Credit Unions’ Role Must Evolve in ‘New Normal’ Economy: Expert
How members view their retirement plans in a new economy presents not only an opportunity but an obligation for credit unions to fulfill.
Hendrix Niemann, managing director, practice and wealth management services for CUNA Brokerage Services Inc., shared that insight to attendees at the Maine Credit Union League Management Roundtable on Wednesday.
“Who is going to tell credit union members that retirement has changed?” Niemann asked. “Credit unions have the responsibility to provide financial education to their members. This means credit unions have both an opportunity and an obligation to fulfill.”
Citing recent data from Bank Investment Consultant magazine, Niemann said 40% of baby boomers had less than $100,000 saved for retirement while 22% have nothing saved for retirement. Almost half have never even tried to figure out how much money they will need to maintain their lifestyle in retirement, he pointed out.
Because of these gaps, members may really need help from their credit unions, Niemann said.
“In 1935, life expectancy was age 60. Today, retirement plans are calculated based on a possible life expectancy of age 90 for men and age 92 for women,” Niemann explained. “This means people are living much longer on their retirement savings than previous generations and, therefore, need our help to plan.”
Retiring at age 60 or 62 is probably out of the question for most retirees if they want to maintain their current lifestyle for 25 to 30 years, unless they retiree with significant assets, Niemann said. Today, the prudent new normal retirement age is probably 67 or 70, and members usually don’t realize that they may need to keep working longer than they would like to, he added.
“Get out in front of members.” Niemann advised. “Banks aren’t out there educating their customers. You have a tremendous opportunity, seize it.”
Member education should include educating members about interest rates, investing options, insurance options, future economic trends and providing adequately for health care costs throughout their retirement, Niemann suggested.
It also should include making sure members are fully informed about issues such as Social Security, Medicare, tax planning, estate planning and retirement income planning.
Credit union leaders are also impacted by the new normal, Niemann said. Lower rates of return, lower interest rates and sluggish economic growth may be around for the foreseeable future, which means both credit unions and members need to be diversifying their sources of income, he offered.
“Many credit union members are still too highly leveraged, so they won’t be borrowing as much or at all,” Niemann said. “This means you need to find other sources of income, such as fee income from investments, to compensate for lower revenue from traditional activities such as lending.”