Each month, NAGDCA turns the spotlight on one of our members to highlight the incredible work they’re doing to secure the retirement future of their public sector employees. Members are selected from our Leadership Award winners and spotlights are shared as a part of our ongoing Resource Digest series.
Transitioning Education Specialists to MOSERS Employees
One of the most valuable resources for plan participants as they prepare for retirement continues to be face-to-face educational events such as seminars and one-on-one meetings. Recordkeepers are often tasked with providing participants with face-to-face education on behalf of plans as a part of their contracted services. Although recordkeepers’ field representatives successfully connect with many individuals, some participants view them as external vendors and choose not to take advantage of the valuable education. One NAGDCA member found success in addressing the perceived disconnect between the recordkeeper and the Plan by bringing their field representatives in-house.
In July 2017, Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System (MOSERS) transitioned six field representatives, otherwise known as education specialists, from their recordkeeper to MOSERS employees under the guidance of Cindy Rehmeier, Manager of Defined Contribution Plans; Brooke Rowden, Education and Marketing Coordinator; and Kelsey Harris, Marketing Specialist. Transitioning the positions in-house created an immediate connection between the education specialists and participants simply based on their shared employer, the State of Missouri. That connection opened up agency doors creating opportunities for more presentations and one-on-one meetings, and aided in establishing trusting relationships.
In their 2019 NAGDCA Leadership Award winning nomination, MOSERS shared that the Plan “uses several methods to communicate with state employees, including face-to-face events, email, text, website articles, social media channels, and print. Of all these methods, our face-to-face education is one of the most valued and important parts of our education and marketing strategies. Unfortunately, having the education specialists employed by the recordkeeper created a disconnect in the eyes of state employees and employers, as well as serving as a communications barrier at times. Bringing the field team in-house helped the plan overcome this hurdle, as well as resulting in many positive changes to the plan’s education and marketing efforts.”
Those positive changes include:
- building a better employee and employer relationship with the Plan,
- increased participant and event reporting,
- streamlining education and marketing efforts.
When asked about the transition, the MOSERS team shared, “It’s been just shy of three years since the transition and when we think about it, one word comes to mind: control. The transition has given us more control over our education efforts. Before we simply controlled the messaging we sent out: emails, newsletters, videos, web updates, etc. We had no control over what the team of education specialists did in the field, who they spoke to, what messaging they pushed, or how it was presented to state employees. Bringing the team in-house gave us that control we had been lacking and helped create a stronger, more unified approach to our education and marketing.”
Q&A with MOSERS
- Revamping of presentations to make the materials easier to understand, including additional slides, illustrations, modifications, wording changes, etc.
- Targeting of audience – knowing who is attending these seminars helps us change/cater our messaging. For example, per data received in event registration, we knew we were getting folks near retirement for our early career seminars. We revamped messaging and closely targeted those under a certain age to improve who was attending the presentation.
- More accurate reporting on attendance numbers & participant demographics
- Implementation of webinars and video consultations
- General critique for education specialists and their presentation skills. For example, some specialists were speaking too fast or not making immediate changes with the participant. We were able to stop this behavior because we were informed from the participant feedback.
We had already been handling content development for some time (seminar presentations/handouts and plan publications), but some of the more difficult aspects involved organization/setup for 6 new employees under MOSERS DC plans to deliver the retirement savings and financial wellness education to state of Missouri employees, those being:
- Creating an Education Specialist One-Stop-Shop containing:
ii. Plan summaries/Publications/Forms
iv. Individual consultation narrative/checklist
v. Master and individual logs to record aspects of individual consultations (participant demographic information, topics discussed, etc.) and seminar information (type, attendees, etc.)
- Processes for and thoroughly identifying all locations and contacts alongside the number of employees at each location in the state.
- Determining the best way to divide the map of Missouri as to how each of the 6 education specialists would cover each territory.
- Determining location visit frequency guidelines based on total number of employees at each location and then breaking that down by territory to determine how many miles per year each education specialist would need to drive to meet these frequency guidelines.
- Determining an appropriate budget that would be sufficient to cover the compensation package, mileage/travel expenses based on the visit frequency guidelines & goals, professional development and supplies.
- General, ongoing management of the staff – while it’s not necessarily difficult, it is time consuming.
Cover all your bases and do the research regarding cost/budget based on exactly what it is you are sending the education specialists out into the field to do and what resources it will take. The guidelines must be specific with regard to the education curriculum, content, expectations regarding goals and frequency of seminars and individual consultations. Keep good records of activity in the field so to appropriately record the number of seminars and consultations, seminar attendees and attendee demographic information.
Meet MOSERS’ Education Specialists
NAGDCA Member Spotlights are developed as a part of our Resource Digest series. Each month we highlight a new topic and share relevant information and resources in our e-newsletter, NAGDCA Now, and in the News & Articles section of NAGDCA.org. Click below to view the January Resource Digest on Participant Services.