SURVEY SAYS: Provider Help with Participant Communications

The list of required disclosures to participants continues to grow.

In addition, employers are becoming more interested in providing participants with better education about their retirement plans, insights about retirement planning and reminders in order to keep saving for retirement top of mind for employees.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Does your company’s recordkeeper or third-party administrator help with participant communications, and does it go beyond just required disclosures?”

Nearly 81% of respondents’ role with retirement plans is as plan sponsor, while 11.5% are TPAs, recordkeepers, or investment managers, and nearly 4% each are advisers/consultants or CPAs.

More than 61% of responding readers say their company’s retirement plan recordkeeper helps with participant communications, 11.5% reported getting help from their third-party administrators (TPAs), and 23.1% indicate both their recordkeepers and TPAs help with participant communications. Nearly 4% do not get help from either.

Beyond participant account statements, responding readers get much more than required disclosures from their TPAs and recordkeepers, including financial wellness and retirement planning communications for participants. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say their TPAs and/or recordkeepers help with Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) required disclosures, and more than two-thirds (68%) say their providers offer enrollment kits. More than three-quarters (76%) report getting newsletters, articles or other resources about financial education or retirement planning for their participants, and 72% say their recordkeepers or TPAs provide simple reminders to save, bump up savings, review investments, etc. Twenty-eight percent say their providers offer participants Social Security and Medicare information.

Several readers chose “other” when asked which communications their recordkeepers and/or TPAs help with. Those responses included video services, websites with tools available for plan sponsors to evaluate and forecast, in-person education and seminars, campaigns for occasional rollouts of new features, customized/personalized participant communications, and “Anything we want to highlight for the participant.”

In comments from responding NewsDash readers, it is confirmed that not all plans get participant communications services from recordkeepers or TPAs beyond the basics, and not all plans are satisfied with the service they get. A couple of respondents gave mention to advisers for helping with communications. Commenters expressed great efforts to communicate with participants, but also that it often falls on deaf ears. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said, “Not quite sure which is more appropriate, but I know which is more frightening; you can lead a horse to water… or, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.”

A big thank you to all who participated in our survey!


Our financial advisers also provide information at meetings and in paper/email form.

We have an extensive communication plan with our vendor. From broad communications to very targeted groups. Always trying to get the attention of our participants!

Not quite sure which is more appropriate but I know which is more frightening; you can lead a horse to water... or, I'm from the gov't and I'm here to help you.

We have a wonderful TPA who works in tandem with our investment advisory firm to keep us all up to date on disclosures and encouragement to increase savings and provide education.

As a TPA/RK, we provide a lot of communications to participants. However, we find that most of them end up in the garbage (paper) or are never accesses electronically.

It's always a surprise how much rework is required when we use our hi-buck recordkeeper as a communication partner. I think most of their stuff is off the shelf, from a different client. We do most of the updating, and then they charge us.

Have to scale down the examples in the communications to match the income level of the staff, e.g., current income and deferral rates.

Just because we mail 'em, doesn't mean they read 'em

Employees receive nothing other than minimally required by law. Other than the total vested balance (if any), an employee has no idea what they may be entitled to under the plan until the day they walk out of the organization.

I feel like we are sending something out all the time, between the required notices and the reminders to save, rollover, review you fund allocations, sign up for advice, etc.


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