Financial services firm TIAA launched a new mobile app this month to help its plan sponsors fulfill participant requests on the go.
Called PlanFocus, the smartphone app takes crucial functions, such as the distribution of a loan, and allows plan sponsors to quickly approve participant transactions more effectively.
“We were very deliberate with the things we wanted to bring over” from the PlanFocus website, says Scott Blandford, chief digital officer at TIAA. The app “is not doing exhaustive deep administrative reporting. That’s not something they would do on their phone.”
Typically, plan sponsors use the app to answer questions about allocations, contributions, loan balances, YTD activity, and total and vested balances, according to the company.
The app is especially helpful for plan sponsors in environments that have them up from their desks during most of the day, such as clients in a hospital, Blandford says.
A handful of academic, healthcare and religious institutions piloted the app for a six-month period and gave feedback before this month’s launch, according to the company. TIAA declined to share the names of the institutions piloting the app.
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Since the app launched, more than 200 plan sponsors have downloaded it and presumably started using it, says Doug Chittenden, executive vice president and president of Institutional Retirement at TIAA.
“It’s a core extension of the platform,” he says of TIAA’s digital services.
The b2b app, which is available on both Android and iOS devices, is free for plan sponsors. In June, the company will roll out another release that will allow plan sponsors to receive alert notifications if a task is waiting for approval, according to the company.
TIAA, which already has a consumer app on the market for plan participants, says it needs to continue investing in its digital services to compete in the investment space; it believes mobile is the best way to meet its clients’ expectations.
“In a typical year, we have 250,000 to 300,000 new plan participants — individual members of the TIAA system,” Chittenden says. “Half of those are 40 or younger. We are totally committed to ensuring they are making good decisions about their financial future. Digital interfaces and platforms is critical not just for them but for everybody.”
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