Why employers should rethink their benefits strategies

Has your employee benefits program grown old and stale? Take a look at the great article from Employee Benefits Advisors about the benefits of upgrading your employee benefits to match your employees' needs by Chris Bruce.

Historically, employee benefits have been viewed as a routine piece of the HR process. However, the mentality of employees today has shifted, especially among the growing population of millennial employees. Today’s workforce expects more from their employers than the traditional healthcare and retirement options, in terms of both specific benefit offerings and communications about those offerings.

For companies, it’s critical they address the evolving needs of their workforce. With unemployment rates plunging to their lowest levels since before the financial crisis, the search for talent is heating up, and organizations need to work harder than ever to retain top talent in a competitive job market. To do this, I see three steps that organizations need to take when rethinking their benefits strategy and engaging with employees: embrace a proactive rather than reactive benefits strategy, think digital when it comes to employee communications and consider the next generation of employee benefits as a way to differentiate from the competition.

1. Reconsider your benefits evaluation process

The benefits process at most companies is reactive — executives and HR only look to evaluate current offerings when insurance contracts expire or a problem emerges. When the evaluation does happen, the two factors that often concern employers the most are product and price. Employers often gravitate toward well-known insurers that offer the schemes that appear familiar. However, this can often lead companies to choose providers who fall short on innovation and overall customer experience for employees.

This approach needs to be flipped on its head. Companies should be proactive in determining which benefit schemes best meet the needs of their workforce. The first step is going straight to the source: talk to employees. Employers can’t know what benefits would be most appealing to their employee base unless they ask. By turning the evaluation process to employees first, companies can better tailor new benefits to meet the needs of their workers, and also identify existing benefits that might be outdated or irrelevant, therefore saving resources on wasted offerings.

Data and analytics also are playing an increasing role across the HR function, and benefits is no exception. By leveraging technology solutions that allow HR to track benefits usage and engagement, teams can better determine what is resonating with employees and where benefits can be cut back or where they should be ramped up.

2. Put down the brochure and think digital engagement

Employee education is another area of benefits that can often perplex companies. According to a recent survey from Aflac, half of employees only spend 30 minutes or less making benefit selections during the open enrollment period each year. This means employers have a short window of time to educate employees and make sure they are armed with the right information to feel confident in their benefits selection.

To do this effectively, HR needs to move past flat communication like brochures, handouts and lengthy employee packets and look for ways to meet employees where they live — online. By testing out innovations that create a rich experience, while still being simple and intuitive, employers can grab the attention of their workforce and make sure key information is communicated. For example, exploring opportunities to create cross-device experiences for employees so they can interact on-the-go, including augmented reality applications or digital interactive magazines. Additionally, for large corporations, hosting a virtual benefits fair can provide a forum for employees to ask questions in a dynamic setting.

3. Embrace the next-generation of benefits

As organizations become more savvy and nimble, personalization will have a huge impact in encouraging employee engagement and driving satisfaction among today’s increasingly diverse workforce. We have already started to see some companies embrace this new approach to benefits, adding out-of-the-box items to normal offerings — from debt consolidation services and wearable health tracking technology to genome testing and wedding concierge services.

The fact is, the days of “status-quo” benefits are gone, and employees today want benefit options that match their current life circumstances. To best engage employees, organizations need to be proactive in evaluating benefits regularly and using analytics to track usage, identify opportunities to implement digital communication elements and look for ways to introduce new benefits to meet the needs of their employee base. By following these steps, organizations can gain a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Bruce C. (2017 March 10). Why employers should rethink their benefits strategies [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/3-steps-employers-can-take-to-rethink-benefits-strategy?feed=00000152-1377-d1cc-a5fa-7fff0c920000


How to encourage increased investment in financial well-being

Disappointed that your employees are not putting enough into your company's financial programs. Take a look at this article from Employee Benefits News for some helpful tips to help improve your employees' spending on financial well-being by Cort Olsen,

As few as 15% of employers say they are satisfied with their workers’ current savings rate in programs such as 401k(s), according to a new report from Aon Hewitt. In response, employers are increasingly focused on increasing savings rates and looking to expand financial well-being programs.

