A Growing Paternalism in Retirement Planning

International Perspectives on Universal Retirement Issues: 

In North Highland’s recent Retirement Roundtable, we explored the topic of paternalism in retirement planning. Our international panel – which included John Mazengarb of Australia, Karen Wimbish of the US, and Ralitsa Nenkova of the UK – provided their perspectives on how paternalism in retirement planning is evolving in their country. Several themes emerged as being universal to the retirement systems in all three countries represented. People are not saving enough for their retirement and human behavior usually stands in the way. Outcomes are better when governments, plans sponsors, and plan providers take steps to require participants to save responsibly for retirement. Aside from mandates for saving, there are other structural and participant engagement steps that can be taken to improve outcomes.

Establishing non-employer sponsored retirement plans or Retirement Exchanges would provide universal coverage, eliminate portability concerns and add an element of competition that is missing in today’s defined contribution market. Automated advice services will prove to be the most cost-effective, reliable, and fiduciary-sound way to advise participants. Closing coverage gaps, stopping leakage, and formalizing fiduciary standards for advisors through legislation and more paternalistic plan design are critical steps to empowering participants. Providing just-in-time retirement planning education at key milestones and targeted communication are crucial in the participant engagement process.

However, even if all of these steps are taken, retirement systems still must innovate to stay ahead and bring new ideas to solve retirement planning’s ongoing challenge. As Karen Wimbish on our panel pointed out, looking at retirement planning in the same way we have healthcare – which has been somewhat successful in altering behavior – holds real promise for changing sponsor and participant mindsets. All in all, it’s important that retirement professionals across the globe continue to share ideas and best practices to improve retirement outcomes.

Click here if you missed North Highland’s recent Retirement Roundtable held on March 12, 2015 or want to replay the event.


Chad Carmichael – US Retirement Leader, North Highland

Jill Jacques – Global Wealth Management & Retirement Leader, North Highland


John Mazengarb – Trustee Director, Australia Retirement Benefits Fund

Karen Wimbish – Director of Retail Retirement, Wells Fargo Advisors

Ralitsa Nenkova – Strategic Development Director, MetLife UK

About North Highland’s Retirement Roundtable

Twice a year, North Highland convenes a panel of retirement industry leaders to consider pressing issues and trends impacting the industry. Our panelists prepare content and facilitate a virtual panel discussion. It’s a collaborative discussion with participants submitting questions and thoughts during the call as well as real-time polls with results reviewed. Attendees can remain anonymous or identify themselves during the Q&A period. The events typically attract more than 100 attendees representing nearly 20 different organizations of all shapes and sizes.

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