“Advocate the use of calculators for savers in retirement education planning,” suggests the AARP. “Integrate finance curriculum into all stages of elementary, secondary, and higher education,” advises the Employee Benefit Research Institute. “Use an emerging trend in employer plan design, communication, and delivery– behavioral economics–to create a ‘path of least resistance’ when it comes to saving and investing through employer-sponsored retirement programs,” pipes in human resources outsourcing and consulting firm Hewitt Associates. “Treat longevity as an insurable event, and then consider a new essential benefits program paying gradually increasing life contingent annuity benefits created to insure the risk that a person could outlive other retirement savings,” suggests the Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc.
All this advice and much more was received in response to a call for comments in preparation for the 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings hosted by the Employee Benefits Security Administration, under the auspices of the Department of Labor. Tentatively scheduled for early March 2006, this is the last of three such summmits mandated by the Savings Are Vital to Everyone’s Retirement (SAVER) Act of 1997 which amended ERISA.
The purposes of the national summits are, among other things, to facilitate the development of a broad-based program to encourage individual commitment to a retirement savings strategy, to identify the problems workers have in setting aside adequate savings for retirement, and to figure out ways to spot and overcome barriers that especially small employers face in assisting their workers in saving for retirement. Not surprisingly, many of the groups responding called for a very proactive tack, noting that retirement planning is woefully short of retirement needs for many Americans.