Some 401(K) Participants Using Mobile Technology to Communicate With Advisors


Younger retirement plan participants are interested in using new technology like smartphones and tablets for financial purposes, a Spectrem study shows.

Overall, 71 percent of plan participants own smartphones and 57 percent own tablets, numbers that are getting close to the PC/Mac ownership, which is at 79 percent. Four percent used none of the referred technologies.

The data comes from Spectrem’s Plan Participant Social Media and Mobile Technology Usage report, which was issued in August.

Smartphone usage is nearing PC/Mac usage among plan participants under the age of 35. Forty-four percent of that group said they would use a smartphone as their No. 1 choice for following the news, to 46 percent said PC/Mac. Only four percent said they would choose a tablet as their No. 1 choice.

For plan participants aged 50 and over, 54 percent chose the PC/Mac as their first choice, to 18 percent using a tablet and 13 percent using a smartphone.

Even younger investors are hesitant to turn to their smartphone for getting information on financial products and services. Sixty-six percent of participants under 35 said they would use their PC/Mac, to just 16 percent using their smartphone. Again, older investors are more likely to use a PC/Mac (68 percent) and that age group prefers their tablets to smartphones, (11 percent tablet to just 4 percent smartphone).

Since smartphones are just evolved telephones, it is not a surprise that 28 percent of the under-35 group is willing to use their smartphone to correspond with a financial advisor, while only 7 percent of the 50-and-over group is so willing. The older group is really not interested in corresponding with their tablet, as only 2 percent said that was a choice they would make.

There is reluctance to buy and sell investments using the newer technologies. Only 14 percent of participants under 35 would use their smartphone to conduct investment transactions, and that number drops to 6 percent among plan participants aged 35 to 49 and 4 percent among retirement plan participants aged 50 and over.

There is varied interest in being able to access personal account information on smartphones and tablets. While 34 percent of participants under 35 said they would use their smartphone, only 14 percent of participants 50 and over would do so. But again, the older crowd likes their tablets, and 11 percent would use that device for accessing account information.

Eighteen percent of plan participants 35 years of age and older would use a smartphone for getting market updates, the highest percentage for a suggested financial use of new technology. Ten percent of that age group wants to be able to get access via their tablet as well.

For more information on Plan Participant Social Media and Mobile Technology Usage, click here.