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401k Technology Can Intimidate Plan Sponsors

401k Technology Can Intimidate Plan Sponsors  

401k Technology is a term that frightens many plan sponsors and even some retirement plan advisors.  In most cases, 401k technology is thought of as a vast improvement in processes, systems or in how one extracts information from data.  However, the word technology and the implied transition that is associated with the term is not always easy or comfortable. At the conclusion of a recent The Plan Sponsor University (TPSU) program at the University of Georgia, in Atlanta, Georgia, Fred Barstein, TPSU Founder and CEO, Fred Barstein spoke with one of the program attendees, Ms. Elizabeth Voss. Ms. Voss is the Manager of Human Resources of an organization that has a nationwide presence.   In this 401kTV video, Ms. Voss discusses some of the stumbling blocks that hinder the widespread acceptance of 401k technology for 401k plans and 401k plan sponsors.

Full Transcript Here

Fred Barstein:
Fred Barstein with 401k TV here in Atlanta where we just completed a TPSU program, and I’m thrilled to be here with Elizabeth who just attended. Welcome, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Voss:
Thank you, Fred.

Fred Barstein:
Okay if we ask you a few questions?

Elizabeth Voss:
Yeah, absolutely.

Fred Barstein:
Okay. Before we do, tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.

Elizabeth Voss:
Okay. My name is Elizabeth [Voss 00:00:25] and I’m the HR manager for a company of about 300 employees. Their located throughout the United States.

Fred Barstein:
Okay, great.

Fred Barstein:
So one of the things you mentioned, which I thought was interesting and i think is prevalent, is sometimes your employees have issues with the online systems. So your record keeper, and particularly the enrollment. Tell me some of the frustrations that you’ve seen.

Elizabeth Voss:
Sure. So I think some populations can be a little bit overwhelmed by the technology. They’re used to just the old paper enrollment process, so that technology could be a real roadblock to them to participate and to enroll, and even administrator their own 401k.

Fred Barstein:
So you’re seeing that they’re coming to you and exhibiting that?

Elizabeth Voss:
Yes, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Fred Barstein:
And so, what do you do about that? What can we do about that?

Elizabeth Voss:
That’s a really good question. You tell me.

Fred Barstein:
Yeah. Sometimes we just have to make sure we’re asking the right questions. Do you think that we need improvement in the technology, make it simpler?

Elizabeth Voss:
I think that could be part of it, yes, even if it’s just the technology of bringing it to their phone, maybe they’re more comfortable with a cell phone because they’ve already integrated that type of technology in their life.

Fred Barstein:
So maybe do that. And then, maybe offer a little bit more education and training for them.

Elizabeth Voss:
Yes, maybe even one-on-one. Have someone that sits down and actually-

Fred Barstein:
And helps them through it.

Elizabeth Voss:
… helps them through it, yeah.

Fred Barstein:
Maybe at least the first time, right, to do that?

Elizabeth Voss:
Yeah.

Fred Barstein:
Yeah, no. I-

Elizabeth Voss:
[inaudible 00:02:01].

Fred Barstein:
We think that technology is really gonna solve a lot of problems, but we gotta make sure it’s accessible and usable.

Elizabeth Voss:
Right, for everyone.

Fred Barstein:
So I wanna make sure that we’re highlighting it maybe isn’t today, and we need to improve.

Elizabeth Voss:
Right.

Fred Barstein:
And you’re an example of that.

Elizabeth Voss:
Yes, absolutely.

Fred Barstein:
So, it’s great.

Fred Barstein:
Final question for you. A couple of things you picked up that you wanna take back.

Elizabeth Voss:
Sure. So one of the things is just the target date funds.

Fred Barstein:
Yes.

Elizabeth Voss:
That, I really didn’t understand the intricate workings of that. So now that I do, I can ask my advisors more educated questions about what’s behind these funds, what’s the glide path, how is it figured? So that was very helpful for me. And just, also, learning about what other people are doing in their programs that work and what doesn’t work kind of get-

Fred Barstein:
Right, the peer-to-peer

Elizabeth Voss:
Yeah, the peer-to-peer is great. It gave me some things to think about.

Fred Barstein:
Well, we’re doing peer-to-peer now, so you to 50,000 people, so it’s a little bit broader.

Fred Barstein:
So, thank you for your time. Thanks for attending TPSU.

Elizabeth Voss:
Absolutely.

Fred Barstein:
Hopefully we’ll see you again in six months. And thank you for watching 401k TV.

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