The fourth annual Pensions & Investments' Defined Contribution Plan Investment Education Awards program has begun to accept entries.
The deadline is Oct. 15.
Entries are encouraged from plan sponsors who believe they have done an exceptional job helping plan participants understand how to build a strong financial base for retirement.
The program is open to corporate, public and union plans.
The P&I awards recognize creativity and imagination by plan sponsors in their efforts to educate their employees about the complexities of investing their defined contribution plan assets and the importance of saving over the course of their working career.
Winners will be announced, and awards distributed, at P&I's Defined Contribution/401(k) Conference, Jan. 22-23, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, New York.
Finalists will be notified in advance to ensure they are there to accept their awards.
Both printed materials and videos are included in the program.
If previous years' experiences are any indication, competition is expected to be keen. Last year's program drew more than 100 entries, which were judged by professionals from all segments of the defined contribution plan industry.
Judging for the 1998 competition will take place in P&I's Chicago office.
This year's competition could draw even more interest in view of the federal government's emphasis on providing participants with sufficient information about investing for retirement, the growth in the number of 401(k) plans and the stated need by plan participants for a higher level of investment information.
Entrants are reminded that printed materials should not be attached to boards.
And, unlike previous years, interactive educational materials - either on disk or CD-ROM - will not be judged.
Judges only will consider entries from plan sponsors. The materials may have been prepared internally, or with assistance from outside vendors.
Winners from last year may submit only new materials for consideration.
Although creativity and originality are sought, entries don't have to be fancy to win. The educational content is most important.
Entries needn't be elaborate, expensively produced materials. They should, however, be appealing and should provide practical information that effectively meets the needs of a diverse employee group.
Potential entrants are urged to submit only those materials that thoroughly and effectively communicate key investment and savings concepts.
Materials should emphasize early and regular saving.
Whether printed or on video, they should discuss the power of compounding, the value of matching and dollar cost averaging in accumulating a retirement nest egg.
The dangers of inflation should be mentioned, as well as a detailed explanation of risk and the relationship between risk and return.
The value of diversification as a tool to reduce volatility also should be discussed.
Judges will be looking for programs designed to improve the investment and savings habits of participants and to help them develop a disciplined approach to retirement planning.
The programs should address the company's unique employee demographics and also consider the time and workplace constraints.
Results-oriented programs are appealing and, for example, may have helped improve overall participation rates or helped demonstrate a broad appreciation for investment diversification among plan participants.
Program entries should be plan-specific, designed specifically for the plan sponsor. Generic industry materials are discouraged.
Materials should clearly identify the sponsor of the plan and refer to the plan's unique investment options.
All entries must be accompanied by the official entry form. Entry forms may be photocopied.
Contestants will be judged against their peers of a similar size and employee base.