There’s no question that designing, communicating and administering a DC pension plan is complex. So why was Keep it Simple the theme of this year’s DC Plan Summit?

Because among other discouraging statistics, 36% of people surveyed in a recent Ipsos poll spend less than five minutes understanding the information in their statements, explained Anna Pagliuca, associate vice-president, customer experience, group savings and retirement, with Standard Life. And even the 2008 financial crisis didn’t get them to pay attention.

Because members cite too many other competing interests—such as bills and a busy home life—that are taking the place of saving for retirement, described Nadia Darwish, vice-president, business development and client relationships, group retirement services, with Sun Life Financial.

Because as a country our financial literacy needs work, as highlighted in information from Statistics Canada, which lists our outstanding credit-card debt as $78 billion in September 2009, up from $76 billion in September 2008, said Brett Marchand, vice-president, sales, group retirement solutions, with Manulife Financial.

Just three big areas of discussion brought up at the DC Plan Summit held at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City last week. In all, the conference covered 12 topics, ranging from how to align your investment structures with DC plan design, member knowledge and engagement, to embracing advice. And although the information differed in each session, messages such as using the “nudge theory” to get members to take action, narrowcasting with targeted information and focusing on an optimal asset mix all carried the same underlying theme: simplicity is key to member buy-in and engagement.

Perhaps the greatest indication of this was in Amber MacArthur’s keynote session, which kicked off the conference. A social media consultant, journalist and author, MacArthur spoke about just how much this exploding field has permeated our lives and how plan sponsors can use it to educate and interact with their members.

“To experiment in this world you need to be brave,” MacArthur advised the audience. “You will make mistakes along the way…what’s important is authenticity, bravery and consistency. Have a plan in place.”

According to MacArthur, there are five strategies for success:

  1. create a social media policy that works for your organization;
  2. listen well to feedback;
  3. choose the right tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps;
  4. measure your success through established services; and
  5. watch for trends to show you where you need to move.

Among these key points, MacArthur highlighted one medium that has an influential presence in our lives and that can be used to advantage by plan sponsors. “There is no more powerful medium than the video,” she explained.

And Benefits Canada agrees, which is why we put together a video on Keep it Simple to launch the DC Plan Summit. Watch it here and look for more informational videos in the future.

The DC Plan Summit was sponsored by Aon Hewitt, BMO Financial Group Group Retirement Services, Franklin Templeton Institutional, Great-West Life, Invesco, Manulife Financial, McLean Budden, Morneau Shepell, Pyramis Global Advisors, Standard Life, Sun Life Financial and Porter.