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Retirement Plan Trends In Healthcare: Five Prescriptions All Retirement Plans Can Take

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With Guest
Brodie Wood, 
National Practice Leader, Healthcare, Higher Education and Not-for-Profit Markets
Voya Financial

Brodie Wood is Senior Vice President, Healthcare and Education for Voya’s Tax-Exempt Markets business. He is responsible for developing and maintaining new and existing relationships with plan sponsors, intermediaries and consultants to support the broader strategic growth of the firm’s Tax-Exempt Markets business. He has more than 20 years of industry sales experience, with a broad knowledge of products, services, distribution channels and the competitive landscape – specifically within the 403(b) and 457 plan markets. Most recently, Wood served as senior vice president of Healthcare, Education and Not-for-Profit Markets at Transamerica. He has also served on the board of the American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity in Health Management since 2010. He has been involved in the retirement plan field for the past fifteen years helping participants become retirement ready.


He earned his B.A. with a dual major in Spanish and Business from Utah State University. He has also completed his M.B.A. from Brigham Young University in 2002. He is a Six Sigma Green Belt and holds FINRA Series 26, 7, 63, and CRPC designations. Registered representative of Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC).

Recap, Highlights, and Thoughts

While every industry has its own unique characteristics, not every industry has enough of them related to retirement plans to deserve a special report or podcast episode to discuss them.  Healthcare though, is one of those industries which does. To dive into the topic I was excited to welcome back to the podcast Brodie Wood, National Practice leader for Healthcare, Education and Not-for-Profit markets at Voya Financial.  We quickly jump into multiple hot topics such as outcomes based approaches, financial wellness, employer contribution strategies, recruiting, student loan debt and much more. If you like what you hear today, be sure to check out Voya’s Healthcare Survey that was just released this week. 


Tis the season for sharing, whether you are a new or long time listener please take a moment and share the podcast with a friend, colleague or someone you think could benefit.  You can do that by liking or sharing a post on social media, showing them how to subscribe to a podcast on their mobile device, or send them to  

Link to Voya 2019 Health Care Report

Thanks for listening!​​

Sincerely Your Host, 

Rick Unser

NEW: Episode Transcript

Rick:    Well Brodie, welcome back to the podcast. It's been a little while, so I am excited to have you back and can't wait to hear what you have to say about what's going on in health care and retirement plans these days.


Brodie:    Great. Thanks for having me.


Rick:    Believe it or not, I've got to give you credit. You were the fifth guest on the podcast. We're now approaching almost 200 episodes, so you were one of the original guinea pigs when this was just a crazy idea and wasn't sure where things were going to go. I'm happy to have you back when we actually have an audience and a following, and a lot of people listening, so a few more people will hear what you have to say this time.


Rick:    Tell me a little bit here about health care. I know when you think about, or at least what I think about health care as an industry or health care as a group, a lot of different things come to mind. I know were going to be spending a lot of time talking about some trends and topics that are important within that space. What does that actually mean when you say, or when you think about health care?


Brodie:    Thanks for having me back Rick. To your question, health care does mean a lot of different things to different people. At a super high level, organizations or groups that provide health care, would be a simple explanation. When we think about the study or the research that we'll talk about today, it really is trying to get at a certain segment or sector of the economy that's unique in many ways, and trying to understand what those unique characteristics do to impact retirement, and financial wellness and the outcomes of employees that work in health care. It's a fascinating sector because there's a tremendous amount of changes happening in that space.


Brodie:    Something that I find interesting, the people who work in healthcare, the vast majority by their natures are caregivers and that's also manifest in the way they treat patients, the way they interact with their employers, the way they interact at home, it's an interesting insight that we spent some time on. But health care in general, organizations, or people that provide some type of caregiving to improve someone's health is how I think about health care and when we get into the study we'll talk more specifically about that.


Rick:    Perfect. Just speaking of caregiving, we tackled that a little while back with your buddy Bill Harmon, and had a really good conversation about caregivers, and what that means and some different ways an employers can help out caregivers, to the extent anybody wants to check that out, that was a few weeks ago.


