It started simply enough.
By Laurie Hileman
At a hefty 50 pages each, enrollment packets for the 401(k) plans administered by Chemical Bank’s wealth management services team needed a redesign. While strict regulatory requirements govern the bulk of information that must be included within the enrollment packets, Chemical Bank’s wealth management marketing specialist Lovisa Golder felt more could be done to provide participants with a clear and concise roadmap on how to use the enclosed materials.
The redesign project prompted Golder to step back and evaluate the entire packet preparation process—from start to finish. What she quickly discovered was an opportunity to improve efficiency and reduce costs by jettisoning the time-consuming tasks of printing, collating, and stuffing the finished packets.
The wealth management services team at Chemical Bank, the second largest bank headquartered in Michigan, with more than 180—and growing—banking offices throughout the state’s Lower Peninsula, has been providing investment management, trust services, financial planning, and retirement plan solutions for more than 50 years.
As part of its retirement plan services, Chemical Bank manages the back-end operations of 401(k) and other retirement plans for more than 200 client companies. Employees at those companies who enroll in a retirement plan receive a packet of information put together by Chemical Bank that outlines their company’s plan details and enrollment instructions.
“All hands on deck.”
It was the battle cry heard round the office when orders for as many as 100 packets came in, recalls Golder. Printing, collating, and stuffing folders would tie up the office’s printer and staff for the better part of a day, depending on the turnaround time required by the client.
“As you can imagine, it was a cumbersome process,” says Golder.
The bank needed a solution that would maintain the integrity of the heavily regulated informational packets but also free up the wealth management team’s time—not to mention the office printer—to serve more pressing client needs.
Taking a play from their retail banking side, Golder explored the idea of using a digital storefront as a print-on-demand solution for enrollment packets. She worked with Beth Elliott, a sales consultant with The F.P. Horak Company, a Michigan-based full-service printing and marketing communications provider, to establish a seamless process.
Golder pulls together each new 401(k) and retirement plan’s original packet of materials to ensure all regulatory requirements are met. She then sends pdf files along with the name of the corresponding Chemical Bank plan administrator for Elliott and her team to load onto the digital storefront site.
When an order for packets comes in, the plan administrator hops on Chemical Bank’s digital storefront and places an order with two or three easy clicks. The packets are printed, collated, stuffed in folders along with the plan administrator’s business card, and delivered to the appropriate Chemical Bank office—usually with one- or same-day service.
As changes are needed in plan documents, Golder simply sends over new pdfs to be uploaded to the site. No inventory, no rush, no hassle.
“At the time we factored in what we were paying our people [on staff] to do this work versus what we were paying [The F.P. Horak Company], it was without a doubt a much more cost-effective solution,” says Golder.
Folders and reams of paper no longer monopolize office space, the Chemical Bank brand is carefully controlled, and her team can get what they need exactly when they need it.
“Our retirement plan services team loves that they’re not pulling together any more packets,” says Golder. “It frees up time for everybody to focus on our customer service, really delivering the solutions we’re known for delivering. And, we’re not working quite as hard on this end.”
The excitement is starting to catch on. Once the wealth management team’s enrollment packets were up and running, Golder notes some of her other business lines requested their forms be loaded onto the digital storefront. Now that they’ve seen how automatic and easy the process is for ordering, they want in.
“The architecture is so open,” says Elliott, about the digital e-commerce platforms available through F.P. Horak. “We can do so many different things.” She encourages people to take some time to review existing processes, and see where improvements might be made. More often than not, she says, “It’s just so much more efficient and cost-effective in the end.”