In the first century, the Apostle Peter wrote, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” When it comes to financial planning, a person’s savings rate covers a multitude of financial sins. Simply put, it’s the single most important driver of retirement success for your employees. Although it’s not ideal, they can recover from high fees and even mediocre investment options. But no one can invest their way out of a savings deficit.
A common rule of thumb is that employees should be saving a minimum of 10 percent of their income each year, including their own contributions and employer contributions. But, 10 percent should be the floor, not the ceiling. Realistically, most employees should probably be saving between 15 to 25 percent to counteract increases in the cost of living and expanding life expectancies. But there’s no way employees can get to these types of savings levels without significantly more help from their employers.
Retirement benefits are taking a more prominent role in the eyes of employees. A 2014 survey by Fidelity Investments found that 43 percent of workers said they would accept lower pay for a higher 401(k) match. Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites, found that 80 percent of employees prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase. Millennials were even more likely to hold this opinion, with 90 percent stating this preference. The common 3 percent match is simply not enough for any company that really cares about the financial well-being of its employees and is committed to their success.
In 2018, Visa changed its matching formula to 200 percent of employee contributions up to 5 percent, for a maximum match of 10 percent. Visa employees who save at least 5 percent capture the full match and achieve a savings of 15 percent. Visa also increased the automatic enrollment default percentage to 5 percent. If you factor in automatic escalation increases, it’s possible (even likely) employees at Visa can reach a threshold of 20 percent within five years of hire. The company explained the move by saying, “With the additional 401(k) match, Visa’s US employees will enjoy a sustained benefit, consistent with the role they will play in building our business.”
I applaud Visa for its commitment to its employees and tying retirement benefits to its growth strategy. What type of goodwill do you think this creates with Visa employees or for prospective hires versus its competition? As the battle for recruiting and retaining top talent continues to intensify, I believe the companies who thrive will be the ones who make retirement funding a core aspect of its human capital strategy.