Rick:    One other thing that I think is important as we think about some of the things that you guys have in your report or as you think about just what's going out in the retirement plans of different healthcare entities are some of the business trends, or some of the business maybe realities or challenges. I know you're really active in the space, what are you seeing out there that some of those organizations are either struggling with or trying to address, or maybe that are really good tailwinds for them that are helping them out today, or in the current economy?


Brodie:    Certainly there's some shifts in challenges and trends. I think a lot of it stems to the shift we've seen in the last several years with the way healthcare is delivered. If you think about the primary mission of these organizations as caring for patients there's been a shift towards more of a value or outcomes focus model of care away from a volume-based model where it used to be if I'm running a healthcare organization I'm looking at how much care can we provide that equals revenue we can generate.


Brodie:    Where there revenue model changed were a lot of the reimbursements and the monies that helped organizations make depends upon the outcomes, more of the value-based type of care. That's changed everything structurally from how organizations are organized, to where they're located, to how they're reimbursed, to how they define success.


Brodie:    Since the survey, and we're going to talk some more specifically about employees in healthcare and the retirement, or financial situations, there is a parallel between that shift and how we think about the retirement programs, thinking more broadly in terms of a trend around volume. It used to be let's just focus on bottom line, how much healthcare we can produce to a more holistic view of the same type of things happening when it comes to financial retirement situations.


Brodie:    The other trend that is interesting is many of these organizations are struggling with the economy the way it's continued to heat up, recruiting and retention, it's a very common theme we hear. Well there are a couple things that we focused on with the research.


Rick:    When you were saying that obviously all the bells were going off in my head, oh my gosh, outcomes and quality of care, what a great parallel to all the stuff that we're talking about right now in retirement. I can't wait to dig in on that. Before we jump there though let me just hit real quickly on the recruiting and the retention side of things. That is a very common theme that we hear from pretty much all organizations out there right now.


Rick:    A couple years ago it was maybe there was some very highly skilled jobs or there were some very specific sectors where talent was really hard to find. Now it seems like pretty much whatever you do as a business, if you are at all successful and you have any appetite to grow, the biggest challenge the management teams are pointing to is we need people and we're having a real hard time finding them. What does that mean in the healthcare space? Are there specific job descriptions that are harder to fill than others? Then maybe is there a way that people are using their retirement plans in those recruiting or retention conversations to their benefit?


Brodie:    Thanks for the question. It's important to point out a lot of it is obviously market or region specific. You might have a regional healthcare organization that deals with a certain dynamic in terms of retaining and recruiting talent that might be quite different in another location. It all comes down to what's our local competitive reality. But in general, it's harder and harder because most of these healthcare jobs do require certain skills and certain training that's required. Those skills and that training have to be obtained somewhere, so we see a lot of healthcare organizations building out or partnering with organizations to help open up a recruiting pipeline.


Brodie:    If you think about the increased preponderance for student loan debt, figuring out working through programs, it's unique. A good chunk of these healthcare organizations are not for profits and there's even a student loan forgiveness program tied to not-for-profits and then there's creative things healthcare organizations do there. I do think generally, versus a lot of other industries because there's certain skills that are needed, and certain technical specialties, and nursing and other areas. It's just especially hard.


Brodie:    As you're competing for talent, oftentimes a nurse does nurse type things, it comes down to what is my benefits program, how are they going to help me take care of my debt, what does that look like. They're quite focused on ... If you ask someone in HR what matters to you when it comes to a retirement program the number one thing they say is it's a tool to help us to retain and attract new talent.


Rick:    I know a lot of people when they think about is my retirement plan attractive to helping in that recruiting conversation or maybe even in the retention conversation, I think a lot of people focus on well not do you have a plan, because I think that's fairly table stakes these days, it's what is the employer contribution, how much am I getting from the company, how is that structured. Are you seeing any trends or do you have any input from other healthcare providers or from the survey about what that looks like? Because before we even get to the student loan debt thing that seems to be the number one thing that most people focus on. Right or wrong, I'm not sure, but it's am I getting 3%, am I getting 5%, am I getting 8% from the company, is it a match, is it a "profit sharing" or what does that look like?


