U.S. Senator Patty Murray, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, and WHCOA Executive Director Nora Super discuss aging issues at WHCOA Seattle Regional Forum – Credit: white houseconferenceonaging. gov
What Is This Conference and Why Is It Important?
Every ten years the Federal government sponsors a Conference on Aging.
The relevance of this conference to financial professionals is that it identifies the most common problems aging Americans face and it provides direction for planning for seniors’ needs. It is worth reading the final report. You likely have some boomer age clients and perhaps some aging clients as well. Be aware of what is important to them and you’re likely to keep them as clients.
Who Attended the Conference?
Beginning in February 2015, WHCOA held a series
of regional forums for its Conference on Aging to engage with older Americans, their families, caregivers, leaders in the aging field, and others on the key
issues affecting older Americans. The concept was to hear about seniors’ issues and plan accordingly. The series of discussions was co-sponsored by AARP and planned in coordination with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of more than 70 groups,
Each forum included 200 invited guests — older Americans, family and professional caregivers, aging experts and others. These discussions took place across the country.
Reading about the subjects they discussed and the conclusions reached in the conference Final Report was not a surprise to us at AgingInvestor.com, as we are in the field. But one thing did surprise me completely: no one gave much mention to the need for thorough financial education and planning
with professional help.
There was mention of the Department of Labor’s initiative to facilitate State creation of retirement savings programs. There was also discussion of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s recently issued guidance clarifying that employers sponsoring defined benefit pension plans generally may not offer lump
sum payments to retirees to replace their regular monthly pensions. As noted in a recent Government Accountability Office report, such lump sum payments transfer longevity risk and investment risk from employers to individual retirees, putting retirees at risk of being unable to maintain their standard
of living or outliving their assets in retirement. Wouldn’t financial advice help? No mention was made of the value of at least seeking advice from financial professionals to maintain income while investing responsibly for those who did get a lump sum payment.
The report emphasizes the need for providing lifetime income and seems to favor employers offering annuities as part of retirement planning. The Treasury and Labor Departments previously have issued
a series of guidance documents encouraging plan sponsors to offer responsible annuity options to help protect retirees from outliving their savings.
That may work for some, but I found myself at a loss as to why mention was not made of the importance of professional guidance in financial planning, which may be the best way to ensure that an individual
does not, in fact outlive his savings. That’s your job.
Opportunity for Financial Advisors
An obvious opportunity for financial advisors is to offer financial education to members of the public. Some attendees will not have enough to make new investments, but others will. With 10,000 people turning 65 every day and the oldest boomers turning 70 now, financial advisors can play a key role in helping aging members of society do better with managing their money as they age. Advisors can improve the sometimes negative public perception of the industry by stepping up, putting on few seminars with the basics of saving and investing and capturing some new clients in the process.
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