Some Savings Tips and Our Boston Forum for Women

February 22, 2012

By Phyllis C. Borzi, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

In life, there are some simple bits of wisdom that become so familiar many of us risk overlooking them. When it comes to savings, “Set a goal, and then make a plan and stick to it,” is certainly one of them.”  I imagine you heard something very similar in early childhood – from a prudent grandparent, perhaps – the moment you earned your first dollar for a day’s chores. In an economy that’s beginning to show encouraging signs of revival, Americans have an opportunity to save more aggressively and so it’s vital that we recall those bits of wisdom about savings again.

As the head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, I’m responsible for assisting the millions of Americans who are provided retirement benefits (such as 401(k) plans) through their private sector employer. As part of America Saves Week, we are hosting a public forum this weekend in Boston with the Center for Retirement Research at BostonCollege.  The forum, “Women and Retirement: What Every Woman Should Know Before It’s Too Late,” is a chance for us to help women understand what they can do now to adequately save for retirement.

While all people are welcome at the forum, we’re focusing on women since statistics show that women heading into retirement are at a distinct savings disadvantage when compared with men.  For instance, women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don't qualify for a retirement plan, and they’re also more likely to interrupt their careers to take care of family members therefore working fewer years and contributing less toward retirement.  Also, they tend to live longer than men creating a greater need for their retirement assets to last longer.  This forum is an opportunity for women to hear from some of the experts in the field of retirement planning about some of the most important savings decisions they face.

It is critical that you learn as much as you can about your savings options – such as through an employer-provided retirement plan - and your rights. More and more workers today are responsible for directing their own money into investments that will grow their savings through 401(k) accounts and Individual Retirement Accounts. You need the right tools to make the most of your investments.

The Department of Labor is committed to worker education and enforcement of benefits laws so the money you earn and save will be there for you when it’s time to retire. You can learn more by clicking on this link to my agency’s website here: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/consumer_info_pension.html

In addition to learning all that you can on your own, you’ll likely need some outside guidance as well as you develop your savings plan. Your employer might provide a financial professional who can provide you with helpful guidance to help you make your nest egg grow, or you may seek one out on your own.  In selecting an advisor, it is very important that you select someone who is acting solely in your best interest and is legally bound to this standard of care.  If not, the advice you receive may not be as helpful to you as it otherwise could be, and in some cases, could be harmful.  So you can have peace of mind that the advice you receive is in your best interest, make sure you ask the advisor the following questions:

  • What is your experience?
  • Are you willing to act as a fiduciary with a duty to act solely on my behalf and to disclose to me any conflicts of interest?
  • Will you fully disclose in writing all fees, compensation and expenses – direct or indirect - that you or your firm receive from me – and who else is paying you to recommend products I buy from you?
  • Are you willing to put this commitment in writing?
  • Are you registered with the State, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), or the Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards, and if so, then for how long?

Be careful if the person who would advise you on your financial decisions cannot or will not answer “yes” to each of the questions above, and it’s best to get their answers in writing.

If you’re in the Boston area, we would love to see you at our forum. If you’re outside of the Boston area, I encourage you to explore the opportunities provided during America Saves Week and find out what resources are available to help you get on track toward a secure and lasting retirement income, http://www.americasavesweek.org/. You can also help by spreading the word to your friends and family. All of us deserve to be empowered to make financial decisions that are in our best interest and help us build a nest egg that meets our needs. America Saves Week is a terrific opportunity to do that, and I hope you’ll take advantage of it.

EVENT DETAILS:

WHERE: Bunker Hill Community College, Lecture Hall C202. 250 New Rutherford Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02129.

WHEN: Saturday, February 25, 2012, 12:30pm – 3:30pm

REGISTRATION: The forum is free and open to the first 200 registrants. Please register as soon as possible by email to Meredith Regine at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by fax at (202) 219-5526.

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