More workplace wellness programs are including a financial component, in which employers aim to help employees with financial issues from budgeting to paying down debt to saving for retirement.

Aon Hewitt surveyed more than 250 U.S. employers representing nearly 9 million workers to determine their priorities and likely changes when it comes to retirement benefits. According to the report, employers plan to emphasize retirement readiness, focusing on financial well-being and refining automation as they aim to raise 401(k) savings rates for 2017.

Emphasizing retirement readiness
Nearly all employers, 90%, are concerned with their employees’ level of understanding about how much they need to save to achieve an adequate retirement savings. Those employers who said they were not satisfied with investment levels in past years, 87%, say they plan to take action this year to help workers reach their retirement goals.

“Employers are making retirement readiness one of the important parts of their financial wellbeing strategy by offering tools and modelers to help workers understand, realistically, how much they’re likely to need in order to retire,” says Rob Austin, director of retirement research at Aon Hewitt. “Some of these tools take it a step further and provide education on what specific actions workers can take to help close the savings gap and can help workers understand that even small changes, such as increasing 401(k) contributions by just two percentage points, can impact their long-term savings outlook.”

Focusing on financial well-being
While financial wellness has been a growing trend among employers recently, 60% of employers say its importance has increased over the past two years. This year, 92% of employers are likely to focus on the financial well-being of workers in a way that extends beyond retirement such as help with managing student loan debt, day-to-day budgeting and even physical and emotional wellbeing.

Currently, 58% of employers have a tool available that covers at least one aspect of financial wellness, but by the end of 2017, that percentage is expected to reach 84%, according to the Aon Hewitt report.

“Financial wellbeing programs have moved from being something that few leading-edge companies were offering to a more mainstream strategy,” Austin says. “Employers realize that offering programs that address the overall wellbeing of their workers can solve for myriad challenges that impact people’s work lives and productivity, including their physical and emotional health, financial stressors and long-term retirement savings.”

The lessons learned from automatic enrollment are being utilized to increase savings rates. In a separate Aon Hewitt report, more than half of all employees under plans with automatic enrollment default had at or above the company match threshold. Employers are also adding contribution escalation features and enrolling workers who may not have been previously enrolled in the 401(k) plan.

“Employers realize that automatic 401(k) features can be very effective when it comes to increasing participation in the plan,” Austin says. “Now they are taking an automation 2.0 approach to make it easier for workers to save more and invest better.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Olsen C. (2017 February 06). How to encourage increased investment in financial well-being [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitnews.com/news/how-to-encourage-increased-investment-in-financial-well-being?brief=00000152-14a7-d1cc-a5fa-7cffccf000


10 tips for next generation benefits

Great article from Benefits Pro about ten tips to help improve your benefits for the next generation by Erin Moriarty-Siler,

If brokers and their clients want to continue to attract and, more importantly, retain millennials and other generations entering the workforce, they'll need to start rethinking benefits packages.

As part of our marketing and sales tips series, we asked our audience for their thoughts on the next generation and their benefits needs.

Here are the 10 tips we liked best.

1. Show appreciation

“Even if you don't have the time and resources to roll out the red carpet each time an employee joins your team, they should feel as if you do. Even something as simple as a team lunch to welcome them and a functioning computer can go a long way toward making a new employee feel valued and at home.” Sanjay Sathe, president & CEO, RiseSmart.

2. Real world benefits

“It's important for benefits professionals and brokers to transform their organizations’ benefits offerings to align better with what both the individual and the generational millennials value — benefits that reflect the real world in which all generations in today's workforce think about the interconnection between their careers, employers, and personal lives.” Amy Christofis, client account executive, Connecture, Inc.

