Advisers Seek Innovative Ways To Increase Retirement Savings

Are you struggling to save for your retirement? Check out this great article from Employee Benefits Adviser on what employee benefits advisers are doing to help their clients prepare for their retirement by Cort Olsen.

In a recent forum co-hosted by Retirement Clearinghouse, EBRI, Wiser and the Financial Services Roundtable, experts shared how automated retirement portability programs could be the key to increased participation in private-sector retirement plans.

Today, at least 64% of Americans say they do not have sufficient funds for retirement and less than half of private-sector workers participate in workplace retirement programs. Former U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, says these statistics could improve through better access to workplace retirement savings plans.

“So many small businesses tell [Congress], ‘Look we’d like to offer a plan, but we just can’t afford it,’” Conrad says. “We take the liability off of their shoulders, we take the administrative difficulty off their shoulders and allow a third party to administer the plans, run the plans and have the financial responsibility for the plans, which makes a big difference for employers.”

With these improved access points to savings plans, Conrad says the opportunity arises to create new retirement security plans for smaller businesses with fewer than 500 employees, enabling multiple employers — even from different industries — to band together to offer their workers low cost, well-designed options.

“Once the [savings plan] has been put in place for a period of time, we then introduce a nationwide minimum coverage standard for businesses with more than 50 employees,” Conrad says. “Any mandate is controversial, but legally if you dramatically simplify (don’t require employer match) really all they have to do is payroll deduction, and then it becomes not unreasonable for employers with 50 or more workers to offer some kind of plan.”

How to achieve auto-portability
Once plans have been made available for employers of all sizes, Jack VanDerhei, research director for the Employee Benefit Research Institute, recommends three different scenarios for auto-portability of retirement plans between employers.

1) Full auto-portability. VanDerhei considers this to be the most efficient scenario, where every participant consolidates their savings in their new employer plan every time they change jobs. The goal would be that all participants arrive at age 65 with only one account accumulated over the span of their working life.
2) Partial auto-portability. In this scenario, every participant with less than $5,000 — indexed for inflation — consolidates their savings in their new employer plan every time they change jobs. “If you have $5,000 or less in your account balance at the time you change jobs, leakage would only come from hardship withdrawals,” VanDerhei says. This means that money would only leave the account if the participant determined it necessary to take money out to pay for a necessity.
3) Baseline: status quo. In addition to hardship withdrawals, there is a participant-specific probability of cashing out and loan default leakage at the time of job transition. These participant specific leakages can be age, income, account balance and how long the participant has been with the employer.

VanDerhei says the younger the participants are to begin using full auto-portability of retirement plans, the more likely they are to get the most out of their retirement savings once they reach the age of 65.

“If you look at people who are currently between the ages of 25 and 34, under a partial portability there is a chance for accumulation to reach $659 billion and under a full portability there is a chance to reach $847 billion in accumulation,” VanDerhei says. “As you would expect, accumulation will decrease as the age increases if they choose to enter into auto-portability later in life.”

Spencer Williams, president and CEO of Retirement Clearinghouse, LLC, says although retirement portability has been codified into ERISA there are not enough mechanisms involved to encourage participants to continue to save for retirement rather than cashing out.

“We have a little more than a third of the population cashing out when they change jobs,” Williams says. “The research shows that if you fix that problem, the difficulty moving peoples’ money, we will begin the process of reducing leakage.”

Once a retirement account reaches a certain amount, Williams adds that participants will begin to take the account more seriously and have more desire to continue investing in the plan.

“We need to create an efficient and effective means by which people can have their money moved for them, and in doing that we begin to change peoples’ behavior,” Williams says. “Finally, if we increase access and coverage, along with auto-portability, all of those benefits accrue from all those new participants in the system.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Olsen C. (2017 April 6). Advisers seek innovative ways to increase retirement savings [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/advisers-seek-innovative-ways-to-increase-retirement-savings


The 10 Biggest 401(k) Plan Misconceptions

Do you know everything you need to know about your 401(k)? Check out this great article from Employee Benefit News about the top 10 misconceptions people have about their 401(k)s by Robert C. Lawton.

