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Charles Schwab

Enhancing the Digital 401(k) Experience

Cantina teamed up with Charles Schwab to design an interactive retirement planning tool to help educate and motivate 401(k) plan participants to better prepare for retirement.

Person with hands on a laptop


Retirement plan advisors and record-keeping providers are charged with helping plan sponsors better understand the value of their plan and drive results for their participants. Paramount to that process is educating plan participants on their retirement income needs, and where appropriate, motivating them to take actionable steps to invest in and prepare for their retirement. With that in mind, Charles Schwab Retirement Technologies (Schwab RT) was looking for a long-term partner with experience in designing people-focused financial tools to help them deliver on two key components:

  • An interactive planning tool that would forecast a participant’s retirement income based on Schwab's methodology
  • A Peer Comparison feature that would stack participants’ savings balance, savings rate, and income replacement score up against a tailored set of peers

Enhancing the 401(k) experience with a peer comparison tool encourages people to plan for their golden years.

A Digital Experience that Better Informs and Motivates 401(k) Plan Participants

Participants will typically sign on to their account for a number of reasons: to check their balance, confirm their contribution rate, make changes to their plan, update their income or future assets, and more. The interface should enable all of these tasks while surfacing key data points to inform the participant and facilitate their planning. Further, the experience should also provide compelling incentives to advance them closer to their retirement income goals.

The landing page design for Schwab RT’s participant experience addresses a number of these important tasks, called out in the design snapshot below:

Important tasks of the 401(k) participant experience are called out with orange dots.
  1. Current Forecast vs. Goal
    While account balance is a common data point, on its own the number isn’t particularly useful. Here we convert the participant’s forecasted balance to a monthly income in retirement, allowing them to compare it to what they spend now. The “Goal” retirement income is based on the percent of their current income they anticipate needing for their retirement lifestyle.
  2. Ability to Speculate on Savings Rate Changes
    A vital factor in retirement savings is a participant’s elected savings rate, and it is front and center in Schwab RT’s experience. With any changes to the savings rates, the chart displays “Potential Gain” to illustrate the future income effect and incentivize the participant to save more.
  3. Personalized Recommendation
    Armed with the participant’s data, we are able to provide personalized recommendations for savings increases that would bring the participant closer to their goal and/or more in line with their peers.
  4. Incentives - Peer Comparison
    In addition to a tailored recommendation for savings increase, the experience features a peer comparison function that measures the participant against a tailored set of peers on savings balance, savings rate, and income replacement score. Appealing to a participant’s competitive instincts, peer comparison is yet another way to motivate participants to save and stay engaged in their retirement planning journey.
Screenshot of a participant’s peer comparison.
Screenshot of a participant’s geographic peer comparison.

A Digital Experience that Differentiates Charles Schwab

In an effort to strengthen its offering and differentiate Schwab from its competitors, Schwab RT undertook this important initiative to enhance the 401(k) participant experience with a goal of capturing additional 401(k) plans, and helping 401(k) participants to make more informed decisions and save more for retirement.


If you are interested in learning more about this engagement or how Cantina can help you with a project contact us today. We'd love to help.

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