Paving the Road to a Successful Portfolio

Determining a proper asset allocation is an important first step in creating your portfolio and planning how it will grow in the future. Asset allocation is the process of diversifying your investments into different asset classes based on the investor’s time horizon, their goals and how much risk they can tolerate.

“People always ask me what they can invest in that will make them a lot of money without the chance of losing any,” said Brian Bushman, Saxon Financial Advisor.

“I tell them that this simply doesn’t exist. But I can, however, help them design an optimized portfolio based on their risk tolerance and what they are trying to accomplish.”

Whether you’re just beginning to save for retirement or you’re much further down the road with more substantial savings, asset allocation is the result of understanding your comfort with risk and how to best diversify your investments to accomplish your goals.

The key to asset allocation is diversification. This allows an investor to take advantage of investing in many different opportunities which can reduce their overall risk.

Assets can be allocated either strategically or tactically. A strategic plan sets a target allocation and consistently rebalances that allocation back to the original percentages while a tactical plan focuses on adjusting the portfolio based on current economic conditions and opportunities in order to produce a better risk adjusted return. Brian and the investment team at Saxon bring a hybrid approach to designing and managing their investor’s portfolios.

Many investors only consider the returns on their investments, but it is very important to assess the level of risk a portfolio is taking to achieve that return. Saxon’s approach is to optimize this risk vs. return ratio.

It is also important for investors to understand there are different types of risk. Most associate risk with investment risk which is the risk of losing money.

However, there are many other risk factors to consider. Inflationary risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, taxability risk, currency risk and legislative/political risk are other types of risks that need to be considered when developing a portfolio.

Below are the three main factors needed in designing a suitable portfolio for the client.

3 Factors in Designing a Suitable Portfolio

1. Time Horizon

The amount of time that you have to reach your goals should directly impact the level of risk you are willing to take. When you’re young you have much more time to recover from any losses that could be incurred from a drop in the market, but as retirement approaches you have less time to recover from market losses.

The closer you get to retirement, the more you should consider reducing your risk level. Once you retire and need income from your investments you may need to redesign your portfolio from an accumulation portfolio to an income portfolio.

2. Risk Tolerance

Typically, investments that have the potential to generate higher returns are riskier. This is where the idea of risk tolerance comes in. This refers to the amount of volatility an investor can tolerate.

If your risk tolerance is low, then you will likely earn a lower return. To compensate for a lower anticipated return, it is important to evaluate the amount you are investing and possibly adjust your timeline accordingly to reach your goals. Usually gauged by a questionnaire, risk tolerance is often used to categorize investors as aggressive, moderate or conservative.

3. Goals

Each person’s goals are different, whether you are working towards a long-term goal of retirement or a short-term goal, you should consider these goals in your asset allocation plan.

One person’s ideal asset mix could be completely wrong for someone else. Outside of setting financial goals and an ideal retirement goal, it is important to set a goal to adjust investments as you age.

“There is no crystal ball that provides insight on how to best allocate assets. It’s a process that begins with an initial risk assessment, diversifying your investments and continually monitoring the progress of your portfolio,” said Brian Bushman, Saxon Financial Advisor.

How Saxon Helps

A Saxon investment advisor can provide guidance through the process of creating a well-balanced portfolio.

For more, contact Brian Bushman today at (513) 333-3901 or bbushman@gosaxon.com.


No Gym Required for These (Financial) Fitness Tips

While getting "healthy and fit" is important, it's also important to be concerned about your financial fitness. Read this blog post for tips to stay financially fit at any age.


If you’re like me, your social media feeds are jammed with headlines about getting “healthy and fit” in the new year. Of course, they’re referring to diet and exercise and common resolutions to drop pounds and work out more often.

But it’s just as important to be concerned about your financial fitness—where you can also drop some baggage and get some strength training without going near a gym. (In fact, if you have a subscription to a gym membership but aren’t going, that’s one financial fix you can make right now.)