Unfortunately for plan sponsors, 401(k) plan participants have some big misconceptions about their retirement plan.

Having worked as a 401(k) plan consultant for more than 30 years with some of the most prestigious companies in the world — including Apple, AT&T, IBM, John Deere, Northern Trust, Northwestern Mutual — I’m always surprised by the simple but significant 401(k) plan misconceptions many plan participants have. Following are the most common and noteworthy —all of which employers need to help employees address.

1. I only need to contribute up to the maximum company match

Many participants believe that their company is sending them a message on how much they should contribute. As a result, they only contribute up to the maximum matched contribution percentage. In most plans, that works out to be only 6% in employee contributions. Many studies have indicated that participants need to average at least 15% in contributions each year. To dispel this misperception, and motivate participants to contribute something closer to what they should, plan sponsors should consider stretching their matching contribution.

2. It’s OK to take a participant loan

I have had many participants tell me, “If this were a bad thing why would the company let me do it?” Account leakage via defaulted loans is one of the reasons why some participants never save enough for retirement. In addition, taking a participant loan is a horribleinvestment strategy. Plan participants should first explore taking a home equity loan, where the interest is tax deductible. Plan sponsors should consider curtailing or eliminating their loan provisions.

3. Rolling a 401(k) account into an IRA is a good idea

There are many investment advisers working hard to convince participants this is a good thing to do. However, higher fees, lack of free investment advice, use of higher-cost investment options, lack of availability of stable value and guaranteed fund investment options and many other factors make this a bad idea for most participants.

4. My 401(k) account is a good way to save for college, a first home, etc.

When 401(k) plans were first rolled out to employees decades ago, human resources staff helped persuade skeptical employees to contribute by saying the plans could be used for saving for many different things. They shouldn’t be. It is a bad idea to use a 401(k) plan to save for an initial down payment on a home or to finance a home. Similarly, a 401(k) plan is not the best place to save for a child’s education — 529 plans work much better. Try to eliminate the language in your communication materials that promotes your 401(k) plan as a place to do anything other than save for retirement.

5. I should stop making 401(k) contributions when the stock market crashes

This is a more prevalent feeling among plan participants than you might think. I have had many participants say to me, “Bob, why should I invest my money in the stock market when it is going down. I’m just going to lose money!” These are the same individuals who will be rushing into the stock market at market tops. This logic is important to unravel with participants and something plan sponsors should emphasize in their employee education sessions.

6. Actively trading my 401(k) account will help me maximize my account balance

Trying to time the market, or following newsletters or a trader’s advice, is rarely a winning strategy. Consistently adhering to an asset allocation strategy that is appropriate to a participant’s age and ability to bear risk is the best approach for most plan participants.

7. Indexing is always superior to active management

Although index investing ensures a low-cost portfolio, it doesn’t guarantee superior performance or proper diversification. Access to commodity, real estate and international funds is often sacrificed by many pure indexing strategies. A blend of active and passive investments often proves to be the best investment strategy for plan participants.

8. Target date funds are not good investments

Most experts who say that target date funds are not good investments are not comparing them to a participant’s allocations prior to investing in target date funds. Target date funds offer proper age-based diversification. Many participants, before investing in target date funds, may have invested in only one fund or a few funds that were inappropriate risk-wise for their age.

9. Money market funds are good investments

These funds have been guaranteed money losers for a number of years because they have not kept pace with inflation. Unless a participant is five years or less away from retirement or has difficulty taking on even a small amount of risk, these funds are below-average investments. As a result of the new money market fund rules, plan sponsors should offer guaranteed or stable value investment options instead.

10. I can contribute less because I will make my investments will work harder

Many participants have said to me, “Bob, I don’t have to contribute as much as others because I am going to make my investments do more of the work.” Most participants feel that the majority of their final account balance will come from earnings in their 401(k) account. However, studies have shown that the major determinant of how much participants end up with at retirement is the amount of contributions they make, not the amount of earnings. This is another misconception that plan sponsors should work hard to unwind in their employee education sessions.