Brodie:    Everything you said, that's a given, but I think sometimes we miss ... Rick, you and I are not millennials, we're fairly along in our careers and I think if you think back to a lot of the people that are being recruited that these organizations are trying to attract people who are in that beginning of their work career value things, I think, a little bit differently than we do. I think the tendency for someone who's earlier in their career to be loyal to an organization for their whole career is unlikely.


Brodie:    Even when they think about a retirement program, a good portion of them don't have that as their number one objective when they're evaluating it. They're still figuring out how do I pay for housing and how am I going to pay these student loans, those two things come ahead, so they are evaluating different employers they're going to be looking at what is that employer going to be able to do to help you with those items. Then that's a whole different way of thinking and something that it comes back to one of the things in the survey is around a broader financial wellness, and we'll get into that. Does that make sense?


Rick:    No, absolutely. I don't know that there's a lot that the industry can do to help with starting salaries, or hourly wages, or whatever, but I think what you just said there is really important and maybe that gives a little bit of a different look to things because I always screw this up in terms of an analogy, but when you have a hammer the world looks like a nail. I think that the-


Brodie:    I think we do that, yep.


Rick:    I think the lens that we look through is exactly how I started the question with you, which is all right, to be competitive you need a 5% employer contribution. If a hospital down the street from you or if the talent pool that you're recruiting from they have a 6% contribution well you're not going to be competitive. I think what you just said was, "Well, maybe, maybe not." If you can speak to the people in the language that they are interested in discussing with you, which is well hey, what can you do for me around student debt, maybe that actually helps you or becomes a little bit more powerful than increasing your employer contribution if that's outside of your competitive set.


Brodie:    Definitely what we typically think of, exactly.


Rick:    I guess last thing before we jump into the survey, because I really want to get there, but you're saying so much great stuff, what's the breadth of things that you're seeing employers do around student loans? It's been a really hot topic. I think most employers and some of the folks that we work with in the healthcare space they get it, they understand it. But what do you do? What is that next step to say all right, well we know this is an issue, we want to do something to help but we're not really sure where we go, what are you seeing out there?


Brodie:    My eyes have been opened, I was the astra [00:12:07], that's the Association of HR Professionals in the Healthcare Conference a few months ago and there was a session on this topic. I always thought about student loan as what kind of program can the employer offer to help pay off someone's loans? I had a simplistic view, but it's broader, it includes debt counseling, which leads to options around refinancing or consolidation of debt, different types of loans and understanding what programs exist to get a better interest rate, or consolidate, or simplify the repayment, or tying in a repayment to my employer.


Brodie:    Then around the piece of I'm an employee and I was going to honestly prioritize my next dollar of savings would I put it towards my student loan or my retirement and it would probably go toward my student loan. But oh, by the way, if I'm going to do that is it really fair that the employer match that I wouldn't get it if I put in the retirement plan, I don't get that match. That's where there's been a lot of activity around working with some guidance from the IRS around what can employers do to reallocate those monies to employees.


Brodie:    Paying off your student debt's not a bad thing, that's needed. Then the technology around providers like [Aboya 00:13:22] or any other provider how do you make that easy for employers and employees, and there's a whole cottage industry of groups out there. We've done an RFP and we're in the process, we should have in early 2020 a solution in place to help to do this. But it's a much broader set of options than just paying off someone's loan.


Rick:    I think that's important for some people to absorb because I think the initial reaction I hear from a lot of employers is, "Well we don't have budget to contribute," I'm making up numbers here, "$500 a month toward somebody's loan." Well okay, that's a wonderful concept and a wonderful idea, but there's probably value there that is helpful and attractive to people that are struggling with student debts even if you're not physically paying down some of the debt for them. It's the other things that come along with that to make them feel I have an employer that understands some of my challenges, they're going to help me creative a strategy and there's a lot of value there.


