Leadership: The ‘Art’ of Retirement Plans

By: Jessica Kmetty

As employees become more educated about issues associated with retirement plans in America, they look to their employer for the answers and guidance. Business owners are being challenged more than ever to provide efficient, cost-effective retirement plans and the guidance to help their employees reach a dignified retirement. With the time associated with running a plan, employers who don’t have help may find these challenges hard to meet. And, even if they delegate the management of their retirement program to an employee or designate a financial advisor to help with the management, they are still the figurehead from whom employees will demand answers. To face these challenges, they must act as leaders, gain their employees’ trust, and help them utilize their retirement plan to reach their goals.

Best Intentions
Business owners have great intentions when offering their employees a company-sponsored retirement plan. Retirement plans help to attract and retain quality employees and are meant to help employees sustain themselves during retirement. However, business owners are BUSY and might not have the time required to administer a plan alone and educate participants on how to make the most of their plan. Without proper guidance, plans could lead to more harm than good as employees store their money in an investment vehicle that isn’t properly managed. If employees have to do everything themselves and make their own investment choices without the knowledge, aptitude or desire to do so, the result may not be in their favor.

Employees Need Leadership
Too many employees are working hard, socking away money in a retirement plan, but have no idea how it works, how much it costs, and how to make it effective for their needs. They aren’t educated on the value they need to be saving to replace their income during retirement. This is where they need an employer willing to not only offer a retirement plan, but to ask questions geared toward helping employees be successful. They need an employer willing to consider the needs of their participants and their beneficiaries, who understands the participants’ decision-making process in governing their investments, and who looks to other 401k decision-makers to determine best practices.

Help for Employers
When business owners work with an advisor who understands the needs of the participants AND the business owner, they see a retirement plan can transform from a confusing pile of paperwork or administrative obligation to an investment vehicle geared toward success for their employees. Business owners need an advisor who does more than sell a plan and disappear; they need an advisor who has been carefully vetted and brings the leadership component to their service. Leadership qualities of retirement plan advisors are getting more consideration than ever in the retirement plan industry. Advisors who are dedicated to combining the fiduciary practice of putting their clients’ interests first and the leadership aspect of helping employees accomplish their goals seek the Global Fiduciary Strategist™ (GFS™) designation. The training gained through this designation prepares advisors to effectively help business owners determine their core principles for managing the plan and consider various routes to getting their participants headed toward success. In short, they help them lead well.

The majority of retirement plan participants don’t understand how a lack of knowledge and improper management of their account can derail their retirement. If they don’t get the answers and start making the necessary adjustments, they might not have a chance for successful retirement. They need guidance and leadership from someone they trust to help them get there.

Does this leave you feeling like you carry a great weight in your employees’ financial future? Don’t worry. Work with a skilled advisor who can help you make this an opportunity to give back to employees who help your business grow!

Originally published in Mission Hills Magazine

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Published for the blog on December 12, 2014 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.