Decumulation: There Is No Rule of Thumb

By Rich Rausser, CPC, QPA, QKA,   Senior Vice President, Pentegra Retirement Services

In most pursuits, people usually look for a “rule of thumb” when it comes to sound strategies or best practices. However, when it comes to developing a retirement plan strategy the rule of thumb is that there is no rule of thumb.

The reason for this may be obvious. As individuals, we all have our own needs, wants and concerns; many of us may be the same age, live in the same geographical area, and even make the same exact salary. Even if two people were hired on the same day by the same firm at the same salary, and made equal contributions to their 401(k) plans throughout their careers, there are still a number of variables to prevent them from taking a “one size fits all” approach to decumulation.

Are both persons married? Are their spouses/partners both working and, if so, what are their salaries and retirement savings? Do they have any children? Where are they in terms of college expenses and healthcare needs?

Unrealistic Rules

I note this because there has been some discussion of late over an industry-wide “rule of thumb” that suggests retirees should try to replace 80 percent of their income during the first year of retirement. While that may be an admirable goal, it may not be realistic for many retirees for the reasons listed above as well as others.

Another specious rule of thumb is that retirees will simply take their 401(k) savings as a lump sum distribution when they retire. While lump sum distributions are certainly a viable option, many plan participants may not even be aware that other options exist and may benefit from further education about alternative distribution options.

Alternative Distribution Options

Many 401(k) plans have numerous distribution options, thus offering a tremendous amount of flexibility in how retirees can take their money. These can include what we call an “ad hoc distribution” – whereby the retiree takes out some money whenever he or she wants; a regular, periodic distribution — $2,000 per month, for instance, or $6,000 per quarter; or structuring payouts over the retiree’s life expectancy.

There is another option that I have mentioned before: supplementing one’s retirement income by purchasing an out-of-plan annuity that can provide a guaranteed level of income to retirees for as long as they live. If a retiree puts 20 to 25 percent of their retirement savings into an annuity, with Social Security providing supplemental income and the rest of the retiree’s account balance consisting of various other pieces, the retiree is in effect “pensionizing” part of their retirement savings.

The annuity option should be available to every 401(k) plan participant, regardless of individual circumstances; it should be viewed as another tool in their retirement savings tool box.

Retirement plans should be constructed in a way that provides the best possible solutions to its plan participants in a cost-effective manner.

For additional information, watch the recent webinar, “Keys to Building Successful Retirement Outcomes.”  Or, download The Pentegra Distribution Path™  for an overview of all the options available to employees and essential tips for creating a decumulation strategy to build a lifetime income stream.

Pentegra_LogoPentegra is the NAFCU Services Preferred partner for Qualified Retirement Plans for Credit Union Employees. More educational resources and contact information are available at

Adding LIFE To Your Credit Union

By Bryan Clagett, Chief Marketing Officer, Geezeo

Your members’ expectations evolve as they become more acclimated to technology, more financially stressed, and overburdened with life’s pace and demands. In case you have not noticed, the world is changing. Newly emerging competition is developing new bank-like products, and the definition of banking is evolving right before our eyes.

It’s time we step back and reevaluate how credit unions can provide more value.

Declaring you’re the financial partner for life is just not compelling, unless you have strong actions to back it up. Too often we forget that credit unions are enablers, and in fact have the ability to enable members to get the things they want and do the things they want to do.

With all the advances in technology, some things have not changed—like the basic needs of a household to address fundamental financial requirements, milestones, challenges and obligations. Life and money are inextricably linked whether we like it or not (or are willing to admit).

Importance of an Emotional Connection

The key for the credit union is to remain remarkably relevant throughout the “member” journey and to be there with logical products and services when members (or their households) could use them the most. Credit unions are missing very logical point-of-purchase opportunities, while not associating their products with the specific needs of a member at a specific, relevant time.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that people have an emotional connection to money and, perhaps more importantly, things and events. Emotion is a primary differentiator between transactions and a true relational connection, which (in my opinion) is the foundation of an engagement banking strategy.

How can you help a family prepare for a child’s education? How can you help a young couple get their first home? Can we help a couple plan a wedding? What’s the best way for me to get a car for my son? How do we help a family with a medical emergency? Can a bank resolve a small business’s cash crunch? In all of these examples, there are financial considerations and ramifications—and all present opportunities to credit unions.

Engagement Opportunities for Credit Unions

We need to put some LIFE into banking. LIFE is my acronym for “life infused financial experiences.” Milestones, like the examples above, represent obvious opportunities for credit unions to engage members and offer very relevant solutions while building deeper relationships and new levels of trust.

Life_weddingapp_geezeoWe have the data, the systems, the channels, and the people; we simply need to make sure we have the right solutions and services in place that will build systems and triggers that bring credit unions and their solutions to the forefront at the ideal time of need.

Now let’s try to put some ROI or business rationale around this. Bain and Company reports that members who are “emotionally connected” purchase 47% more than those who are simply “satisfied.” Members with a strong, committed relationship are 49% more likely to remain a member and twice as likely to recommend a retailer to friends and family. Bain also found companies that are loyalty leaders, grow revenue twice as fast as their competition and at a lower cost.

We should not fear disruption in the banking industry. However, we should recognize that life is disruptive, so we should find ways to reduce members’ financial pains. Credit unions have the chance to reduce friction while forming deeper emotional connections with members through recognizing and cultivating life infused financial experiences. This is a real opportunity for financial institutions and one that most industry disruptors don’t have the infrastructure or understanding to leverage.

