Springfield, Mass. - MassMutual piloted its e4 Wireless Enrollment System with several plan sponsors and participant focus groups early this year, and so far, the results have been significant.In an effort to make retirement planning less overwhelming for participants and more action-oriented, MassMutual engaged Ameranth Wireless Inc., San Diego, to develop e4, MassMutual's custom Electronic Enhanced Enrollment Experience.

During a MassMutual e4 enrollment meeting, each attendee uses a secure hand-held device that communicates wirelessly with a laptop, operated by a MassMutual communication specialist. Each hand-held device can retrieve a participant's password-protected information and plan-specific data such as sources of retirement income, target retirement year and investment options, enabling the participant to make highly personalized retirement decisions.

The communication specialist uses the e4 system to deliver a customized education presentation that is synchronized to the hand-helds, ensuring that all participants are receiving the same educational message at the same time. This allows each participant to take immediate action when prompted. The participant follows along and makes elections by touching the screen with a stylus.

The information they enter is retrieved wirelessly, in real time, by the laptop, enabling the communication specialist to address questions as they arise.

Among nonparticipating employees who attended an e4 meeting at Chicago-based Ingalls Health System, 100% took action. Overall, the average new participant deferral rate using e4 is 4.66%. Even more promising is that the enthusiasm is contagious -- employees are actually excited about the enrollment experience and are sharing the good news with fellow employees.

A common hurdle at enrollment meetings is that, if participants are required to write in a lot of information, they'll often decide to put it off to a later time--and they may never actually enroll.

With e4, all the information is prepopulated for each employee, making it really easy for participants to act immediately," says Rick Bindler, retirement plan consultant, Marsh Retirement Consulting Practice, and a registered representative with MMC Securities Corp., Chicago.

HealthNow New York Inc., Buffalo, N.Y., a MassMutual client since 1997, was also among the plan sponsors enlisted for the pilot testing. HealthNow, one of New York State's leading healthcare companies, has more than 2,300 employees in four locations, and 401(k) plan assets of more than $76 million. The company has held two enrollment meetings with 95% of eligible attendees enrolling on the spot.

"Using e4, action rates in the 85% to 95% range are not uncommon," says Fred Castellani executive vice president for MassMutual's Retirement Services division. "We were confident that this new technology would be very successful, but the reality is the results are even better than we expected."

Source: MassMutual

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