Provide a Guiding Light to a Retirement Plan for Savers

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By Cuna Mutual Group

4 minutes

Steer members toward responsible financial decisions and away from ruin. 

Financial waters aren’t always easy to navigate. Some concepts may be simple to grasp, but things become more complex when it comes to investing in stocks and participating in retirement plans. This is where you, as a financial professional or retirement plan sponsor, need to provide a guiding light and advocate for savers and investors to help steer them toward responsible financial decisions and away from ruin as best you can.

That’s why it’s important to understand who’s affected and where troubles may arise. Such financial problems can result in anything from minor inconvenience to complete disaster. People’s lives can be and have been ruined by bad financial choices. So, what should you look out for, and how can you help?

Hard Times Affect Almost Everyone

Just about anyone can fall on hard financial times or at least encounter a few roadblocks to their financial goals, regardless of economic standing. We can look at surveys and data, but ultimately, it’s a nearly universal struggle. Whole families suffer when just one member loses a job. People experience sudden and unexpected healthcare expenses that put a massive dent in their savings—if they have any to begin with. And those are just examples of the big events; any number of small decisions at any time can make an impact one way or the other, too.

In What Financial Areas Could Certain Decisions Result in Negative Consequences?

Many financial decisions within these areas, big or small, could lead to either prosperity or ruin:

  • Planning: As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
  • Saving: It’s important to start saving as early and as much as possible.
  • Investing: Sacrifice some money now for a sturdier financial future.
  • Debt: A person’s debt could be holding them back.
  • Credit: Bad credit or a lack of credit history could prevent someone from getting loan approval.
  • Income: It’s not always possible to control the amount of money made, but any income is better than none.
  • Insurance: It costs money to have insurance—but it could cost a lot more to not have it.
  • Unexpected events: Even the most robust savings accounts could be wiped out by health crises or accidents.

Possible Negative Consequences

Sometimes a person experiences hardship through no fault of their own. Other times, it may be due to their poor choices or lack of basic financial literacy. No matter the origin, perhaps the most obvious negative consequence is the immediate lifestyle impact. Suddenly, they may not be able to afford all their bills and might have to cancel subscriptions or important services. Worse, they may feel compelled to forgo medical care and may need to downsize their home. They could even become homeless.

And that’s not even taking into account the mental health of anyone who finds themselves in financial hardship. Loss of sleep over money stress can lead to physical health problems and strained relationships. What happens when someone who’s already stressed about money takes a wrong turn and makes their financial situation worse? The results could be dire.

How You Can Help Guide People Toward Financial Success and Away From Ruin

As a financial professional or plan sponsor, there’s only so much you can do. You aren’t an all-powerful financial sorcerer capable of shifting global markets and changing regulations or long-held mindsets. But there are still ways you can help.

Financial professionals can encourage individuals to start saving as much as they can. You know the common recommendation—20% of their income if possible. Educate them about the market and making wise investments. Be sure that you are well-versed in markets as well as inflation and other economic factors so you can impart reliable knowledge.

Plan sponsors should do as much as possible to encourage individuals to participate in retirement plans. This includes helping to make plan details easy to understand so everyone knows why putting away some of their paycheck toward a 401(k) now will pay off in the future.

Throughout the whole process, be sensitive. Those looking to save or invest more may not be as familiar with financial concepts as you are, for any number of reasons. If someone has made a poor financial decision, rather than wagging a finger at them, explain with kindness and compassion what went wrong and why—and how they might do better next time.

Access insights focused on helping put a brighter financial future and retirement within reach for more hardworking employees at 

CUNA Mutual Group and Cuna Mutual Group are marketing names for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries, and affiliates. CPI Qualified Plan Consultants, Inc. and CMFG Life Insurance Company are subsidiaries of the CUNA Mutual Holding Company. Annuity insurance products are issued by CMFG Life Insurance Company, located in Madison, Wisconsin. Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies and contracts it issues.

Securities distributed by CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 866.512.6109. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value, and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. Representatives offer retirement and investment education but do not provide investment, legal or tax advice. Participants are encouraged to consult their financial professional.


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