Here are some tips to consider for any age:

IN YOUR 20s:

Workout: Have a portion of each paycheck deposited into your savings account, or take advantage of bank programs that “round up” or have other automated savings features. Trust me, you won’t feel this burn.

Diet: Start making coffee at home or at the office instead of going for expensive lattes. Fewer calories, and more money in your pocket. This is a good time to consider getting life insurance (whether you are single or attached) as it is less expensive the younger and healthier you are.

You also need to consider disability insurance, which pays you a portion of your salary if you are sick or injured and unable to work—because who would pay your bills if you couldn’t? Your work may offer this as an employee benefit, so check with your HR department to find out if you have it and what it covers (short-term, long-term disability, etc.)

IN YOUR 30s:

Workout: You probably have a retirement program at work or some other preliminary retirement planning in place. If you don’t, start.

If you do, why not increase the amount you divert into retirement by a percentage point each year—equaling your company match percentage, if they have it, is a good target.

Diet: You may not have gotten life insurance beyond what you have through your workplace, but now is the time to consider an individual policy that you own. Remember, when you leave a job, you typically lose that life insurance offered through your workplace. And, given that life insurance through the workplace usually equals one or two times you salary (or a set amount like $50,000), it’s no longer going to cut it if you have a growing family.

If money’s tight, as it often is with a growing family, lingering student loans, and perhaps a mortgage, a term life insurance policy can protect you through the lean years. But don’t overlook the long-term benefits of a permanent life insurance policy. The cash value can be tapped later for needs that may arise. Plus, there’s nothing that says you can’t have a combination of both.

Also, consider an individual disability insurance policy that you personally own and follows you throughout your career. If you’re relying on work coverage, know that it goes away when you leave that job, and often these policies have bare-bones coverage.

IN YOUR 40s:

Workout: Do you have a financial professional helping you out? Navigating the ins and outs of a growing investment portfolio can be tricky as you move through your career and want to use traditional or Roth IRAs, and the tax benefits of various planning strategies. This may also be the time that you can add a permanent life insurance policy, if you haven’t before, which allows you to accrue cash value and obtain benefits that extend later into your life.

Diet: If you’re still carrying extra debt at this point, it’s time to get that paid down. Tackle higher-interest debts first, and celebrate each paid-off card or loan with … a bigger payment to the next one on the list.

IN YOUR 50s:

Workout: Max out your retirement contributions, especially once your kids are through college. This is also a good time to start researching things like long-term care insurance, and to make sure that your investment portfolio is built in such a way that you can reach your goals.

Diet: It may be very tempting to take on a new debt now: some folks want a vacation home, or the time may be right to start a business. But beware of any super-risky moves that can spell catastrophe with limited time to recoup losses, or that leave you with unexpected bills.

IN YOUR 60s and beyond:

Workout: Evaluate your Social Security situation against your retirement portfolio to determine the best time to retire. Understand the “living benefits” of your life insurance policies and how annuities may help you create a retirement income stream that you can’t outlive.

Diet: Is it time to downsize? It can be hard letting go of “stuff” so that you can go from that four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo. But the financial benefit of doing so may surprise you—plus there is less to clean and take care of (not to mention the ease of jetting off at a moment’s notice with no need for someone to look after your home.)

A lot depends on factors like your relationship status, your career path, whether you have kids or not, and what your long-term goals are, and these can change at any time in our lives.

The long and short of it is that just as when it comes to “health and fitness” goals, you’d get an annual physical. Need to know if you’re financially fit? Talk to an insurance professional or financial advisor today.

SOURCE: Mosher, H. (10 January 2019) "No Gym Required for These (Financial) Fitness Tips" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://lifehappens.org/blog/no-gym-required-for-these-financial-fitness-tips/


It might be time for a financial wellness checkup

Forty-six percent of employees spend two to three hours per week at work dealing with personal finances. Read this blog post to learn what employers can do if they want a stress-free and productive workforce.


