Employer worry about worker retirement readiness is growing

The market crash of 2008 was a wake-up call for many 401(k) account-holders. At Aetna Inc., it raised awareness that some of its own employees might lack the financial preparation necessary for retirement.

“The crash put a magnifying glass on 401(k)s and account balances,” says Carol Klusek, head of retirement and financial benefits at the giant health insurance company.

Since the crash, Aetna has focused on a broad array of financial wellness initiatives with its employees—including getting a grasp on spending, debt and savings rates. “Once they have the underlying knowledge of how to manage their finances, then you can talk about the future. If people can’t pay the electric bill, they aren’t going to worry about saving for retirement, because they can’t.”

A growing number of employers are worried that their workers won’t be prepared financially to retire when the time is right, and they’re taking steps to address the problem. For advisors who consult with workplace plans, it means broadening the focus from structuring retirement benefitsto helping their clients shape retirement outcomes.

Learn more in my column this month at WealthManagement.com.