I was born in 1972 and aside from fashion, music, and interior decorating, I’m a fan of the 1970s, which was the decade for baby boomers. The 401(k) plan business sprouted out of the 1980s and it grew in tandem with the generation that benefitted the most of it, that same baby boomer generation. I have clothing that is older than many of the kids coming into the workforce today.
This generation called millennials never knew a life that wasn’t in an internet age, they don’t know what it’s like to make 401(k) investment changes through pen and paper or the phone. Yet, most plan providers treat millennials and baby boomers the same and it’s ridiculous. Whether it’s the communication, the enrollment meetings, and the web interface, most plan providers think they can rely on what worked for baby boomers. No millennial is going to say OK, Boomer to me, but I realize that there are vast differences between the generations that plan providers service and there will be a time in the next 15-20, where my generation, Generation X is going to start making retirement plans. If this 401(k) industry is going to thrive it’s because it adapted to a changing environment of plan participants, who may interact differently and deal with retirement differently. Plan providers need to look at their communication tools and see what they can improve with a generation that may not be able to save as much as baby boomers did (thank you student loans).