Not-for-Profit Plan Sponsor Strategies to Meet Challenges

More effective and targeted communications can help, a study by TIAA finds. 

By Javier Simon | April 19, 2017
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More than half, or 59%, of not-for-profit plan sponsors are concerned that their participants will run out of money in retirement, and 69% worry employees will delay retirement because they don’t have enough money, according to a survey by TIAA.

However, the research also points to various strategies sponsors can adopt to address these concerns, including taking advantage of in-plan lifetime income solutions.

According to the survey, 54% of not-for-profit plan sponsors offer a guaranteed lifetime income option as part of their investment menu, while 46% don’t. Out of those that don’t offer one, 21% say fees behind these products are too high, and 34% say their employees can access such products outside the plan.

David Ray, senior managing director at TIAA, tells PLANSPONSOR, “There are more and less successful ways to offer lifetime income. Relying on participants to wait until they retire to get a lifetime income product is probably one of the least successful ways of doing it. Behavioral economics shows most employees won’t do it on their own.”

Furthermore, TIAA’s survey suggests that lifetime income products offered through workplace retirement plans can offer more valuable benefits at lower fees, at least in most cases. Ray points to a variety of potential benefits an in-plan lifetime income solution can provide to participants as they save for retirement. “In the accumulation years, the lifetime income concept, knowing you’ll always have some base level of income, significantly improves the confidence and commitment of participants.”

He also notes workers can have some piece of mind as they move through changing interest rate environments in the bond market. “A lifetime income product like a fixed annuity is a product that will insulate you, to a certain extent, from interest rate influx.”

Still, Ray says that the potential benefits of guaranteed income products need to be communicated more effectively to participants.

“Simplifying the message is important and it’s critical to use different methods to communicate the value of lifetime income products,” he explains. “There is a high percentage of employees in target-date funds (TDFs) that believes TDFs offer lifetime income, when in fact almost none of them do. So, education is critical to increasing adoption and understanding of these products.”

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