3. A millennial world

“One can no longer think of millennials as the ‘kids in the office.’ They are the office.” Eric Gulko, vice president, Summit Financial Corporation

4. New normal

Millennials are no longer just data and descriptors in a PowerPoint slideshow about job recruitment. They are now the majority, and how they do things will soon be the norm. It's important to consider these implications.

5. Innovation

“If we want to build organization that can innovate time and again, we must recast our understanding of what leadership is about. Leading innovation is about creating the space where people are willing and able to do the hard work of innovative problem solving.” Linda Hill, professor of business administration, Harvard Business School

6. Don't make assumptions

“Just because millennials are comfortable using the internet for research doesn't mean they don't also like a personal touch. Employers need to be wary of relying on only one communication vehicle to reach millennials. Sixty percent of millennials say they would be willing to discuss their benefits options with someone face to face or over the phone.” Ken Meier, vice president, Aflac Northeast Territory

7. The power of praise

“The prevailing joke is that millennials are ‘the participation trophy generation,’ having always been praised just for showing up, not necessarily winning. Turn that negative perception into a positive by realizing that providing constructive, encouraging feedback when it's earned motivates this generation to strive for even more successes.” Kristen Beckman, senior editor, LifeHealthPro.com

8. Embrace diversity

“For the first time, employers are likely to have up to five generations working together — matures, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials (Generation Y) and now Generation Z. From their workstyles to their lifestyles, each generation is unique.” Bruce Hentschel, leads strategy development, specialty benefits division, Principal Financial Group

9. Non-traditional needs

“Millennials have moved the needle in terms of work-life balance. They don't expect to sit in their cubicles from 9-5. They want flexibility in their work location and hours. However, on the flip side of that, they are more connected to their work than generations before, often logging ‘non-traditional’ work hours that better fit into their lives.” Amy Christofis, client account executive at Connecture, Inc.

10. Listen in

“If there's one thing the Trump victory teaches us, it's to listen to the silence in others. Millennials may be giving the financial industry the silent treatment, but that doesn't mean they don't want to talk.” Christopher Carosa, CTFA, chief contributing editor,FiduciaryNews.com

 

See the original article Here.

Source:

Moriarty-Siler E. (2017 February 03). 10 tips for next generation benefits [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/02/03/10-tips-for-next-generation-benefits?page_all=1


3 Financial Risks That Retirees Underestimate

Are you worried about the risks associated with retirement? If so check out this article from Kiplinger about some of the risks associated with retirement that retirees underestimate by Christopher Scalese

When you think of risk in retirement, what comes to mind? For many, the various risks associated with the stock market may be the first. From asset allocation risk (avoiding keeping all of your eggs in one basket) to sequence-of-return risk (the risk of taking out income when the market is down), these factors become increasingly important once your paychecks stop and you begin drawing from your investments for retirement income.

However, these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to key risks that should be considered for retirement planning in today's economy. Here are three areas I commonly see retirees and pre-retirees forgetting to consider:

1. Portfolio Failure Risk

How long can you live off of income from your investments? Is it likely that your investments can provide an income stream you won't outlive? There are many theories, such as the ever-popular 4% rule, which suggests that, if you maintain a portfolio consisting of 60% bonds and 40% equities, you can take 4% of your total portfolio each year. However, studies in recent years have shown this method to have about a 50% failure rate based on today's low-interest rates and market volatility.

Another withdrawal method is guessing how long you'll live and dividing your savings by 20 to 30 years—but what happens if you live 31 years?

If you do not have a written income plan for how to strategically withdraw from your accounts over the duration of your retirement, this may be a significant risk to consider.

2. Unexpected Financial Responsibility Risk

Life is full of surprises, and retirement is no different. Today's retirees are known as the "sandwich generation" with financial pressures coming from all sides—often having to provide for grown children and aging parents at the same time.

Additionally, there are difficult but significant financial planning considerations for the future loss of a spouse. You can expect to lose a Social Security payment and potentially see changes to a pension. Simultaneously, tax brackets will shrink when going from married to single, taking a larger piece of your already-reduced income.

