SURVEY SAYS: Retirement Information Medium Preference

December 3, 2012 – Last week, I asked NewsDash readers how they would prefer to receive retirement plan information?

The biggest proportion of respondents (34.5%) indicated they would like to receive a combination of paper and electronic communications, followed closely by 33.6% who said they would like to receive all information electronically. Eighteen percent of responding readers prefer their participant statements on paper, and all other information delivered electronically, while 13.8% prefer all paper communication.  

Among those who prefer some or all information delivered electronically, 44.7% prefer e-mails and 35.9% prefer information on an employer or provider website. Two percent indicated it doesn’t matter from which electronic medium they receive retirement plan information, while 17.5% prefer a combination of electronic mediums.  No readers chose texts or social media websites.

In the verbatim comments, many readers pointed out that information delivered in any format doesn’t get read. Some noted that they just want the information available to them when they are ready to read it, through whatever medium allows that. Others made the point that cost is often a factor in deciding the medium for delivery.  

Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “If the retirement information delivered indicates that I can actually retire, I could be very forgiving if it doesn’t arrive in my preferred format.” 


there's only one reason that the financial services industry is pushing this - to hope that participants don't see what is going on with their accounts, just like with the imbedded fees that people can't see, and can't figure out. Remember these are the guys that gave you the mutual fund prospectus as a disclosure device. 


E-delivery is always fine if the information is formatted in a legible E-reading way. Too often PDFs of print materal are posted. These can be a pain to navigate. 


I'm over 60 and still stuck on paper. 


Having just added eStatements and knowing the cost difference, everyone will be pushing for folks to go electronic. 


It doesn't really matter how I receive it, by the time I get it, the data is at least 2 weeks old. 


I think the overwhelming lack of response and / or interest by our employees to the Participant Fee Disclosure makes me think it's not worth it. Perhaps it's government's way of keeping the US Postal Service running! I'd like to know the total cost of mailing those disclosures in 2012. Was it worth it Uncle Sam? 


Why does anyone want paper anymore? We are in the 21st Century! Come on, catch up! 


Now all electronic as it saves the TSP money to deliver electronically. 


I like to get just the quarterly statement on paper. The rest I like to have access on the provider website. 


I work for a paper company...easy answer.

Verbatim (cont.)  

I get so much e-mail, it's more likely to be deleted and unread than if I receive retirement info on paper. Paper indicates it's really important. 


Written so it can be understood by the average individual. If electronic, allow or provide method to conduct what-if analysis. 


I'm close enough to retirement to appreciate paper. I can take paper anywhere and don't need to be connected to read. 


An e-mail reminder to log into the sponsor site allows me to look at my statement and make any contribution or investment changes at the same time. No paper or cost wasted with snail mail! 


If the retirement information delivered indicates that I can actually retire, I could be very forgiving if it doesn't arrive in my preferred format. 


Would like the plain English version side-by-side with the legal jargon version, too. 


I chose 100% paper based on the fact I read all USPS mail, but not all personal e-mails. It is also a better medium for my husband. 


trying my best to save some trees and declutter my personal files/life 


Participant paper statements due to generally older blue collar workforce. Electronic plan sponsor statements to younger white collar workforce. 


I prefer electronic delivery: if I need a paper copy, I will print it. Regarding delivery, post it on the website and send me an e-mail alert regarding the important docs.

Verbatim (cont.)  

It's a strange and likely misleading question. If asked, I too would say I prefer my information delivered on paper. In reality, though, I know darned well that I never look at the paper I receive, since the information is stale by the time I get it. Psychologically speaking, I know I can file the paper away and look at it if I ever decide I want to, whereas electronic delivery likely comes at a time when I don't necessarily want to look at it - but is very difficult to file away to look at some other time. Overall. I think it's a paradigm issue. If it's a question of the old paradigm - delivery - paper is what we're comfortable with. The new paradigm - electronic - has no place place for "delivery". It has to be a question of "availability" 


In this day in age - go green. Too bad my grand-children will never know about the USPS. 


Trying to get anyone to read the information in any format can be a challenge. The individual has to take some sort of ownership to review and utilize the material. 


I want it on a website so I can go get it when I need it. But I'm fearful in the future when I need it, the document won't be there. So you better also send me an email with it so it's saved. 


Personal information on paper, with an option to go to a website where I can log in to a personal account. General information by e-mail (perhaps an e-mail with a link to or directing me to a website). 


It has gotten to the point that I received soooo many junk e-mails that I actually pay greater attention to the paper communications that I receive. 


I think the survey [covered previously] was flawed (look at sponsor). If properly done electronically, people will look at things. Now they don't 


I'm old fashioned, I like to see it on paper. 


Lets be honest, most of us never read it anyway - which is probably a good thing (keeps us from making rash decisions). Have it available on the web to go and grab it if I want it, and leave it at that. The idea of statements has exhausted its usefulness in the current electronic environment. The reason for statements being sent has become (for most of us) obsolete. 


In my bank statement, monthly, from the comfort of my easy chair, please.

Verbatim (cont.)  

Paper? I need more Paper? You must be kidding! 


E-mails can be a source of fraud or phishing. I would prefer for me to initiate accessing info electronically. I also like the paper for long term recordkeeping plus it is a handy reminder for me to review the information. 


I consider myself to be a technically proficient, and technologically adept individual, and yet I don't get the notion that we're going to shove hundreds of pages of dense, legalistic, obscurely written text at "regular" people and expect them to read it. Of course, you could argue that they aren't reading it on paper, either, and I suspect you'd be accurate. But at least they know they haven't read it. Honestly, the notion that this should all be delivered electronically must be the brainchild of the same idiots that think a mutual fund prospectus constitutes adequate and helpful disclosure. p.s. I think we can all admit that this push to electronic is a function of two things; the growing mountain of government-mandated disclosures, and the cost of providing those in hardcopy. I wouldn't mind less of the former - and, as for the latter, I think it's reasonable to ask people to pay extra for hardcopy (or offer some kind of discount for those who go electronic). There, problem solved. Where do I send my bill? And would you like it in electronic form or hardcopy? ;-} 


Does it really matter how all the required notices are delivered? The only thing the employee reads is the balance on their quarterly statement. 


There is a mindset in the industry that everyone wants information electronically, this is not true. While many participants may want electronic information there are still just as many that do not and to force them to electronic receipt is not good participant service. 


e-mail with a link to log in for any personal or confidential information is way more secure than mail 


I'm inundated with paper all day at work. Why would I want the same thing at home! 


For lengthy docs, I would prefer to receive an e-mail of a document’s availability, including a link to that document. And then, have an option of requesting a hard copy be mailed to me, after I have had a chance to flick through the on-line version. 


The question that doesn't get asked (even here) is, and if you would like to receive paper, would you be willing to pay more for that option. It's almost a given that most of what is sent electronically won't be read. However, it's by no means certain that those hundreds of pages of printed material are being read, either. 



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