Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression is bipartisan | BenefitsPro

Robin Williams, center, with Saturday Night Live cast members Eddie Murphy, left, and Joe Piscopo, Feb. 10, 1984. (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)

Robin Williams, center, with Saturday Night Live cast members Eddie Murphy, left, and Joe Piscopo, Feb. 10, 1984.
 (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)

August 11, 2014

Robin Williams is dead.
Apparently he took his own life. The early reports are that he’d battled depression most of his life. And from what it sounds like, he lost.
Sure, it might not seem that big a deal to most, but I grew up with this guy.
(It’s funny. As a kid I often wondered why my elders cared so much about celebrity deaths. I was in the principal's office — of course — when I’d heard Elvis died. Everyone seemed so shocked and I all could wonder was, “Who’s he?”)
But now I understand. I grew up watching “Mork and Mindy.” (Yeah, I’m that old.) I even had a pair of those awful rainbow suspenders — remember, this was long before gay pride. His manic, improvisational style of acting spoke to me even at an early age.
See, I was one of those manic kids myself. I couldn’t sit still. Sarcasm was my second language. And jokes were all I had. They just came naturally. More than a few times I found myself in the principal’s office because I simply couldn’t sit still and shut up. Hell, these days I’d have been so doped up on one (or more) of the various kid-tamers that I would have slept-walked through my childhood.
So, early on, I identified with him. From those early days as Mork, to that Vietnam War DJ to his brilliant and mostly improvised — and brilliant — role as Aladdin’s genie, this was someone I could relate to.
Of course, it wasn't until last year that I realized that I’d been battling depression myself— for probably a lot longer than I ever realized. Or even still am able to acknowledge. I suppose humor was the only weapon I thought I had.
I think I’m doing better. I’m taking my meds. My diet’s a helluva lot better. And I really am trying my best with the gym, but it’s so easy to let other things take priority. My boss has been doing double-duty as my therapist. And my wife has been my rock. I wouldn’t be here without her.
But when I see news like this, about someone else plagued by demons so much like my own, it shakes me to my core. If he can’t handle it — with access to the best health care money can buy — how the hell am I supposed to? What chance do I have?
Then I look at my three kids, who still see me as someone worth emulating, and loving unconditionally, and I can’t even fathom not being there for them. And I look at my wife, whose patience would drive Job to the nearest bar (or shrink).
I met a broker friend of mine for drinks a couple of weeks back, and (of course) we talked about work. He mentioned that no matter how hard his job is, he never gets called the names I do on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis. He doesn’t have outraged readers (or clients) calling his CEO asking for his job or trolls calling him every sophomoric name they can dream up.
And it made me wonder why it never got to me. Then I realized: No one can call me anything I haven’t already called myself. When it comes to being one's own worst critic, I’m freakin’ Roger Ebert at a Jerry Bruckheimer premiere.
Which also makes me think: We’re so quick to demonize one another in this hyper-partisan age, but there’s no demon harder to exorcise than the ones inside us.
Rest in peace, Robin. Thank you for making this little boy’s own scattered mind make a little sense. I hope your demons have finally fled.

About the Author
Denis Storey
Denis Storey
Denis Storey is editor for and Benefits Sellingmagazine. He can be reached at

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

NAPA Net » ‘Out’ Takes

NAPA Net » ‘Out’ Takes:Nevin Adams 7/8/14 
My first car wasn’t anything special, other than it was my first car. It was an older model Ford, ran reasonably well, with one small problem — it went through oil almost as quickly as it did gasoline. At first I attributed that to being a function of the car’s age, but as the leakage grew, I eventually dealt with it by keeping a couple of quarts of oil in the trunk “just in case.” Eventually, I took the car to a dealership — but by the time they finished estimating the cost of a head gasket repair, let’s just say that, even on my limited budget, I could buy a lot of oil by the quart, over a long period of time, and still be ahead financially.