Brodie:    And some loyalty comes with that, exactly, yep.


Rick:    I'm with you 100%.


Rick:    All right, you guys did an awesome survey. I think there's a lot of great points in there that I wanted to make sure that we have an opportunity to talk through today. It seems like the headline from the survey was wellness, what did you guys find, what did you discover, what does that mean? I know that wellness these days is a broad term, but how does that impact or what ties did you see there within the healthcare space?


Brodie:    It's an interesting question because I've been involved in the healthcare space and surveys like this for a number of years. If you go back in time, a lot of the focus is on some of the nuts and bolts around plan design, basic measures of outcomes, participation rate, contribution rates, things like that. As we ask questions around what matters we're getting more and more interest and responses relative to things beyond simply the retirement program are starting to become...


Brodie:    The program itself is just a small piece of someone's overall financial picture. Organizations are seeking ways to help their employees beyond just basic budgeting or defined contribution programs. I even see in hospitals more than other organizations I see there's always a total rewards role. They do get, with the shift in care, they do get that hey, if we're going to treat some ailment there's all these other factors that are influencing, or putting someone in a position where they're now sick.


Brodie:    Taking that same lens to their financial situation, all we know is someone's struggling with saving for retirement. There's lots of other reasons that we need to maybe step back and address. Healthcare organizations or hospitals are more complex large organizations and they often have groups or resources that they want to get at it. It's a key in RFP responses we respond to. It was a top trend we identified with the survey and it makes logical sense. Healthcare and their core business is taking more holistically what's the parallel to that in the financial world it's wellness programs.


Brodie:    Now what I define wellness as that's I think something that, I don't know Rick, from your perspective do you hear a lot about it and do you find wellness is defined different by different people?


Rick:    Oh yeah, absolutely. I think whether it's employers, I think whether it's service providers, I think wellness is in the eye of the beholder. For me, is the definition that I've put out there that I think makes sense to me and I tried to communicate with anyone who's listening to me talk about wellness is that it's an ongoing process to help employees improve their relationship with money.


Rick:    I don't know if that's the perfect definition, but it hits on a lot of things that I think are important about wellness, which is ongoing process, relationship, money. I'm using the financial wellness lens for that definition, but you hear a lot of different stuff and I guess one of the frustrating things is for an employer you've got pretty much anybody that does anything in the financial world I feel like they've glaumed on to wellness, whether that's, "Hey, we have a wellness program," then when you peel it back it's all focused on debt, nothing else. Or, "Hey, we have a wellness program and it's focused on one very specific little thing, and oh by the way, there's a product tied to it."


Rick:    I think that's one of the things that's a little challenging for employers, but I agree with you, I think it's important for people to think about wellness, but I also think it's important for them to think about what does it really mean to their organization versus am I just adopting a definition someone else has created to help them sell something?


Brodie:    Well if you think about the younger employers, these are folks who pay off some debt, they're not loyal to one organization. They will tend to change jobs more often. I don't think they think about this single nest egg waiting for them when they retire when they're 65, they don't. They're more focused on feeling good about a financial situation all along their career. I think they just think about it different. If you're trying to design things in order to attract to recruit and retain you need to have programs set up in a way that I guess addressed how millennials or younger potential employees or employers think about it.


Rick:    We've had some various conversations about millennials or generations and as you look at healthcare or as you look at some of the trends that either you're observing or maybe that were part of the survey, are folks in healthcare thinking about the way they're positioning, whether it's their retirement plans or wellness strategies, are they thinking about this generationally, meaning here's our millennials, here's our Gen-Zers, the Gen-Xers, which I'm a Gen-Xers. We always seem to get left behind, but that's a different subject for a different day, baby boomers, whatever it is. What are you seeing out there?


Brodie:    Well it's easy to put it in categories and think of it that way, but I think of it more there might be some insights if you group people by age. As far as retirement programs a lot of it comes down to how different employees want to interact with, or touch base with, or affect their retirement, whether it be mobile, online, in person, on a paper statement, or electronic. It seems like to me as we're dealing with the nuts and bolts of these programs and how HR or CFOs think about, really starting with how do employees want to interact with it.


