Pensions & Investments is looking for plan sponsors that have the right stuff to enter the fifth annual Pensions & Investments' Defined Contribution Investment Education Awards.
The deadline is Oct. 15.
Entries are encouraged from plan sponsors who believe they have done a first-rate job helping plan participants understand the investment process. The program is open to all defined contribution plans, corporate, public or union.
The awards recognize creativity and imagination on the part of plan sponsors in their efforts to educate employees on how to build a strong financial base for retirement by investing their defined contribution plan assets, and the importance of saving over the course of their working career.
The competition will be judged at P&I's Chicago office by professionals in all segments of the defined contribution plan industry.
Awards are offered for both printed materials and videos. This year, P&I has altered some of the award categories, reflecting the direction the editors see print and video educational efforts heading. The categories are:
* Printed material -- initial education brochures that introduce existing employees to the investment options of a new or modified plan, or that introduce new employees to the investment options of an existing plan.
* Video -- initial education videos that introduce employees to the investment options of a new or modified plan, focusing heavily on the investment process.
* Video -- videos that introduce new employees to an existing plan or are aimed at boosting participation.
* Special projects -- print that is designed to allow sponsors to showcase special investment education and communication campaigns launched in the past year.
Based on previous years' experiences, competition is expected to be stiff. More than 100 defined contribution plans entered last year's program.
While judges will only consider entries from plan sponsors, these materials may be prepared internally or with assistance from outside vendors.
Previous winners may re-enter, but only with new materials.
Although creativity and originality distinguished several of last year's winners, entries don't have to be glitzy or gimmicky to win; nor do they need to be elaborate or expensively produced. Judges look most to the educational content of the materials submitted. For example, last year the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention tied for first place in the ongoing education category for noncorporate funds with its newsletter, LifePoints Quarterly. Judges praised the board's newsletter for its clean layout, easy-to-read performance data and readable, in-depth cover stories.
Materials should be appealing and provide practical information that effectively meets the needs of a diverse employee group. Potential entrants are urged to submit only materials that thoroughly and effectively communicate key investment and savings concepts. Entries should be 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. The following points should be covered:
* An emphasis on early and regular saving.
* The power of compounding, the value of matching and dollar-cost averaging in accumulating a retirement nest egg.
* An analysis of the dangers of inflation, as well as a detailed explanation of risk and the relationship between risk and return.
* A discussion of the value of diversification as a tool for reducing volatility.
Judges also 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.
* Programs addressing the company's unique employee demographics.
* Programs considering time and workplace constraints.
* Results-oriented programs -- an example would be a program that helped improve overall participation rates or helped demonstrate a broad appreciation for investment diversification among plan participants.
All entries must be accompanied by the official entry form. Entry forms may be photocopied. Printed materials should not be attached to boards. Interactive educational materials -- either on disk or CD-ROM -- will not be judged. Contestants will be judged against their peers of a similar size and employee base>