“Leakage” — the withdrawal of retirement savings via loan or distribution prior to retirement — is a matter of ongoing discussion among employers, retirement plan advisors, regulators and policy makers alike. In fact, EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei was recently asked to present findings on “The Impact of Leakages on 401(k) Accumulations at Retirement Age” to the ERISA Advisory Council in Washington.
Ida May Fuller, the first recipient
Ida May Fuller, the first recipient (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
EBRI’s analysis considered the impact on young employees with more than 30 years of 401(k) eligibility by age 65 if cashouts at job turnover, hardship withdrawals (and the accompanying six-month suspension of contributions) and plan loan defaults were substantially reduced or eliminated. The analysis assumed automatic enrollment and (as explicitly noted) no behavioral response on the part of participants or plan sponsors if that access to plan balances was eliminated.
Looked at together, EBRI found that there was a decrease in the probability of reaching an 80% real income replacement rate (combining 401(k) accumulations and Social Security benefits) of 8.8 percentage points for the lowest-income quartile and 7.0 percentage points for those in the highest-income quartile. Put another way, 27.3% of those in the lowest-income quartile (and 15.2% of those in the highest-income quartile) who would have come up short of an 80% real replacement rate under current assumptions would reach that level if no leakages are assumed.
The EBRI analysis also looked at the impact of the various types of “leakage” individually. Of loan defaults, hardships and cashouts at job change, cashouts at job change were found to have a much more serious impact on 401(k) accumulation than either plan loan defaults or hardship withdrawals (even with the impact of a six-month suspension of contributions included). The leakages from cashouts resulted in a decrease in the probability of reaching an 80% real replacement rate of 5.9 percentage points for the lowest-income quartile and 4.5 percentage points for those in the highest-income quartile.
Advisors take note: that effect from cashouts — not loans or hardship withdrawals — turns out to be approximately two-thirds of the leakage impact.
However, and as the testimony makes clear, it’s one thing to quantify the impact of not allowing early access to these funds — and something else altogether to assume that participants and plan sponsors would not respond in any way to those changes, perhaps by reducing contributions,1 potentially offsetting some or all of the prospective gains from restricting access to those funds.
Because ultimately, whether you’re dealing with an old car or your retirement savings account, what matters isn’t how much “leaks” out — it’s how much you put in, and how much you have to “run” on.
  1. An EBRI/ICI analysis published in the October 2001 EBRI Issue Brief found that, “on average, a participant in a plan offering loans appeared to contribute 0.6 percentage point more of his or her salary to the plan than a participant in a plan with no loan provision.” Testimony provided to the ERISA Advisory Council testimony notes that it’s likely that a similar relationship exists with respect to the availability of hardship withdrawals. See “Contribution Behavior of 401(k) Plan Participants,” online here

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

4 things successful people don't do after 5 p.m.

CBS News
MONEYWATCH/ October 24, 2013, 7:58 AM:
(MoneyWatch) Yesterday, this blog listed five things successful people do after 5 p.m. (a spinoff of the popular piece about things those same people do before 8 p.m.) But what about behaviors that can negatively impact your chances for success?  In other words, what are the things that effective employees and executives don't do as the work day winds down? Here are four.
They don't stay at work all night. Effective executives take some time to recharge each evening, said Julie Morgenstern, author of "Time Management From the Inside Out." And they don't just try to turn off their smartphone -- they actually schedule quality personal time. "First, they set an alarm to get out of the office on time. Then, they schedule something fun, relaxing or rejuvenating after work, whether it's an exercise class, meeting with a trainer, dinner with friends or family, etc.," said Morgenstern.
They don't go straight home. If you go directly home from a long work day to a busy home life, you can still feel like you're at work -- or at least, your mind is -- when you're trying to recharge. So avoid answering work emails or speaking to clients on your ride home. "Successful people implement some sort of mindful transition between workday and home -- music, a walk, a visit to the gym -- something that signals [the] workday is over," Morgenstern said. Even listening to music or a podcast, or reading a book, on your commute can ease that transition.
They work through stress in healthy ways. Capping off a long day at the office with more than one stiff drink may not be a good idea, said efficiency expert Andrew Jensen. "Successful people strive for self-control and don't try to temporarily drown out the stresses of life through excessive drinking," he said. After all, nobody ever said that hangovers helped them perform better.
They don't excuse other unhealthy habits. "Very successful people don't neglect their bodies by fueling with junk food or by rationalizing they are too busy or too tired for exercise," Jensen said. That's not to say that there aren't great executives who have climbed the corporate ladder fueled by the vending machine and late-night food orders. But being unhealthy hardly makes it easy to function at your highest level. Plus, companies generally like their executives to look fit and attractive. So if you won't make healthy choices for your health, do it for your career.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Amy Levin-EpsteinON TWITTER »
View all articles by Amy Levin-Epstein on CBS MoneyWatch »
Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including, and and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit
'via Blog this'
Enhanced by Zemanta

5 things successful people do after 5 p.m.

CBS News:
MONEYWATCH/ October 22, 2013, 11:45 AM
(MoneyWatch) You may have read the popular post by Forbes writer Jennifer Cohen about five things incredibly successful people do before 8 a.m., which highlighted smart suggestions like visualizing their day and making their schedule top heavy. But that's not the only outside of work window in which you can pump up your productivity. Recently, I spoke to some career experts about things you can do after 5 o'clock that can help rejuvenate you and get you prepared for a top-notch tomorrow. Here are five they suggested trying:
Wrap up your day
This includes responding to every email you received during the course of your day, says Julie Morgenstern, author of "Time Management From The Inside Out.""Do this, even if just to tell the sender that you've received their email, and will get back to them within the next day or so with an answer."
Plan for tomorrow
Take a look at the rest of your work. "See what's on their schedule for the next day (and two beyond that), pull necessary prep documents and files, and have everything set to hit the ground running the next morning," says Morgenstern. And prioritize that massive To Do list. "Name your top 3 (to 6) priorities for the next day-to ensure you proactively complete those priorities, no matter what else flies at you unexpectedly," says Morgenstern. Don't forget to do the same for your team. "Plan your team's next day's priorities, and send out instructional emails or check ins."
Take time for friends and family
Successful people invest intentional time in their personal networks, says efficiency expert Andrew Jensen. "They recognize that success at work is empty without success in their home and with their family," says he adds. The key is to make it quality time. "They actively exercise listening, while restraining from dominating the conversations," says Jensen.
They take care of themselves
Investing in your health is always a smart personal, as well as business decision (if you're constantly sick, or even just tired, you won't function at your peak). "[Successful people] eat a healthy dinner, understanding the value of nutritiously investing into themselves and the corresponding returns they can expect. They exercise, channeling away pent up stress while strengthening their bodies and helping ensure a better night's sleep," says Jensen. While you're taking care of your body, don't forget to keep your personal finances healthy, too. "Don't let it pile up and become an increasingly stressful distraction," says Jensen.
They sleep for 8+ hours
Think staying super late is great for your career? While there are some circumstances that warrant it, in general sleep is a good career choice. "A good night's sleep is the secret weapon of highly successful people," says Alex Doman, CEO of Advanced Brain Technologies and author of "Healing At The Speed of Sound." "In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury," says Doman, adding that over time the effects may be even more grave. "In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and obesity."
Make these five behaviors after-hours habits, and you might find that you become efficient -- and successful -- over time.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

