Tag Archives: Weekly poll

Poll: Lump-sum sweeps

Last week, the New York Times (NYT) and Sears Holdings offered pensioners the option of a one-time lump-sum pension settlement. The NYT and Sears are the most recent companies aiming to settle pension obligations through lump-sum sweeps—GM provided a similar settlement to 42,000 retirees in June.

With lump-sum settlements being a hot topic in the world of employee benefits these days, we ask:

Inflation nation

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) recently came out with the 2011 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey (see the full report). It is the sixth biennial study on post-retirement risks and how they are managed.  The next few weeks’ polls are part of our series highlighting some of the same concerns brought up in the SOA survey results. Afterwards, we’ll compare your answers, to those of the general public. To start things off we’re wondering how our readers foresee inflation affecting their retirement plans.

The power of personal touch

Cannaday-JulieIn our age of technology ruled by Facebook and tweets, personal connections have become rare … but maybe even more important. Picture Anne Kendrick’s character, Natalie, from the movie Up in the Air. She has the “brilliant” idea of firing people online, with the ultimate goal of reducing cost. The takeaway from this lesson is that technology is not always the best way to handle situations and communicate. A human being with feelings might relate more to the movie’s central character, Ryan (played by George Clooney), who takes the time to travel to far-flung places to meet with people and deliver the news.

Though Ryan was delivering bad news, the principle applies to many situations. For example, helping people avoid bad news by preparing for their financial future. Personal interactions with participants about their retirement plans create a more powerful connection than could ever be achieved through technology. Clues from body language, along with audience participation (or lack thereof), allows the presenter to alter the presentation immediately to keep the participant engaged. Creating a need (money for retirement), providing a means (employer retirement plan), and offering immediate solutions (one-on-one assistance) give employees the ability to walk away with a sense of accomplishment immediately.

Face-to-face interaction is a critical component of your communication campaign and can be just the nudge people need to take action. Recently we had a client with a 9% participation rate. The client had a deep concern for its employees’ retirement readiness, and wanted to increase participation. After a week of meetings, including 24 group employee meetings (mandatory) and one-on-one appointments (optional), plan participation increased to 40%! Mission accomplished.

So, continue your tweets and emails, but just remember that, for many people, talking about hopes, dreams, and their financial future is deeply personal—something that deserves a personal touch!

How long is Social Security’s half-life?

The Social Security Administration recently released a study noting that the majority of Americans age 65 and over get more than half of their income from Social Security. That’s all well and good for today’s retirees, but how will this play out when today’s workers reach 65?

Putting the plus in 50-plus

At the age of 50 workers are given a chance to stow a little more money away in their 401(k) plans. The current 401(k) contribution limit for workers who are 50 and over is $22,500. That’s $5,500 more than the younger workers’ contributions limit this year.

Considering that a 2011 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of 50- to 64-year-olds were moderately or very worried about not having enough money for retirement, we’re wondering if these fears lead to bigger contributions from the 50 and over crowd.

Skipping town

Census Bureau data shows that just 3% of people age 65 and older relocated between 2010 and 2011. This is partially just the economy.  Demographers say we’re at the lowest level of migration in the United States since World War II. Today’s retirees are facing a host of problems, including record-low interest rates battering portfolios, that may be thwarting their plans to make a move.

Still, retirement, for many, has been synonymous with moving to sunnier climes and downsizing from a big empty nest. Getting out of the nest isn’t as easy as it used to be, though. A recent study from the University of Michigan’s Retirement Research Center on how the recession is affecting those nearing retirement cites a 23% decline in net housing wealth as another major problem. With all of this going on we’re wondering how your retirement plans are being affected.