It's always a good idea to do an annual review of your current employee educational offering to make sure it is relevant, timely, and topics are adequately addressed. This is typically done during your annual plan review with your plan’s relationship manager and plan advisor but can also be done as part of a separate planning meeting.
Here are some potentially meaningful areas to review to help ensure you have the right stuff:
Roth contributions. Many industry reports predict more usage of Roth contributions by employees in the near future. Do your employees understand the difference between Roth and Traditional contributions, particularly regarding tax implications and distributions during retirement?
Catch-up contributions. Do your employees age 50+ understand how these work and the current year’s IRS limit?
Online resources. Do you offer a broad range of resources and tools for self-learning? Financial calculators, retirement projections, and educational videos can all be extremely useful for employees.
Social Security benefits. Employees should have a thorough understanding of their normal retirement age, how much to expect Social Security to replace in terms of their pre-retirement working income, and trade-offs between taking benefits early versus later. In addition, congressional actions will occur to address the future funding of Social Security over the next few years. Consider having a formal communication vehicle in place to communicate these developments.
Investment education. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important for employees to understand their options, including different asset classes, how to gauge their risk tolerance, and the concepts of diversification and maintaining a long-term outlook. Additionally, do you offer different options to help employees who are intimidated by investing, such as target date funds, pre-mixed risk-based portfolios and a managed account option?
The importance of saving. Make sure you are covering and continually reinforcing the most fundamental retirement saving concepts: starting early, gradually increasing contributions over time, striving to save 15% of pay and understanding the impact of compound earnings.
Preparing employees age 55+ for retirement. Do you have adequate materials that cover their distribution options, tax consequences and the importance of seeking help from a trusted advisor?
When it comes to the educational tools and resources you offer to your employees, it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” Consider regular, ongoing communications to your employees reminding them of what’s available and how to access it. You could do a “monthly feature” on a particular topic, such as Social Security, and point employees to online educational resources to learn more. Fun email campaigns could also be considered, along with featured topic awareness posters or flyers in the breakroom or other work areas.
It’s important to not assume all employees want to receive information and education the same way. Make sure to consider the following educational channels and work with your plan advisor to determine how effective they are:
This can easily be done via employee surveys, where you can obtain feedback on each communication channel. In addition, you can use the survey as an opportunity to find out what current topics are particularly helpful, as well as future topics for consideration. Partnering with the right service providers is key.
Many plan advisors offer services that go beyond general education, allowing your employees to receive more tailored and personalized guidance. If you have any questions about how to implement these services with your employees, please reach out to your Pensionmark advisors or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pensionmark Financial Group, LLC (“Pensionmark”) is an investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Pensionmark is affiliated through common ownership with Pensionmark Securities, LLC (member SIPC).