Defined contribution plan participants no longer have to physically attend plan meetings - now they can do it virtually.
Last month, American Express Retirement Services, Minneapolis, started offering its "meeting in a box" online videos for plan participants. Using an Internet browser, "attendees" can click on customized educational videos explaining their 401(k) plans, complete with graphs and charts.
The website has a "frequently asked questions" area, and participants also can click out of the video to view their accounts.
The videos feature a real person doing the narration, with graphics on the other side of the screen as she is speaking. "It's a lot better quality than the old Max Headroom," said Lisa Hoene, vice president of employee education at American Express Retirement Services. "It's like a video clip of someone talking, with a slide show."
However, American Express executives said they are not replacing in-person meetings.
"There's been a lot of interest (in the virtual meeting), but no one is suggesting we stop sending the human beings," she said.