Participants on Personalized Guidance: Bring it On

March 11, 2004 ( - If employers can tee up guidance personalized with an employee's personal data like age, salary, years until retirement, and investment choices, retirement plan participants say they will act on it.

At least three in four participants responding to a recent poll said they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely adopt guidance recommendations based on such planning messages that can be offered at the workplace.

The Prudential Retirement study found a strong expectation that the retirement investment input would come from their employer. Some 60% agreed that “my employer must provide information and guidance to help me keep my retirement savings on track.” Female participants, those aged 21-34, those not college-educated, and those with under $50,000 household income were even more likely to expect employers to provide such assistance, Prudential found.

Prudential’s survey listed seven topics and asked workers if they think they “definitely need,” “it would be nice to have,” or they “don’t really need” advice on that subject.   How to grow their retirement assets at an acceptable level of risk weighs heavily on participants’ minds with 78% and 77%, respectively, finding advice on “maximizing returns” and “minimizing chances of losing retirement money” to be useful.

Other advice considered “definitely needed” or “nice to have” included:

  • how to make adjustments to retirement portfolio to meet long-term goals – 74%
  • how to allocate money among the options within retirement plan – 67%
  • what to do with retirement plan money when changing jobs – 58%
  • what to do with retirement plan money when retiring – 55%
  • how much to contribute to retirement plan – 52%.

Some 84% of those between ages of 21 and 34 would like to get advice on how to maximize return, and 70% of this group need advice on managing their plan assets when changing jobs, according to the survey. Among 35-49 year-olds, 80% are interested in advice about how to adjust their portfolio and 61% would like to know more about what they should do with their money when they retire. Those with under $50,000 household income are in greater need for all types of advice compared to those earning $75,000 or more.

Prudential Financial’s Annual Study of Retirement Plan Participants polled 1,000 Americans in July and August 2003 who were full-time employed men and women aged 21 to 64 who currently participate in 401(k), 403(b), 457, or other types of employer plans.