Brodie:    Then going from there, it's basic things like do we want to default people electronically, how much in-person education do we or don't want to have, how important is having a fully transactional mobile experience. Those are the things that really probably matter and maybe they might look at the groupings of employees to find some insights into how they usually think about it.


Brodie:    Lastly, on top of it all though, just in the last 10 years the big shift with the usage of smart phones, I think that's changing everyone's ability or interest in interacting with the technology. I think that cuts across every age, it's easy to stereotype. Does that make sense?


Rick:    Yeah, absolutely.


Rick:    Let me make one more generalization I guess. I think that healthcare over the years has probably been one of the more proactive users of education, onsite education. I think the way though a lot of people in the industry have thought about education is the proverbial representative that comes into the cafeteria and sits down with people either weekly, or monthly, or quarterly, or whatever the frequency is.


Rick:    But I think what you started getting at is I think some of that's changing a little bit, but I think is also a broader conversation around how do we effectively engage with our employees. Are you seeing a shift away from that onsite, in-person very hands on type of model, which I've always associated with the healthcare space to either more breadth in the way that they're reaching out to employees or different strategies that have maybe been more effective in gauging employees to improve financial wellness, outcomes, engage levels, et cetera?


Brodie:    At a high, high level yes a general shift away. But the real story depends upon probably three things. One is the plan design. If you have an organization that has already embraced auto enrollment they probably tend to have less of a push relative to onsite education. The organizations that have not adopted auto maybe there's a tension that still exists, or for some reason they don't want to go through, I do see those organizations advancing more in onsite education because they feel like there's certain represented populations that are underserved that they need to get out there and really engage, so plan design is one.


Brodie:    The other one is the level of paternalism. [inaudible 00:23:24] healthcare you might have not-for-profit organizations versus for-profit. There's a big different dynamic relative to how paternalistic are these organizations. Those that are more paternalistic I tend to see investing in onsite education versus those who aren't. Then that comes back to your not-for-profit versus corporate, a higher propensity for onsite education in the non-profit healthcare versus the for-profit. Is that helpful?


Rick:    Yeah, super helpful. I think the engagement riddle is one thing that I think a lot of people have struggled with. Is there anything that you're seeing people do, you mentioned mobile apps and you mentioned some things of that nature, are you seeing those statistics get to a point where you've got a meaningful number of people engaging with some of those technologies or is it still let's just call it developing and moving in the right direction, but not quite meaningful?


Brodie:    I'd say the employee engagement's the holy grail. It's very hard to really, I think, say that we have meaningful engagement across the board to see different entities and plan advisors come to different conclusions around can you justify the cost beyond just auto and technology? Can you justify the cost of an in-person education?


Brodie:    Some organizations run the numbers and they think they can, and others are like no way. But if you set aside in-person education and you're relying upon plan design, some auto, some behavioral finance, some technology, yeah, there's a certain element of disengagement. You can only get so far and certainly different plan committees have different opinions around how aggressively you can or should nudge people. That's been my observation.


Rick:    We've got an episode coming up here in the near term, don't know exactly when it will be out, but it will be out soon, that actually verifies a lot of what you just said there were automatic enrollment and those automatic increases in some of the planned design things that are supported by a lot of the learnings and things that we've discovered over the years with behavioral finance are a great start, but it's not the answer. It's not the end game to everyone's going to be fine if you just use automatic enrollment and automatic increases. There's still a need to do more. I think what you said aligns very well with some of the other things that are out there as automatic enrollment and some of the other planned design tools are 10 years or more into broad adoption, so I think that makes a ton of sense.


Rick:    I know in healthcare organizations look and feel very different. One of the things you I think also highlighted in your survey was you'd talked a lot about the size of different healthcare organizations, why is that important?


