Forget financial education — maybe allwe need are more retirement savings apps.

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It's not in the U.S. yet, but a new app for Alexa could boost pension savings engagement inthe U.K.

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According to a report from Finextra, a new app from U.K. insurer andpension provider Aviva lets U.K. customers ask Amazon's Alexa howmuch they have in their retirement savings account.

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Says the report, “Customers registered on MyAviva can link theskill to their Alexa account and then ask the voice assistant totell them the value of their pension pot.”

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People are already pretty dependent on the apps that track their fitness, place groceryorders and remind them of everything from doctor's appointments tothe kids' sports practices; why would an app be needed to trackretirement savings?

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Engagement. Effectiveness. Timeliness. In his HBR article“How Digital Tools and Behavioral Economics WillSave Retirement,” Shlomo Benartzi, UCLA professor, researcher,and colleague of Nobel prizewinner Richard Thaler points to newresearch showing the ineffectiveness of many financial educationprograms. Simply put, adults forget to apply theknowledge that they learned months or years ago to theirpresent situation. “The just-in-time financial information providedby a good app can solve this timing issue, providing us withcrucial information when we need it the most,” Benartzi writes.

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In addition to its Alexa app for British retirement savers, anAviva survey reveals that Brits, like many people in the U.S.,aren't sufficiently engaged with their retirement savings.

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The survey found that a third of respondents say they checktheir pension balance once a year, while 21 percent don't evenbother to do it that often. Just one out of 20 say they check thatbalance daily.

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Asked what would make them more involved in socking money awayfor retirement, fully 33 percent said they'd like to have easierways to access their balance, such as via a mobile app—the second most popular answer.

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So maybe people are hooked on apps as the easiest way to getthings done. “The new Aviva skill transforms the way people canconnect with their pension, allowing them to effortlessly find outtheir latest pension value from the comfort of their home,” saysBlair Turnbull, MD, U.K. and international, digital, Aviva, isquoted saying.

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Turnbull adds, “Increasing people's interest in pension savingwill only happen if we make it easy for them to check on theirprogress. The Aviva Alexa skill and our MyAviva app can really helppeople take control of their retirement planning.”

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Considering that Aviva Canada has already come up with an Alexaapp that lets customers get quotes on car insurance, it's probablyonly a matter of time till the pension app becomes morewidespread.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.