Doing well in the retirement market requires manufacturers and advisors to make retirement planning both palatable and easy for middle-market consumers, experts agreed at a life insurance conference here.
Consumer inertia is the greatest challenge to marketing retirement products, noted Steve Deschenes, executive vice president of Fidelity Investments Inc., Boston.
Only 22% of retirees have an income plan–and half of those didn’t even develop their plan until they actually retired, he said, speaking at the annual executive conference for the life insurance industry, held Dec. 14-15 by the National Underwriter and the Conference Group Ltd.
“We have to engage people in a way that makes retirement planning more attractive and interesting,” he said.
To engage clients in the complex decisions that have to be made about retirement, financial service companies and producers must make the planning task as simple and appealing as possible, Deschenes said.
He predicted continued product innovation from life insurers would help simplify retirement decisions, including new lifecycle funds, fixed immediate annuities with extra features and longevity insurance, which would pay off when the policy owner hits a given age.
Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, N.C., is trying to fulfill the retirement needs of most customers by offering them education programs through their workplace or over the phone, said Robert Reid II, president of Wachovia’s retirement and investment products group.
Many of those customers have less than $100,000 in annual income and only a small amount of investable assets, he observed.
“The reality is, they’re going to have to work after they retire,” Reid said. Otherwise, “they aren’t going to be able to save enough to generate meaningful income.”