THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Get the Most Out of Plan Automation

Most retirement professionals agree that automatic plan features, such as automatic enrollment, contribution escalation, and reenrollment, increase plan participation and participant deferral rates. You’ve read the studies and have probably seen the improvement first-hand with the plans you advise. 
Dr. Gregory Kasten

Only the Beginning: However, getting employees enrolled in and contributing to their employer’s 401(k) or other retirement savings plan are only the first steps in guiding them toward sufficient retirement income to last their lifetimes. Most employees need more. For true retirement success—an adequate retirement paycheck that lasts a lifetime—they need a goal and a plan that’s personally managed to keep them on track.

The Problem Is . . . Few employees are equipped to make the complex financial decisions required to adequately plan for retirement. Even with automated plan features, educational materials, website calculators, and a variety of plan investments to choose from, employees generally do not take action nor seek the professional advice needed to achieve their retirement success.

For example, the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey reports that despite the availability of online and other calculator tools, only 44% of surveyed workers say they (and/or their spouse) have ever tried to estimate how much money they will need to have saved for retirement. That number is essentially unchanged for last 15 years. Another national survey found that 56% of plan participants aren’t aware of or don’t review plan-related educational materials.

Unfortunately for plan participants, the neither the plan sponsor nor the service provider is of much help.  The plan sponsor doesn’t have the fiduciary expertise necessary to furnish the comprehensive program most employees need. The non fiduciary retirement plan service providers cannot furnish such a comprehensive program. Unless the provider is a discretionary trustee like Unified Trust, the provider cannot exercise the necessary discretionary authority over the plan and plan assets required for program success. Plan sponsors benefit because such programs are cost effective.

What’s Needed For Success: Plan sponsors and their employees need a holistic cost-effective approach delivered at the time of enrollment:

That includes a broad array of defaults; namely an income replacement goal,   automatic enrollment, automatic deferral escalation, and rebalancing and/or reenrollment in a QDIA investment environment

Where a  discretionary trustee  calculates an actuarial solution tailored to each participant

Where the advisor provides ongoing personalized attention

Unified Trust’s UnifiedPlan® Managed Account Solution meets these criteria by automatically enrolling employees into a 401(k) plan with a managed account platform that develops an actuarial solution tailored to each participant’s future income needs. The program’s default goal is to replace 70% of preretirement income during retirement. By targeting-income replacement, the 401(k) plan’s objective  shifts to a defined ‘goal’ contribution plan  where the outcome, retirement success, serves as the primary focus.

To overcome employee inertia concerning retirement planning, the program defaults participants into the answer at the time of enrollment,.  Unified Trust conducts quarterly actuarial testing and automatically implements investment changes needed. Also, there is no additional cost at the participant levels for the UnifiedPlan, which eliminates a significant barrier to acceptance since many managed account platforms cost a participant 0.40% or more per year.

The Numbers Prove It: The UnifiedPlan Managed Account Solution has:

 

  • A very high participant acceptance rate which is 10 to 25 times higher than most published industry averages for managed account solutions
  • Dramatically improved success rates
  • Improved the cost/benefit status for plans