Leveraging big data to gain insights, defined contribution service providers are adding and refining tools to help plan executives and consultants access and analyze participant data to improve savings behavior in their plans.
"The really macro trends that have been going on over the last few years around (the) growth and maturity of our technology, the rise of consumerism and really the whole disruption in the financial services space with robo-advisers ... have all really escalated over the last four to five years," said Lynda Abend, Boston-based chief data officer at record keeper John Hancock Retirement Plan Services. "That's where we said ... we really need to dedicate energy to understanding and utilizing the information that's now available to us to help participants save and plan for retirement."
Since Ms. Abend was appointed the firm's first chief data officer nearly four years ago, her priorities have been "making sure that we are leveraging all of the information the firm has about a participant, a client, a plan, to drive better outcomes" and ensuring the data are maintained in a secure environment and used only in the best interest of participants, she said.
For several years, John Hancock has provided record-keeping clients and their consultants information on participant activities through an online "analytics dashboard." However, recently the firm has been leveraging machine-learning algorithms and third-party data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and data aggregators such as KBM Group to help enhance its understanding of participants and the challenges they face, Ms. Abend said.