Society management

A Look at CalSavers Service Operations

CalSavers was officially launched three years ago. But this does not happen in a vacuum — it necessarily involves interactions with employers as well as with individual participants. So how is it going ?

Registrations were introduced gradually depending on the size of the employer. Employers with more than 100 employees had to do so by September 30, 2020; those with 50 or more employees had until June 30, 2021; those with five or more employees had until June 30, 2022 to register. This process has undoubtedly raised many questions with each wave. And after that, employers will continue to have questions and need support services to answer them and help them participate. Individual employees also need services.

Minutes from the May 2022 meeting of the CalSavers Retirement Savings Board, along with additional materials for the upcoming August 22 meeting, provide insight into aspects of CalSavers interactions with employers as well as employees.

Call center activity

In 2021, Troy Montigney, Vice President, Relationship Management and Martha Nemecek, Director, Institutional Relationship Management, reported that individual plan members contacted the CalSavers call center three times more often than employers.

In the first quarter of 2022, requests from individuals are still higher than those from employers, but not at the same rate. And this change has continued and accelerated – so much so that in the second quarter of 2022, the number of inquiries from employers was significantly higher than from individual participants. Note that the most recent deadline for employer registrations was during the second quarter — June 30, when five or more employees were required to register.

Source of requests 2021 First quarter 2022 Second quarter, 2022
Employers 46,843 30,746 101 117
Individual participants 126 201 39,621 62,299

In the first half of 2022, the highest number of inquiries from individuals and employers were for participation and registration, respectively.

Requests from individual participants

Reason for request Number of requests % of requests
Participation 32,627 67
Distribution 6,995 14
Maintenance 4,224 9
Reset password 3,514 seven
Account balance 736 2

Employer requests

Reason for request Number of requests % of requests
Registration 18,579 41
Help Portal 8,686 19
Payroll Submission 7,084 16
Exemptions 4,825 11
Plan Facilitation 4,250 9

identity verification

Board member Stephen Prough raised a question at the May meeting about the number of employees whose identity verification was unresolved or failed.
CalSavers Retirement Savings Board Executive Director Katie Selenski responded that data was not available to break down the causes of identity verification failures. She said, however, that some of those failures are simple issues with mismatched address information, and some may be due to mismatched Social Security or tax ID numbers.

Redesign of the employer portal

On August 16, 2018, the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Board selected Ascensus to serve as administrator of CalSavers and State Street Global Advisors to provide investment management services.

In May, Montigney reported that Ascensus had engaged the services of a top digital experience company to help with a complete redesign of the CalSavers employer portal. This involved extensive employer research, followed by a review of the design and delivery processes. In addition, outreach activities with employer facilitators and other preparedness activities were underway.

The objectives of the redesign included:

  • increasing employer registrations and exemptions;
  • move more employers from registration to full compliance (payroll submission) faster and via self-service in the portal;
  • highlight the ongoing tasks and responsibilities of employer facilitation; and
  • Educate employers about the retirement savings mandate and its applicability to their business.

Board Member William Sokol asked if employers are notified when identity verification failures occur. Selenski said in his remarks that they are notified noting that the redesigned employer portal will indicate if an employee is not eligible for contributions and that the notification is not intended to describe why the employee is not is not eligible.

In information provided ahead of the August 22 meeting, Montigney and Nemecek report that Ascensus launched the refreshed Employer Portal in three phases from May through July, with concurrent performance monitoring. It’s the product, they say, of a partnership with a digital experience company, a search for employers, and a design and delivery process.

The objectives of the refresh include:

  • Accelerate full employer compliance (payroll enrollment) through a portal-integrated self-service process;
  • highlight the staggered tasks of the employer’s facilitation; and
  • Educate employers about the retirement savings mandate and its applicability to their business.

They add that the portal now more prominently highlights the link to the payroll provider.

Payroll integration

The payroll industry is increasingly interested in partnering with state-run pension plans, Montigney and Nemecek said in May. As a result, they said Ascensus has been working on a full payroll integration that connects to Intuit, whose payroll services they say are preferred by many small employers. The integration, they said, would expand the list of fully integrated payroll providers with CalSavers. In the August 22 meeting documents, Montigney and Nemecek note that Ascensus has launched a full 360-degree payroll integration with Intuit.

Lack of access to coverage

At the May meeting, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma asked about the total number of Californians without access to a workplace retirement savings plan and whether the number was accurate. oft-quoted 7.5 million Californians without such access.

Selenski said that figure is relatively outdated and the data may differ. She also noted that it was difficult to find accurate data to measure access to workplace pension plans.

Council members William Sokol and Karen Greene Ross asked about legislative solutions to determine the correct number. Selenski suggested it would be difficult for state legislation to address the issue and offered to provide a report to the Board on exempt employers at a future meeting.


Montigney and Nemecek in the August report indicate that the Ascensus field team conducted various outreach activities regarding CalSavers during the May-July period:

Month Community meetings Employer meetings Employee meetings
May 30 303 19
June 29 385 19
July 29 485 29

The results, they report, include:

  • 72% of employers have made progress in onboarding in response to local outreach efforts;
  • 23,785 activities focused on raising awareness among employers; and
  • 9,905 employers have started contributing to the program since the board meeting in May.

And the results of the webinars held include:

  • 6,957 people registered for 88 webinars hosted by the field team and co-hosted with CalSavers staff;
  • 96% of employers said webinars were very or somewhat helpful;
  • 92% of participants made progress in integration; and
  • 42% of employers present have started contributing.