Make sure you address all of these misconceptions in your next employee education sessions.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Lawton R. (2017 April 4). The 10 biggest 401(k) plan misconceptions[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/the-10-biggest-401-k-plan-misperceptions?brief=00000152-14a5-d1cc-a5fa-7cff48fe0001


Cafeteria Plans: Qualifying Events and Changing Employee Elections

Have any questions about cafeteria plans and how they work? Check out this great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) about which events qualify and what changes can happen to any employee’s cafeteria plan by Danielle Capilla

Cafeteria plans, or plans governed by IRS Code Section 125, allow employers to help employees pay for expenses such as health insurance with pre-tax dollars. Employees are given a choice between a taxable benefit (cash) and two or more specified pre-tax qualified benefits, for example, health insurance. Employees are given the opportunity to select the benefits they want, just like an individual standing in the cafeteria line at lunch.

Only certain benefits can be offered through a cafeteria plan:

  • Coverage under an accident or health plan (which can include traditional health insurance, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), self-insured medical reimbursement plans, dental, vision, and more);
  • Dependent care assistance benefits or DCAPs
  • Group term life insurance
  • Paid time off, which allows employees the opportunity to buy or sell paid time off days
  • 401(k) contributions
  • Adoption assistance benefits
  • Health savings accounts or HSAs under IRS Code Section 223

Some employers want to offer other benefits through a cafeteria plan, but this is prohibited. Benefits that you cannot offer through a cafeteria plan include scholarships, group term life insurance for non-employees, transportation and other fringe benefits, long-term care, and health reimbursement arrangements (unless very specific rules are met by providing one in conjunction with a high deductible health plan). Benefits that defer compensation are also prohibited under cafeteria plan rules.

Cafeteria plans as a whole are not subject to ERISA, but all or some of the underlying benefits or components under the plan can be. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has also affected aspects of cafeteria plan administration.

Employees are allowed to choose the benefits they want by making elections. Only the employee can make elections, but they can make choices that cover other individuals such as spouses or dependents. Employees must be considered eligible by the plan to make elections. Elections, with an exception for new hires, must be prospective. Cafeteria plan selections are considered irrevocable and cannot be changed during the plan year, unless a permitted change in status occurs. There is an exception for mandatory two-year elections relating to dental or vision plans that meet certain requirements.

Plans may allow participants to change elections based on the following changes in status:

  • Change in marital status
  • Change in the number of dependents
  • Change in employment status
  • A dependent satisfying or ceasing to satisfy dependent eligibility requirements
  • Change in residence
  • Commencement or termination of adoption proceedings

Plans may also allow participants to change elections based on the following changes that are not a change in status but nonetheless can trigger an election change:

  • Significant cost changes
  • Significant curtailment (or reduction) of coverage
  • Addition or improvement of benefit package option
  • Change in coverage of spouse or dependent under another employer plan
  • Loss of certain other health coverage (such as government provided coverage, such as Medicaid)
  • Changes in 401(k) contributions (employees are free to change their 401(k) contributions whenever they wish, in accordance with the administrator’s change process)
  • HIPAA special enrollment rights (contains requirements for HIPAA subject plans)
  • COBRA qualifying event
  • Judgment, decrees, or orders
  • Entitlement to Medicare or Medicaid
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave
  • Pre-tax health savings account (HSA) contributions (employees are free to change their HSA contributions whenever they wish, in accordance with the their payroll/accounting department process)
  • Reduction of hours (new under the ACA)
  • Exchange/Marketplace enrollment (new under the ACA)

Together, the change in status events and other recognized changes are considered “permitted election change events.”

Common changes that do not constitute a permitted election change event are: a provider leaving a network (unless, based on very narrow circumstances, it resulted in a significant reduction of coverage), a legal separation (unless the separation leads to a loss of eligibility under the plan), commencement of a domestic partner relationship, or a change in financial condition.

