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Sun Life Financial Taps Gamification on Quest to Encourage Canadians to Save for Retirement

money UP, powered by Bunchball, wins over Millennials while increasing participation and savings in workplace retirement programs for all

TORONTO, Sept. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - Sun Life Financial broke new ground in the financial services industry last year by implementing a gamified online program to increase the financial literacy of Canadians who have a Sun Life workplace retirement plan through their employer. Powered by gamification company Bunchball, the money UP program challenges over a million Canadians to "learn more" and "earn more" by completing levels and missions that encompass important retirement and investment planning steps. In this first public report of the program's effectiveness, Bunchball and Sun Life Financial met to discuss money UP's early success and future plans.

Leading up to their joint webinar on September 24, Nadia Darwish, vice president of market development for Sun Life Financial's Group Retirement Services, and Rajat Paharia, founder and chief product officer of Bunchball, spoke about the money UP program, the challenge of engaging Canadians in their workplace retirement plans and how smart design can motivate Millennials and others to save more for retirement.

Q: What new challenges are financial services providers facing today in driving participation in workplace retirement savings plans?

Darwish:  People today are busier than ever. At work, they are strapped for time and constantly juggling competing priorities. Taking full advantage of their workplace retirement plan can easily fall to the bottom of the list. This applies to all age groups, but it is particularly true of younger generations, who find it challenging to prioritize saving for retirement when retirement is still decades away.

Q: What was the impetus for Sun Life Financial to implement gamification in Canada?

Darwish: We wanted to get employees engaged and investing in their workplace retirement plans earlier on and make it easy for them to save and invest thoughtfully at work. Our retirement education program was key; we needed an innovative approach that would simplify the details in a meaningful way and grab employees' attention. It was also important to look outside our industry to see what other companies were doing to engage and educate customers. By leveraging employees' preferences for when and how they interact with other companies, we are able to engage them in a way that resonates.

Gamification was the right choice for us because it combined learning and action. While increasing their financial literacy and learning about their workplace plan, the program encourages employees to take steps to save for retirement. We could see that integrating game elements, like friendly competition, levels, missions and social sharing would provide employees with a fun, challenging way to experience content that can sometimes be complicated.  

Q: Why is gamification particularly effective among Millennials?

Paharia: Gamification is effective among all generations, but Millennials gravitate towards it even more than others do. Gamified environments give them goals to accomplish, let them track progress towards those goals, allow them to earn a reputation, and provide a community of people to compete, collaborate and share with. While these elements of regular feedback, defined goals, recognition and community are essential to any motivation program, they are particularly critical to Millennials, who are accustomed to fast feedback and online learning. 

Q: What design elements of Sun Life's money UP make the program so effective?

Paharia: At a high level, money UP is an online education platform that helps employees understand the financial dynamics behind their savings plans. As we all know, thinking about saving for retirement can be overwhelming and complex, so it is important that a training program be compelling and constantly engaging.

The program breaks down retirement and savings information into a series of missions that are progressively challenging yet attainable. This allows for regular feedback on a digestible amount of material and provides a series of goals. Participants complete short quizzes to move on to new levels, and a leaderboard allows them to compete against colleagues and share completed missions through Twitter and Facebook. These social elements tap into the competitive spirit while also driving a sense of community for the platforms plan members are already engaged on.

Q: How has money UP driven engagement and participation in workplace savings and retirement programs in Canada?

Darwish: By creating an interactive and fun environment for employees to learn more about their workplace retirement and savings plan, money UP aims to not only increase financial literacy, but also motivate them to save for a more secure financial future. And it's working.

Since December 2013, we have had over 11,000 participants in the game, and they've completed more than 100,000 missions. And, most encouragingly, participation is leading to positive behaviour changes. In the first six months, 33 per cent of employees who finished Level 1 increased their contributions and/or added a new product. Of those who have increased their contributions, contributions increased, on average, by an impressive 74 per cent.  Of those who added a new product, 88 per cent also added new assets to their plan. 

Furthermore, money UP is engaging those who historically have not been engaged in their workplace retirement plans. Millennials have not only been among the highest proportion of players in money UP, but also the most active – they make up 33 per cent of all players and 44 per cent of employees who increased contributions or added product.

Sun Life Shares Success at Upcoming Event

On Wednesday, September 24, Darwish and Paharia will host a free webinar to discuss how companies can build employee financial literacy and improve participation in savings plans at work. Details are as follows:

Title: Inspiring financial literacy in the workplace: Sun Life Financial case study
Date: Wednesday, September 24
Time: 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET
Register for free at: http://go.bunchball.com/inspiring-financial-literacy-in-the-workplace-sun-life-financial-case-study-webinar-registration.html

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of June 30, 2014, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $684 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

About Bunchball
Bunchball is the market leader and visionary in gamification for the enterprise. Bunchball drives business results through gamification with its cloud-based platform that motivates and engages employees, customers and partners. Our world-class customer roster is made up of numerous Fortune 2000 companies, including Adobe, Cisco, HP, Sun Life Financial, T-Mobile and VMware. Bunchball is strategically aligned with industry-leading partners, including BMC Software, IBM, Jive, NICE Systems and Salesforce.com, to deliver gamification solutions to enterprises globally. Based in Redwood City, California, Bunchball's investors include Granite Ventures, Triangle Peak Partners, Northport Investments, and Correlation Ventures. For more information, visit www.bunchball.com, our blog at www.gamification.com, or follow @bunchball.

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.

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