Hindsight is Always 20/20

April 22, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR (b)lines) - In 1989 I didn’t know anything about retirement plans. I was hired that fall, straight out of graduate school, as a part-time math instructor at Old Dominion University in Virginia.  No one ever mentioned benefits to me, and I didn’t ask.

Twenty-two years later (wow, really?), after years of retirement plan industry experience, I realize I should have asked.  However, in 1989, being part-time, if Old Dominion offered a 403(b) plan, it’s possible I still wouldn’t have qualified to participate, as universal availability was not rigorously applied and the exclusion for employees who “normally worked less than 20 hours per week” was undefined.  Today, following the new 403(b) regulations, if I was still a part-time instructor, I would be eligible.  I’m a little jealous of what today’s workers have.  I sure could use another retirement savings pot.  

I wonder now how many young, new part-time instructors realize how fortunate they are. I’m sure they don’t know about retirement plans, just as I didn’t, and if they’re young, they may not even be thinking about saving for retirement. But, someone should tell them.  Not just about how important saving for retirement is, especially when they’re young, but how fortunate they are that the option is now available, because it wasn’t always.  

How personal is your retirement education? Do you just tell participants about your plan, or do you explain to them how new regulations have opened doors for them that they didn’t have before?  

Many say that the new regulations are an opportunity for plan sponsors to offer a better benefit for participants, but are you relaying to participants how important that is?

Rebecca Moore