Having a proactive, flexible financial strategy can be essential in helping you adapt to your many changing needs throughout the course of your retirement.

3. Health Care Risk

Beyond the considerations for inflation on daily purchasing power in retirement, rising costs of health care, particularly as Americans continue living longer, require explicit planning to avoid a physically disabling event from becoming a financial concern. From Medigap options to long-term care and hybrid insurance policies, considering insurance coverage for perhaps one of the most significant expenses in retirement may be a pivotal point in your retirement planning.

While these obstacles may seem daunting, identifying and understanding the concerns unique to your retirement goals should be the first step to help overcome them.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Scalese C. (2017 January). 3 financial risks that retirees underestimate [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T037-C032-S014-3-financial-risks-that-retirees-underestimate.html


10 tips for furthering benefits education

Are you looking for some new ways to educate yourself in the world of benefits? Here are some great tips from Benefits Pro you can use to help increase your knowledge about benefits by Erin Moriarty-Siler

In order to maintain relevant in today's ever-changing benefits market, it's important that brokers and benefits professionals keep learning.

Whether that be by networking with others in the industry, diving in with new technology efforts, or simply chatting about client needs, it's essential industry professionals keep learning.

As part of our our marketing and sales tips series, we asked our audience for their thoughts on how to continue their benefits education.

Here are the 10 tips we liked best.

1. Cost-effective education excites employees

Employees are eager to better themselves, especially if doing so can be cost effective through innovative benefits. Consider offering financial planning and educational services like career development courses or college prep classes, as these are becoming more and more popular.

2. Industry events

Disruption will continue in the insurance industry, but will you be able to keep up? Stay up-to-date by attending industry events, such as the BenefitsPRO Broker Expo in April.

3. Practice makes perfect

To retain knowledge and keep a competitive edge, it's important to practice and refresh skills year-round (think social media training, for instance).

4. It's not a "no," it's a growth opportunity

Treat rejection as a learning opportunity. Find ways to turn a no into a yes and remember that persistence prevails.

5. Trial and error is the best teacher

“Experiments are usually about learning. When you get a negative outcome, you’re still really learning something that you need to know.” Linda Hill, professor of business administration, Harvard Business School

6. Think outside your own experience

Look to your colleagues for exclusive insight you might not have. Ask a younger co-worker what they’d most like out of a benefits package, or what type of insurance is best for your officemate nearing retirement.

7. Learning and education are not created equal

“I’m a three-time college dropout, so learning over education is very near and dear to my heart, but to me, education is what people do to you, learning is what you do to yourself.” Joi Ito, director, MIT Media Lab

8. Become the expert

“You can distinguish yourself with top-notch technical or industry knowledge. It pays to be viewed as an expert, whether in risk management or the regulatory landscape. You’ll open up many opportunities by becoming an authority.” Renee Preslar, communications manager, Transamerica Employee Benefits

9. Money, money, money

“The No. 1 employee wellness trend in 2017 will be an increasing focus on helping employees better themselves financially by providing the tools, resources, education and environment to improve their finances.” Matt Cosgriff, retirement plan consultant, BerganKDV Wealth Management.

10. Too much is never enough

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” Oscar Wilde

See the original article Here.

Source:

Moriarty-Siler E. (2017 January 24). 10 tips for furthering benefits education[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/01/24/10-tips-for-furthering-benefits-education?ref=hp-news&page_all=1


Corporate pension plan funding levels flatline in 2016

Great article from Employee Benefits Advisor about Corporate pension plan funding by Phil Albinus

The stock market may have soared after the news that Donald Trump won the White House and plans to cut taxes and regulations, but the pension funded status of the nation’s largest corporate plan sponsors remains stuck at 80%. This figure is roughly unchanged for 2014 and 2015 when the status rates were 81%, according to a recent analysis conducted by Willis Towers Watson.

