7 Tech Features to Look for in Your 401k Provider

If you’ve been exploring the possibility of working with a different 401(k) provider, you’ll want to focus your attention on tech-centric partners. Providers offering tech features are more likely to appeal to the majority of your employees, especially Millennial and Generation Z workers. Plus, high-tech portals tend to take a lot of the managerial burden off your shoulders.

What tech traits matter most when it comes to providers and administrators of small business 401(k) plans? Below are seven key attributes that will help you encourage more participation from team members while limiting your involvement in handling the 401(k) onboarding and administrative details.

1. The ability for employers to sign up online.

Gone are the days of having a financial representative come into your office to discuss 401(k) options. Your time is limited, and you want answers quickly and without too much idle chit chat.

Tech-savvy 401(k) providers have your best interests in mind. Often, they set up simple to understand subscription-style pricing, outlining fees transparently so you can make a choice. Though you’ll still be able to connect with a dedicated account representative who can help you pick between investment vehicle types, you can bypass the need for excessive meetings. Yet you’ll still be able to offer your team a viable, thriving 401(k) package.

2. Seamless interface with common payroll software.

When your 401(k) provider’s software “talks” with your payroll and accounting software, you win. Integration between your tech stack reduces friction and eliminates the need to duplicate efforts. You’ll reduce the manpower it takes to efficiently oversee your 401(k) offerings. Need to add contributions? Your software will see that contributions are distributed as-expected. At the same time, you may find new ways to utilize your current payroll program.

For instance, after integrating your 401(k) with your payroll, you may be able to collect data points on how employees are using the benefits package. In the United States, only about a third of working adults with access to a 401(k) invest in it. Using the raw data points you collect, you might be able to better predict which future workers will be apt to join a 401(k). Or, you might notice that team members from a certain department or within a specific salary range tend to shy away from 401(k)s. Knowing these facts, you can work to help everyone on staff understand the value of planning for retirement.

3. Simplified employee login and account control.

Your employees shouldn’t have to wonder what their 401(k) accounts look like or whether they’re growing as expected. Instead, they should be able to log onto their company’s 401(k) partner portal and find all the information they need. 

The most robust 401(k) plan providers boast intuitive dashboards that allow workers to make contribution changes and handle other housecleaning. This helps team members feel more comfortable with their 401(k)s. It also gives them less reason to contact you or the human resources team when they want to know something about their retirement vehicles.

4. Customer-centric service and “help center” options.

Customer empower has grown as a trend in the marketing world. However, it’s quite relevant to your 401(k) provider’s tech offerings. The more empowered your employees feel when logging into their 401(k) accounts, the happier they’ll be.

To this end, you want your 401(k) partner’s website to include multiple ways for your workers to find answers to their questions. This could be in the form of a live chat, FAQs pages, up-to-date forum, or dedicated user service telephone line. Remember: Consumer empowerment translates to increasing degrees of satisfaction. And if your employees are satisfied with their 401(k), they’ll probably be more apt to stay with your company rather than leaving.

5. Highest levels of encryption.

Security is on everyone’s minds, especially with so many breaches in the news over the past few years. Although data breaches countrywide have fallen in 2020, they remain a concern. No employee wants their information compromised, especially when the information includes personal details.

Ask potential 401(k) providers about the ways they have set up their portals to be safe. Then, pass along what you learn to your employees when you announce the 401(k) option. Be sure to contribute yourself to your 401(k) so you can show workers that you feel secure, too.

6. Automatic preparation and dissemination of tax documents.

Though most 401(k) providers send out tax documents, you should always ask about tax-time information. For instance, if employees want tax-related documents on-demand, can they get them easily using their account portal login? Or do they have to make special requests and go through a lot of hoops?

Tax time can be stressful for many people. The fewer hassles that your people experience with 401(k) documents, the better.

7. Informational updates.

As part of the tech features you’ll want to look for in a 401(k) partner, pay attention to what kind of helpful information they provide. These can include anything from e-newsletters to pushed out blog posts to video “how to” messaging. 

Helpful expert advice gives your team members insights they can use to make smarter financial moves today for a wealthier tomorrow. Bonus points if your 401(k) provider uses multiple channels to reach clients at the places and sites they most prefer. 

Forget about handing out papers and asking your employees to fill in 401(k) decisions tediously by hand. Some of the best 401(k) providers on the market are offering impressive technical advantages that both you and your workforce will appreciate.

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