Getting The Message
A few weeks back I had the happy experience of moderating a CEO panel discussion at LIMRA’s annual meeting in Orlando.
The panelists were a knowledgeable and distinguished crew–John F. Barrett, chairman, president and CEO of Western & Southern Financial Group; John D. Johns, chairman, president and CEO of Protective Life Insurance Company; and Thomas J. McInerney, CEO of ING U.S. Financial Services.
One of the questions I raised is something that’s been bothering me for quite a while now, particularly with the increasing volume of industry talk about taking lifetime income through annuity and insurance products. That question was that many people have saved only a minimal amount for retirement–say $25,000 to $50,000–so how is that small amount possibly going to translate into lifetime income for them?
I thought Tom McInerney’s answer was refreshingly frank and straightforward. Basically, he said, it’s too late for those people and they’re going to have to manage the best they can. But the industry has to continue encouraging and helping younger people to seriously save for retirement.
I’ve often expressed dismay at what survey after survey shows is a lack of financial preparedness among a broad swath of the American public for shouldering the responsibility for retirement. Fortunately, the noise factor has gotten much louder around this message.
Part of this has to do with sinking expectations–especially among those in Generation X and younger–about whether Social Security will be there for them and in what degree.
Many financial services companies’ ad campaigns also have started to get people to begin acknowledging an uncomfortable reality.
So, I think the situation has improved, with many people starting to at least think about socking money away for their later years.