Practice Management

The Wisdom of Youth

By Tom Foster

It appears that worries about being able to comfortably retire run inversely to age.

That is to say, the younger the worker, the more likely he or she is to be concerned about having enough money to afford a comfortable retirement, according to the 2016 Insurance Barometer Study as reported by LIMRA1. Those most worried were Millennials (78 percent) and Generation X (76 percent), followed by Boomers (58 percent) and the Depression Era generation (39 percent).

The data indicates that today’s younger workers are wise beyond their years, focusing on retirement as their No. 1 financial concern. Too bad more Boomers are not as concerned as many are woefully unprepared to stop working. But that is a story for another day.

Financial advisors who support retirement savings plans have an enormous opportunity to connect with younger clients by helping educate them about saving and investing.  Advisors also have an opportunity to make a big difference in younger workers’ retirement readiness as time is on their side.

While younger employees know they’ve got work to do to reach retirement, their employers want advisors to help them get there. Nearly one in two (47 percent) plan sponsors want their advisor to conduct retirement planning sessions for employees twice a year or more, according to MassMutual’s 2016 Winning Combination Study2. Furthermore, the study showed that sponsors who relied on an advisor wanted specific activities and actions:

  • 80 percent wanted advisors to explain the available retirement benefits and options;

  • 73 percent preferred educating employees on the importance of saving for retirement;

  • 66 percent favored personalized advice for employees to determine if they are on track for retirement; and

  • 53 percent wanted a special program for pre-retirees or employees who are approaching retirement.

Advisors certainly have their work cut out for them. Fortunately, help may be available from retirement plan recordkeepers. Educating workers about the necessities and benefits of saving for retirement takes a multipronged approach that connects with them however they most prefer.

For many people, that means personal outreach. While you want to be busy conducting educational sessions and making connections with a pool of new prospects, your efforts should be reinforced by your recordkeeper’s local educational specialist. Your specialist can conduct group meetings with participants, meet with them one-on-one, facilitate plan enrollments and answer questions. The specialist should coordinate with you – the plan’s advisor – and be on the same page.

The personal touch should be available when you or the education specialist is not on site. Participants need access to a call center with professionals who are well-versed in retirement savings and investment strategies and who can reinforce positive behaviors. Call center specialists should also be highly trained to lend a guiding hand when needed.

Your recordkeeper should be able to quantify and measure participant behavioral changes (increased savings rates, improved investment decisions, consolidation of assets from multiple plans) that result because of an interaction with an education specialist or call center rep.  The data should prove that the recordkeeper is successfully promoting and enabling retirement readiness, and support your efforts.

Of course, it’s no secret that many of today’s younger workers prefer digital interaction. You merely have to walk along the hallway or stroll down the street to see Millennials and even Xers with their eyeballs glued to their smartphone, tablet or even laptop. You may have even dodged a few who forgot to look up as you tried to pass.

That means your recordkeeper should provide participants with access to an easily navigable website with the latest tools and educational materials.  The rise of robo advisors means many workers want effective, easy-to-use tools to help them prepare for retirement and determine their relative retirement readiness. The best tools now allow participants to translate their retirement savings into a monthly income to better assess where they stand and where they can expect to land with their current strategy. The information should be available through a mobile app as well. You know, for those who can’t pull their eyes away from their smartphone.

If workers are in danger of not reaching their goals, then direction and guidance should be available online. The best bots provide participants with insights about helping to reach their retirement goals by altering their savings rates and asset allocations.

Whether measuring assets or income, how do participants know if they are on the path of retirement readiness? They need an effective benchmark to measure their progress: are they on target to retire with at least 75 percent of their pre-retirement income at age 67?

Working with a recordkeeper that can deliver this level of support, combined with your own outreach and educational abilities, may help make a big difference in workers’ readiness to retire on their own terms. It might even prompt Millennials and Xers to start worrying about something else, like what are they going to do with all that extra time in retirement?


More from MassMutual

The Well-Adjusted Retiree

Resources Matter, Especially for Education




Thomas Foster Jr. is Assistant Vice President, Strategic Relationships, for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual).


12016 Insurance Barometer Study, LIMRA,

22016 Winning Combination study,