Retirement Communications: Emerging and Future Trends

Broadridge Insights

Retirement Communications: Emerging and Future Trends

Emerging and future trends to guide retirement plan providers in developing a new participant communications model


The field of retirement communications is changing, challenging and offers the opportunity for a broad new dialogue in the industry.

For retirement plan providers, managing communications with participants continues to be a double-edged sword. While effective communications can offer a competitive edge for a provider in a commoditized industry, delivering these communications adds costs in a thin-margin business under increasing fee pressure.

Meanwhile, automated plan design, new plan features and new technologies have created complexities and opportunities—and, thus a need for a new participant communications model. As the nation’s retirement crisis becomes ever more urgent, it is important for the industry to address this issue, particularly since there are now three generations—Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millenials—in the workplace with vastly different financial concerns and communication preferences.*

Early Baby Boomers may be the last generation to achieve financial security in retirement. While they have enough savings and wealth to replace nearly 70 to 80 percent of their pre-retirement income, Late Baby Boomers are on track to replace only 60 percent. Generation X, at the median, are projected to replace only half their income.*

And, the majority of Millennials are much more concerned with paying off debt and meeting current expenses than with retirement savings.*

Providers are striving to overcome participant inertia by delivering more personalized, contextual and interactive communications. To do so, they will be required not only to leverage data more effectively but also to persuade plan sponsors to approve automatic, multi-channel programs for participant communications.

With three generations currently in the workplace, retirement plan providers need to develop a new model for delivering more personalized, contextual and interactive communications to plan participants.

Four important trends in strategy development within segmentation, channel optimization, data integration and metrics are emerging.

  1. Segmentation: Life-stage communication programs targeted by age segments will prevail as Baby Boomers retire and Gen X-ers and Millennials take over. These programs use content, language and images that appeal to these different workforce generations. However, most providers stick to print, rather than creating integrated and contextual ‘multi-channel’ experiences.

  2. Channel optimization: To overcome participant inertia, retirement providers must deploy highly efficient techniques for communications delivery. These can include personalization, an “opt-out” approach, and much more extensive and more integrated use of digital and social media.

  3. Data integration and management: Data will be the foundation for building the communications platform of the future. Sourcing, storing, managing, analyzing and using accurate participant and plan data remains a key challenge in delivering the types of personalized and targeted communications that will drive better participant outcomes.

  4. Metrics: Retirement providers and regulators increasingly focus on retirement outcomes as the primary metric of plan success. However, an equally important focus should be on delivering these positive outcomes at a cost that is reasonable, sustainable and competitive.

Some firms have already begun to create concrete strategies to address these opportunities, but many are still formulating their retirement communications strategies, and many are focused on the more immediate tactical issues at hand. All can agree that the need to find real solutions has never been greater.

The goal of this paper is to help you gain insight into these industry challenges and stimulate a dialogue about how to address these trends in your short and long-term plans. It offers a framework for designing new solutions for the participant experience that will help overcome the nation’s retirement challenge.

Please visit to learn more and to download the full report.

*Please see full report for research citations.

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