In an analysis of 410 Fortune 1000 companies that sponsor U.S. defined benefit pension plans, Willis Towers Watson found that the pension deficit is projected to have increased $17 billion to $325 billion at the end of 2016, compared to a $308 billion deficit at the end of 2015.

“On the face of it, [the 2016 figures of 80%] looks pretty boring. For the last three years the funding levels were measured around 80% and it doesn’t look that interesting,” says Alan Glickstein, senior retirement consultant for WTW. “But one thing to note is that 80% is not 100%. To be that stagnant and that far away from 100% is not a good thing.”

In fact, 2016’s tentative figures, which have yet to be finalized, could have been worse.

According to Glickstein, the 2016 figure hides “some pretty dramatic movements” that occurred during the unpredictable election year. “Prior to the election and due to the significant changes to equities and other asset values after the election, this number would have been more like 75%” if Trump had not won, he says.

“That is the interesting story because we haven’t been as low as 75% really ever in the last 20 years,” Glickstein says.

Fortune 1000 companies contributed $35 billion to their pension plans in 2016, according to the WTW research. This was an increase compared to the $31 billion employers contributed to their plans in 2015 but still beneath the contribution levels from previous years. “Employer contributions have been declining steadily for the last several years partly due to legislated funding relief,” according to Willis Towers Watson.

Despite these dips, total pension obligations increased from $1.61 trillion to $1.64 trillion.

Why are U.S. companies slow to fund their own pension plans, especially when in 2006 and 2007 the self-funded levels were 99% and 106% respectively?

“In prior years, plan sponsors put lots of extra contributions into the plans to help pay off the deficit, and investment returns have been up and the equities the plans have invested in have helped with that we haven’t been able to move this up above 80%,” Glickstein says.

That said, many American corporations are sitting on significant amounts of cash but appear not to be putting money into their retirement plans.

“We have seen companies contributing more to the plans in the past, but each plan is different and each corporation has their own situation. Either a company is cash rich or it is not,” Glickstein says.

“With interest rates being low and the deductions company get for their contributions, for a lot of plan sponsors it has been an easy decision to put a lot of money into the plan,” he says.
“And there are plenty of rewards for keeping premiums down by increasing contributions.”

Further, a new Congress and president could have an impact on corporate contributions especially if new corporate tax codes are enacted.

The broad initiatives of a new administration in the executive branch and legislative branch will have an impact, says Glickstein.

“With tax reforms, the general thrust for corporations and individuals is we are going to lower the rates and broaden the underlying tax base. So for pensions, the underlying tax rates for pensions is probably going to be lower and if [Congress gets] tax reforms done and they lower the corporate rate in 2017, and even make it retroactive,” Glickstein speculates. He predicts that some plan sponsors will want to contribute much more to the 2016 tax year in order to qualify for the deductions at the higher rates while they still can.

“There is a short-term opportunity potentially to put more money in now and capture the higher deduction once tax reform kicks in,” says Glickstein. “And with an 80% funded status, there is plenty of room to put more money in than with an overfunded plan.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Albinus P. (2017 January 9). Corporate pension plan funding levels flatline in 2016[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/corporate-pension-plan-funding-levels-flat-line-in-2016?feed=00000152-1377-d1cc-a5fa-7fff0c920000


Disconnect between employers, employees over wellness, health plan satisfaction

Check out this great article from Employee Benefits Adviser about the disconnect between employees and employers about their company's wellness programs by Cort Olsen

More than 1,500 employer decision-makers surveyed about the future of healthcare say wellness programs within companies continue to show positive growth among employers and employees alike. However, the study by Transamerica Center for Health Studies also found a strong disconnect in communication between employers and employees regarding healthcare and benefit satisfaction and the commitment from employers to maintain a healthy workspace.

At least 28% of employers have implemented a wellness program for their employees in the past 12 months — a steady increase from 23% in 2014 and 25% in 2015. About four in five companies report their wellness programs have positively impacted workers’ health and productivity, and about seven in 10 have seen a positive impact on company healthcare costs.

