Emory Report
July 20, 2009
Volume 61, Number 35

Ready to schedule your one-on-one retirement counseling?

Sessions fill up a month in advance, so schedule an appointment online at the
HR Web site or call the plan providers below.

  • Fidelity Investments (1-800-642-7131)
    Aug. 11 and 26; Sept. 8 and 21; Oct. 13 and 28

    Aug. 4-6; Sept. 1-3;
    Oct. 6-8

  • Vanguard
    Ext. 14500)

    Aug. 18 and 19;
    Sept. 22 and 23;
    Oct. 20 and 21

*All sessions will be held at 1599 Clifton Road (first floor).


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July 20, 2009
Get active in benefits planning

By Margie fishman

Katherine Hinson knew it was time to see an investment counselor when she contemplated dipping into her retirement savings to fund a home repair.

In the midst of an economic downturn with her teenager’s future college education weighing on her mind, Hinson, director of communications for Human Resources, signed up for an on-campus session with a Vanguard representative.

What followed was a 45-minute conversation that eliminated the static surrounding her investment strategy.
“The majority of employees are not really active in retirement planning or savings,” says Hinson. “It takes almost a life event to go, ‘I need to see somebody and talk to them about this.’”

For years, Emory has offered free individual counseling sessions through its three plan administrators: Fidelity Investments, TIAA-CREF and Vanguard. The popular service experienced a spike in demand last year and additional counseling sessions were added to assist employees with changes to the investment lineup in the 403b Retirement Plan.

Employees sign up for the sessions by calling plan administrators directly or by scheduling an appointment through Emory’s benefits Web site. Confidential sessions are held several times a month on the first floor of the 1599 Clifton Rd. building in an office designated for the counseling sessions.

Despite having the ability to have a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting with an investment counselor, more than half of Emory employees don’t take an active approach to managing their investments, and the plan selects the default investment for them, says Director of Employee Benefits Jodi Martin.

The counselors “know the Emory plan in detail and they know the funds intimately,” says Martin. “The face-to-face session helps them get to know the person, their finances and risk tolerance when selecting the investments that are right for them.”

The counselors, who don’t work on commission, study an employee’s current contributions and ask questions about upcoming life changes, such as putting a down payment on a first home or saving for college tuition or medical expenses. Employees are encouraged to bring along their spouses, and can schedule multiple sessions with multiple vendors. Session topics range from examining the benefits of a traditional vs. a Roth IRA, to better diversifying a portfolio.

For Hinson, it was time well spent. As a new employee six years ago, she recalled receiving her retirement plan information among a stack of orientation materials and thinking, “Oh, I’ll get to this later,” but that, “later never comes.”

The sessions are geared toward new employees, those pushing retirement, and everyone in between.