There are some events not in the regulations that could allow an individual to make a mid-year election change, such as a mistake by the employer or employee, or needing to change elections in order to pass nondiscrimination tests. To make a change due to a mistake, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the mistake has been made. For instance, an individual might accidentally sign up for family coverage when they are single with no children, or an employer might withhold $100 dollars per pay period for a flexible spending arrangement (FSA) when the individual elected to withhold $50.

Plans are permitted to make automatic payroll election increases or decreases for insignificant amounts in the middle of the plan year, so long as automatic election language is in the plan documents. An “insignificant” amount is considered one percent or less.

Plans should consider which change in status events to allow, how to track change in status requests, and the time limit to impose on employees who wish to make an election.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Capilla D. (2017 February 07). Cafeteria plans: qualifying events and changing employee elections  [Web blog post]. http://blog.ubabenefits.com/cafeteria-plans-qualifying-events-and-changing-employee-elections


Only 1 in 3 employees actually understands how their 401(k) works

Do all of your employees understand how their 401(k) works? If not check out this article from HR Morning on the statistics of about 1 in 3 employees that do not understand their 401 (k) by Jared Bilski,

When it comes to common financial vehicles like 401(k) plans, term life insurance, Roth IRAs and 529 college savings plans, most workers could use some education on the finer points.  

In fact, according to a recent study by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of American, one-third or  less of employees said they had a solid understanding of the most common financial products.

Problem areas

Here is the specific breakdown from the Guardian Life study on the percentage of worker that said they have a solid understanding of various financial products:

  • 401(k)s and other workplace retirement plans (just 32% of workers said they had a solid understanding)
  • IRAs apart from Roth IRAs (27%)
  • Individual stocks and bonds (26%)
  • Mutual funds (25%)
  • Pensions (25%)
  • Roth IRAs (24%)
  • Term life insurance (23%)
  • Separately managed accounts (23%)
  • Disability insurance (23%)
  • 529 college savings plans (23%)
  • Whole life insurance (22%)
  • Business insurance, such as key person insurance or buy/sell agreements (20%)
  • Annuities (19%)
  • Universal life insurance (19%), and
  • Variable universal life insurance (18%).

Education vs. no education

One of the best ways to help workers garner a better understanding of their finances — and the financial products available to them — is through one-on-one education.

Consider this example:

The Principal Group compared the saving habits and financial acumen of workers who attended a one-on-one session the organization offered one year to those who didn’t.

What it found: Contribution rates for those who attended the session were 9% higher than those who didn’t. Also, 19% of the workers who received education opted to automatically bump up their retirement plan increases with pay increases, compared to just 2% of other employees.

Also, 92% of the employees who were enrolled in Principal’s education program agreed to take a number of positive financial steps, and 80% of those workers followed through on those steps.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Bilski J. (2017 January 27). Only 1 in 3 employees actually understands how their 401(k) works [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/only-1-in-3-employees-actually-understands-how-their-401k-works/


How to encourage increased investment in financial wellbeing

Is financial wellness an important part of your company culture? By promoting financial wellness among your employees’, employers can reap the benefits as well. Check out this great article from Employee Benefits Advisor about the some of the effects that promoting financial wellness can have. By Cort Olsen

Financial wellness has come to the forefront of employers’ wellbeing priorities. Looking back on previous years of participation in retirement savings programs such as 401(k)s, employers are not satisfied with participation, an Aon study shows.

As few as 15% of employers say they are satisfied with their workers’ current savings rate, according to a new report from Aon Hewitt. In response, employers are focused on increasing savings rates and will look to their advisers to help expand financial wellbeing programs.

