Battling Common Retirement Plan Website Errors

A how-to on dealing with and preventing usual errors found on retirement plan websites for participants.

As the retirement industry progresses to modern advances with personalized websites, apps, and platforms, technological errors are bound to occur.


In order to combat this and increase awareness among plan sponsors, Mike Webb, vice president of Cammack Retirement, addresses these common mistakes in a recent post. He identifies broken and incorrect website links, outdated information and inaccurate material on subsidiary websites as the usual slipups, and says that while recordkeepers may be responsible for maintaining participant websites, plan sponsors could hold responsibility as well, especially if they use the company Intranet for participant access to retirement plan information. To decrease faulty websites packed with oversights, plan sponsors should schedule test runs to waive confusion among participants.


“It’s one of those things where they should in general be testing any changes or website errors with participants to see if the participants are not being confused by the message,” he says.


Additionally, employers must take accuracy and timeliness into consideration when incorporating their material online. Outdated plan documents, forms, or listing former recordkeepers no longer associated with the plan are the most common inaccuracies Webb sees. When plan sponsors do revise these texts, dated translations must also be updated to concur with the reviewed documents.


Allowing for forms to age, Webb says, only creates frustration for past and present workers. All the more reason to stay consistent, a former inaccurate site could affect even the most active vendors now. 


“I’ve seen participants call active vendors that they haven’t been in the plan for years, looking for their money when that vendor was disengaged years ago, and then at best, that creates more work for the plan sponsors,” he says. “At worst, that creates an employee workforce that has employee relations issues because they can’t get the basic information needed about their retirement benefits because someone hasn’t been keeping it up-to-date.”


These glitches only lead to the most common issue found among retirement planning websites—broken, inaccurate or out-of-place recordkeeping platform links. If a recordkeeper or alternative service provider revises a link on their site, plan sponsors must update as well, says Webb. Similarly, Webb notes how many employers will provide links to a recordkeeper’s public website, instead of the customized platform exclusive to the plan sponsor’s plan. Incorporating this personalized platform instead of the general recordkeeping site could help participants locate specified information in a reduced amount of time.  


“It’s really a portal that’s more designed to give the employees the inside scoop of the plan,” he says.  “So that needs to be a seamless transition in between the intra-net portal, and the recordkeeper website.”


And while plan sponsors must manage their website frequently, monitoring doesn’t stop at that. It extends to the service provider’s platform, too. Because some subsidiaries attempt to create their own content, numerous errors are likely to occur, says Webb. Therefore, plan sponsors need to regularly visit these channels to ensure consistency and accuracy from providers.


Yet, even after implementing these techniques, plan sponsors could still find unsatisfied participants. However, it’s the features that can lead to this discontentment, says Andrew Way, senior analyst and manager of Retirement Research at Corporate Insight.


“That’s one common error that we see, [plan sponsors] provide the feature but it doesn’t take into account that people contextualize their finances differently,” he says.


Based on personal preferences and how participants interpret finances individually, not all workers will be satisfied with every feature offered. Therefore, this could only present more reason for employers to apply these best practices and techniques.