Participants Report Diverse Communication Preferences

Results of a participant survey conducted by CUNA Mutual show a close tie between in-person training, short topical online videos, and self-guided learning modules as the preferred way to receive education about retirement plans.

CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions has published the results of its 2018 Retirement Education Preferences Survey.

The survey asked participants to rank their interest in learning about different financial and retirement planning areas, such basic and advanced investment principles, budgeting and managing debt, and preparing to transition to retirement. Overall, survey respondents were most interested in “understanding the tools and resources available” to help—ranked as the top area of interest by survey participants 25% of the time.

“This may indicate employees are interested in maximizing their returns and learning how their plan can help them prepare for retirement, but they are not certain they have all the information they need,” the survey report states. “Interest in basic financial wellness emerged as a secondary theme. This may indicate that participants are facing challenges that impact their ability to increase their overall and retirement savings.”

Generally, the survey shows younger plan participants want to learn about budgeting and managing debt.

“Retirement is not in the near future for this younger age group, and their interest in retirement planning topics reflects that, especially when compared with their interest in underlying financial wellness subjects,” the firm reports. “Survey respondents in this age group ranked budgeting and managing debt as the top priority 35% of the time.”

According to the survey, Millennials are carrying a significant amount of student loan debt that can limit their ability to save for retirement. Among this age bracket of respondents, understanding available tools and resources was ranked as a top area of interest followed by smart retirement savings practices and basic investment principles.

Among mid-career employees—defined here as those between ages 35 and 49 years—both “budgeting and managing debt” and “understanding tools and resources available” ranked as the top subjects of interest. “Smart retirement savings practices” came in at 21%, followed by “basic investment principles” at 13%.

As noted in the survey report, respondents over the age of 50 are much closer to retirement, and therefore more interested in getting ready for that transition.

“Preparing to transition into retirement was ranked as the top interest 31% of the time, while understanding tools and resources was ranked as the top interest 26% of the time,” the report notes. “Smart retirement savings practices were solidly ranked in the middle of this age group’s interests, followed by budgeting and managing debt and investment principles (both basic and advanced). Plan participants in the 50 and up age group are thinking about the transition to retirement because it is on the horizon, while the younger age groups are more preoccupied with budgeting and managing debt, which are building blocks leading to long term financial stability.”

Preferences for retirement focused communications

The CUNA Mutual survey also asked participants to rank their interest in retirement education delivery options.

“The responses showed diversity in learning preferences when it comes to retirement and financial topics,” the report states. “Looking at overall average survey results, there was a close tie between in-person training, short topical online videos, and self-guided learning modules as the preferred way to receive education about their retirement plans.”

Notably, all the categories received a relatively similar level of interest, according to the survey.

“Personalization is important,” the report notes. “Retirement is not one size fits all, and survey respondents know that. Respondents like the options of one-on-one discussions either in-person or on the phone. Personalized email messages were also a popular choice. Convenience is king. Plan participants want retirement planning education to be convenient. That means they are open to self-guided training modules that allow them learn as much or little as they need, and they like the idea of short videos, which can be watched online anytime.”

The full survey report is available for download here.