We’ve all seen the infamous statistics — 56% of American workers struggle financially, 75% live paycheck to paycheck. A majority of Americans can’t come up with $1,000 for an emergency.

It is quite obvious that financial worries have a massive impact on happiness and stress levels, but what business owners, executives and human resource professionals understand is that this lack of financial wellness in the U.S. has a devastating effect on worker productivity, and therefore, employers’ bottom lines.

Employees who spend time during their day worried about bills and loans are less focused on getting their work done. In fact, a staggering 46% of employees spend, on average, two to three hours per week dealing with personal finance issues during work hours. So what can employers offer their workers to help them become more financially sound?

There are a number of ways to help employees improve their financial well-being – including utilizing the help of a financial wellness benefit platform – but at the very least, there are three major benefits that every business should employ if they want a stress-free and productive workforce.

Savings, investment and retirement solutions. Offering employees the ability to automatically allocate their paychecks into savings, investment and retirement accounts will help them more effectively meet their financial goals without worrying about moving money around. These types of programs should allow employees to make temporary or permanent changes at any time to reflect any immediate changes that may occur in their life.

Credit solutions and loan consolidation. Having a reliable source of credit is extremely important, but access to it can also be dangerous for big spenders. Employers should guide workers towards making informed financial decisions and teach them how to use credit wisely. Employers need to be able to refer employees to affordable and trusted sources for things like credit cards, short-term loan options and mortgages, so employees don’t have to spend time doing the research for themselves (or worse, potentially becoming victims of fraud). Companies should also offer resources that teach employees how to organize their finances to pay their debt off on time without accumulating unnecessary interest or fees.

Insurance (not just health). While many large companies offer the traditional health, dental, vision, disability and life insurance, employers should also be offering resources that give easy access to vehicle, home, renters, boat, pet and other common insurance products. Some insurance carriers even offer volume discounts, so if a large percentage of employees in an organization utilize pet insurance, everyone can save some money.

While it is important for employers to offer these benefits, it is also important to follow up with employees and make sure they are utilizing all of the benefits they have access to. Sometimes people can have too much pride or can be afraid to ask for financial help. The use of these programs should be talked about, encouraged and even rewarded.

Justifying the investment in these benefits is simple. Employers want to increase productivity, and employees want to be more financially sound. The workplace is evolving and so is the workforce, so while you look to add benefits like 401(k), work from home, summer Fridays, gym memberships and free lunch, don’t forget about the financial wellness of the people you employ. Maybe next year, you will see that your workers are focused less on their college loans and are able to put more effort into growing your business.

SOURCE: Kilby, D. (2 January 2019) "It might be time for a financial wellness checkup" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/it-might-be-time-for-a-financial-wellness-checkup?feed=00000152-a2fb-d118-ab57-b3ff6e310000


The Risk of Being Uninsured (and the Hidden Bargain in Addressing It Now)

Are you aware of all the risks associated with being uninsured? Take a look at this great column by Erica Oh Nataren from Life Happens and find out how you are putting yourself in harm's way by being uninsured.

With all the expenses of everyday living, it’s tempting to think of insurance as just another cost. What’s harder to see is the potential cost of not buying insurance—or what’s known as “self-insuring”—and the hidden bargain of coverage.

The Important vs. the Urgent
We’ve all experienced it: the tendency to stay focused on putting out fires, while never getting ahead on the things that really matter in the long run. For most people, there are two big things that matter in the long run: their families and their ability to retire. And being properly insured is important to both those concerns.

Life Insurance: a Hidden Bargain?
It’s exceedingly rare, but we all know it can happen: someone’s unexpected death. Life insurance can prevent financial catastrophe for the loved ones left behind, if they depend on you for income or primary care—or both.

The irony is that many people pass on coverage due to perceived cost, when in fact it’s far less expensive that most people think. The 2016 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA showed that 8 in 10 people overestimate the cost of life insurance. For instance, a healthy, 30-year-old man can purchase a 20-year, $250,000 term life insurance policy for $160 a year—about $13 a month.

