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Educating workers on retirement

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, April 16, 2012
Posted: 5 pm ET

I'm always grateful I'm married to a great guy who happens to be an accountant, but when it comes to planning for retirement, I sometimes wonder how people who aren't married to their accountants cope.

Kent Allison, partner and national practice leader in PwC’s financial education practice, says that, in fact, employers are seeing increasing value in employee retirement planning education. Otherwise, it's not unusual for employees to be too distracted by the problem to work.

Probably, the most compelling reason for employers to offer employees help getting ready for retirement, Allison says, is to discourage them from staying too long on the job.

Older employees who continue to work hard and make a valuable contribution are one thing. But older workers who are burdened with high debt and have cash-flow issues that make it hard for them to quit -- even though they aren't very productive -- are an expensive and growing problem for employers, he says.

Ways that employers can avoid this issue include encouraging automatic retirement savings and discouraging 401(k) loans that dissipate savings. But these ideas work best when employees are educated about them and welcome them as benefits. It also helps, Allison believes, if employees are savvy about managing their investments, so they get the best possible returns.

Allison says the sessions his company offers include help with increasing savings, increasing returns on investments, matching goals with reality and nailing down the specifics of creating a retirement income.

The toughest part for most people is accumulating enough money. "The real focus has to be on increasing savings by spending more wisely," Allison says. "People have to take a hard look (at) how they are spending their money now and really buckle down and save. That's the piece employees can control."

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