By Anthony O'Donnell
Addressing retirement plan employer customers' increasing desire to interact with their plan provider online, Standard Retirement Services (a subsidiary of StanCorp Financial Group; 2005 revenue of $2.3 billion) has launched Compliance Data Review (CDR), a Web-based tool that enables employers to view a summary of plan information online.
In addition to easing the preparation of data for annual reporting and compliance testing, the tool enables direct entry of data into the Web front end and automatically flags potential errors, such as missing or invalid data. "The end result is a more-efficient compliance testing and government filing process for plan sponsors," according to a StanCorp source.CDR builds upon The Standard's existing practice of collecting customer data online through its participant data management tool, according to Keith Feist, 2nd vice president, retirement plans administration, Standard Retirement Services. "We were using a Web-based tool prior to this, but it was uploading Excel files through that secure connection," Feist says. "They would receive the file, make their changes, send the file back through the secure connection and we would actually have to update the system." Customers could also request the sensitive documents to be faxed, and manage the process in an entirely paper-based manner, Feist adds.
With CDR, plan administrators are able to make changes directly. "Before, there was a great deal of back-and-forth, using a third-party Web site, and sometimes involving a paper-based approach," Feist comments. "Now it's our own Web site and the information is automatically updated on a daily basis."
CDR enables customers to enter data on a 24-hours-a-day basis, giving plan administrators greater flexibility. "We all get busy and sometimes take work home," Feist observes. "This is an opportunity for someone to connect at their convenience."
Feist says that feedback from CDR users has been very positive so far, owing to the tool's ease of use and features such as messaging for erroneous data entry. "We think The Standard's data management philosophy for retirement plan customers is fairly unique in that we gather data on all employees all the time, which enables downstream services, such as compliance testing," he comments.
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio