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Beyond a lecture

Escaping the perils of not saving enough

ICMA-RC’s RealizeRetirement Adventure was available to workers at a recent event.

Public-sector workers get much more than the usual lecture on saving for retirement with record keeper ICMA-RC's virtual reality "escape room" experience now touring the country.

The RealizeRetirement Adventure lets them experience true danger as they find themselves on a (virtual) speeding train, with sound effects and even vibrations. To avoid crashing, they have to find hidden objects and solve puzzles with nuggets of financial education, like the benefits of diversification and compound interest. "They don't find out until they get out that they actually learned things," said Bob Schultze, ICMA-RC president and CEO.

An earlier RealizeRetirement truck tour that reached more than 20,000 public-sector employees in 22 states led to a 10% increase in enrollment for 457 plans. Mr. Schultze said that success inspired the new interactive virtual reality experience, which now has a waiting list.

People going through the VR experience come out smiling and are greeted by local ICMA-RC representatives with computer tablets ready to sign them up. They leave with a postcard from their "trip" and an "I solved the adventure" sticker to help inspire their co-workers. "We know that peer-to-peer experience is so important," Mr. Schulze said.

The escape room truck follows the weather, heading to Florida in February, then west to Texas and California, before Oregon, Washington state, Missouri and Michigan by summer. "Our goal is to reach as many (public sector defined contribution) plans as possible," said Alex Hannah, managing vice president, marketing communications and education at ICMA-RC.

The schedule, which is subject to change, is available on the RealizeRetirement Adventure website or plan sponsors can contact Mr. Hannah at ahannah@icmarc.org.