More than half of the employers surveyed (55%) say they offer wellness programs to their staff, yet some employees seemed to be unaware that their company offers these programs. Of the 55% of employers who say they offer a wellness program, only 36% of employees with employer coverage say they work for an employer who offers a wellness program.

Employer versus employee perspective
This miscommunication may also contribute to the level of commitment employees think their employer has in maintaining a wellness program within the workplace. While 80% of employers say leadership is committed to improving the health of their employees, only one-third of employees say they agree with that statement.

When it comes to overall healthcare satisfaction there is a similar disconnect, with 94% of employers saying employees are satisfied with the health insurance plan their company offers, while only 79% of employees say they are satisfied with their health plan.

In addition, 90% of employers say employees are satisfied with the healthcare benefits other than health insurance, but only 79% of employees say they are satisfied.

However, while employers and employees may not share the same amount of satisfaction in their healthcare offerings, many companies are making the effort to reduce the cost of their healthcare for their staff.

At least 41% of companies have taken measures to reduce costs, while 71% of companies have taken positive measures in the last 12 months. The percentage of midsize businesses reporting to provide insurance for part-time employees has increased significantly since July 2013 from 13% to 21%.

Still, lack of communication continues over cost concerns as well. While about four in five employers feel their company is concerned about the affordability of health insurance and healthcare expenses, just over half of employees feel the same — even after employers said cost concerns would not be felt by employees.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Olsen C. (2017 January 05). Disconnect between employers, employees over wellness, health plan satisfaction[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/disconnect-between-employers-employees-over-wellness-health-plan-satisfaction?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000


Employees putting billions more than usual in their 401(k)s

Interesting article from BenefitsPro about employee's increased input into their 401(k)s by Ben Steverman

(Bloomberg) -- Saving for retirement requires making sacrifices now so your future self can afford to stop working later. Someday. Maybe.

It’s not news that Americans aren’t saving enough. The typical baby boomer, whose generation is just starting to retire, has a median of $147,000 in all of his retirement accounts, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

And if you think that’s depressing, try this on: 1 in 3 private sector workers don’t even have a retirement plan through their job.

But the new year brings with it some good news: If people do have a 401(k) plan through their employer, there’s data showing them choosing to set aside more for their later years.

On average, workers in 2015 put 6.8 percent of their salaries into 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, according to a recent survey of more than 600 plans. That’s up from 6.2 percent in 2010, the Plan Sponsor Council of America found.

An increase in retirement savings of 0.6 percentage points might not sound like much, but it represents a 10 percent rise in the amount flowing into those plans over just five years, or billions of dollars. About $7 trillion is already invested in 401(k) and other defined contribution plans, according to the Investment Company Institute.

If Americans keep inching up their contribution rate, they could end up saving trillions of dollars more. Workers in these plans are even starting to meet the savings recommendations of retirement experts, who suggest setting aside 10 percent to 15 percent of your salary, including any employer contribution, over a career.

While workers are saving more, companies have held their financial contributions steady—at least over the past few years. Employers pitched in 4.7 percent of payroll in 2015, the same as in 2013 and 2014. Even so, it’s still more than a point above their contribution rates in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

One reason workers participating in these plans are probably saving more: They’re being signed up automatically—no extra paperwork required. Almost 58 percent of plans surveyed make their sign-up process automatic, requiring employees to take action only if they don’t want to save.

Automatic enrollment can make a big difference. In such plans, 89 percent of workers are making contributions, the survey finds, while 75 percent make 401(k) contributions under plans without auto-enrollment. Auto-enrolled employees save more, 7.2 percent of their salaries vs. 6.3 percent for those who weren’t auto-enrolled.

Companies are also automatically hiking worker contribution rates over time, a feature called “auto-escalation” that’s still far less common than auto-enrollment. Less than a quarter of plans auto-escalate all participants, while 16 percent boost contributions only for workers who are deemed to be not saving enough.