Aon 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 wellbeing 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 wellbeing
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 wellbeing 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 January 16). How to encourage increased investment in financial wellbeing [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/how-to-encourage-increased-investment-in-financial-wellbeing?feed=00000152-1377-d1cc-a5fa-7fff0c920000


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


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


Financial wellness: Here’s what employees want, need in 2017

Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) by

Recent research into individuals’ financial resolutions for 2017 can tell you whether your financial wellness initiatives are giving employees what they want. It can also tell you whether to expect employees to increase their retirement contributions next year. 

Personal finance company LendEDU recently asked 1,001 Americans about their financial goals for 2017, as well as what their biggest concerns are. The results were published in LendEDU’s “Financial Resolution Survey & Report 2017,” which can help employers determine if their financial programs are on point.

Here are some of the more interesting Q&A’s from the research:

What’s your most important financial resolution in 2017?

  • Save more money — 52.85% of respondents selected this
  • Pay off debt — 35.56%
  • Spend less money — 11.59%

Takeaway for employers: Improving savings should be front and center in any financial wellness strategy.

What’s your top financial resolution?

  • Make and stick to a budget — 21.38%
  • Save for a large purchase like a down payment, household upgrade, or car, etc. — 19.28%
  • Pay down credit card debt — 18.88%
  • Place money aside for an emergency — 16.58%
  • Save for retirement — 13.69%
  • Pay down student loan debt — 7.29%
  • Save for college — 2.90%

Takeaway for employers: Employees need the most help creating a budget they can stick to.

What’s your top financial concern?

  • Unexpected expenses — 53.25%
  • Healthcare costs — 23.98%
  • Higher interest rates — 9.69%
  • The labor market — 7.79%
  • Stock market fluctuations — 5.29%

Takeaway for employers: Helping employees manage healthcare costs can be a key add-on to any financial education program.

Do you think you’re better off financially in 2017 than in 2016?

  • Yes — 78.32%
  • No — 21.68%

Takeaway for employers: Employees’ financial state of mind is on the upswing, which is good. But it could make increasing participation in wellness initiatives more challenging.

Do you make financial resolutions with your spouse or significant other?

  • Yes — 84.83%
  • No — 15.17%

Takeaway for employers: When it comes to finances, very few people go it alone, so invite spouses to be a part of your wellness offerings.

What would make you stick to a financial resolution?

  • Having a reward for reaching the goal — 37.56%
  • Segmenting a longer term goal into smaller bit sized pieces — 20.08%
  • Technology that helps you save money or monitor goals in real-time — 19.38%
  • The encouragement of family and friends — 13.99%
  • Having a consequence for not reaching the goal — 8.99%

Takeaway for employers: Incremental rewards and incentives, can help drive participation and success in 2017 financial wellness initiatives.

Do you think you’ll increase your retirement savings contributions this year?

  • Yes — 63.24%
  • No — 36.76%

Takeaway for employers: This could be a good year to really push employees to bump up retirement plan contributions.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Author (Date). Title [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.hrmorning.com/financial-wellness-heres-what-employees-want-need-in-2017/


9 reasons why retirement may go extinct

Worried about your future retirement? Check out this great read by Marlene Satter

Retirement as we know it may be set to disappear, as younger people look for ways to finance surviving into old age.

But extinction? Surely not.

However, according to the Merrill Edge Report 2016, that might just be in the offing, as workers change how they plan and save for retirement and how they intend to pay for it.

Millennials in particular represent a shift in attitude that includes very unretirement-like plans, although GenXers too are struggling with ways to pay their way through their golden years.

That’s tough, considering that most Americans neither know nor correctly estimate how much money they might need to keep the wolf from the door during retirement—or even to retire at all.

Here’s a look at 9 reasons why retirement as we know it today might be a terminal case—unless things change drastically, and soon.

9. Ignorance.

Most Americans have no idea how much they might need to retire, which leaves them behind the eight ball when trying to figure out when or whether they can afford to do so.

Of course, it’s hardly surprising, considering how many are members of the “sandwich generation,” who find themselves caring for elderly parents while at the same time raising kids, or even trying to put those kids through college.