Enjoy the Benefits of Life Insurance—While You’re Alive
If budget pressures aren’t an issue, consider the living benefits of permanent life insurance—that’s right, benefits you can use during your own lifetime.

Permanent life insurance policies typically have a higher premium than term life insurance policies in the early years. But unlike term insurance, it provides lifelong protection and the ability to accumulate cash value on a tax-deferred basis.

Cash values can be used in the future for any purpose you wish. If you like, you can borrow cash value for a down payment on a home, to help pay for your children’s education or to provide income for your retirement.

When you borrow money from a permanent insurance policy, you’re using the policy’s cash value as collateral and the borrowing rates tend to be relatively low. And unlike loans from most financial institutions, the loan is not dependent on credit checks or other restrictions. You ultimately must repay any loan with interest or your beneficiaries will receive a reduced death benefit and cash-surrender value.

In this way, life insurance can serve as a powerful financial cushion for you and your family throughout your life, in addition to protecting your family from day one.

Disability Insurance: For the Biggest Risk of All
The most overlooked of the major types of insurance coverage is the one that actually covers a far more common risk—the risk of becoming ill or injured and being unable to work and earn your paycheck.

How common is it? While no one knows the exact numbers, it’s estimated that 30% of American workers will become disabled for 90 days or more during their working years. The sad reality is that most American workers also cannot afford such an event. In fact, illness and injury are the top reasons for foreclosures and bankruptcies in the U.S. today. Disability insurance ensures that if you are unable to work because of illness or injury, you will continue to receive an income and make ends meet until you’re able to return to work.

It’s tempting to cross your fingers and hope misfortune skips over you. But when you look at the facts, it’s easy to see: getting proper coverage against life’s risks is not just important, but a bargain in disguise.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Nataren E. (2017 May 11). The risk of being uninsured (and the hidden bargain in addressing it now) [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.lifehappens.org/blog/the-risk-of-being-uninsured-and-the-hidden-bargain-in-addressing-it-now/


7 Social Security facts Americans need to know

There are millions of  Americans who depend on Social Security to fund their retirement. Many of the people who depend on social security for their retirement funding tend to overestimate how much money they will receive, or how long the money will last. With the many changes that have occurred to Social Security over the years many Americans are out of touch with how the program works and how it fits into their overall retirement strategy.  Here is a great list compiled by Marlene Y. Satter from Benefits Pro on the top 7 things Americans need to know about Social Security and how it can impact their retirement.

7. Monthly benefits are based on the age at which you collect and the average of your highest 35 years of earnings.

How many years have you paid into Social Security?

The SSA will take your 35 highest paid of those years and average them to come up with what your monthly benefit will be.

Then, depending on whether you decide to go for early retirement (age 62), full retirement age (currently age 66, but rising to 67) or keep working till age 70, that will determine your benefit.

If you retire at age 62, your benefit will be reduced. At the full retirement age you’ll get your full benefit, but if you work till 70 the benefit will keep increasing.

The longer you work and don’t claim, the higher your benefit will be, but it stops growing once you hit age 70.

6. Claiming too early can cut your benefits for life.

If you decide to collect Social Security when you’re 62 (or, for that matter, any time before you hit age 70), your benefit will be paid at the minimum level you earned through your career and won’t rise (except for cost-of-living raises) at all.

If, on the other hand, you can wait till age 66, you’ll get at least a third more in those monthly checks than you would at 62.

But if you wait till age 70, your benefit will be at least 75 percent higher. That’s according to the Social Security Claiming Guide from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Oh, and the same goes for your spouse. If you claim early and die, your spouse will be restricted to that smaller benefit for life as well—unless said spouse has a separate career and benefits to draw on.

5. Widows and widowers can claim on their deceased spouses’ records to delay claiming on their own.

A widow or widower can claim a survivor benefit on their late spouse’s record in order to postpone claiming their own benefit—which can be very helpful should they want to delay claiming till age 70.

