Driving Retirement Readiness: Helping Sponsors Meet the Evolving Needs of Plan Participants

Interview with Sandy McCarthy

Sandy McCarthy

Participant expectations for their retirement plans are constantly evolving as new generations enter the workforce—and as new technologies and past experiences enable new and better plan design features. To find out what’s changing now and how advisers can help plan sponsors respond to these changes, PLANADVISER spoke recently with Sandy McCarthy, a 35-year veteran of the financial services industry who in June was appointed president of the retirement services division of OneAmerica, an insurance and financial services enterprise with a history of more than 140 years.

PA: You have significant experience in the retirement industry. How have you seen it change, and what’s catching your attention today?

Sandy McCarthy: Over time, the end goal has largely stayed the same—we all want successful retirement outcomes. But there have been changes in at least three areas. One is consumer demographics and behavior, especially as millennials have moved into the workforce and forced us to think harder about how we connect with them. Another is technology, which has changed both how we communicate with retirement plan participants and the products and services we’re developing to help them achieve their goals. Finally, there’s the ever-changing regulatory front.

PA: How are consumers behaving differently? Are their expectations different than they were 10 or 20 years ago?

McCarthy: Participants today are more focused on information and are more capable of honing in on what is meaningful to them. They’re also more focused on their overall financial health. As a result, we’ve become much more specific in the way we deliver content. We’re much more focused on customizing information and solutions for individual audiences, even as we look more broadly at helping them consider their total financial wellness.
PA: What challenges—or opportunities—do these changes present for plan advisers and their clients?

McCarthy: To the extent they embrace data and technology and all the new tools now at their disposal, advisers have a clear opportunity to work with retirement plan sponsors to drive better retirement outcomes for plan participants. We’ve seen many plans increase participation and deferral rates, for example, because they took the time to understand their participants and work with us to design their plans and communications programs around the concerns, expectations and characteristics of that audience. When it truly becomes an extension of the plan sponsor’s culture, this approach also can help with talent retention.

PA: What advice do you have for plan advisers seeking to help sponsors do all these things?

McCarthy: Do business with organizations that are culturally connected with what’s important to you and your clients. You want somebody who understands the needs of your clients and their plan participants and regularly provides guidance around plan design features and functionality in a way that meets those needs. On that score, I’ll put in a plug for OneAmerica, because this is an organization that is truly customer-focused, both high tech and high touch.

PA: There’s a lot of talk in the marketplace today about total financial wellness. What are you doing to help plan advisers deliver more to plan sponsors and participants on this front?

McCarthy: We’ve built an array of educational tools and calculators to help participants improve their financial wellness, and we also provide access to our concierge service, which offers one-on-one guidance from a financial professional.

PA: Retirement income is an area of increasing focus for plan sponsors and participants alike. How can advisers work with plan sponsors to help participants convert their savings into a reliable stream of retirement income?

McCarthy: There are a variety of income strategies and products that provide flexibility for plan sponsors and participants using time-tested concepts. Our OnePension offering allows participants to annuitize their account balance, providing them with the option of guaranteed income for life. It’s flexible enough that employers can dial their plan contributions up or down based on their profitability, or any other factor important to them. We think this can work well for everybody.

OneAmerica® is the marketing name for the companies of OneAmerica.

Products issued and underwritten by American United Life Insurance Company® (AUL), a OneAmerica­ company. Administrative and recordkeeping services provided by McCready and Keene, Inc. or OneAmerica­ Retirement Services LLC, companies of OneAmerica which are not broker/dealers or investment advisors. Provided content is for overview and informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be relied upon as individualized tax, legal, fiduciary, or investment advice. Lifetime income is not the only annuity payout option and the individual should consider with care their specific needs and financial situation prior to annuitizing.