We’ve known for a while that trust is valuable in any business. After all, we founded Two West on the idea that people with a shared goal can accomplish a lot more than those going in different directions. However, trust can sometimes be difficult to come by in financial services; to be honest, I can understand why. After the meltdown in 2008 and stories about the questionable ethical practices of some of the people working in this field, it can be hard to see those in financial services working for anyone but themselves. On top of that, the field is filled with plenty of buzzwords, confusing acronyms and concepts that have been made much more complex than they need to be. In other words, trust is hard to come by because transparency is rare.
We’re of the opinion that transparency might be the most important step to improve retirement outcomes. Although there’s currently a pretty large retirement income deficit in the United States, a little bit of education and simplicity can be a big help in turning some of those numbers around. And when your employees are confident and engaged when it comes to their retirement, they have a lot more positive energy and focus to add to the workplace. While the actual assets in retirement portfolios are important, the ease of access and transparency of these plans are important for creating a path to a great retirement.
Getting “In the Know”
CFP, IRA, 401(k), NASDAQ, SEP, RIA—there’s really no shortage of confusing and complicated acronyms when it comes to saving and investing for retirement. It’s no wonder many people get turned off by the retirement planning process. Not only is there information overload at almost every level, there’s generally not a whole lot of education that goes along with retirement plan solutions. I’ve seen the vast quantity of content that fills the inboxes of CFOs and heads of HR departments. It can be really tricky deciphering between what’s beneficial and what’s simply agenda-pushing.
Believe it or not, one of the more educational (and entertaining) activities we’ve been participating in lately is a card game. We’ve developed a little game that helps our clients and their employees understand each and every facet of their retirement plan. No fancy words, no acronyms, just simple and straightforward education. Those moments when we see the light bulb come on and people have those ‘aha!’ realizations are some of the coolest and most rewarding interactions we have.
Fortunately, we’ve found that a little bit of simplification can go a long way. Understanding the acronyms, options and philosophies behind retirement planning makes the process much less intimidating for everyone involved, and that makes it much easier and appealing to be engaged in the process.
Not Engaged, No Problem
At the same time, plenty of people prefer to remain unengaged with the process for any number of reasons, and that’s completely OK. Though retirement is a pretty important subject in our neck of the woods, we understand that sometimes people have more important things on their plate. They may not have the time or energy to spend making different choices about retirement planning. That doesn’t mean their retirement plans can’t be effective!
For those who prefer to take a more hands-off approach, we have plenty of technological, automatic features that make it easy for them to still get the most out of their company-provided plan. Besides, there’s plenty of evidence out there to suggest people might be gaining more by doing less when it comes to investments.
Transparent and Together
Ultimately, we just want the people we work with to have as much (or as little) involvement in their retirement planning as they prefer. We find when people are engaged at the level they’re comfortable, they’re freer to concentrate on what’s most important to them—whether that’s getting new projects done at work, coming up with creative ideas, or simply finding more time to spend with their families. One of the best gifts you can give to your employees (and by proxy, yourself) is that freedom. We’d love to help you provide that freedom.
Marko Ungashick is co-founder and CEO of Two West Companies and is a big believer in working hard and relaxing hard. If he could have any superpower, it would be teleportation, making his life way more efficient.