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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Retirement Services Experts: Keep It Simple

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Insurers could help baby boomers save more by making savings products easier for the boomers to understand.

Executives from units of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, made that argument at a panel discussion held here at the New York Stock Exchange.

Companies should spend the time and resources to design products that work the way that they are supposed to work, according to Sean O’Hara, a managing director with Planco, Hartford’s wholesale investment products distribution arm.

Simplifying products could even reduce the likelihood that boomers will make mistakes when deciding which products to use, O’Hara said.

Some products are complex for the advisors as well as for the clients, said John Diehl, a financial planner at Hartford.

As the industry shifts to the income planning stage, from the savings accumulation stage, offering products that both meet a client’s needs and are understandable is important, Diehl said.

“If we looked at the sale of annuity products … in the early 1990s, everything was around the notion of death benefit protection,” Diehl said. “‘What does your death benefit look like?’ ‘How does it work?’ ‘How does that maximize value for my client?’”

Since the early 2000s, “income has become center stage,” Diehl said. “So managing your products through that kind of shift is not an easy thing, but I think as you can focus down onto income and find out the different ways that clients want to see income options packaged and made available to them, maybe we can streamline products a little bit to specifically serve specific needs.”

Advisors will have to spend more time educating clients, to help clients answer questions such as how much income the clients will be able to earn before earnings will affect retirement benefits, Diehl said.

Maureen Mohyde, Hartford’s director of corporate gerontology, talked about boomer psychology.

Many boomers are unaware of the gap between the amount they have saved for retirement and the amount they will need when they retire, Mohyde said.

But “it is critical not to think of just looking at numbers and product alone,” Mohyde said. “We need to look at the boomers’ psyche. This generation writes its own script at every point in time, and will continue to do so.”


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