Implementing an Education Policy Statement
Creating an effective participant communication and education (C&E) program can be challenging. We take a look at how to make it easier with an education policy statement that organizes priorities, defines goals and articulates strategy.
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Developing an engaging and robust participant communication and education (C&E) program that can drive action and results can be one of the most challenging parts of administering a retirement plan. For plan sponsors, providers, and consultants alike, this crucial aspect of retirement plan implementation may seem daunting. To make the process of building an impactful C&E program easier, it’s helpful to have a document that clearly defines responsibilities, establishes goals, and articulates strategy. An Education Policy Statement (EPS) does just that. An EPS is similar to an Investment Policy Statement (IPS) in that it organizes priorities and communicates an approach, but it deals strictly with the communication and education program. Unlike an IPS, the EPS isn’t subject to formal guidance from the Department of Labor and is non-binding. It does provide, however, a valuable opportunity for you and your clients to envision their plans' communication and education program, and to consider how this significant investment fits into their overall retirement plan strategies.
An Education Policy Statement documents a plan sponsor’s commitment to delivering the most effective communication and education program possible. Determining how to efficiently create this C&E program poses a significant challenge for your clients. Plan sponsors need help from their advisors to ensure they’re balancing their needs as a business with participant and plan needs.
The education policy statement also helps participants better prepare for positive retirement outcomes. The EPS serves as a way for sponsors to publicly declare their commitment to helping employees on their journey toward a more secure retirement. It also should reinforce employees’ ability to take personal responsibility for their retirements by helping them understand how to make the most of plan education and reminding them of all the services available.
Consider these four best practices
1. Help clients fully leverage their plan providers' offerings.
No matter your client’s size, implementing communication and education for a retirement plan requires a major outlay of funds and work hours. Your guidance is key in helping clients benchmark service levels and determine both quantitative goals, such as increasing participation, and qualitative goals, like boosting retirement confidence. With your help, your clients can use the EPS to clearly articulate their visions of success.
2. Determine roles and responsibilities — including yours.
Four players shape every C&E program: the consultant or advisor, the plan sponsor, the service provider, and the participants. You can lead plan sponsors through a discussion of where their responsibilities begin and end and where you'll add value. They may also welcome your assistance with the daunting task of approving C&E materials to ensure they’re culturally appropriate. By helping to author the EPS, you can create a vital, ongoing role for yourself in your clients' plans.
3. Keep the conversations open-ended and dig deep.
Use discussions about Education Policy Statements as opportunities to get to know your clients’ concerns and plans for the future. You’ll gain an invaluable opportunity to learn about their business and uncover new ways to add value. Most important, engaging in these fluid conversations about your clients’ cultures, aims, and concerns will strengthen your relationships and their ability to endure.
4. Use an education program workbook.
A workbook can guide you through the essential conversations on education policy and strategy. Our simple, easy-to-use workbook can provide the structure you need to make your client conversations easier and more productive.
For more information, contact your Lincoln Financial representative today.