With soaring medical costs on one end and soaring student debt on the other, not to mention parents supporting adult children who have come home to roost, it’s hard to figure out how much they’ll need to meet all their obligations, much less try to save some of an already-stretched income to cover retirement savings as well.

8. Poor calculations.

We already know most workers don’t know how much they’ll need in retirement—but it’s not just a matter of ignorance. They don’t know how to figure it out, either.

More than half—56 percent—figure they’ll be able to get by during retirement on a million dollars or less, while 9 percent overall think up to $100,000 will see them through.

And 19 percent just flat-out say they don’t know how much they’ll need.

Considering that health care costs alone can cost them a quarter of a mil during retirement, the optimists who think they can get by on $100,000 or less and even those who figure $100,000–$500,000 will do the job are way too optimistic—particularly since saving for medical costs isn’t one of their top priorities.

7. Despair.

It’s pretty hard to get motivated about something if you think it’s not achievable—and that discourages a lot of people from saving for retirement.

Those who have a “magic number” that they think will see them through retirement aren’t all that optimistic about being able to achieve that level of savings, with 40 percent of nonretired workers saying that reaching their magic number by retirement will either be “difficult” or “virtually unattainable.”

 

6. Luck.

When you don’t believe you can do it on your own, what else is left? Sheer dumb luck, to quote Professor Minerva McGonagall at Hogwarts after Harry and Ron defeated the troll.

Only instead of magic wands, 17 percent of would-be retirees are sadly (and amazingly) counting on winning the lottery to get them to their goal.

 

5. The gig economy.

Retirement? What retirement? Millennials in particular think they’ll need side jobs in the gig economy to keep them from the cat food brigade.

In addition, exactly half of younger millennials aged 18–24 believe they need to take on a side job to reach their retirement goals, compared with only 25 percent of all respondents. They don’t believe that just one job will cut it any more.

 

4. Attitude adjustment.

While 83 percent of current retirees are not currently working or never have during their golden years, the majority (83 percent) of millennials plan to work in retirement—whether for income, to keep busy or to pursue a passion.

The rise of the “gig economy” has created an environment where temporary positions and short-term projects are more prevalent and employee benefits such as retirement plans are less certain. This may be why more millennials (15 percent) are likely to rank an employer’s retirement plan as the most important factor when taking a new job compared with GenXers (5 percent) and baby boomers (5 percent).

Older generations had unions to negotiate benefits for them. Millennials might realize they have to do it all themselves, but they aren’t negotiating for salaries high enough to allow them to save.

And union benefits or not, 64 percent of boomers, 79 percent of Gen Xers and even 17 percent of currently retired workers plan to work in retirement.

 

3. A failure to communicate.

Lack of communications is probably not surprising, since most people won’t talk about savings anyway.

Fifty-four percent of respondents say that the only person they feel comfortable discussing their current retirement savings with is their spouse or partner. Only 36 percent would discuss the subject with family, and only 22 percent would talk with friends about it.

And as for coworkers? Just 6 percent would talk about retirement savings with colleagues—although more communication on the topic no doubt could provide quite an education on both sides of the discussion.

 

2. Misplaced confidence.

They won’t talk about it, but they think they do better than others at saving for retirement. How might that be, when they don’t know what others are doing about retirement?

Forty-three percent of workers say they are better at saving than their friends, while 28 percent believe they’re doing better at it than coworkers; 27 percent think they’re doing better than their spouse or partner, 27 percent say they’re doing better than their parents and 24 percent say they’re beating out their siblings.

All without talking about it.

 

1. DIY.

They’re struggling to figure out how much they need, many won’t talk about retirement savings even with those closest to them and they’re anticipating working into retirement—but millennials in particular are taking a more hands-on approach to their investments.

Doing it oneself could actually be a good thing, since it could mean the 70 percent of millennials, 72 percent of GenXers and 57 percent of boomers who are taking the reins into their own hands better understand what they’re investing in and how they need to structure their portfolios.