'via Blog this'
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Study shows how to fix big flaw with 401(k) plans

retirement (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)
CBS News:
MONEYWATCH/ October 1, 2013, 7:39 AM

(MoneyWatch) Most 401(k) participants plans are on their own when it comes to deciding how to turn their retirement savings into reliable, lifetime income. ... Most employers pay retiring employees a lump sum from the 401(k) plan and don't provide any help with the critical task of generating retirement income from that savings. 
... To set the stage for future changes, a new study from the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) shows employers how they can help their older workers plan for a secure retirement. (Disclosure: I was the primary author of this report).
What are the challenges?
The long-term shift from traditional pensions to defined contribution and hybrid defined benefit plans places significant responsibility on retirees to generate lifetime retirement income. For example:
  • Given people's longer life expectancy these days, the money set aside for retirement may need to last a long time -- potentially 20 to 30 years or more.
  • Market volatility complicates the challenge of managing savings in retirement. Since 1987, there have been four major market meltdowns. Retirees can expect -- and should plan for -- more meltdowns.
  • English: Proportion of pay to save.
    English: Proportion of pay to save. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    Many employees don't know how to calculate the amount of savings they need to generate adequate income during their retirement. They often guess at this amount, and they usually guess too low. 
  • English: Retirement savings for various period...
    English: Retirement savings for various periods with squirrel and nut analogy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • There's also evidence that retirees are doing a poor job of managing retirement risks; many lack a formal plan to generate retirement income from their savings, and as a result, they're planning to spend down assets at an unsustainable rate. Others are under-spending in retirement for fear of running out of money, leaving them with less money for necessary expenses.
These challenges could all be addressed if 401(k) plan sponsors provided retirement income programs within their 401(k) plans instead of just pre-retirement investment vehicles. So why aren't more employers offering such programs? The primary reason seems to be how plan sponsors view their defined contribution plans. According to one study, 91 percent of plan sponsors view them as savings plans, while only 9 percent view them as vehicles for providing retirement income.
A cultural shift is needed: Employers and plan sponsors need to commit to operating their 401(k) plans not just as a way to save for retirement but as plans that help employees before and during their retirement.
Help is on the way
Several reputable financial institutions offer an array of retirement income products, including AllianceBernstein, Fidelity Investments, Financial Engines, Great-West Insurance, Guided Choice, Income Solutions, Prudential, Schwab, Transamerica, UBS and Vanguard. Many of these products and services are available on the platforms of 401(k) plan administrators, such as AonHewitt, Fidelity Investments, J.P. Morgan, Mercer, T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, Wells Fargo and Xerox/Buck. The bottom line is that plan sponsors now have realistic retirement income products they can offer in their 401(k) plans.
The SCL/SOA study provides employers with guidelines for selecting the products and services that employers can offer in their 401(k) plans and implementing a successful program of retirement income. The report describes common retirement income generators (RIG), such as annuities and systematic withdrawals, and provides projections of the amounts of retirement income that each RIG might generate. These projections show that a retiree's choice of a RIG can have a significant impact on the amount of income they'll receive, when they initially retire and throughout their retirement.
One important conclusion from the SCL/SOA study is that plan sponsors can significantly increase the amount of retirement income employees might receive by offering retirement income products that come with institutional pricing instead of the standard retail pricing individuals have to pay for such plans. Institutionally priced products have the potential to increase retirement incomes by five to 20 percent.
Plan sponsors and employers are uniquely positioned to help their employees convert their retirement savings into income without any economic incentive that might bias individuals' decision-making. This objectivity will help older workers retire with confidence and security.
If this scenario sounds promising to you, show this blog post to your employer and diplomatically ask them to consider implementing a program of retirement income in your 401(k) plan. Employers often respond to employee requests, and if enough of your coworkers make the same request, you can make it happen.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

  • Steve VernonON TWITTER »
    For more than 35 years, consulting actuary Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs. Now he's a Research Scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct, and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He also delivers retirement planning workshops and has authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.
'via Blog this'
Enhanced by Zemanta