And, as the Claiming Guide points out, since most survivors are women and women’s benefits are generally lower—thanks to a range of reasons, including less time in the workplace and lower salaries—a husband’s benefit will generally be higher.

If, however, a woman’s benefit would be higher than her late husband’s, claiming on his record would allow her to delay claiming until age 70 to maximize her own benefit.

That said, survivor benefits are available as early as age 60, or age 50 if disabled, but they’re reduced up to 28.5 percent if claimed before the recipient’s full retirement age.

Survivor benefits can also be claimed by a divorced spouse as long as the marriage lasted at least 10 years.

4. Husbands can boost wives’ survivor benefits by delaying claiming.

Since most women survive their husbands—by an average of 6 years, in fact—a husband who wants to maximize his wife’s survivor benefit in the event of his death can delay claiming his own benefit as mentioned earlier.

In fact, a husband can increase the monthly benefit his wife gets as his survivor by more than 20 percent if he delays claiming Social Security until age 66 instead of doing so at age 62, if he waits till age 70 to claim benefits, that rises to 60 percent.

3. Continuing to work after claiming before full retirement age will cost you.

It might seem like a terrific idea to claim Social Security early and just keep working; after all, what’s not to like?

You gain another source of income, you’re still making money and maybe you envision just socking the extra money into savings for later in retirement.

But there’s one (not-so-)little flaw with that idea: Social Security may giveth, but it will also taketh away.

If you did that last year and weren’t already at the full retirement age, you’ve already learned to your sorrow that for every $2 above $15,720 you earned in calendar year 2016, Social Security withheld $1.

And Social Security will do that every year till you hit full retirement age; in that year, it will keep $1 for every $3 you earn above $3,490 each month.

If you wait to pursue that strategy till the year after you’ve hit full retirement age, however, it won’t withhold anything.

The good news is that you don’t actually lose that money; it’s restored to increase your monthly benefits later.

2. Social Security provides half the income for 61% of seniors.

It’s all very well to say that seniors will have Social Security to depend on, but the majority of seniors have few other resources to draw on.

report on Madison.com highlights how essential Social Security is to the majority of seniors, regardless of how long they’ve worked or how much they’ve saved, with some statistics from Social Security itself—and one of those is just how important Social Security is to people’s financial well-being during retirement.

Whether they’ve managed to save more in 401(k)s, IRAs or even an actual pension plan, seniors are still deriving much of their income from those monthly Social Security checks.

1. Social Security provides at least 90% of income for 43% of unmarried seniors.

Lest you think that Social Security is just one leg of the proverbial three-legged stool, keep in mind the statistic above.

Without additional sources of income, unmarried seniors who are almost, or completely, dependent on Social Security checks will almost certainly not have a pleasant retirement—or a healthy one.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2017 August 29). 7 social security facts americans need to know [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/08/29/7-social-security-facts-americans-need-to-know?ref=mostpopular&page_all=1


4 Reasons Employers Should Offer Supplemental Life Insurance

Is life insurance included in your employee benefits program? For many employees, their only form of life insurance they have is the basic group life plan provided by an employer. This standard version of life insurance is usually not enough to maintain most employees financial wellness. Supplemental life insurance plans can enhance the standard coverage provided by most employers by providing employee financial security for their futures. While these plans can be a great way to boost an employees financial wellness only about one-half of employers across the nation offer supplemental life insurance with their employee benefits. Take a look at this great list put together by Mike Wozny from Think Advisor and find out the top 4 reasons why you should be offering your employees supplemental life insurance.