Brodie:    That was I guess a highlight we chose to bring to light. Over the years with all the M&A that has occurred there are a small number of larger aggregators that exist out there and I think they receive a lot of attention. But still, the majority of healthcare organizations still remain mid-sized or large, and more regional and are local in nature.


Brodie:    I think the effort there with the survey it was a very small percentage of the respondents that were these national in scope organizations. I think that's important, we wanted to get at the data where the vast majority of healthcare is delivered. You still have organizations in different geographies are regional in nature that deliver and what's happening...


Brodie:    The majority of organizations are mid-sized and regional, that's the fact, but I found myself and a lot of research want to gravitate towards these national aggregators just because it's a new trend. When you hear about M&A a lot of people might just think well hey, everyone's a part of a handful of systems across the whole country. That's just not the case, so I wanted to highlight that as we looked at our respondents, that was the makeup of the vast majority was organizations of both sizes.


Rick:    Are there different approaches maybe to the way that a smaller regional hospital group or individual hospital is approaching some of the things that we've talked about to maybe how a larger national aggregator of providers is approaching the retirement or wellness conversation?


Brodie:    Oh yeah, absolutely. A large aggregator has to establish and put in place a lot of top-down approaches to things just to be able to drive some of those efficiencies that they're looking for. That's there reason why they exist. You see a lot more top-down approach to everything that touches these programs in terms of foreign adoption of systems and programs, and such, and then regional limit. Obviously all sorts of different level of sophistication often that you might see with a bigger one versus some of the regional or mid-size.


Brodie:    I think plan advisors or consultants, I've talked to many plan advisor consultants who have maybe been involved in it with an organization that end up being gobbled up by a national and then maybe soured them on the healthcare space like hey man, that's a lot of work to develop relationships and it goes by the wayside. But there's still a lot of these organizations out there that need a lot of help and still need some modernization and a lot of the expertise from these plan advertisers and consultants.


Rick:    Maybe that's a good segue into one of the other points I think that you guys highlighted, which talked a little bit about how the statistics and some of the numbers around healthcare plans are now looking and mirroring more of what's going on, on the corporate or 401(k) side of the world. Is that part of some of this aggregation that you're seeing or is that just maybe interesting but unrelated in terms of why you're seeing some of the statistics look and feel more like what we're seeing in the corporate world?


Brodie:    No, I actually chalk it up primarily to every year the increased preponderance of usage of professional retirement plan advisors and consultants. Now nearly over 90% of these healthcare organizations are working with a retirement plan advisor consultant. If you go back several, 7, 8, 9, 10 years ago as it evolved in surveys like this it was 30%, it was 40%, it was 50%. All of these best practices that folks like you and others bring to a plan sponsor, all the best practices are further along at the corporate space and they're now being adopted more and more in the healthcare space.


Brodie:    I tie it back to a big shift in adoption of working with professional retirement plan advisors and consultants that then a healthcare is starting to adopt a lot of the same best practices. Then we're starting to see a lot of the same metrics, improvements in the metrics to catch up, metrics whether it be contribution rate, or deferral rates, or more creative, or effective plan design, or adoption of auto and such, that's where I see the shift coming from.


Rick:    Got it. I guess as you think about that, are there things that the corporate world is doing that you'd like to see more healthcare organizations take advantage of or adopt, or vice versa, are there things that healthcare organizations are doing that you think are particularly unique or progressive that maybe the corporate world could learn from as well?


Brodie:    Less than it used to be. I still think there is something to be learned from the corporate side. There are opportunities for in-person education I think with certainly some underserved populations. The corporate market, there's so many different types of entities, whether it be industrial, retail, or whatever, they all depend on the makeup or the types of employees they have.


Brodie:    But there are certain underserved, hard to approach employee groups within healthcare that I think do sometimes justify in-person education. They do it in [inaudible 00:32:20] market but a see a lot of people in that space have written it off as you can't justify the cost. I think that's an opportunity.


Brodie:    I think on the healthcare side, there is a continued overcomplexity. I don't know if that's a word. There's too much complexity with the plan designs. You see so many different types of disparate plans types and often these organizations don't step back and revaluate why do we have this plan design, how do we end up here. That's a huge opportunity that I think healthcare still has ahead of them.


