.  

Although providers recognize the importance of mobile technology, implementation challenges remain—at least two-thirds of plan providers listed allocating sufficient human resources, supporting multiple operating systems, managing multiple devices, and defining return on investment (ROI) for their mobile initiatives as their challenges.

Once mobile technology is introduced, it doesn’t stop there—participants must also be prompted to use it. “First of all, you have to let them know it’s there,” Art said. Participants can be informed of mobile technology via mailings, webinars, seminars and meetings—particularly open enrollment meetings, she added.  

LIMRA surveyed plan providers in the fall of 2012 regarding their mobile initiatives and received responses from 19 plan providers.