2017 Analytics 50 Honorees

California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)

Ashish Jain, Chief Technology Officer
California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS)
Industry: Pension Administration

Business Challenge

For more than 100 years, CalSTRS has been administering retirement benefits for California educators and their beneficiaries. CalSTRS strives to educate its more than 914,000 members on its benefit structure, which includes a defined benefit pension as well as the option to voluntarily contribute to a defined contribution 403(b) plan. However, for CalSTRS members, it can be a daunting task to sort through and choose from hundreds of investment product options, each with differing fees and performance figures.

To respond to this challenge, CalSTRS hosts 403bCompare.com to assist members in navigating and understanding savings options available to them. However, for many years, the site was difficult to navigate, and the fee comparison tool lacked an intuitive interpretation of vendor information. In an effort to increase participation in 403(b) plans, CalSTRS redesigned the site to provide valuable financial education and a simple, step-by-step process for members to sign up and start saving.

Analytics Solution

As part of the redesign, CalSTRS cleansed vendor data and initiated a real-time feed with Morningstar to ensure financial data accuracy. Algorithms were also used to sort product information based on investments criteria so educators could compare funds. Also, in-house User Experience specialists created data visualization tools and interactive graphics. Google Analytics is in place to measure user data and usage metrics of interactive tools and the number of redirects to the 403(b) enrollment site.

Impact

By providing clear information and real time data, CalSTRS has made it easier for California educators to choose savings plans that are best suited to meet their retirement income goals. Site traffic has increased from approximately 7,000 users per month to 12,000 users per month, averaging five minutes per visit. Also, 39 percent of new users return to access interactive tools in subsequent visits. Additionally, from March to May 2017, following the site redesign launch, more than 12,000 users accessed the interactive tool to open a new 403(b) savings account, with only 171 exiting the process before it was complete.