Rick:    Well and I think in healthcare, correct me if I'm wrong, while there might be some similarity to job functions or roles that people have within a healthcare organization, I think you've mentioned you've got some that are governmental, some that are not-for-profit, some that are for-profit, some that are, again, academic. Then you've got the different sizes of organizations local, regional, national, whatever the case is. Then based on all that you're going to have 401(k)s, 403(b)s, pension plans, 457s maybe.


Rick:    I guess when you think about healthcare I think that probably ties into that statement that you just made a second ago about complexity. Are you seeing that conversations get a little more streamlined, or is there still a lot of work to do, or is there opportunity for those in the healthcare space to really step back for a second and think about is this the best plan, design, structure that we can be offer to be competitive in the market today while still helping and serving those that have given us years or decades of their career serving our organization?


Brodie:    There's definitely an opportunity. There's a couple trends that have lended it to it, so the shift obviously from defined benefit plans to more defined contribution funds is one. The other shift is with the M&A organizations coming together and they start to inherit these different plan types from the patient [inaudible 00:34:24] a lot of it was limitations on the providers. A lot of the time the saw a lot of 401(a) plans set up for employer money and 403(b)s for the employee money.


Brodie:    I've even seen with the different limitations on 403(b) plans and what you can invest in, in those 403(b) plans, a shift in what you can and can't in terms of maybe the cost of those investments. 401(k) plans might be maybe more cost effective and there's obviously sometimes different sub-groups that are for-profit versus not-for-profit within healthcare.


Brodie:    But I think it takes some expertise, and maybe even an investment, and some good perspective to want to step back and engage someone to help us do this. There's a lot of expertise obviously inside a lot of these health organizations to do a lot of that and those sometimes take some cost, but it's unbelievable when you step back and sometimes think about the complexity that exist with some of these plan designs.


Brodie:    We have a 403(b), a 457(b), a 401(k), a 457(f), a 401(a), and we have different employee groups that have different flavors of a legacy pension or defined benefit plans. How do you explain that to a new employee? If it's hard to explain to an employee well then the employee is not or does not truly appreciate the benefit, well then you're not getting the value for the dollars you're investing. That's how I think about it, so yeah, there's definitely an opportunity there.


Rick:    Maybe this ties to one of the other points you made as well, but who's expected to have that conversation, whether it's about plan design, whether it's about wellness or outcomes, what are you guys seeing there in terms of who should own that role or who is owning that role in conversations with employers in the healthcare space?


Brodie:    Well number one, plan advisors or plan consultants who broaden or have a broad enough value proposition to engage in these things, that's where the most successful ones are. They're well beyond focus on just doing investment consulting. That's what I expected initially is retirement plan advisor or consultants who either through partnership or in-house develop expertise, or in plan design, or in financial wellness, or communications. Obviously plan providers should be expected to elevate these items in concert with their plan consultant. It depends on the type of plan provider, some of them might have expertise and has to help with that and some might not. I see those two areas of the plan advisor consultant or the provider, that's where it comes from.


Rick:    Perfect. I guess as you'd think about the survey that you guys put out there was so much great information in there. I know we hit on just a couple of the highlights, what haven't we talked about? Or what maybe caught your eye that would be helpful to others that are trying to support or help make decisions in the healthcare space that you guys found, or that maybe has changed as well over the years?


Brodie:    Well there's some data in there when you pull down the survey where we ask about what are some of the different priorities that plan sponsors have, whether holistic different things. You can see some of what matters to different plan sponsors that maybe the plan sponsor or plan consultant need to pay attention to. We have some data around the adoption of the different auto and the plan design. Some of those things I think are helpful for some benchmark. I see a lot of value in if I'm an organization, or I'm an HR professional, or a CFO and I want to see how competitive my program is versus other healthcare, there's some great data in the survey to help you do that.


