For Best of Breed Pension Systems, Consider Plan Member Advisors


I’m certain everyone is familiar with the expression, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” As the proud dog dad of Pepper, my family’s 10-year-old English springer spaniel and fur child, I humbly disagree. Not only is Pepper an astute learner of commands well beyond the standard canine repertoire of “sit,” “stay,” and “roll over,” but studies by animal behaviorists prove that mature dogs can pick up new skills, provided the right teacher, especially one familiar with the dog’s capabilities. Similarly, public pension systems can benefit from a special breed of instructors — long-term plan members whose first-hand perspective can provide significant value to complex system transformations.

Plan members can serve as important resources, especially those who can advise on documentation, plan communications, and self-service portal design. Their innate knowledge can provide significant value-add for solution providers to develop a new or upgraded existing pension system with the intuitive and engaging human-centered technology pension systems need to fulfill their commitment to members nationwide.

Long-Term Member Assets

Long-term pension plan participants, specifically those with the benefit of 15+ years of system exposure, can contribute valuable advice on self-service, communication, and CRM. These members recognize that pension systems should enable intuitive and engaging self-service and convenience for pension members throughout their active careers and into retirement. For the pension systems themselves, embracing these capabilities is not only a requirement for today’s accelerated digital world, but also necessary to address rising member expectations for pension systems to offer the same speed, security, and usability as any smartphone application.1

In-Demand Value Adds

Specific areas where long-term members can contribute value include more meaningful online help documentation, usability, and GUI design. Namely, input on the language and layout of correspondence templates, the wording of system messages, the arrangement of menu items on a GUI, and/or the structure of a member self-service portal. Their early involvement could also help ensure clear expectations and establish more detailed roadmaps which would otherwise be left for later in a transformation project lifecycle when bandwidth is more constrained. By incorporating member insight, solution providers could also establish more valuable and appropriate strategies for communicating change and other pertinent information throughout the project. The pension plan systems themselves could also consult members on RFP specifications, like defining the approach for online help assistance, communications, and education. Members could advise on how they typically search for, access, and process information, as well as offer recommendations on usability, and organization of the help system overall. By engaging members early and often in the transformation process, systems can also promote an environment of openness, transparency, and demonstrated member appreciation.

Final Thoughts

As the number of retired public pension members continues to grow, pension systems are rapidly transitioning to online, human-centered technology to engage members in all stages of their careers. Long-term pension plan members who understand plan constituencies’ needs for clear search, documentation, and usability can provide the best advisory services for optimum outcomes. With their first-hand perspective and extensive knowledge of preferred communication and portal design, they can help even the most archaic platform become the top dog of any pension system.

1 “How Government Agencies Can Accelerate Their Modernization Journey,” Atlassian, April 2021

About the Author

Mitch Baker

Mitch Baker is Vice President of Sales at Vitech Systems Group. He manages Vitech’s go-to-market Sales and strategy for the Public Pension market. His responsibilities include ensuring that Vitech’s product teams understand how V3locity meets the evolving demands of the market so that plan members’ experiences are top of mind and expectations met. Mitch has held leadership positions at top-tier software companies and has extensive experience in identifying/analyzing market trends while providing sales and client development support.