Depending on an individual family’s needs, supplemental life insurance can build on the employer-provided life insurance benefit, and helps employers give their employees the future financial security their employees need. For those employers who are not currently offering supplemental life, here are four key reasons they should start:

  • Many employers can offer employees the financial security of supplemental life insurance without increasing their benefits budget. Because supplemental life insurance is opt-in and chosen by individual employees as appropriate for their situations, employers can offer supplemental life insurance as an option at no additional cost to the employer. Employees can then customize their coverage to their needs depending on their financial responsibilities.
  • Many group carriers offer employers help in enrolling employees in supplemental life. Employers can host on-site enrollment sessions lead by a life insurance expert or hold a webinar led by the carrier followed by online enrollment. Many carriers even offer customized enrollment materials for each employee — all without adding to the employer’s human resources teams’ workload.
  • Financial security is tied to employees' productivity. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found that when employees have to spend time and energy worrying about providing for their families, they are more productive. Appropriate life insurance is a key factor in overall financial health, and provides employees with the peace of mind that lets them focus their energy elsewhere.
  • Comprehensive benefits packages contribute to higher employee satisfaction and retention.The Society for Human Resource Management has also found that benefits offerings are important to employees’ decisions about what companies to work for and how long to stay. Offering a benefits package that includes supplemental life insurance coverage allows employees to customize benefits to their own needs.

With the loss of a loved one, many families also lose their income, which can be not only emotionally devastating, but financially devastating as well. When employers offer a complete benefits package, including one that promotes financial wellness, it gives their employees peace of mind, and helps attract and retain top workers.

Though life insurance is rarely a topic that families want to think about, employers can help employees obtain the right amount of insurance to protect their finances by offering supplemental life insurance options. For those employers who are not currently offering these benefits, in many cases they can be added at no expense, with little additional time required to administer them, and at great potential benefit to both the company and its employees.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Wozny M. (2016 October 19). 4 reasons employers should offer supplemental life insurance [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2016/10/19/4-reasons-employers-should-offer-supplemental-life


5 Things Millennials Need to Know About Life Insurance

As millennials grow older and start planning for their futures, one thing they will have to think about is life insurance.  While access to the internet and mobile data has made learning about life insurance easier than before many millennials still have many unanswered questions when it comes to planning for their life insurance policy. Take a look at his great column by Helen Mosher from Life Happens and find out the top 5 thing Millennials need to know about life insurance.

 

1. Life insurance is a form of protection. If you Google “life insurance” you’ll get a slew of ads telling you how cheap life insurance can be, without nearly enough information about what you need it for. That’s probably because it’s not terribly pleasant to think about: this idea that we could die and someone we care about might suffer financially as a result. Life insurance provides a financial buffer for the people you care about in the event something happens to you. Think just because you’re single, nobody would be left in the lurch? Read the next point.

2. College debt may not go away. Did someone—like your parents—co-sign your student loans through the bank? If so, the bank won’t discharge that debt upon your death the way that the federal government would with federal student loans. That means your parents, or others who signed the paperwork, would be responsible for paying the full balance—sometimes immediately. Don’t saddle them with the bill!

3. If you don’t know anything about life insurance, it’s probably better if you don’t buy it off the internet. It’s what we’re used to: You find the thing you need or love on Amazon or Ebay or Etsy, click a few buttons, and POOF. It arrives at your door. But life insurance is a financial planning product, and while it can be as simple as a 20-year term policy for less than a cup of coffee each day (for real!), going through your options with an insurance professional can ensure that you get the right amount for the right amount of time and at a price that fits into your budget. And many people don’t know that an agent will sit down and help you out at no cost.

4. Social fundraising only goes so far. This relatively recent phenomenon has everyone thinking that they’ll just turn to GoFundMe if things go awry in their lives. But does any grieving person want to spend time administering a social fundraising site? The chances of going viral are markedly slim, and social fundraising sites will take their cut, as will the IRS. And there is absolutely no guarantee about how much—if any—money will be raised.

5. The best time is now. You’ll definitely never be younger than you are today, and for most of us, the younger we are the healthier we are. Those are two of the most important factors for getting affordable life insurance coverage. So don’t delay. And if you don’t have an agent, you can also use our Agent Locator. The key is taking that first step.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Mosher H. (2017 July 5). 5 things Millennials need to know about life insurance [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.lifehappens.org/blog/5-things-millennials-need-to-know-about-life-insurance/


How Voluntary Benefits Options are Changing

The market for voluntary benefits has seen substantial growth over the last few years with the rise of health care cost. Find out how you can prepare for the changes coming to the voluntary benefits market thanks to this great article by Keith Franklin from Benefits Pro.

