2015 RPAY – L. Rita Fiumara

PA: What is your mission statement?

L. Rita Fiumara: My mission statement is to create awareness for both plan sponsors and their employees about the importance of retirement and health care savings programs in order to create a consolidated report that is intuitive for plan participants to use to discern and budget their monthly living expenses, all while planning for retirement. To do the latter, participants can project outcomes via questions that address:

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  • At what age can I afford to retire?
  • How much income will I need, and how much can I conservatively withdraw each month?
  • What will be my health cost premiums when Medicare sets in at age 65, and what Medicare gaps—Part B and Part D—do I need to plan for?
  • At what age do I qualify for early retirement, and when does it make sense to start my Social Security benefit?
  • What should my investment allocation look like based on my individual risk tolerance and time horizon?
  • How will my beneficiary/spousal benefits affect decisions pertaining to continuing or signing up for health care benefits, as well as overall retirement savings and distribution options? 

PA: What have you done in the past year to improve retirement readiness?

LRF: I have collaborated with my clients’ recordkeepers in tracking participant quarterly plan activity reports. The objective is to assist plan sponsors in establishing success measures by identifying retirement income readiness ratios for different groups of employees, then working toward improving their probability of success. The employer retirement report cards should include the portfolio allocation broken out by various age bands, the current savings strategies as seen by average contribution rates, current salaries, and overall asset allocation for each group of employees. 

Employing the utilization of income-gap calculators is a big component of my education efforts to both participants and plan sponsors. Projecting monthly income at different life and career stages can assist participants in prioritizing their monthly spending habits. Retirement readiness should account for health care expenses, long-term care and disability insurance.

PA: Please describe any special education or communication initiatives you have undertaken with plan sponsors or participants.

LRF: My initiatives for each plan year begin with reviewing the challenges of each client given their industry, financial budget limitations, employee turnover, hiring of new talent and overall constraints that clients need to adopt in applying any of their benefit decisions. Setting long-term and short-term goals is imperative to determine what is working and what is not working within the framework of a client’s current benefit program. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of current plan provisions should allow for better strategic planning in designing the ideal plan. 

Furthermore, analyzing employee demographic groups and applying targeted strategies while adopting behavioral finance strategies allows me to implement communication methods and topics that are relatable and timely.

PA: What changes to your practice or service model have you planned for this year?

LRF: In addition to applying an integrated health and retirement communication campaign, I intend to continue my efforts in adopting customized solutions based on a client’s aging population. Programs endorsed by new legislation—qualifying longevity annuity contracts (QLACs)—provide another option for those participants who wish to set aside additional monthly income for long-term care or Medicare gaps.

Under this program, retirement plan participants will be set up to use up to $125,000 or 25% of their account balance, whichever is less, to purchase guaranteed income for life, starting at an advanced age of 85. These evolving investment structures will be essential in providing alternative options as our aging population begins the next phase of their lives.