Superannuation is one of the most valuable products working Australians own. Yet it’s one of the products they care least about.
Forcing people to buy a product when the value can’t be unlocked for many years is not a good starting point for engagement. Attempting to persuade members to save more super by using broad-based one-size-fits-all targets has failed.
But research suggests that when members are able to see their future selves in vivid and realistic detail, they are more willing to make choices today that may benefit them in the future. Super funds can play a role in connecting the two.
In this article, Milliman’s Jeff Gebler says that the super industry’s dominant comfortable retirement savings target is not indicative of who its members are or who they will become. He says that funds can help members see themselves in meaningful, positive terms, thus sparking genuine engagement and better long-term decisions.
While employers may want to provide better options to their employees, the fiduciary, financial, and administrative hurdles are steep. Retirees will have to pick from a small list of solutions until new alternatives are developed. This article by Milliman’s Kari Jakobe summarizes some of the existing approaches commonly used by retirees to convert their retirement distributions into a lifetime of retirement income.
Twelve employers based in the Pacific Northwest were recognized with the Save 10 award during the 45th annual Milliman Employee Benefits Conference held in Seattle on April 6. The Save 10 award honors their work helping their employees save for retirement.
The Save 10 initiative is a movement to reinforce a “Save 10” rule of thumb, recognizing employers who help their employees to save at least 10% of their income toward retirement. Why Save 10? According to Francis Creighton, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs of Financial Services Roundtable, which sponsors the initiative, 10% is easy to remember and reflects the old adage of saving at least 10% of your income for retirement. While this may not be the ideal contribution rate for everyone, getting employees to save for retirement, and providing employers the tools to allow their employees to do so, remains fundamental.
The Save 10 initiative emphasizes the effectiveness of auto features in retirement plans, such as auto enrollment and auto escalation. Research shows that auto features encourage employees to save, even though they may not remember to sign up and start saving from their hire date. The rate of success in saving increases even more for employees with auto escalation of contribution rates.
Milliman is proud to work with companies that want to provide the best benefits for their employees. Milliman works closely with employers to help provide best-in-class retirement plans for their employees that reflect the philosophy and unique identity of each organization.
Employers honored at the April 6 event were: Expeditors International of Washington, Inc., ICOM America, Inc., McKinstry Co., M Financial Group, Nelson Irrigation Corporation, Olympia Federal Savings, PACCAR Inc., Swanson Group, Inc., Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc., Valley Medical Center, Washington Permanente Medical Group, and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects, LLP.
Milliman announced today that we have added the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82 DC Plan as a defined contribution client. The plan covers collectively bargained members in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota with approximately 2,300 participants and $155 million in plan assets.
Milliman is providing recordkeeping, consulting, and communication services for the District Council 82 defined contribution plan.
We are thrilled that the Trustees of the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82 DC Plan chose to hire Milliman. The Trustees decided to merge two different plans together and it was necessary they had a solid solution in place for their members. The Trustees were confident in our reputation for client service and the solution and approach we discussed resonated with them.
As Australia’s Baby Boomer generation continues to retire, the country’s superannuation system enters a drawdown stage. While super funds have focused on accumulation, new legislation will make it clear that their purpose is to provide retirees with income. Under that premise, Milliman’s Jeff Gebler explains why a new retirement consultant “with a new skill-set focused on the implications of drawdown” is needed.
The following excerpt highlights the necessary skill-set.
The modern retirement consultant will need to add and co-ordinate a broad mix of skills to meet the increasingly complex needs of the superannuation industry, including:
Funds have an increasing need for actuarial skills which can help them model member behaviour, changes in legislation and the impact of the Age Pension, risk management strategies, and post-retirement product design.
The business world is now awash with information thanks to advances in technology and affordability. The data scientist can analyse and turn this ‘big data’ into practical insights in areas such as membership, investments and risk.
Funds and asset consultants have tended to focus on long-term returns generated during the accumulation phase. However, changing demographics and legislation suggest funds should increasingly focus on the risks of drawdown such as volatility and potential capital losses. With this comes an expanding list of relevant asset classes, many of which (such as derivatives) are traditionally beyond the expertise or depth of existing asset consultants.
Behavioural finance and communications
Funds need to design their products and services taking into account the behavioural tendencies of older investors. For example, financial literacy scores naturally decline by about one percentage point each year after age 60 while older investors are more prone to ‘loss aversion’ than younger investors.
Older investors are highly engaged with their super, including through digital channels. Automated-advice provider Decimal recently released research showing that older investors were the most active users of its enterprise financial advice service.
Donald Rumsfield, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense, once discussed “known unknowns,” referring to things that we are aware we don’t know. The idea can be applied to retirement plan participants as well. It is evident year after year that plan participants still lack a fundamental understanding of certain aspects of retirement planning, such as how to invest, how much to invest, and how to create a plan for retirement. These aspects remain widely misunderstood.
Enter the It’s Your Move dashboard on Milliman’s newly reimagined website. This dashboard aims to make participants aware of the tools at their disposal that can help them plan for retirement. The dashboard falls in line with other initiatives in the industry, all aimed toward improving employees’ preparations for retirement. I’ve previously discussed how the working population in the United States is massively unprepared for retirement and suggested that “gamification” was a possible solution. The SaveUp app was cited as an example of the effectiveness that gamification can have on retirement planning.
Now there is another newsmaker with a similar name—the Secure, Accessible, Valuable, Efficient Universal Pension Accounts (SAVE UPs) Act—grabbing a few headlines. SAVE UPs is a new piece of legislation that was introduced by Representative Joe Crowley (D-New York). The main objective is to provide all American workers with the opportunity to generate tax-advantaged assets. The legislation intends to help smaller employers subsidize the cost of contributing to IRAs in the form of a tax credit for the value of the contributions to 10 employee accounts. This bill, if enacted, could be following down a very controversial path similar to that of, I shudder to say, healthcare.gov. Since the full name of this new legislation threatens to exceed the character limit of any tweet commenting on it, I figured it would be easier to discuss on this platform since the overall objective appears to be to help provide opportunities for more people to prepare for retirement. The new Milliman Benefits dashboard was created with the same goals in mind and has a significantly lower chance of becoming part of the script for the next season of House of Cards.
The new It’s Your Move dashboard was designed to make participants aware of the various successful behaviors that will optimize their experience. With tools that help participants maximize company matches, diversify their investments, and utilize automatic increase and rebalance features, it could help to set new standards for best practices and increase participation rate in the plans that we manage.
Participant feedback has shown that a knowledge gap still exists in regards to retirement planning and investment decisions. A survey in March showed that 71% of participants were very likely or somewhat likely to seek advice from their plan providers and 69% were likely to seek advice from an independent advisor or financial services company. The advice they were seeking is on how to invest their money, what to do with their savings when they leave their employers, and what to do with the money when they retire. This shows that a majority of participants would like assistance in their retirement planning. The It’s Your Move dashboard helps to do just that. This readily accessible checklist of retirement behaviors is making participants aware of the tools available to them in an effort to improve their retirement outcomes. It can help employees feel more confident about retirement and offer some encouragement and useful information along the way.