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Plan Participants Using Mobile Devices

Plan participants use their mobile devices to read financial blogs.

| BY Kent McDill

How are defined contribution plan participants using their smartphones and tablets to attend to their own ivnestments and their DC plan accounts?

Spectrem’s new report on defined contribution plan participants, Using Social Media and Mobile Technology in Financial Decisions, examines the way plan participants use their devices in accessing and updating their financial accounts. It also looks at how participants use those devices to find out financial information.

Smartphone and tablet ownership is almost ubiquitous among plan participants. Between the two, as well as the usage of personal computers and Macs, all but one percent of plan participants are plugged into the Internet and the world of mobile technology.

Among the 89 percent of plan participants with a smartphone (including 99 percent of those under the age of 35) and the 69 percent that own a tablet, financial research is taking place on those devices.

Plan participants use their mobile devices to access their personal financial information regularly. Eighty-six percent access that information at least monthly.

Twenty-one percent of plan participants do financial research on a monthly basis, while 15 percent do so weekly and even 7 percent do so daily. However, only 18 percent of plan participant trade online monthly or more frequently.

What plan participants do use their mobile devices for is to read financial blogs. Asked to place their likelihood of reading financial blogs on a 100-point scale, plan participants placed their interest in blogs on the websites of financial media outlets at 59.55, the highest score on the scale.

Similar scores are posted for “websites from my financial provider” (58.97) and “other financial websites” (57.19). Interest in blogs on LinkedIn is far less (39.63).

Twenty percent of plan participants regularly read blogs on financial topics, while 27 percent said they do or would read blogs presented by trusted financial providers or advisors.

If there is a divide between plan participants and their mobile technology usage, it is in the choice between accessing a website or using an app designed by the website for specific information. While 33 percent express no preference, 37 percent prefer the website browsers and 30 percent prefer to use apps.

Those percentage may change as plan participants become more accustomed to the use of apps and financial providers increase their development of apps.

Website users like to have access to the entire website, and 12 percent of plan participants say they don’t like to download apps. Almost one quarter report website browsing is easier to navigate than apps.

Of the app users, however, 75 percent said information is easier to access on an app because it is often presented immediately, rather than requiring any digging by the user. After downloading, apps can also be accessed without the need of an internet connection.

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.