However, doing it oneself without sufficient understanding—and millennials in particular are also most likely to describe their investment personality as “DIY,” with 32 percent making their own rules when it comes to investments, compared to 19 percent of all respondents—can be a problem.

After all, as the saying goes, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2016 December 7). 9 reasons why retirement may go extinct[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2016/12/07/9-reasons-why-retirement-may-go-extinct?ref=mostpopular&page_all=1


5 employee benefits trends for 2017

Interesting article about emerging trends in employee benefits for 2017 by Marlene Satter

As the old year ticks down toward a new year filled with a drastic change in Washington that will no doubt have plenty of ripple effects throughout the country, the employee benefits sector will also be in for plenty of changes.

Based on its 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study and other industry indicators, MetLife has prognosticated five trends it believes will be key in 2017.

There are no silver bullets and the health system as structured today cannot pivot effectively. But there are some strategies…

Employers might be surprised by some, and are probably already wrestling with others—but here’s what to watch for in the year to come.

5. Customization.

If there’s one thing that’s clear in benefits, it’s that everybody is not happy with the same cookie-cutter benefit package.

And as the job market improves and employers have to work harder to attract and retain top talent, one way to do that is to provide benefits that satisfy needs that might be a little out of the ordinary. Employers that can satisfy their employees’ diverse needs, the study found, “will emerge clear winners in the talent war.”

What’s more, employees are becoming more focused on specific benefits.

The study revealed that 28 percent of all generations agree that critical illness insurance is a must-have, but it doesn’t stop there—different generations want different things. For instance, about 14 percent of millennial employees consider pet insurance a must-have benefit.

And don’t forget about benefits communications. No rubber-stamp information wanted here—employees want communications about their benefits customized to them.

4. Enrollment.

Here’s an area where employees are not happy—so change will have to come if the situation is to improve.

The study found that only about a third of employees say that their company’s benefit communications are easy to understand—and that leads many to assume they don’t need many of the benefits they’re offered. That’s definitely not a good situation.

The good news: 71 percent of employers say that by working with an enrollment firm they were able to improve communication, including explaining and clarifying nonmedical benefits.

For employers to stay ahead of the curve, they’ll have to join the movement to better educate their employees on enrollment.

3. Financial stress.

The biggest single source of stress for employees is financial stress, which weighs not only on employees but on employers’ bottom lines as well. And that situation screams to be addressed.

While financial wellness programs help employees to better manage their personal finance situations, cutting stress as a result, employers so far haven’t jumped on the bandwagon.

In fact, some of the few who offered them have quit doing so, with just 31 percent of employers having provided financial wellness programs this year. That’s down from 39 percent last year, according to the study.

If employers wise up and provide help with financial wellness, employees will sleep better at night and work better during the day. And so will their employers.

2. Data security.

Whether it’s hackers or phishers, more threats to data security arise every day—not just for consumers but for companies and their employees.

Losses from hacked, hijacked or ransomed data can drive a company out of business, but employers also have to be as protective of their employees’ data as they are of their customers’.

One way to do that, the study pointed out, is to shore up the digital support chain by moving to a single benefits carrier; that can help to limit the exposure of employee data.

With the average cost of a large-scale data breach sitting at approximately $4 million, according to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, it’s a smart investment.

1. Legal services.

If you’re looking for a new lure to attract top talent, this could be your ticket. MetLife has characterized legal services as the “best-kept secret of benefits.” SHRM adds that it has doubled in popularity over the past 10 years.

At some point, the study pointed out, just about everyone is going to have to deal with a legal issue. Major life events, such as buying a home, getting married, having a baby or caring for an aging parent, all have important legal implications.

According to MetLife insights, “For about $20 a month, a legal plan can help,” adding that the benefit is of particular importance to millennials. Of adults that are offered a legal plan through work, a Harris poll found that nearly 70 percent of those aged 21–34 are enrolled.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2016 December 7). 5 employee benefits trends for 2017[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2016/12/07/5-employee-benefits-trends-for-2017?page_all=1