Financial wellness now a new category in award's 25th year
Bolstering financial health, improving retirement readiness, reducing fees and helping participants better understand the complexities of Medicare and Social Security were among the top-of-mind issues for plan sponsors recognized with a 2019 Eddy Award.
In all, 66 defined contribution communication campaigns were honored March 11 for their efforts to motivate and educate participants at the 25th annual awards program sponsored by Pensions & Investments. This year, P&I added a new category, financial wellness, to the awards program and recognized 12 campaigns.
"Plan sponsors and service providers put a tremendous amount of thought and effort into their education campaigns," said P&I Editor Amy B. Resnick, who also served as one of 16 program judges. "The focus on helping participants get the most out of their plans and benefits was truly impressive."
In the conversions category for corporate plans, first-place winners were JetBlue Airways (service provider: Empower Retirement) for plans with more than 5,000 employees; Haynes and Boone LLP (Charles Schwab & Co.) for plans with 1,000 to 5,000 employees; and TECO-Westinghouse Motor Co. (Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust) for plans with fewer than 1,000 employees.
JetBlue used the company's first-ever change of record keeper — to Empower Retirement— to help build participant confidence in the new provider. Its materials built off the airline theme: "Cleared for Landing: Welcome to Empower." TECO-Westinghouse, meanwhile, sought to add an element of fun to its provider change, rolling out a communications campaign featuring Willie and Winchester, two longhorn cattle that live outside the company's headquarters.
Also, in the conversions category, the not-for-profit/other winners were Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC (Transamerica Retirement Solutions) for plans with more than 5,000 employees and the University of Minnesota Physicians (Empower Retirement) for plans with 1,000 to 5,000 employees. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Empower Retirement) took first place among public plans.
Tie for first
In the financial wellness category, there was a tie for first place among corporate plans with more than 5,000 participants: Black & Veatch (Charles Schwab & Co.) and DENSO (Empower Retirement). The winner in the corporate plan group for 1,000 to 5,000 employees was Griffith Food Groups Inc. (Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust), and the winner for corporate plans with fewer than 1,000 employees was The Boldt Co. ( Francis Investment Counsel).
An "outside-the-box approach to engaging participants" was how one judge described Wells Fargo's Retirement City game, which Griffith tapped to teach employees financial wellness concepts and foster engagement with the company's retirement plan. As part of the game, players navigate through neighborhoods, earning points for answering questions.
Also, in the financial wellness category, Cone Health ( VALIC) took first place among the not-for-profit/other group of plans, and Virginia Retirement System (iGrad/Enrich) received the best score for public plans.
In the ongoing investment education category, Illinois Tool Works (ROC Group) took top honors among corporate plans with more than 5,000 employees and Nova Financial & Investment (OneAmerica) placed first for corporate plans with fewer than 1,000 employees.
Nova set a big goal for boosting participation in its retirement plan, aiming to reach a rate of 80% or more within 24 months, from 65%. A print and digital campaign worked in tandem to communicate the offerings of the plan, which added auto enrollment and escalation. Nova more than reached its goal, with current participation at about 97%.
Also in the ongoing investment education category, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association ( Fidelity Investments) was the winner among not-for-profit/other plans, and the City and County of San Francisco (Prudential Retirement) was the leader among public plans.
The ongoing investment education group also featured two first-place finishers among unions: Southwest Airlines Pilots Association for plans with more than 5,000 employees and the California Teachers Association for plans with 1,000 to 5,000 participants.
The California Teachers Association earned judges' praise for a revised website that incorporated images of new educators and easy-to-navigate tabs that directed visitors to a variety of tools, including calculators, helpful articles and information about its 403(b) savings plan. One judge especially liked how the campaign featured real plan members at different life stages to illustrate answers to common questions.
Winning in transitions
First-place winners in the plan transitions category were Hudson's Bay Co. (Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust) for corporate plans with more than 5,000 employees. Ballad Health ( Lincoln Financial Group) placed first in the not-for-profit/other plans group, and University of Pittsburgh ( TIAA-CREF) was the leader among public plans.
There was a first-place tie in the pre-retirement preparation contest for corporate plans between Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. ( Francis Investment Counsel) and Cabot Corp. (Spitfire Communications). Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility ( TIAA-CREF) placed first in the pre-retirement preparation category for not-for-profit/other plans.
Mortgage Guaranty expanded its financial wellness program in 2018 to offer targeted services to those age 50 and up. That included up to six hours of financial planning for people within one year of retirement, tackling topics such as pension payout options, risk tolerance and deciding when to take Social Security.
The special projects category produced a first-place tie in corporate plans with more than 5,000 employees between AutoNation (Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust) and VITAS Healthcare ( Lincoln Financial Group). Synopsis (Benz Communications) took the top special projects prize for corporate plans with 1,000 to 5,000 employees.
In the not-for-profit/other group of plans with more than 5,000 employees, California Institute of Technology ( TIAA-CREF) placed first for special projects. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ( TIAA-CREF) led the not-for-profit/other special projects contest for plans with 1,000 to 5,000 employees.
The public plan special projects winner was the State of Missouri Deferred Compensation Plan. The plan created six educational videos highlighting common excuses people use for not saving for retirement. Each of the "What's Your Excuse" videos were produced in-house, and drew judges' praise for their playful creativity and humor.
Meanwhile, the top prize for a union plan special project was awarded to the Iron Workers of Western Pennsylvania (PNC Retirement Solutions).
In addition to honoring sponsors and their service providers, the Eddy Awards judges also cited generic education efforts by service providers. Resources Investment Advisors and Bank of America Merrill Lynch tied for first in the financial wellness category; PNC Retirement Solutions placed first for ongoing investment education; Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust led the pre-retirement preparation category; and Chepenik Financial took first place in the special projects group.
The awards were presented at P&I's annual East Coast Defined Contribution Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. See the complete list of all the Eddy Award winners.