SURVEY SAYS: Plan Sponsor Online Communities

December 16, 2013 ( – Last week, I asked NewsDash readers if they participated in any plan sponsor-related online communities.

Forty-one percent of responding readers indicate they are a member of two to five online communities. Thirty-five percent are not members of any, while nearly 18% are members of one online community, and nearly 6% are members of more than five. However, only 37.5% of respondents actively participate in two to five online communities geared towards plan sponsors, while 43.8% do not actively participate in any. Nearly 19% report they actively participate in one.

More than half of readers who responded (53.8%) say membership in plan sponsor-oriented online communities has not helped them in their work or business, and 46.2% indicate they have.

When asked what resources/advantages they get from online communities, respondents chose:

  • a place to express pros and cons about my work/business – 7.7%;
  • a place to share solutions I’ve learned to certain problems/issues – 23.1%;
  • a place to share my general knowledge – 30.8%;
  • a sense of camaraderie – 30.8%;
  • a place to network for possible career moves – 30.8%;
  • a place to get answers to day-to-day work problems – 61.5%;
  • a place to learn more about the business in general – 53.8%; and
  • a place to keep abreast of regulatory issues/requirements  61.5%.


Very few respondents made verbatim comments, but a couple of them indicated folks do not know about any online communities out there for plan sponsors. I agree I should have asked for names of online communities respondents have found helpful, but one was offered. There is no Editor’s Choice this week.


I guess if you are a techie you appreciate this but I have no interest. I have too much work to do as it is without spending part of my time in online chats on work issues that probably don't result in helpful and accurate answers because no one knows the answers/rules. The government is constantly changing them. Frankly I cannot understand how everyone can keep up with all these things - no wonder there is so little meaningful work that actually accomplishes anything done in life today.

The International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) has an online community that is a tremendous asset. The ISCEBS "list serve" is a members-only message board where members are able to ask employee benefits related questions as well as share information and best practices with more than 3500 peers. As a plan sponsor, I’m able to network with plan sponsors, providers, consultants, TPAs, and others who offer me unbiased information (NO selling allowed) to assist with questions I have and challenges I face.

I didn't even know there were any.

I wish you would have asked for names of the on-line communities. Please share if you can.

I see them as a source for a resource. Like any other community; mind your P's and Q's, always apply the carpenter's rule, and remember opinions are like a..h...s - everybody's got one.

I still find that these are more voyeuristic than participatory - whether that be because of litigation fears, compliance concerns, or just plain shyness/fear of looking dumb. I have found that the more insular/restricted the community is, the more open its members tend to be. I've also found that the biggest "users" tend to be those who are trying to sell their services/expertise TO plan sponsors.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.