Pensions & Investments is looking for plan sponsors that have dared to boldly go with their education campaigns where few have gone before to enter the sixth annual P&I Defined Contribution Investment Education Awards.
The deadline is Oct. 15.
Entries are encouraged from plan sponsors that believe they are light-years ahead -- or at least have done a first-rate job -- in helping plan participants understand the investment process. The competition is open to all defined contribution plans: corporate, public or union.
The awards recognize plan sponsors' creativity and imagination in their efforts to educate employees on building 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. The categories are:
* Printed material -- initial education brochures that introduce existing employees to the investment options and plan features of a new or modified plan, or that introduce new employees to the investment options and plan features of an existing plan;
* Video -- initial education videos that introduce employees to the investment options or plan features 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 or employee deferral rates; and
* 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 out of this world. Nearly 100 defined contribution plans entered last year's contest.
While judges will consider only 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 imagination and originality distinguished many of last year's winners, entries do not have to be 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 State of California won first place in the special projects category for public funds with its investment guide for the state's Savings Plus Program. Judges praised the investment guide for its clean layout and readability.
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 and should clearly identify the sponsor and the plan's unique features. Generic industry materials are discouraged.
The following 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; and
* 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 unique employee demographics;
* Programs considering time and workplace constraints; and
* Results-oriented programs -- such as a program that helped improve overall participation rates or increase deferral rates of plan participants or helped participants appreciate investment diversification.
All entries must be accompanied by an 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.