Geezeo-A-Z-LogoGeezeo is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Personal Financial Management (PFM). For more More educational resources and contact information are available at

Cyber Security Awareness Month: Third Party Cyber Risk Management

By: Jacob Olcott, VP of Business Development, BitSight Technologies

How not to become a “Target”
October is cyber security awareness month, and there are few things more haunting to financial or retail institutions than the security breach that affected Target stores a few years back. The attack resulted in more than $40 million in debit and credit card numbers being stolen, and more than likely affected at least some of your members.

The scariest part of the security breach may be where it originated: its HVAC supplier. The attack highlights how important it is for financial organizations to have a well thought-out program to mitigate third party cyber risk.

Regulators are taking a closer look at third party risk management so the importance of employing best practices is not just practical, but legal as well.

Five Key Steps to Develop a Third Party Risk Management Program

Developing a risk management program doesn’t have to be difficult. There are five key points to consider for a plan, and several vendors and services that can help you to do so.

  1. Organize Internally. This means bringing together all teams that have an impact on, or are impacted by your cybersecurity or dealings with third party vendors. This would most likely include your legal, compliance, IT, and procurement teams.
  2. Identify and Prioritize Key Parties. It is important for credit unions to consider any third BitSight_identify_critical_vendorsparty that has either direct network connections to your organization or has access to sensitive data. This would include, but is not limited to, looking at your primary payment processor, largest software vendor, law firms, consulting firms, and benefits administrator. When prioritizing vendors, approach this from the position of your most sensitive data, likely your members’ financial data, and the level of access a third party has to that data.
  3. Evaluate your vendors’ security. This is traditionally done a number of ways such as using questionnaires, vulnerability scans, and audits. If you are not sure where to start, Shared Assessments is a good source that charges a fee for common questionnaires to send your partners regarding their cyber security efforts. If you are interested in developing your own questionnaire, the NIST cybersecurity framework is a good place to start. You can also do your own audits of your partners, but often companies will share their own documentation of audits they have done.
  4. Communicate. The importance of clearly communicating your expectations to your partners should not be overlooked. This should be done not only in writing in forms such as contracts, but verbally as well. It is important to develop a strong dialogue regarding your security concerns that is not just once, when you launch a partnership, but ongoing. The cybersecurity landscape changes on a daily basis so it is important for you and your partners to discuss where you are headed and how to stay ahead of the curve.
  5. Continuously Monitor Vendor Performance. This is another point not to be overlooked. Questionnaires and audits can only give you snapshots of a company’s security profile at one point in time. Actual security is much more fluid than that. NAFCU has partnered with BitSight Technologies as a preferred provider of monitoring services. BitSight essentially works like credit rating service for cybersecurity. They provide a number that indicates how strong a company’s security practices are on a continuous basis. BitSight calculates Security Ratings using a continuous process that gathers, processes, and assigns security data to arrive at the top-level security ratings.

For more dBitSightLogoetailed information on developing a third party cyber risk management plan you can check out NAFCU’s webinar with BitSight Technologies here or  download BitSight’s white paper on the topic.

A Momentous Occasion: First-time Homebuyers

Originally posted on

Guest post written by Dan Green, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Mortgage Cadence, LLC.

Mortgage Cadence is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Mortgage Processing and Fulfillment Services.

Last week remarked one of life’s momentous occasions. They occur for everyone, and in everyone’s life there are those we never forget. Mine? My daughter and her husband became first-time homebuyers.

“What’s the big deal”, you might be thinking.  Thousands of former renters become new homeowners every day. Millions every year. Moreover, her father, me, is a mortgage guy. Of course my daughter bought a home. What else would she do?

Ten years ago, I would have wholeheartedly agreed with you. Even seven years ago. Less than that, not so much. The truth is, as the housing crisis unfolded and the economy plunged deeply into recession, the American Dream became simply that for many people. The pundits thought, and there’s much been written over the past five years: we had seen the end of homeownership in the US. As the theory went, people would choose to rent instead, keeping their mobility and employment options open while incurring less financial risk.

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The Looming Impact of Dodd-Frank

Originally posted on

Guest post written by John Levonick, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, Mortgage Cadence, LLC.

Mortgage Cadence is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Mortgage Processing and Fulfillment Services.

Dodd-Frank impacts lenders in many ways. In the span of less than two years there are now many new rules that will have material impact on the conduct of all mortgage originators and assignees. Consider the following impending rules:

  • Qualified Mortgage (QM) / Ability to Repay (ATR)
  • LO Comp Rule (Reg. Z)
  • Appraisal Rules:
    • Joint Rule (TILA / Reg.Z – HPML)
    • Copy Rule (ECOA)
  • Escrow Rule
  • Know Before You Owe / Integrated Disclosures (TILA / RESPA)

While all are important, the Ability to Repay (ATR) elements of the Qualified Mortgage (QM) rules is first on our list. That’s where we’ll turn our attention this month.

The Ability to Repay requirements with the Qualified Mortgage

A QM is a new loan classification that represents how the lender has made a thorough assessment of, and has fully documented, a borrower’s ability to repay their covered loan. Currently, Regulation Z, as amended by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 2008, prohibits creditors from extending Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans (HPML) without regard for the consumer’s ability to repay. The ATR rule extends application of this requirement to all loans secured by dwellings, not just HPMLs. Also of note, this final rule establishes a Safe Harbor that contains a “presumption of compliance” with the ATR requirement for non-HPML QMs. While the ATR rule does not specify any particular underwriting model, lenders must consider and validate, at a minimum, 8 discrete underwriting factors:

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