1Q2018 | Ages 50 – 65
The Value of Human Touch
Early in our working careers, the goal for most was to start saving, and then stay invested, to meet our dream of providing ourselves and our families with a meaningful experience during our “retirement years.” At the outset of this journey, the steps are simple enough: enroll in the employer’s retirement plan to receive those benefits (or save on our own if a retirement plan is not available), increase contributions/savings over time and continue to monitor the growth in our account(s). We were told to stay on this path and good results would happen down the road.
However, as we all age, our life experiences become more and more individualized. Some marry earlier or later than others, a divorce can happen, and then remarriage for some. In addition, it has been several decades since a lifetime of employment with one company was the norm, so changing jobs is now a regular occurrence that may ffect our level of retirement savings. Our children also become more independent at different stages. Sometimes our children with their own little ones need to move back in with us, or need financial assistance for various other reasons.
Also, innovations in health care and wellness have made great strides to improve our lives; however, not everyone benefits from this universally. There may be some unique health challenges for individuals that require, over time, a larger and larger financial commitment. Moreover, longer life expectancies bring the “double-edge sword” issue into focus – in that while living longer is a wonderful advancement, there are the additional costs (both health and non-health related) associated with longevity. In addition our parents, many times with their own health challenges, need various levels of our emotional, physical and possibly financial support.
In short, these real-life experiences have shaped each of us and may affect our own retirement goals and objectives in widely varying degrees. Expectations of what a person’s retirement years will look like may or may not have changed from the time they first set out on this path for retirement savings many years ago.
So how does someone monitor if they are going to end up being anywhere near their retirement target? Well, there are the traditional quarterly account statements that retirement plan participants receive in hard copy, and for many that has been replaced with electronic versions or by pulling up the information on an application. According to a Pew Research Center survey, about 77 percent of U.S. adults now own a smartphone. That figure has increased from 35% in 2011, making the smartphone one of the most quickly adopted consumer technologies in history.
Those smartphone statistics are impressive and many retirement plan participants regularly do monitor their accounts through this means. However, the statistics do also highlight that not everyone owns a smartphone. In addition, there are ongoing questions and concerns with the security of these devices. For example, many aren’t comfortable pulling up information about, or making changes to, their lifetime of retirement savings at a Starbucks.
More importantly, technology can only do so much for us as we try to determine what all the available data and information means to “my” (not the statistical average’s) situation which may reflect many of the variables described above (i.e. life events, health, employment history, etc.).
What most people want and need is guidance to help them understand how close they are to meeting individualized goals for their retirement years. So, where can someone get help that isn’t dependent on the strength of a WiFi signal? What can help personalize all the data and information available related to their hard-earned savings? Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite musicians and I think his following lyrics sums it up best – “I just want someone to talk to and a little of that human touch.”
A financial advisor can best help you by evaluating and analyzing your retirement savings account information, and take into consideration your own unique experiences and expectations, so that you can become more comfortable and confident that you are on (or can get to) the right track to meet your vision for your retirement years.
Scott Liggett, JD
Director of ERISA Oversight
Source: 1. www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/28/10-facts-about-smartphones/
Advisory services offered through Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC. (“PCIA”), a Registered Investment Adviser. PCIA: 6201 College Blvd., 7th Floor, Overland Park, KS 66211. PCIA doing business as Qualified Plan Advisors (“QPA”).
This commentary is provided for information purposes only and does not pertain to any security product or service and is not an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any product or service.