As health care insurance deductibles continue to rise, interest in voluntary benefits are growing. This trend supports another growth area that we’re seeing: companies are looking for innovative, cost-effective ways to enhance their compensation packages and are finding that voluntary health benefits are the solution. We’ve seen a significant rise in sales for dental discount plans that offer additional benefits over the past six months.

The most popular dental plans that we offer to groups and individuals now include telemedicine, medical bill negotiation and health advocacy services — along with our more typical dental care, vision, hearing, and prescription savings plans.

But, no matter how popular they are, these plans still do not sell themselves. The key to success in the group voluntary benefits marketplace is clearly communicating the business return on investment that can be expected from offering voluntary benefits to employees.

Voluntary benefits refresher

Of course, you know employers use voluntary programs to offer ancillary benefits, or supplementary benefits, that help fill in the holes in major medical coverage.

If you have not had much direct involvement in voluntary benefits, you may be surprised by how much the menus have grown.

Many of the newest voluntary benefits provide discounted or free access to services that were not typically associated with health care plans. These offerings tend to address concerns related to security, financial management, health care that may not covered by primary insurance (such as dental) and personal improvement.

Today, voluntary benefits may include:

  • Automobile, homeowners, or pet insurance
  • Concierge services
  • Critical illness
  • Cybersecurity/Identify theft protection
  • Dental
  • Education
  • Financial counseling
  • Financial planning
  • Fitness
  • Healthcare advocacy
  • Life insurance
  • Medical bill negotiation
  • Telemedicine/Telehealth
  • Vision

Voluntary benefits are typically offered to employees as an optional add-on to their benefits package. While the benefits may be paid for in part by the employer, these are more typically payroll-deducted benefits.

When sold directly to individuals, voluntary benefit offerings are often described as “discount,” or “additional benefit” plans. Target markets in the business-to-consumer space would include self-employed people and owners of very small businesses. Typically, businesses can qualify as a “group” for voluntary benefits purposes if the business employs three to five people.

When sold to groups, these plans offer savings by tapping into discounts for group rates, and discounts pre-negotiated by the plans’ providers. The savings are passed on to plan members, giving the cost-savings of group coverage to individuals. Brokers and agents can tap into this market effectively by working with trade groups, chambers of commerce, and other associations that serve small businesses, contactors and the self-employed.

It is important to note that many voluntary benefits offerings are not insurance. They are intended to complement existing insurance coverage, make health care such as dental and vision more affordable, or provide discounted access to a broad variety of supplementary services.

There are exceptions, of course. Some voluntary plans offer supplementary health coverage, or other types of insurance.

How to communicate advantages

Financial benefits are the most obvious advantage to businesses. Adding desirable benefits at no additional (or low) cost to the company is obviously an appealing proposition. But that’s not the whole picture.

Businesses considering offering voluntary benefits plans to their employees will also want to ensure that any solution that they buy into fully delivers on its promises and doesn’t add new complications.

Provider reliability: Who is offering the benefit, who is the provider or underwriter? Voluntary benefits can be backed by a provider, such as a health insurance company that offers both dental insurance and dental discount plans. The benefit may be offered directly by the providing company or by another company that they have partnered with. Look for a proven track record of trustworthiness and experience within the voluntary benefits space by all companies involved in providing the benefit.

Easy deployment and administration: What is involved in offering the benefit to employees? What information will be required, how long will it take to on-board people? Will proprietary software need to be installed, or are benefits managed through a platform-generic, online portal? Is there an automatic payroll deduction feature? Obviously, the easier a solution is to set up and use, the more attractive it is. Know the back-end as well as you know the benefits.