Brodie:    The other couple areas that might be of interest to certain groups is some questions and data around advice and guidance, financial planning services, managed account, those types of things. Education is a generic category, there's lots of devils in the details in there and there's some good information in those areas as well. Does that answer your question?


Rick:    Yeah, absolutely.


Rick:    I think we talked about this briefly, but are you continuing to see any shifts in employer contribution strategies? I feel like in healthcare over the years there's been more of a shift away from well obviously pension, but the quote in quote, I don't know if profit sharing is the right word, but an automatic company contribution, or a non-elective contribution, or something that does not require an employee contribution towards a match, maybe a wholesale shift, or maybe there's a hybrid, or a tiered approach now. Is that still becoming a reality? Are people moving more towards a match or is maybe the pendulum starting to swing the other direction again?


Brodie:    I don't think I have a good handle on what the trend is, honestly. Healthcare still is a little bit behind on adoption of I think stretch to the match approaches. We still have about two-thirds are using a matching formula, about a third are set up to have that go to 6%, about I think 40-45% are using 50 cents on the dollar type of match, and about a third or a little more than a third are using a dollar for dollar match. But for the last several years there was continued adoption of formulas that forced people to stretch what they put in to get the employer contribution. They're still doing that, but I don't think I've seen some type of shift in terms of the trend relative to that.


Rick:    Perfect. Before we wrap up here, anything else that you're seeing or involved in that would be helpful to those in healthcare as they're thinking about their retirement plans?


Brodie:    Yeah, I'm thinking of the potential audiences. If I'm a plan sponsor in healthcare I would just pay special attention to what are we or are we not investing in a type of a wellness program tied to finances and how do we tie in the monies or resources we put towards retirement? You have a lot of leverage with these programs with your plan consultant or your provider to demand more relative to those areas.


Brodie:    If I'm thinking through the eye of a plan consultant or plan advisor, it's really helpful to pay attention to a lot of the benchmarking information to help you ensure that your clients are competitive relative to their peers in a lot of these areas. Sometimes it's hard to get data healthcare specific. It is a little bit different and healthcare organizations want to know what other healthcare organizations are doing, they don't want to compare themselves to a generic list of corporate. Those are just a couple ways to think of it through the eyes of the audience.


Rick:    Now that makes sense and I love what you said about benchmarking because that is I feel like so important as organizations are thinking about exactly what you said, which is where do I invest my dollars. I know you guys have some really good information. Are you seeing other ways that healthcare providers are able to gather benchmarking data around what maybe their local or regional competitors are doing in addition to some of the great work that you guys have done on the healthcare space in general?


Brodie:    Let me answer two different ways. First, with financial wellness, something I wanted to point out, we had a lot of success. If you actually, with whatever program you have through your provider, your consultant, if you make it easy for employees to go through some type of wellness assessment it is unbelievable if you can do that, and gather some data and take those insights to design your communication program. I think that's something that I'm excited about.


Brodie:    I see a lot of value actually knowing what matters to employees. Right now you have guesses on what matters, but built into whatever wellness program you have or retirement program, you may have an easy way to gather data. We have a wellness program where people ask simple questions and then you start to say what really do our employees lack? Do they lack emergency savings or do they really lack student loan help? I think that's a huge way to design effective programs.

Brodie:    Then the core of your question was around are there other ways to really benchmark these programs with other local, it's hard, that's a challenge. One of the reasons why I was very interested in putting together was there is a lack of healthcare specific ... There's some 403(b) data that's generic and there's a lot of corporate, but healthcare specific data from benchmarking, there's a lack of it. I hope this survey helps fill what I think is a gap of data to help organizations do that benchmarking.


Rick:    I agree. I think what you guys put together is really good and super helpful, so I would certainly encourage people to download that and share in the opening where you can find that. I'll share again in the closing where you can find that.


Rick:    But I really appreciate you taking some time, Brodie, to go through all this. Welcome back after a couple years being one of my original guests, really appreciated that. Really appreciate the time today. I will come find you again.


Brodie:    Rick, all the best. Thanks for putting the time in to produce such great content. Thanks for your time.

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