Retirement Fairs Boost Baby Boomer Business
More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day, according to the Pew Research Center.
Today's retirees are deeper in debt, including mortgages, credit cards and even student loans, than previous generations, according to a new CFPB report.
With so many baby boomers blooming at the same time, the audience has expanded for products and services aimed at older consumers.
To help credit unions and leagues assist older members, employees and others preparing for their golden years, the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions Program offers “Route Your Retirement,” which features interactive fairs and an online assessment tools.
The program is designed to encourage participants to formulate a solid, strategic financial plan to achieve their retirement goals, said Mark Lynch, a REAL Solutions field coach who helps oversee the NCUF program.
During the interactive events, which are similar to the NCUF's reality fairs, participants spend about an hour visiting seven booths, where they are encouraged to ponder a series of questions and assess how much money they will need to enjoy the lifestyle they envision. They are also encouraged to seek advice from a retirement planner and to learn about products and services that can help achieve their goals.
Lynch said there are numerous reasons why credit unions should host retirement fairs.
“Recent research has shown that the vast majority of Americans are not prepared for retirement,” he explained. “For example, Aon Hewitt Consulting found that 80% of Americans are still not adequately prepared to meet their needs in retirement and LIMRA found that 49% of Americans are currently not contributing to any retirement savings plan Through the Route Your Retirement Program, credit unions can help their members understand the importance of starting to save for retirement as early as possible and assess how much they will need to live on in retirement based on their own personal needs and choices.”
To host the fairs, the NCUF encourages credit unions to partner with other organizations such as local businesses, churches and community groups.
“By doing this, credit unions can use retirement fairs as part of their growth strategy,” Lynch added.
Credit unions are trained to use retirement fairs to help members understand the many ways that the credit union can help them save for retirement.
“For example, members or potential members will most likely be able to save money by bringing all their business to a credit union,” Lynch explained.
For institutions that participate in the program, the fee varies. “We give state leagues the opportunity to promote and oversee the program in their states,” Lynch explained. “If they choose to do this, they pay a fee to the NCUF and then it is up to the league to determine a pricing structure if any. For example, the Illinois foundation pays the REAL Solutions fee and then the league makes the program available free of charge to credit unions in that state.”
If a league decides to not to take up the program, the NCUF works directly with credit unions in that state, Lynch said.
“The cost to the credit union then depends on the type of assistance they want to get started,” Lynch added. “It is more expensive if they want me to do a site visit. It is less expensive if they want to be trained via webinar.”
The Illinois Credit Union Foundation first introduced “Route Your Retirement” in fall 2012, said Melanie Murphy, manager of the foundation.
Since then, more than 550 people have participated in retirement fairs and 70 credit union staff and volunteers have completed the “Train-the-Trainer” program, Murphy said.
“The fairs are a great way for credit unions to interact with members and potential members that provides educational value to the participants and also allows the credit unions to showcase how they can help people throughout their lives,” she said.
When hosting retirement fairs for sponsor companies, Murphy advised credit unions to include representatives from the company's human resources department and investment company so participants can get immediate answers to questions about their specific benefits and plans.
Retirement fairs enable credit unions to tout products and services.
“Remember to tell the audience that your CU offers products and services the participants might interested in, such as IRAs, investment services or senior checking accounts, and to provide a reminder that your CU has a ‘once a member, always a member’ policy,” she added. “Keep in mind that a hard sales pitch can be a turnoff, so share information and don't pressure fair participants.”
Murphy also encouraged credit unions to offer retirement fairs for employees.
“In addition to the personal benefit staff members will derive from the program, they will become ambassadors for the fairs and can help encourage CU members to attend when the CU hosts retirement fairs,” she said.
Financial Plus CU hosted a retirement fair for staff last year and was impressed with the positive reaction from the group, said Becky Coons, director of training at the $230 million cooperative in Ottawa, Ill.
“Route Your Retirement is a fun, interactive program that really gets people to think about their future and makes it easier to start saving for retirement,” Coons said. “One of the best things that happened was hearing from several staff members who increased their 401(k) contributions or who opened new IRAs.”
As a follow-up to the fairs, Coons conducted a series of lunch-and-learn sessions that enabled staff members to become familiar with CUNA Mutual Group's online assessment tool, Road to Retirement.
The $20 million CBI FCU in Plainfield, Ill., hosted a retirement fair last year.
“We were looking for an educational program that would be attractive to our membership which is comprised of primarily working professionals,” said Fran Parkison, a member services representative there. “As a single-sponsor credit union, we also wanted it to be a program that would resonate with the sponsor company, and Route Your Retirement seemed perfect.”
With only four staff members, CBI relied on board and committee members to assist, Parkison said. In addition, the sponsor company's human resources staff and a representative from the sponsor's investment firm were on hand to field questions, she added.
“The feedback from the event was great and people asked us to do it again,” Parkison said. “The HR staff also had good things to say about the fair.”