Saving for retirement is key

Posted: February 04, 2014

In his post State of the Union road show, President Obama stopped by a steel plant in Western Pennsylvania to promote a new plan to help Americans save for retirement.

"If you've worked hard all your life, you deserve a secure retirement," Obama said Wednesday.

Obama directed the U.S. Treasury Secretary to set up a government-backed individual retirement account (IRA) system and link it so employees could contribute, through payroll deductions. Obama dubbed it MyRA.

Robert "Bob" Guillocheau, 53, chief executive of Ascensus Inc., the Dresher-based back office processor of retirement and college-savings plans, said there are retirement solutions he might prefer.

But, he said, "Any time 'Let's do more to help Americans save for retirement' is written into a presidential speech, it's a good day."

Question: Your company handles administrative functions - statements, communications, payments - for retirement and college plans set up by six million people through their banks, investment funds, or workplaces. Are the baby boomers going to be able to afford to retire?

Answer: According to a recent study, near-retirees, age 60-64, have on average $360,000 in the defined contribution accounts and IRAs combined.

Q: Everyone is living longer. Is that enough? Even with Social Security, that sounds like a hotdogs-and-baked-beans budget.

A: These do not include other assets like the home that becomes too large to manage in retirement, and other savings. So I think the leading edge of the baby boom generation is in better shape than you might think.

Q: What percentage of your income should you be saving for retirement?

A: People really ought to be saving 12, 13, 14 percent of their pretax income in order to have an adequate retirement nest egg.

Q: That's saving steadily throughout, right?

A: If you spend the first 20 to 25 years of your working career without doing any savings - then you are in a really pretty big catch-up situation.

Q: How much do you save?

A: I'm probably in the 14 to 18 percent range. I think it's a priority kind of thing.

Q: You attended a Jesuit college. Did your education influence your management?

A: I can't actually believe you said that. I actually have goose pimples right now that you actually thought about that.

Q: Describe your philosophy.

A: Servant leadership. I really am a complete believer in it. To me, when you are a leader, it doesn't bring privilege; it only brings responsibility.

Q: So where does servant leadership come in?

A: Every one of our associates, I see as a client. So in my role, I have 1,400 clients who happen to work here. My responsibility is to create the kind of a culture where our associates see Ascensus as a place to have a career, not just have a job.

Q: On a less lofty note, what do you do for fun?

A: Right now, I'm reading a book about Bruce Springsteen. I'm a big fan.

Q: Why?

A: He has an incredible ability in his music to tell stories. And the stories are generally about working-class folks who are trying to do the right thing.

Q: Do you play guitar?

A: I don't. If I ever retired, I would love to take lessons and actually be able to play.


ROBERT 'BOB' GUILLOCHEAU

Title: President, chief executive, Ascensus Inc.

Hometown: Malvern.

Family: Wife, Maritza; children, Ally, 19, Olivia, 17, Andrew, 12.

Diploma: College of the Holy Cross, economics and accounting.

Prior job: Most years at First Data Retirement Services.

Sport: Lacrosse, played mid-field in college.

Say it: Gee - "g" as in go. Gee-uh-show.


ASCENSUS

Business: Back office administration for retirement, college, and health savings plans.

Headquarters: Dresher.

Individual accounts managed: 6.2 million.

Employment: 1,400, 130 contractors in India.

Local jobs: 400.

Latest acquisition: Upromise Investments Inc., program manager and record-keeper for college savings plans.

Retirement assets administered: $50 billion.

College assets administered: $58.3 billion.

Newest direction: Administration of health savings accounts.


MORE ONLINE

Bob Guillocheau on company values when times are tough. www.inquirer.com/jobbing


jvonbergen@phillynews.com

215-854-2769

@JaneVonBergen

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