Data security: Securing information is an ever-growing concern. Not all companies will ask about data security when evaluating a benefits plan, but an increasing number are vitally concerned about protecting personnel information – both as a service to employees and as a way of warding off digital crime. Cyber criminals can use information about employees to impersonate them and gain access to company networks and data. It is best to be prepared with answers to these questions: How is sensitive information on employees kept secure and private when it is captured, in use, and in storage? If data is stored in the cloud, does the storage solution used meet the organization’s compliance and regulatory obligations?

Education/engagement: Well-designed, informative, and customizable materials that help employees get excited, understand, and use their voluntary benefits are a highly valuable add-on to any offering. Companies expect to see quantifiable results from their benefits packages, and limited adoption reduces return on investment. Keeping employees engaged is central to a company’s happiness with their voluntary benefits plan. Get samples of the employee training material from providers.

Metrics: While many companies will rely on their own data-led decision making tools to measure a program’s success, it’s helpful to point out the ROI voluntary benefits can deliver. Overall, the data points that can be used to gauge the success of a voluntary benefits offering will include an ability to attract and retain top talent, reduced medical absenteeism/presenteeism, increased productivity, and employee interest and usage of the benefits.

Customer care: If employees have problems using their benefits, who provides support? The provider or service partner should offer a single-point-of-contact tasked with solving problems, and a dedicated customer support team that employees can access with questions or concerns.

Interest in voluntary growing

Voluntary benefits aren’t new, but the interest in these offerings is strong – particularly for money-and-time saving services such as telemedicine. As the marketplace grows, businesses and brokers need to understand how to evaluate these offerings and select the best options.

There are advantages to offering a tightly curated bundle of benefits, or providing a broad variety of options that businesses can mix and match. When offering the latter, it’s important to ensure that administration and access are streamlined as much as possible. What seems simple in isolation – you manage and access your benefits though this app or portal – can quickly become wildly complex when the burden grows to a dozen or more apps and portals. Partnering with service providers who focus on delivering a quality experience end-to-end provides significant advantages to brokers and businesses.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Franklin K. (2017 July 13). How voluntary benefits options are changing [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/07/13/how-voluntary-benefits-options-are-changing?t=innovation&page_all=1


Employers Broadening Health Programs

Employers are starting to change their approach on how they look at their employee benefits program. Take a look at this great article by Nick Otto from Employee Benefit Adviser and find out how employers are reclassifying their employee benefits program in order to expand their employees' well-being.

The siloed approach to retirement, healthcare and wellness is a thing of the past as employers are increasingly taking a holistic approach to addressing their employees’ health and wealth.

Employers are expanding their view of employee overall well-being, according to a new report from Optum, a technology-enabled health services company. That means that, while employers are still offering traditional wellness programs, there has been a significant shift in the last three years to those programs addressing workers’ financial, behavioral and social health.

“For example, we see increased interest among companies in developing new programs around mindfulness, positivity and creativity, which can reduce stress, improve eating and sleeping habits, and stimulate innovative thinking,” says Seth Serxner, Optum’s chief health officer.

While physical health still remains a significant focus for employee wellness programs, other dimensions are tracking with higher importance among large employers:

· 51% of such programs now address financial health, up from 38% in 2015;
· 47% address employees’ social health by using strategies like team-based activities to increase feelings of connectedness and a sense of belonging, compared to 37% in 2015; and
· 68% address behavioral health, up from 65% in 2015

And technology is helping employers to better engage these programs to workers. Since 2014, there has been a significant increase in the use of a variety of innovations, including online competitions, activity tracking devices, social networks, mobile apps and mobile messaging to help engage employees, the study notes.

Additionally, incentive strategies are helping to get workers in the wellness game.

Use of incentives is at an all-time high, Optum notes, with 95% of employer respondents offering incentives to their employees. Recognizing that workers can be highly influenced by their family members, 74% of employers also are offering incentives to family members. According to Optum, average incentives per participant per year equate to $532.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Otto N. (2017 August 15). Employers broadening health programs [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/employers-broadening-health-programs