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Retirement outlook by role

What your clients think now

5 min read
Members of the HR team and the C-suite meet to discuss their retirement plan benefits.

Everyone has a unique outlook and their own opinions, but workplace roles and experiences can color those views. When talking with retirement plan sponsor clients or prospects, the role your contact has at the organization likely influences much of what they think and feel.

 

Principal® conducts quarterly surveys of plan sponsor clients and individuals to bring you insights that should help you tailor your approach and recommendations and likely bring more success.*

 

Here's what we found when comparing C-suite respondents and those in human resources (HR) roles.

Common ground

They agree when it comes to the top three benefits employees find of interest:
  • Health insurance
  • Paid time-off/vacation time
  • Workplace retirement plan
They both feel:

Responsible for offering a workplace retirement plan

Pie chart showing similarities between the HR team and the C-suite when it comes to offering a workplace retirement plan.

Responsible for offering financial wellness solutions

Pie chart showing similarities between the HR team and the C-suite when it comes to offering financial wellness solutions.

Participants want more investment education

Pie chart showing similarities between the HR team and the C-suite when it comes to a need for investment education.

Under-informed about their plan's QDIA option

Pie chart showing similarities between the HR team and the C-suite when it comes to a lack of knowledge of their plan’s QDIA option.

Takeaway: People in both roles have a common understanding of employees’ needs—take the opportunity to educate on and underscore the importance of the plan’s QDIA.

C-suite focuses on the big picture

Optimism that economic conditions will improve over the next 12 months:

HR

13%

C-SUITE

41%

Regarding plan fees, the feeling that the company—rather than participants—should pay them:

Pie chart showing how the C-suite respondents feel compared to the HR team respondents in terms of who should pay for a workplace retirement plan.

Retirement plan success metrics are driving the C-suite’s area of focus more than HR:

Pie chart showing how the C-suite respondents feel compared to the HR team respondents in terms of success metrics that drive their areas of focus.

Takeaway: Be cognizant of the different outlook on economic conditions and share any insights you might have. Know who makes the fee decisions—and who influences them—and tailor your approach accordingly. And add more focus to improving plan metrics when talking with the C-suite.

Perspective from the frontline: HR feels the heat on talent retention/acquisition

HR reports:

More concern for increased competition for talent:
 

Pie charts show the difference in sentiment between the C-suite and the HR team of concern for increased competition for talent.

Struggling to find qualified candidates:
 

Pie charts show the difference in sentiment between the C-suite and the HR team who are struggling to find qualified candidates.

Experienced more turnover:
 

Pie charts show the difference in sentiment between the C-suite and the HR team who are experiencing more turnover.

And they’re more worried about COVID-19’s impact on participants’ saving and investing decisions:

HR

80%

C-SUITE

63%

Takeaway: Both groups are concerned, but HR is clearly on the front lines of these issues. Reinforce the positive power of retirement benefits when it comes to recruiting and retention, especially with HR. The C-suite may be interested in strengthening the retirement offering, too, so make sure to touch on how a stronger plan will likely have better success metrics.

New investing choices—and the reservations

Investing choices
Issue

Responses are shown in order of the largest difference between HR and C-SUITE for each investing choice

Hesitancy to adopt: I don't know enough to add it to our lineup

HR

45%

C-SUITE

26%

Hesitancy to adopt: cost

HR

25%

C-SUITE

37%

Guaranteed income

Hesitancy to adopt: foresees limited use

HR

38%

C-SUITE

45%

Hesitancy to adopt: fiduciary liability

HR

29%

C-SUITE

36%

ESG

General knowledge

HR

12%

C-SUITE

26%

Hesitancy to adopt: cost

HR

25%

C-SUITE

54%

Managed accounts

Hesitancy to adopt: foresee limited use

HR

53%

C-SUITE

42%

General knowledge

HR

32%

C-SUITE

41%

These bar charts show the HR teams’ and C-suite’s feelings on new investing choices, like guaranteed income, ESG, and managed accounts.

Takeaway: General knowledge of these investing choices needs a boost. Help your client understand the purpose—and the demand—for them. Remind your clients to keep employee demographics in mind. Both managed accounts and guaranteed income are likely to appeal more to those with an older employee base.

Opinions differ on the participant education needs

Topic

Responses are shown in order of the largest difference between HR and C-SUITE

Rolling in prior retirement savings

HR

34%

C-SUITE

7%

Increased financial literacy

HR

61%

C-SUITE

37%

Increasing deferral

HR

39%

C-SUITE

20%

Retirement planning/mid-career actions

HR

54%

C-SUITE

35%

When to open additional retirement savings account/IRA

HR

34%

C-SUITE

17%

When to reallocate savings

HR

58%

C-SUITE

43%

Inflation's impact on retirement

HR

29%

C-SUITE

15%

Selecting investments

HR

56%

C-SUITE

46%

Knowing when to retire

HR

34%

C-SUITE

26%

When/how to plan retirement income

HR

42%

C-SUITE

37%

Options with retirement savings upon job change

HR

24%

C-SUITE

19%

Increasing investment knowledge

HR

59%

C-SUITE

59%

Takeaway: HR has stronger feelings about the education needs of employees, centering on financial wellness and investments. Know your audience and touch on the topics they find necessary—unless you feel you need to educate and advocate for something missing in their plans’ education program.

What's driving them to focus on the retirement plan offering?

Topic

Responses are shown in order of the largest difference between HR and C-SUITE

Cost to the organization

HR

31%

C-SUITE

49%

Helping employees achieve financial security

HR

73%

C-SUITE

57%

The impact of COVID-19 on employees

HR

17%

C-SUITE

4%

Feedback from employees surveys

HR

14%

C-SUITE

2%

Employee demographics

HR

32%

C-SUITE

22%

The increase of hiring new employees

HR

25%

C-SUITE

19%

Increase in employees leaving/retiring

HR

14%

C-SUITE

8%

Takeaway: The great news here is that employee financial security drives both groups with the highest response. But differences abound and the issue of cost fits nicely in the C-suite’s focus on the bottom line and program metrics. Conversely, HR’s proximity to all employees drives their attention to the people impacted, as shown by more focus on demographics, employee feedback, and worry about the impacts of COVID-19. Consider what might be motivating your contact and hit those points to better meet their needs.

Next steps

Resources to use with clients:

We’re here to help you be successful in the overarching goal to help people achieve financial security. Starting with market intel and understanding your clients’ motivations can improve your recommendations.

For you:

As you prepare for conversations with clients or prospects, reach out to your Principal representative for additional perspective on these topics.

Fore more client insights, bookmark our Principal® retirement research and thought capital site.

* All data presented here, unless noted, is from the Principal® Retirement Security Survey, Plan Sponsor Results, September 2021 (Q3).

 

Principal®, Principal Financial Group® and the Principal logo design are registered trademarks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a Principal Financial Group company, in the United States and are trademarks and service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., in various countries around the world.

 

2006419-022022 | 02/2022

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