A key appeal of automatic 401(k) plans is that they don’t require participating workers to be investing experts. Unless employees choose otherwise, their money is automatically put in a recommended investment.

And, at more and more 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, this takes the form of a target-date fund, a diversified mix of investments chosen based on a participant’s age or years until retirement. Two-thirds of plans offer target-date funds, the survey found, double the number in 2006.

The share of workers’ assets in target-date funds is up fivefold as a result.

A final piece of good news for workers is that they’re keeping more of every dollar they earn in a 401(k) account. Fees on 401(k) plans are falling, according to a recent analysis released by BrightScope and the Investment Company Institute.

The total cost of running a 401(k) plan is down 17 percent since 2009, to 0.39 percent of plan assets in 2014. The cost of the mutual funds inside 401(k)s has dropped even faster, by 28 percent to an annual expense ratio of 0.53 percent in 2015.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Steverman B. (2017 January 5). Employees putting billions more than usual in their 401(k)s [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/01/05/employees-putting-billions-more-than-usual-in-thei?ref=hp-news&page_all=1


How millennials are redefining retirement

Great article from Employee Benefits Advisor about millennials effect on their future retirement by Paula Aven Gladych

Millennials are redefining what retirement will look like when it is their time to join the ranks.

According to a study by Bank of America Merrill Edge, 83% of millennials plan to work into retirement, which is the exact opposite of current retirees, the majority of whom say they aren’t working in retirement or have never worked during their retirement.

“That’s a fundamental shift. They may never see the end to their working days if they don’t make some changes,” says Joe Santos, regional sales executive with Merrill Edge in Los Angeles. “We have seen over the past few years consistent insecurity and uncertainty around retirement planning. With millennials and Gen X, the struggle is competing with life priorities.”

Seventy-nine percent of Gen Xers and 64% of baby boomers also expect to work in retirement.

Half of millennials ages 18 to 24 believe they will need to take on a second job to be able to save for retirement, compared to 25% for all respondents, according to the Merrill Edge Report for fall 2016.

Despite the fact that millennials are not very optimistic about their ability to save for retirement, 70% of millennial respondents and 72% of Gen Xers described their investment approach as hands on, compared to 60% of all respondents. Millennials use online and mobile apps and express interest in saving for retirement, Santos says.

Nearly one-third of millennials say they are do-it-yourselfers when it comes to making investments, compared to 19% of all respondents.

“This growing sense of self-reliance among millennials, however, seems to be increasing the desire for further financial guidance and validation from professionals,” the report found, with 31% of millennials saying they are interested in seeking to hire a financial adviser within the next five years. Forty-two percent of them said they were most open to receiving online financial advice.

Talking about finances is still taboo, the report indicates. Only 54% of survey respondents said they would feel comfortable discussing their personal finances with their spouse or partner; 39% said they would feel comfortable discussing their finances with a financial professional.

“That uncertainty causes them to underestimate what is needed for retirement. If you think of student loans for millennials, they are struggling with student loan debt. It makes retirement seem so far out there,” Santos says.

The majority of those surveyed felt they needed less than $1 million in savings to achieve a comfortable retirement, but 19% of respondents didn’t know how much they needed to save for retirement.

“And even with these estimates, two in five (40%) of today’s non-retirees say reaching their magic number by retirement will either be ‘difficult’ or ‘virtually unattainable,’” the report found. Seventeen percent of respondents said they are relying on luck to get them by.

Because millennials are so young, they have an opportunity to do all the right things so that they can have a secure retirement, Santos says. “I love seeing that they have the interest to learn about retirement by taking a step-by-step approach.”

He added that the last thing people want to do is start saving too late.

“It is a challenge when you think about so many folks straddled with debt, especially student loan debt, and growing longevity. The sandwich generation makes these milestones seem unattainable, but with some proper planning, we can get there,” he says.

