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Providing a Protected Retirement Starts with Listening

AUG. 08, 2019

I recently had one of those days where I couldn’t help but remember why I’m in this business—to help Americans prepare for and live in retirement.

This opportunity to reflect was provided by the Alliance for Lifetime Income, which convened the 2019 Retirement Security Summit in partnership with the MIT AgeLab in Cambridge, MA.

But for me, the conversation was personal. I watched Alzheimer’s eat into my grandfather’s savings as it slowly took away one of the more brilliant minds I had ever known. This was a man who had planned. He had worked with a financial advisor to create a comfortable portfolio, and he was living retirement on his interest just as he had anticipated. But he had not planned on the impact his health would have on his portfolio, an impact even more significant because he became sick in 2007—right when the market dropped.

That’s the reason the Alliance for Lifetime Income exists—to help Americans understand the importance of ensuring they have protected monthly income factored into their retirement portfolios.

It is not every day you find yourself in a room with distribution partners, nonprofits, advisors, journalists, academics and more than twenty financial services companies all focused on the challenges and opportunities consumers have when it comes to annuities and income products. A room full of people who rarely agree on anything were transfixed by a lively, consumer-centered conversation that reminded us of the common ground we all share—ultimately, we are in one of the best positions to help most Americans in having secure retirements.

A critical takeaway for me was the importance of listening. Listening directly to consumers, first and foremost, but also staying open to diverse perspectives from the academic leaders, journalists, nonprofits and public servants that will be our partners in overcoming the real obstacles Americans are facing as they plan for income in their retirement.

The most important question people are asking their advisors today is, “do you get me?” To be able to answer yes, every time, we must come alongside our clients and meet them where they are, in the middle of busy lives. Just as the connection between health and wealth was so central to my grandfather’s retirement, the ways in which each person’s situation is unique must be reflected in simple yet customized solutions for their varying situations.

As a mutual, member-owned company we often bring groups of consumers together and we hear consistent things every time—the need for access to quality advice, the fear of trusting someone, and feeling paralyzed in the face of big decisions, wanting to be heard and wanting to understand what can feel like a complex topic.

That’s why we work so hard to bring a wide array of income solutions to our members so that they can live well in retirement. It’s why we work with financial advisors to customize those solutions to what consumers need. The RISE ScoreTM tool, recently launched by the Alliance and multiple member companies including Nationwide, is one new way to help your clients understand the important role that protected lifetime income can play in retirement planning. Similarly, Nationwide’s own Health Care Cost Assessment and Social Security 360 Analyzer® can help give people confidence that they’re planning for their true costs and income needs in retirement.

You, me and all the people who attended the recent Alliance for Lifetime Income Retirement Security Summit can be the difference makers. Will Americans have protected monthly income that lasts their lifetimes? It depends on your advice, it depends on the solutions we create, and it depends on whether or not consumers can understand financial planning well enough to trust us with their retirement goals.

Visit Nationwide Financial’s website for additional information and resources that can help you prepare clients to have protected income in retirement.

 

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