Retirement Statements – Safer in an In-Box than a Mailbox!

Apr 30, 2020

More and more, the haul from my mailbox (snail mailbox, that is) is magazines, catalogs, junk mail and once a quarter, my retirement statement. To be honest, it all (except for the magazines) goes immediately in my recycling bin. And considering the current COVID-19 climate, it likely gets sprayed with sanitizer, too!

Like most Americans, I receive most bills via email and pay them online. I’d prefer to get information about my retirement accounts delivered directly to my email inbox or an app notification.

I’m not alone. A poll of retirement plan participants by Quantria Strategies found that 84% of respondents found it acceptable to make electronic delivery the default option (with a no-cost opt-out option). Being able to receive statements electronically is safer, provides participants with convenience, creates less waste, and will save money.

Fortunately, Washington, D.C. decision makers get this. Lawmakers have bipartisan legislation waiting in the wings which closely tracks efforts by the Department of Labor (DOL) that will make it easier for retirement plan administrators to send participants required disclosures electronically. The DOL is in the final stages of their rulemaking process, which would provide retirement plans with a new safe harbor should they opt to send participant notices electronically and make the required notices available on their website. Plan participants could still receive paper copies should they choose. A final rule is expected in the coming months.

Allowing electronic delivery reduces plan costs. According to the DOL, the approximate net savings over 10 years are $2.4 billion, resulting from eliminating distribution and mailing costs associated with furnishing retirement plan related disclosures. These savings would ultimately be passed on to participants, translating to lower expenses – and higher account balances.

It’s time that retirement plan statements catch up with the pace of technology to ensure savers have access to needed information and online tools to assist them as they save and plan for retirement. And as Americans become more leery of touching their mail, now more than ever electronic delivery is necessary!

Kathleen Coulombe

Kathleen Coulombe serves as the Vice President, Retirement Security and Principal Deputy, Federal Relations for the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). In this capacity, she is actively involved in retirement security public policy issues on Capitol Hill that impact the life insurance industry.