Calling Your Retirement Adviser Via Bar Code

Photographing a bar code with a smartphone can now connect you to a financial adviser

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A new advertisement is encouraging investors to connect with a retirement adviser by scanning a bar code with their phone. The TIAA-CREF ad campaign invites smartphone users to take a picture of a black and white square, which will connect them with an investment consultant.

The Quick Response bar code used in the ad is not the black and white striped codes on supermarket products, but a digitally speckled square. To scan the code a Quick Response code reader must first be downloaded. “QR code marketing is one way to encourage our more tech-savvy participants to call us,” says Jeff Fleischman, the company’s Chief Digital Officer.

TIAA-CREF, which caters primarily to academics and researchers, says the ad campaign is aimed at getting workers between the ages of 25 and 34 to start saving for retirement. About 13 percent of TIAA-CREF’s 3.6 million participants are in that age range. The company also says it aims to “stop some of the inertia we see with many folks not taking control of their own financial planning.” Of course, some inertia must also be overcome to download a code reader and figure out how it works.

The first advertisement debuted in yesterday’s New York Times. My question: Do tech-savvy 20- and 30-somethings still read the print edition of newspapers?

Tell us, would you call an investment adviser via bar code?