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WASHINGTON – For its part, Campus Federal Credit Union has been making it easier to save for retirement through a matching arrangement that combines a 6% contribution on its end with a 6% contribution from employees for a total of 12%. It’s the least the Baton Rouge, La.-based $319 million credit union can do as it continues to emphasize the fervor that many will have to take on to save for retirement. So it seemed fitting that the CU’s president/CEO, John Milazzo, was tapped to serve as one of 200 delegates at this year’s National Summit on Retirement Savings March 1-2. While there, he along with the others broke out into groups to come up with realistic and specific goals consumers can use to save for retirement. The groups that appear to need the most help were targeted: new labor market entrants, low-income wage earners, small business employers and their employees, and workers nearing retirement. With savings rates at an all-time low, Milazzo said it is important to remember that low-income workers, the group he was charged with assisting, are just trying to get by everyday, so retirement is not high on the priority list. “A lot of low-income workers do not have discretionary income to put into retirement,” said Milazzo, who was at the summit representing NAFCU in his vice chair role. “Many of them are single, working parents with children. They have other immediate priorities that overshadow saving for retirement.” At the same time, the future of Social Security and the amount of money the federal government has to come up with for the program paints a pretty bleak picture, Milazzo said. If nothing changes by 2030, 60% of the nation’s budget will be assigned to Social Security benefits leaving 40% to split between defense, education, infrastructure and roads, he added. “It might mean people will have to work longer because benefits might be slashed,” Milazzo said. “One of the things we became aware of (at the Summit) is the greater role persons must take to plan for their retirement.” Indeed, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao told the summit delegates “the first baby boomers are turning 60 this year and that ought to cause several grey hairs among those concerned about retirement security in the decades to come” but retirement planning still takes “time, dedication and careful planning.” The delegates assigned to assist low-income workers came up with seven strategies to help them save for retirement. One effort would be establishing a child savings program to encourage family members to begin saving early for children to help fund their educational, housing and retirement needs. Tax incentives and grants might hasten acceptance of these programs, Milazzo said. The creation of joint retirement accounts for married couples would be able to protect women in case of a divorce. Two other retirement saving strategies involve employers. A Universal Employer Retirement Savings Program would encourage them through tax credits and incentives to offer retirement plans for their employees. These plans should be portable and used by multiple employers to help those low-income workers who often work multiple jobs, Milazzo said. A more simplified savings program for employers and employees might also be needed, the delegates suggested. If Social Security remains, benefactors could receive annual statements that show current and projected values of benefits and project the shortfall between benefits and what would be necessary to sustain an adequate lifestyle. Milazzo said the statements might help people “recognize the shortfall and do something proactive to deal with it.” The delegates also suggested retirement education awareness campaigns. For instance, a National Retirement Savings Day, supported by the president, and implemented in local communities to highlight the importance of taking personal responsibility for retirement planning. Ongoing educational programs aimed at financial literacy at schools and in the workplace that emphasize real reasons to save and the consequences of not saving while addressing cultural and behavioral obstacles to saving. “People have to take personal responsibility, but we need to look at what people can realistically do to save,” Milazzo said. This is the third year the summit has taken place. The Department of Labor will take the suggestions the delegates compiled for each of the groups that are struggling to save. Sometime this year, the agency will release a white paper on the suggestions with the hope that some of them will actually be implemented. The summit was also a good opportunity to educate many delegates on credit unions and what they’re doing to help with retirement saving, Milazzo said. CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica also attended as a delegate. “The table that I sat at, not many people were familiar with credit unions. It felt great that credit unions were represented,” he said. -

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