Fidelity Beefs Up Online Education Offerings

July 21, 2003 ( - Participants in retirement plans at Fidelity Investments could be spending a lot more time online to get investment education.

That’s because the Boston investment manager has unveiled a series of enhancements to its e-Learning program, introducing “just-in-time,” targeted educational content delivered to plan participants via the Fidelity NetBenefits portal, and new, regularly scheduled Universal Web Workshops, according to a company announcement.

Among the major enhancements to its self-paced e-Learning modules, Fidelity has added a learning feature that allows participants to access educational content based on the function they are performing in NetBenefits.   For example, if a participant is reviewing the balance of his or her account by asset class, e-Learning modules with educational content on asset classes and how asset allocation works are available directly on that account screen.   The participant can then apply that information and take any necessary action to rebalance his portfolio.

Another new feature, adaptive learning, enables NetBenefits to deliver educational content based on a participant’s profile.    Upon the participant’s completion of a few investment knowledge-related questions, the e-Learning catalog page adapts to the information submitted by the participant and suggests appropriate courses for the participant’s investment experience.

More Web Workshops

In addition to the e-Learning enhancements, Fidelity has also expanded the availability of several of its Web Workshops to all participants several times a week at regularly scheduled times. These Universal Web Workshops are available at pre-set times of the day and evening to be convenient for participants from many different companies, time zones, and locations.  

The workshops are intended for new hires or newly eligible employees, as well as more investment savvy employees looking for more practical tools to track and manage their retirement portfolios. Workshop topics include how to determine retirement savings needs, how to create an investment strategy, and how to manage retirement savings during a corporate action, respectively.

The company said there is a good reason for employers to use the online education. Fidelity’s research has shown that employers offering blended learning opportunities – that is, a combination of traditional classroom learning with technology-enabled options – experience significantly higher plan participation rates and their participants demonstrate improved diversification and greater engagement in managing their retirement savings accounts.

Fidelity reports that newly eligible participants taking advantage of e-Learning options are two and a half times more likely to enroll in their company retirement plan upon completion of the workshop than attendees at face-to-face meetings, and they defer on average 50% more than attendees of face-to-face meetings.

Similarly, the percentage of participants increasing their deferrals after an e-Learning workshop is more than double that of attendees at face-to-face meetings. Participants in e-Learning workshops showed a dramatic increase in their NetBenefits usage to manage their retirement savings accounts.