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Sun Life Improves Financial Literacy With Gamification

With Money UP, Sun Life better engages its younger members in financial education and planning for retirement.

Sun Life Financial of Canada has announced the launch of Money UP, an online gamification platform that aims to educate consumers on retirement and investment planning. Sun Life claims to be the first Canadian financial services company to venture into gamification.

Tom Reid, SVP of Group Retirement Services at Sun Life Financial Canada, explains that the idea for a game-based tool came about during an annual company conference. Financial services executives discussed how younger generations have recently demonstrated less interest in saving and planning for retirement. A unanimous vote among executives decided that gamification was the optimal way to educate and engage them.

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“Plan sponsors tell us their youngest employees are less engaged in their pension plans. We want them to start saving,” says Reid. “Enter gamification. This is an innovative way to engage all employees to experience the content and have more fun while learning and taking action.”

Sun Life’s game, entitled Money UP, is fully integrated with online educational content that helps players understand the financial dynamics behind various savings plans. The format of the game, which requires players to pass levels by demonstrating financial knowledge, appeals to younger members that are accustomed to quick feedback and tech-based learning.

“They gravitate toward [gamification] even more than other generations,” says Rajat Paharia, founder and chief product offer at BunchBall. “This gives them goals to accomplish, lets them track progress toward those goals, gives them badges, helps them earn a reputation, and provides a community of people to compete, collaborate and share with.”

In addition to text content, Money UP provides access to videos, interactive flash-based experiences, financial calculators, a retirement planner, and other online learning devices. It also includes calls to action so that as players advance, they have opportunities to enroll in plans or increase their contribution levels. Players can also share scores on Twitter and Facebook, which Reid believes will add to the game’s appeal.

Since the recent launch of Money UP, Sun Life has seen a surge of activity across all age groups. “We’ve had the biggest take-up from Generation Y,” says Reid, noting that just over a third of players are 21 to 35 years old. Generation X users (ages 36 to 45) comprise a third of the game’s participants. Sun Life can track the game’s effectiveness by measuring the activity of plan members before, during and after they play.

The creation and rollout of Money UP was just the first step in a broader Sun Life gamification plan. In the next two weeks, the company plans to launch another campaign, complete with prizes, to motivate members to play. Reid explains that they also intend to add new levels and missions in order to retain their younger audience. Eventually, he says, the game will be altered to suit mobile devices.

“There is so much to learn,” says Paharia, who believes that gamification will benefit consumers who need to boost their financial knowledge. “Anything that can make the experience better or more compelling is going to help.”

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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