Looking Ahead

What plan advisers can expect in 2014
Elaine Sarsynski

The beginning of a new year is a good time for looking back and ahead. For plan advisers, that might mean reviewing plan design ­elements, a fund’s lineup or participant education initiatives. PLANADVISER­ spoke with Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of ­MassMutual’s Retirement ­Services Division and chairman of MassMutual International, about what the industry took away from 2013, what plan advisers can look forward to in 2014, and how they can increase their value in light of that reflection and planning.

PA: Let’s begin by reflecting on 2013. What do you think the industry learned last year?

Sarsynski: Fee disclosure was something that we all focused on significantly over the last 16 to 18 months. What we learned in 2013 was that it was not nearly as disruptive to the industry as many had feared and, for the most part, sponsors really did not overreact.

I think it was almost a non-event for participants, which I believe indicates that the industry had been disclosing sufficiently.

The other thing that we’re seeing more is that sponsors are far more interested than they’ve ever been in retirement outcomes for their employees and participants, and they appreciate providers that can help them with the overall retirement readiness of their employees. We’ve seen repeatedly that sponsors want to know how many people are on track to retire with sufficient monthly replacement income.

Plan participants are becoming more aware of their retirement readiness, and they’ve been waking up to the fact that savings is important and that it’s critical to take action to improve their ability to save more and appropriately allocate in retirement.