It’s a well-worn saying: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Interestingly, in this case, it’s not what happened in Vegas that was interesting. It’s what did not happen that was shocking.
Las Vegas was the site for a recent industry conference on 401(k) plans. The main theme of the conference was how to avoid a looming retirement crisis. Of all the ideas discussed, one clearly reined supreme in the eyes of the conference attendees. That idea was finding new and useful ways to encourage people to save more for retirement.
It was inspirational to hear how other advisors have applied techniques to help people understand the importance of saving for retirement. At almost every workshop, throughout lunches, and even at after-hours networking events, the importance of saving was a regular and lively topic of conversation.
It wasn’t until the flight back home, reflecting on the conference, did it hit like a ton of bricks. More than 100 financial advisors had convened over the course of three days, and not once was the status of the markets discussed. Not once was there a discussion of when the bull market for stocks would end. Not once was the future state of the economy debated.
And yet, every time you read a newspaper or watch TV or a podcast there is someone trying to predict the next tick up or down in the markets or the economy.
The outside world seems to be laser-focused on the next new, shiny investment to buy or the latest has-been security to sell. But here were some of the top advisors in the industry – the individuals who should know best how to successfully prepare for retirement – and where was their focus? Saving, saving, saving!
Our goal as retirement plan advisors is to help as many people as possible prepare for a successful retirement, whatever that may mean to them. The simple truth is that concentrating on savings is the surest path to achieving that goal. Sure, investment concepts like diversification and risk are also important. But you cannot diversify and you cannot risk what you do not save.
As investors, we must focus on the things we can control. By definition, that excludes obsessing over the market. It means we should be doing less glamorous things like looking for ways to save more, paying down debt, starting an emergency fund, and creating and following a budget.
The advice from the conference in Las Vegas could not be clearer. The top advisors in the country do not worry about the markets. They have better things to do. And so do you.
Your time and effort should be spent figuring out how you can save more from each paycheck. It’s boring but that’s the message from those in the know.
Are you saving enough?