Study: Targeted Ed. The Way to Go

October 27, 2004 ( - A new Fidelity Investments study illustrates the significant ways personalized communications can help plan sponsors beef up participants' involvement in their retirement plan.

A Fidelity news release said its “The Evolution of Participant Communication -The Value of Personalization” study showed that its p ersonalized communication and education programs can drive higher plan participation rates, dramatically increase salary savings deferrals and initiate asset allocation investment reviews.

The study, which measured plan participation, salary savings deferral, and asset allocation adjustments achieved as a result of Fidelity’s first|PERSON’s e-mail, print, and e-learning campaigns, found that:

  • Participants prompted to enroll after receiving the enrollment guide set an average deferral rate of 8.3%, two percentage points higher than the average for all employees with a tenure less than one year.
  • An annual Retirement Checkup prompted participants to nearly double their deferral rate to 9.6% from 5.4%.
  • Over 5% of participants who received the print Retirement Checkup made an asset allocation change, compared with the 1% to 3% average for those receiving similar, targeted print communications.
  • E-learning use is five times higher among participants receiving the targeted communications.
  • E-mail campaigns in the study drove response rates more than two times higher than print campaigns and prompted participants to more than double their deferral percentage to 12.5% from 6.2%. E-learning sessions also yielded substantial results, with 34% of non-participants taking action to enroll in their plans after attending an e-learning session, and another 34% of those who attended making an asset allocation change

“As the responsibility of saving for retirement continues to shift more heavily toward the individual, traditional customized workplace retirement plan C&E programs will soon no longer be enough,” said Steve Deschenes, executive vice president of Fidelity Institutional Retirement Services Company, the nation’s largest 401(k) provider. “Our first|PERSON study shows that individualized C&E platforms drawing on personal account information provided by the plan can fill this void, and produce measurable results that prove they are helping participants move the retirement readiness needle.”

The study covered 245 plan sponsors.