What do you want from your TSP plan? Board wants to know

Wednesday - 6/26/2013, 6:29pm EDT

Kim Weaver, director of external affairs for the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, on "In Depth" with Francis Rose

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The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is setting the stage for a major new multiyear initiative to study the needs of Thrift Savings Plan participants and improve its services.

Greg Long, the board's executive director, laid out the initiative at the board's monthly meeting Monday.

"This initiative responds to many of the forces impacting our marketplace and participants, allowing us to offer enhanced TSP benefits and customer-centric services," the proposal stated. "However, before we can build the new participant experience, we must do the essential research to make more fact-based decisions."

The first step in the process will be determining benchmarks for how the board currently operates and communicates with participants, said Kim Weaver, the board's director of external affairs.

"We want to know what our participants are looking for from our services," Weaver, said in an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose. "We want to know, as people start to retire, are there different offerings that they want us to bring forward? Are there different things they want us to do different on our website, on our call-line? ... And we really can't get there until we have better information about our participants and about the types of services that other plans offer."

The new plan will encompass four key elements: communication, operations, planning and research, and technology.

For example, the board wants to evaluate how it interacts and communicates with with TSP participants.

"Through research and focus groups we will better understand how people make TSP decisions, what their retirement goals are, and how we can best structure TSP choices to help them reach those goals," the preliminary proposal stated. "We want to learn how we can be more effective in helping different segments of our customer base, which include the young new federal employee, the mid-career saver and the growing population of retired participants."

The board will also consider making some operational updates, such as moving from a paper-based to a digital environment, the proposal stated.

The next step is entering into a consulting contract by the beginning of fiscal 2014 to begin work on determining benchmarks, Weaver said.

By June 2015, according to the director's proposal, the data-gathering will be complete and used to create a "roadmap for re-casting the participant experience."

However, the strategic review will cost money and the full board still needs to sign off on a budget for the project.

Weaver said the plan is still in the formative stages, and there are no hard numbers for an official budget request just yet.

"Nothing is a done deal, but that is where we're hoping to move," she said.

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