SURVEY SAYS: Increasing Participant Communication During Coronavirus

NEWSDash readers shared their thoughts about communicating to retirement plan participants during the jarring market volatility happening now.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Has your firm increased participant communication because of the coronavirus?” I also asked them to share any ideas they have for helping participants remain calm during this trying time.

Half of responding readers indicated their companies have increased participant communications because of the coronavirus.

Messages that were recommended for helping participants remain calm during this trying time included to stay put in the markets, with one suggesting the saying, “This too shall pass.” One reader suggested more information should be given to participants about how the markets work. One of the readers who said the message that participants can buy stocks low at this time is appropriate also said to tell participants, “Send in your 2020 IRA contribution while it is low!” with the caveat that, “The question is, is that now, or should you wait a little longer?”

An interesting recommendation, in my opinion, was to help participants focus on the shares they hold and not the balance. “Shares are still there even if the balance is going up and down,” the reader said. Communications could go further to show how by accumulating more shares with their contributions, when the market is up their balance will be even higher than if they didn’t purchase those shares.

Aside from the recommendations, very few responding readers left verbatim comments. However, several of those who did pointed out that their providers/advisers are doing the talking.

A big thank you to all who participated in the survey.


The last thing we want is for our participants to begin trading their retirement investments in this environment

Investment advisor should be communicating.

Most people are not experts at investing money. As a company, why would I think we know any more than anyone else?

We have posted articles and links on the recordkeepers website but are limiting any internal communications. We have so much internal communication focused business continuity, we’ve chosen to provide market related items on our partner site.

Not sure what to tell them as it is unnerving to me too, especially since I was hoping to retire in 1-2 years. Our vendors have been hosting webinars and I hope our participants have been participating.

My company has done NOTHING! Very shameful.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.