In a Nutshell: A financially healthy retirement requires careful planning and discipline. OneAmerica works with retirement plan sponsors, advisors, and participants to help individuals prepare for retirement. Its comprehensive approach to financial education incorporates updates on legislative action that may impact the retirement arena. An innovative product suite provides solutions to meet retirees’ financial concerns. OneAmerica’s retirement specialists and concierge team are available to provide one-on-one consultation services to retirement plan participants seeking additional support.
It can be amusing to daydream about winning the lottery and envisioning all the ways you’d spend your newfound fortune. But the chances of actually winning the lottery are extremely small.
In fact, according to Steven Diaz, a mathematics professor at Syracuse University, humans stand a better chance of being struck by lightning than they do of winning the lottery just once during their lifetime. And Diaz’s calculations assumed that lottery participants purchased a lottery ticket each week for 80 years.
The unfortunate reality is this: Most people’s lottery dreams will go unfulfilled. A more practical approach to achieving a financially healthy retirement involves education and planning.
We checked in with Sandy McCarthy, President of Retirement Services and Head of Enterprise Operations at OneAmerica, to learn how the company helps individuals strategize for retirement.
OneAmerica is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and has associates across the country. Its retirement division also has offices in California and Wisconsin.
McCarthy said OneAmerica’s Retirement Services team is focused on three primary customers — the plan sponsor, the advisor, and the participant.
“We know that advisors have different needs and goals than plan sponsors, and vice versa,” McCarthy explained. “Our approach is tailored — based on listening to and understanding each customer’s unique situation. Still, we’re all united and agreed that foundationally, we’re here to serve participants and prepare them for retirement. If we can do that successfully, everybody is happy.”
McCarthy said OneAmerica focuses on building relationships, listening to its customers, and building trust.
“We’re known in the industry as being the advisor’s best partner,” McCarthy said. “The way we build our offering is flexible and filled with optionality, so the advisor can build their business their way. We’re not competing for the wealth management business of the participants. We’re helping advisors and providing them with the capabilities, services, and tools they can, in turn, use with their clients.”
McCarthy said OneAmerica aims to customize its offerings to personalize the experience for plan participants.
“We want our services to be about who the clients are versus who we are,” McCarthy said.
Financial Education Leads to Informed Action
OneAmerica believes comprehensive financial education is a critical component of building a healthy retirement. The company devotes a significant portion of its website to financial education, including insights for individual investors as well as businesses and employers.
“The education we provide informs our advisors, participants, and plan sponsors so they can take better action,” McCarthy said. “We also keep pace with legislative changes and work to interpret the terminology that’s out there that can be difficult to understand. OneAmerica has a team of ERISA attorneys who will actually speak with the plan sponsor and the advisor to help explain what things mean and how we can help them be prepared. No matter the topic, we want our customers to have the knowledge they need to make the best decisions.”
OneAmerica strives to ensure every customer can access the company’s educational materials in the way that best suits them. In addition to providing customer education online, OneAmerica also prints educational materials for those who don’t have internet access or prefer physical documents.
OneAmerica aims to have consultative discussions with plan sponsors to learn more about who they are and what they seek to accomplish.
“At the end of the day, our approach is really centered on the retirement plan sponsor and what they’re looking to do,” McCarthy said. “Do they want to increase overall plan participation? Do they want to increase education offerings on debt management?”
McCarthy points to OneAmerica’s recent work with a manufacturing company in Indiana as an example of the company’s success working with plan sponsors and their advisors. OneAmerica partnered with the company to develop a campaign to increase participation in the manufacturer’s employee-retirement plan.
Before the campaign, the employee participation rate was 55%. After the campaign, employee participation skyrocketed to 96%.
McCarthy noted a recent trend in the retirement services industry where employers are increasingly focused on ensuring their employees are ready for retirement.
“According to the 2023 Bank of America Workplace Benefits Report, 97% of employers felt they were responsible for helping their employees plan for retirement versus just 41% of employers feeling that way in 2013,” McCarthy said. “We’re really excited to help employers drive these outcomes for their participants. When they win, we win.”
PensionPlus Participants Pay Themselves
OneAmerica uses behavioral data and proprietary surveys to build customer profiles, which help the company understand and connect with its clients along their financial journey.
McCarthy said she is particularly passionate about the launch of PensionPlus, a product that helps retirees manage their finances.
PensionPlus users enter a few details about themselves and their financial goals into the tool, and the program helps participants develop a sustainable and personalized strategy for decumulation in retirement, including how to optimize Social Security payments. McCarthy said the program is easy to use, allowing individuals to make decisions about how to best withdraw their assets in retirement.
“People are so afraid of running out of money during retirement,” McCarthy said. “A lot of people have spent years saving for retirement, but they don’t have a plan for how to spend or withdraw that money in retirement. PensionPlus helps them build that plan and increases their level of confidence. Retirees can use PensionPlus to determine a monthly paycheck amount that is based on their unique financial situation and goals.”
Economic factors, including increases in inflation, can cause people to consider delaying their retirement. PensionPlus can help those approaching retirement to model different scenarios and assess how they’ll impact their financial picture. McCarthy said the tool can also help those nearing retirement to see the economic impact of trade-offs, like retiring early or working a few extra years for example.
McCarthy cited the 2023 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), which found that only 64% of workers feel confident that they have enough money to live comfortably through retirement.
“Retirement is a personal decision that’s different for everyone,” McCarthy detailed. “PensionPlus allows an individual to get comfortable with their financial situation, and understand the actions they should — or shouldn’t take — to position themselves to best meet their goals in retirement. PensionPlus can help people identify potential income gaps. This way, if they do recognize a shortfall on the horizon, then they can make a plan to supplement their income in some way, such as delaying retirement, getting a part-time job or taking social security earlier.”
OneAmerica Meets Customers Where They Are
OneAmerica’s focus on plan participants includes providing multiple channels for customers to interact with the company’s retirement specialists. McCarthy said the goal is to meet participants where they are, in the manner that’s most comfortable to them.
OneAmerica’s call center employees assist customers with inquiries, but the company also employs retirement specialists who are available to meet with clients in person.
“We offer a variety of access points for customers,” McCarthy said. “Our regionally located retirement specialists, 60% of whom are bilingual, meet with customers face-to-face. We also offer virtual programs and host train-the-trainer sessions. Virtual connections have allowed OneAmerica to increase our connections with individuals by 40%.”
OneAmerica’s concierge team connects customers with financial representatives who are licensed to talk about the customer’s unique financial situation. McCarthy said the concierge approach aligns with OneAmerica’s mission.
“We’re looking to serve every single customer,” McCarthy said. “We are balanced, focused, and want anybody who needs our help to be able to get it. Our concierge team helps us meet that challenge.”
McCarthy said the environment around retirement issues has evolved over the years, including the extent to which employers encourage their employees to participate in retirement plans. Many employers now automatically enroll their employees in retirement plans, requiring those not wishing to participate in a program to opt out.
McCarthy said 62% of companies offering 401(k) plans automatically enroll their employees in retirement plans, according to a recent Plan Sponsor Council of America survey. Ten years ago, only 46% of companies with 401(k) plans automatically enrolled their employees, according to McCarthy.
“As the baby boomer population ages, retirement is becoming an increasingly important topic, and OneAmerica is focused on helping these individuals use their retirement funds strategically,” McCarthy said. “Whether it’s through new products, financial wellness education or connection with one of our customer-focused associates, we’re committed to helping current and future retirees have everything they need to be financially healthy in retirement.”