The survey of 1,045 mass affluent respondents throughout the United States was conducted by Braun Research from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5, 2016. Mass affluent individuals are those with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000 or those ages 18 to 34 who have investable assets between $20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Gladych P.(2016 December 30). How millennials are redefining retirement[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/how-millennials-are-redefining-retirement?utm_campaign=eba_retirement_final-dec%2030%202016&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&eid=909e5836add2a914a8604144bea27b68


Top 7 401(k) questions employees may have

Interesting article from BenefitsPro about some of the questions your employees will ask about 401(k)s by Marlene Y. Satter

At the start of a new year, lots of folks are thinking about resolutions.

And, if they’re also thinking about saving for retirement, they may have realized they don’t know all that they should about their retirement plan—or they may simply have decided that they need to know more.

If that’s the case, they’ll have questions about their 401(k) plans.

And regardless of what kind of 401(k) education you or your plan provider may furnish, you’ll likely be hit with inquiries about various aspects of the company plan.

Here are the top 7 questions you may get from workers this year.

7. How do I manage my investments?

Employees will want to know whether there are online tools to track investments, access statements and change their portfolio holdings.

They’ll also want to know about educational resources, whether online or in group or individual sessions, so that they can do the best they can. If you don’t already offer access to a financial advisor to help them better understand what they need to do, this could be a potential plan upgrade—particularly since many people prefer interacting with a human being to relying on online tools, especially for educational purposes.

6. What kind of investments are available?

Particularly if they’re trying to educate themselves better on how to make their 401(k) investments perform at peak efficiency, employees will want to know what they’re putting their money into.

Which mutual funds does the plan use? What other options are available? Are there alternative investments in the plan? Managed accounts? Bonds? Individual stocks? Money market funds? Are there plenty of options available, so that the portfolio is sufficiently diversified?

And if they don’t like the sound of the 401(k)’s options, they might ask you about providing a Roth 401(k) instead.

5. How high are the fees—and can they be lowered?

Savvy employees will be concerned about the fees involved in the various investments in the plan. Even more savvy ones might push you to consider lower-fee investments, such as Class R6 shares rather than Class A and target-date funds, which have preset portfolios and should be cheaper.

They’ll probably also ask about the presence or absence of index funds, and question whether the plan provider engages in revenue sharing or provides institutional pricing on all funds.

4. When and how can I withdraw money from the plan?

In case of emergency—a death in the family, a serious illness or perhaps a less depressing need, such as a home purchase or the kids’ college education—employees might need to get their hands on some of their 401(k) funds. Does your plan allow that?

And if so, how? Is it a difficult process? Are only hardship loans allowed? How long does it take to get the money? Can employees continue to contribute to the plan after they take a withdrawal?

3. What’s the employer matching contribution?

Employees will want to know, if they don’t already, how much you’re going to kick in in matching funds when they start contributing to the plan.

Do you match 50 cents, for instance, per dollar up to a certain percentage of the employee’s salary? Say, 3 percent or 6 percent? Or do you do a dollar-for-dollar match up to whatever your limit is? Or perhaps you have a dollar limit rather than a percentage.

2. When am I vested?

Employees—particularly millennials, who tend to move from job to job with increasing frequency—will probably want to know how quickly they’ll be able to keep any employer contributions.

They probably already know that whatever they themselves contribute to a plan is theirs to take whenever they leave for a new job, but since vesting rules can vary widely from company to company, they’ll want to know whether employer contributions vest at 5, 10, 25 or 50 percent per year, or at 100 percent after a certain number of years.

1. What are the eligibility requirements?

New employees in particular will want to find out about this, but existing employees who perhaps hadn’t signed up in the past may also be checking on whether they work enough hours per week (for part-timers) or have been with the company long enough to start contributing.

Make sure that employees know what’s required for them to be able to participate—and if you don’t already have it, you might want to consider adding auto enrollment as a feature next time you modify the plan.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2017 January 03). Top 7 401(k) questions employees may have [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/01/03/top-7-401k-questions-employees-may-have?ref=hp-news&page_all=1