As retirement professionals, we work with a wide variety of successful business owners and executives to help them design and implement a retirement plan that fits their circumstances and needs. While the need for a retirement plan is pervasive across most industries, the employer’s understanding of how to drive a successful outcome for plan participants is surprisingly scarce. Our years of experience have shown that one of the most important factors in achieving a successful retirement plan outcome is employer engagement with the plan.
This should be no big surprise when considered rationally. The employer makes the decision to establish the plan, becoming the settlor of the trust. From that point forward, the employer is responsible, at some level, for the plan’s design, implementation, and ongoing operations. While the employer can – and should – engage professional assistance, there is no avoiding responsibility. Without the employer, the plan wouldn’t exist; without the employer, the plan cannot reach successful outcomes.
If we accept ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose’ as the definition of success, then successful retirement plan outcomes are the systematic ability of employees to achieve their retirement goals within the framework provided by the employer’s plan. Restated in simpler terms, does the employer’s plan provide employees with a fighting chance at meeting their retirement goals? Could the average employee, if they worked their entire career with the same employer, reasonably expect to be able to retire at the plan’s defined normal retirement age? Granted, the employee must play a part in this process, but as Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Engaging the employee is just one more instance in which the employer’s energy and persistence can be applied to encourage successful plan outcomes.
Over the past 10 years, the codex of rules and regulations governing retirement plans has expanded to assist employers in their efforts to engage employees. While employers may continue to deploy plan designs that encourage employee participation, employers may now also utilize auto-enrollment features, which tend to significantly increase the likelihood of employee participation. An engaged employer will review their plan design on a regular basis to ensure the design is compatible with its goals for successful outcomes.
Plan design is just one example of the necessity of employer engagement to help employees achieve a successful retirement outcome. Consider also the deployment of investments, financial wellness tools, investment education, etc. With so much responsibility resting on the employer’s shoulders, finding the right professional partners is critical. The right partners will augment rather than confine the employer’s energy and persistence, bringing vital tools and knowledge to bear on the employer’s unique demographics and goals.
Alliance Benefit Group-Rocky Mountain (ABGRM) is exceptionally positioned to amplify the employer’s efforts toward achieving successful retirement plan outcomes. While capable of providing an expansive array of services, ABGRM is completely independent of advisory, custodial, and investment relationships. This allows us to work for the employer without conflict. Let us bring our more than 35 years of experience and knowledge to bear on your plan. We will help you customize a comprehensive solution that magnifies employer engagement to drive successful retirement outcomes.
-Chris Mautz, CPC, AIF®, QPA, QKA
Alliance Benefit Group-Rocky Mountain