(b)Mused: Speaking Engagement

July 15, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR (b)lines) - One thing that struck me in a panel discussion at last month’s PLANSPONSOR National Conference is a panelist’s contention that if a plan sponsor designs a product (i.e. decides what it needs to do to meet the best interest of participants), it will be done.

Steve Smith, VP, Sales & Corporate Plans Market Leader, Diversified Investment Advisors, was speaking about retirement income products – and presumably from his perspective as a plan provider.  Jason Chepenik, Managing Partner, Chepenik Financial, added that some recordkeepers are apprehensive to offer a suite of retirement income products because they are waiting for demand from plan sponsors (who, the panelists were willing to acknowledge, are waiting for demand form plan participants.  

I wonder if plan sponsors realize what a powerful voice they have with their providers. I think more so than plan sponsors with providers, plan participants are timid about asking employers for what they want.  However, there is data out there that could clue employers in.  

We’ve covered studies that indicate participants are interested in and would use retirement income products if offered by their employers (see Sponsors and Employees Diverge on Post-Retirement Roles). And, a survey covered this week showed 80% of respondents want education and advice on saving and investing for retirement at their workplace (see Americans Have a New Idea of Retirement).  

If not surveying their own employees, sponsors (and their advisers) should look to the knowledge available to engage with their providers and speak up for their employees.