Live Mutual: Creating helpful technology

By Durga Nagalla
Durga Nagalla is the head of digital and mobile at MassMutual.
Posted on May 23, 2018

The gap between intention and execution is what often trips up financial plans. Technology can help fix that. And that’s exactly what we are working on at MassMutual.

The evidence of the problem is everywhere. Just look at the recent MassMutual Retirement Savings Risk Study . Fifty-five percent of the retirees surveyed and 74 percent of those on the verge of retirement said that they wished they had started saving earlier. In another one of our studies, 63 percent of respondents said they were behind preparing for retirement.

How do these circumstances come about? Because a significant number of people put off financial decisions and actions at crucial points during their lifetimes. Why? The answers are myriad, ranging from basic human foibles (i.e. procrastination) to daily budget concerns to a lack of knowledge about what may be available or wise.

But what if you could design systems to counter that?

Let’s take a common example involving the 401(k) retirement savings plan. These plans are offered by many employers as a way for workers to save money on a tax-advantaged basis for their retirement. As an incentive to use the plan, many employers offer to match employee contributions up to a certain percentage limit. (Learn more: What is a 401(k) )

But sometimes employees don’t take advantage of the saving plan or don’t contribute enough to take full advantage of the employer’s match; like contributing only 2 percent of his or her salary when the employer offers to match up to 5 percent.

That’s leaving money on the table, money that could compound towards greater retirement savings. The problem is people sometimes aren’t aware of what they are missing or what the long-term implications are of missing out are.

Now, what if you had systems that could look at your savings and the terms of your employer’s 401(k) program and let you know that you are missing an opportunity for financial growth? And even calculate how much is being missed out on? That’s what we’re working on, creating systems and mobile applications to reach out to people and help them grow their net worth.

Check out our MassMutual Mobile Insurance App

Another example would be the big events in people’s lives: marriages and births to name two. That’s the time to reach out and congratulate them and also remind them that they may want change beneficiaries or increase protection for their families. But to do that requires communication and coordination between a variety of databases and networks.

Of course, you want to do all this but not be creepy and respect people’s privacy concerns. And, importantly, you want to do it in a way that people prefer. Some people may prefer snail mail, for instance. You have to be able to recognize that and act on it.

And you have to maintain humanity. One of the more difficult times and tasks we face is helping people with death claims. That’s where coordinating different systems becomes crucial to maintaining the human connection. You don’t want to make someone suffering a loss wait for answers while a service representative goes through different systems to get their policies and benefits. You want to make it easy and quick. That means getting all the back-end systems, and there can be quite a few, to work together seamlessly and effectively.

These are just broad concepts and initiatives we are working on. In fact, we have a whole “Digital Garage” program where we are experimenting and playing with new ways to help our policyowners. Like using voice search services, think Alexa, to help with retirement planning. Or coming up with ways to provide all financial information, not just MassMutual holdings, into one viewable dashboard. Or even finding ways to use wearable technology to help customers maintain healthy, and therefore more financially rewarding, lifestyles. (Learn More: A personal health record: Better care, lower costs )

Of course, helping our policyowners also means gearing up for future trends likely to affect money management and promoting financial literacy amid a world growing in monetary complexity. Those efforts would go hand in hand with our overall drive to make our products available over a variety of platforms and through multiple distribution systems. After all, it’s not fun creating and building something if no one is using it.

It’s all about our Live Mutual philosophy, building mutual strength by helping people secure their financial future and protecting the ones they love. We believe technology can do that, and we’re making it happen.

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