Many Retirement Plans Miss Mark on Delivering Guidance to Participants Through Digital Channels, J.D. Power Finds – Business Wire

TROY, Mich.–()–As virtually every participant interaction has shifted to digital channels, the majority of retirement plans are failing to deliver proactive guidance and many have made it difficult to find the information users are seeking on their websites and mobile apps. According to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Retirement Plan Digital Satisfaction Study,SM released today, just 24% of retirement investors strongly agree their provider offers proactive guidance and help, and just 43% found it very easy to locate the information they were looking for on their retirement plan websites and mobile apps.

“Very often an individual’s first experience with investing happens within an employer-sponsored plan, giving these plan providers an inside track to build a relationship and retain and grow the participant’s assets long after they have separated from their current employer,” said Mike Foy, senior director of wealth management intelligence at J.D. Power. “Many of these providers have invested significantly in developing digital content and tools to provide education and guidance, but if participants are unaware of those resources or can’t easily find or use them, it’s a huge missed opportunity.”

However, there have also been some stand-out performers that are setting themselves apart from the pack. The top and lowest performers in this study are separated by nearly 100 points on a 1,000-point scale, setting the stage for a new battle for retiree hearts and minds that is taking place in digital.

Following are some key findings of the 2021 study:

  • Proactive guidance key to customer engagement, but few retirement plans deliver: Net Promoter Scores®1 significantly increase by 51 points among participants when their retirement plan provides proactive guidance via digital channels. Participants who receive this guidance are also 25 percentage points more likely to keep their retirement assets with their current retirement plan provider or roll over to a separate IRA with that provider. Despite these benefits, just 24% of retirement plan investors say they strongly agree that their retirement plan provider offers proactive guidance and help.
  • Apps are key: Overall satisfaction with the mobile app experience is 69 points higher than for websites, yet only 35% of participants have downloaded their retirement plan provider’s app to their phone. By comparison, 52% of utility residential customers have downloaded their energy provider’s app.
  • Guidance and overall financial health: Retirement planning and savings can’t be done effectively in isolation from a participant’s other short- and long-term financial goals and needs. While slightly more than half (58%) of plan participants are generally financial healthy, among those who are not—including the overextended, stressed and vulnerable—satisfaction scores are much lower for the value of the information and content provided. Providers need to do a better job of understanding participant needs and delivering more relevant digital content.

Study Ranking

Charles Schwab ranks highest in retirement plan digital satisfaction with a score of 725. Bank of America (formerly Merrill) ranks second with a score of 703 and AIG Retirement Services ranks third with a score of 699.

The U.S. Retirement Plan Digital Satisfaction Study, formerly known as the U.S. Retirement Plan Participant Satisfaction Study, was significantly redesigned this year to focus on investor interaction with retirement plan digital channels. Satisfaction scores are measured across four factors: information/content; navigation; speed; and visual appeal. The study is based on responses of 5,363 retirement plan participants and was fielded in May-June 2021.

For more information about the U.S. Retirement Plan Digital Satisfaction Study, visit

To view the online press release, please visit

About J.D. Power

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. A pioneer in the use of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic modeling capabilities to understand consumer behavior, J.D. Power has been delivering incisive industry intelligence on customer interactions with brands and products for more than 50 years. The world’s leading businesses across major industries rely on J.D. Power to guide their customer-facing strategies.

J.D. Power has offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. To learn more about the company’s business offerings, visit The J.D. Power auto shopping tool can be found at

About J.D. Power and Advertising/Promotional Rules:

1 Net Promoter,® Net Promoter System,® Net Promoter Score,® NPS,® and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.