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Heard In The Hallways

Question: The Retirement Industry Conference is starting here right in the same week as the National Retirement Planning Week. How will the heightened exposure to retirement issues that comes from events like this impact America’s retirement future?

“It’s important that we continue to find creative retirement options for people. Companies are always looking to innovate to find new solutions. With events like the Retirement Industry Conference, the collective thinking of peers leads to more powerful thinking — because collective thinking is stronger than individual thinking. My interest is in keeping up with the trends in product development. Where retirement is concerned, this means developing products and ways to communicate ideas to retirees that help them focus on their priorities, so they will have access to products that fit their different preferences. I really like that both the Society of Actuaries and LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute are sponsoring the Retirement Industry Conference, because it creates the opportunity to hear views from both the technical and the marketing-and-sales sides of the retirement business. The product landscape changes so rapidly that we need to communicate with our peers regularly or we will risk falling out of step.”

—Steve Cox, vice president-product development, OneAmerica Financial Partners

“The industry, in varying ways, is growing from a focus on accumulating money for retirement to developing approaches that lead to more effective action in retirement. This is a different issue today than it was from previous generations because we don’t have a culture of thrift. That’s a problem because the cost of living keeps going higher, there are fewer defined benefit plans, average longevity has increased and the costs of health care are rising. A more effective industry can help. A meeting like the Retirement Industry Conference, which is starting today, adds to the learning, and that adds to the effectiveness. The Retirement Planning Week that’s also underway this week also contributes to the effectiveness, because the industry is going out to consumers and leaders to raise awareness and to influence people to do things in their best self-interests so they will have greater financial security in retirement. This is in addition to outreach by advisors, advertising, communications with clients and thought leadership. Some companies are even financing retirement studies, the results of which are released publicly. One example is a study on guaranteed lifetime income due out later this year as a joint project of Mathew Greenwald & Associates and Cannex. The research efforts provide the industry with way to reach journalists, who in turn have contact with the public.

–Mathew Greenwald, president and chief executive officer, Mathew Greenwald & Associates

“These initiatives help heighten awareness of retirement issues and support the use of best practices. People learn more at the conference — I’ve already learned something new today and the sessions have just begun — and that increases effectiveness. That, in turn, contributes to a stronger industry and that influences the retirement prospects for Americans. Simply put, knowledge is good. The people who get involved are taking time to learn, and that is helped along by companies with deep pockets that are generous in sharing with the industry.”

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–Judy Zaiken, account vice president-strategy and business development, MassMutual Financial Group



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