This will really make Americans save

Can a doctored webcam photo save your retirement?


Prudential Retirement executives last fall installed a photo kiosk at an employee benefits fair so people could see pictures of themselves altered to look 65 years old or so. The reactions were “priceless,” said Jennifer Putney, vice president of participant engagement—but that wasn’t all. The number of people who enrolled in a retirement plan or increased their contribution rate went up 60 percent from a year earlier, before the kiosk was installed, she said. (Tweet This)

With another benefits enrollment season upon us, tools like photo doctoring are proliferating—firms like Merrill Edge even use webcam images to provide the service online—as behavioral scientists search for ways to use ingrained patterns of behavior to induce people to save more for retirement.

“A lot of self-control problems” like poor diet and exercise habits “are difficult to help people with,” said Shlomo Benartzi, accounting professor and co-chair of the behavioral decision-making group at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and chief behavioral economist at the Allianz Global Investors Center for Behavioral Finance. “What’s unique about retirement is it’s a more controlled setting where we can actually help people.”

continue reading »

More News