It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel…Fine?

Originally published on CUinsight.com.

No, I’m not talking about the fiscal cliff, although some here in Washington, DC are calling it the end. Worse. The Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012 and if you’re into certain doomsday theories, that day marks the end of the world. Which means I need to quit my job today, right now, and enjoy my remaining time on earth (T-minus 30 days) lounging on a faraway tropical island.

For the most part I’m joking, but fantasizing about cashing out to live on an island makes me wonder—will I be ready to retire when I want to?

Although retirement seems like a lifetime away (at least twenty years), and I have a background in financial services, I’m not so sure that I’ll be ready when the time comes. I have a 401(k)—several actually—as well as IRAs, brokerage accounts, and a rainy day fund. I even participate in direct stock purchase plans. It would seem like with my knowledge of financial planning (and a predisposition towards frugal living, thank you Mom) that I would be well on my way to a secure retirement. The uncertainty of the market over the past few years has left me questioning my ability to ever retire. Unfortunately, quite a number of people feel the same way.

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Unlocking the 5 Keys to a Successful Financial Planning Program

To many people, the term financial planning evokes a feeling of exhaustion and confusion. I know I’m definitely in that category! Knowing this, it is essential that your credit union offers a financial planning program. By providing a helping hand, you will help your members feel less overwhelmed and establish lasting relationships in the process. Whether you have a financial program in place that you are looking to improve or you are looking to embark upon the adventure of starting one, a recent webcast we recorded with Michael Thompson and Barry Dayley from Money Concepts offers some great ideas on the ‘5 Keys to a Successful Financial Planning Program’ for credit unions.

1) The Right People

This reminds me of casting parts for a play. The whole production depends on the right people being cast in the right roles. The entire financial planning team has to share the same values, and program leadership must be able to communicate intent, like a good director leads a play (again with that analogy!). It is also essential to be sure that you hire representatives that keep members in mind and that understand that wealth management is not just a product; it’s about your members’ future.

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Online financial calculators: Not just another website widget

As Kevin O’Donnell described in a recent guest blog post on attracting and retaining ‘next generation’ members, the importance of having a dynamic website is key to satisfying the needs and wants of younger generation members and prospects. I would argue that this is true for all members, no matter their age.

Consumers age 10 to age 74 are all becoming more tech savvy. My grandma is on Facebook. My mother always has the latest updates on Droid apps. And my 10-year-old neighbor should hold the world record for texting speed. Even pets are getting in on the rise of technology – did you know there’s an iPad app to entertain your cat while you’re at work?!

It’s easy to see why – when you want to know how much home you can afford, do you immediately call your credit union and ask for a person in mortgages? No, you look online! (There’s a reason “Google” is now also a verb in Webster’s Dictionary). The Internet is the easiest way to find the quick answer you want. Your members do the same thing, whether they’re wondering how much to save for college, how long their retirement savings will last, or how long until they pay off that looming credit card bill. So, if your credit union doesn’t have the tools to answer these questions ONLINE, then you’re missing out on member leads.

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7 strategies to help members that are five years from retirement (or so they thought…)

Let me start this post by saying that although I am way way too many years away from my own retirement, I still feel very much connected to those who are soon to be retirees. I too dream of my retirement – of those carefree days of leisurely lunches with the ladies, spontaneous travel and actually participating in the painting hobby I claim to have (but, then I remember I’m about 40 years away from that – or more! – and snap back into reality). But I do wonder what it would  feel like to be just 5 years from retirement bliss and then suddenly have to doubt that I can afford it? I can definitely feel for those worried pre-retirees and you should too, because they are members at your credit union.

Did you know nearly 2 in 3 (64%) of Americans believe that realistically they won’t ever be able to stop working and retire? (As reported in a StrategyOne Survey). That’s depressing. 🙁 And 10,000 baby boomers in the U.S. are turning 60 each day, on average! Wow – if that’s not an obvious sign that your credit union help is needed, I don’t know what is.

The market downturn has indeed affected us all. And when you’re five years from retirement and your stocks plummet, your 401(k) takes the biggest dip you’ve ever seen and you have lost the excitement you used to get when crossing off those days from your retirement countdown calendar—where do you turn to keep your retirement dreams alive? Is there a way to hang on to your plan of lounging on every beach around the world before you kick the bucket?

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