Thanksgiving has been called a “uniquely American” holiday —and so, even in a year in which there has been an unprecedented amount of disruption, stress, discomfort, and loss—there remains so much for which to be thankful.
I’m thankful that so many employers (still) voluntarily choose to offer a workplace retirement plan—and, particularly in this extraordinary year, that so many have remained committed to that promise.
I’m thankful that the vast majority of workers defaulted into retirement savings programs tend to remain there—and that there are mechanisms (automatic enrollment, contribution acceleration and qualified default investment alternatives) in place to help them save and invest better than they might otherwise.
I continue to be thankful that participants, by and large, continue to hang in there with their commitment to retirement savings, despite lingering economic uncertainty and competing financial priorities, such as rising health care costs and college debt—and the consequences of the pandemic.
I’m thankful for the strong savings and investment behaviors emerging among younger workers—and for the innovations in plan design and employer support that foster them. I’m thankful that, as powerful as those mechanisms are in encouraging positive savings behavior, we continue to look for ways to improve and enhance their influence(s).
I’m thankful for qualified default investment alternatives that make it easy for participants to benefit from well-diversified and regularly rebalanced investment portfolios—and for the thoughtful and ongoing review of those options by prudent plan fiduciaries. I’m hopeful that the nuances of those glidepaths have been adequately explained to those who invest in them, and that those nearing retirement will be better served by those devices than many were a decade ago.
I’m thankful that so many workers, given an opportunity to participate, (still) do. I’m particularly thankful this year that so many were able to do so without taking advantage of the expanded access to those accounts via the provisions of the CARES Act.
I’m thankful that those on Capitol Hill were able to (mostly) set aside partisan differences long enough to pass the CARES act, including those expanded access provisions and the Payroll Protection Program, which likely helped many avoid having to tap into their retirement savings.
I’m thankful for the hard work of so many recordkeepers, TPAs, accountants, advisors and attorneys who—under strained and stressful conditions of their own—worked through and helped their plan sponsor clients and participants work through—the provisions and practical implications of the CARES Act (and just mere weeks after having done so for the SECURE Act).
I’m thankful that figuring out ways to expand access to workplace retirement plans remains, even now, a bipartisan focus—even if the ways to address it aren’t always.
I’m thankful that the ongoing “plot” to kill the 401(k)… (still) hasn’t. Yet.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to acknowledge so many outstanding professionals in our industry through our Top Women Advisors, Top Young Retirement Plan Advisors (“Aces”), Top DC Wholesaler (Advisor Allies), and Top DC Advisor Team lists. I am thankful for the blue-ribbon panels of judges that volunteer their time, perspective and expertise to those evaluations.
I’m thankful that those who regulate our industry continue to seek the input of those in the industry—and that so many, particularly those among our membership, take the time and energy to provide that input.
I’m thankful to be part of a team that champions retirement savings—and to be a part of helping improve and enhance that system.
I’m thankful for all of you who have supported—and I hope benefited from—our various conferences, education programs and communications throughout the year—particularly in a year like this, when it has been so difficult to undertake, and participate in, those activities. I’m hopeful that at some point in the near future we’ll be able to do so… together.
I’m thankful for the involvement, engagement, and commitment of our various member committees that magnify and enhance the quality and impact of our events, education, and advocacy efforts.
I’m thankful for the constant—and enthusiastic—support of our event sponsors and advertisers—again, particularly in a year when so many adjustments have had to be made.
I’m thankful for the warmth, engagement and encouragement with which readers and members, both old and new, continue to embrace the work we do here.
I’m thankful for the team here at NAPA, ASPPA, NTSA, ASEA, PSCA (and the American Retirement Association, generally, as well as all the sister associations), and for the strength, commitment and diversity of the membership. I’m thankful to be part of a growing organization in an important industry at a critical time. I’m thankful to be able, in some small way, to make a difference.
But most of all, I’m once again thankful for the unconditional love and patience of my family, the camaraderie of an expanding circle of dear friends and colleagues, the opportunity to write and share these thoughts—and for the ongoing support and appreciation of readers… like you.
Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving!
- Nevin E. Adams, JD