Free Financial Advising Helps Employees Budget and Save

Free Financial Advising Helps Employees Budget and Save

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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Hands holding piggy bank
Hands holding piggy bank

Bills piling up? Kids heading off to college? Need some help planning for retirement? There are times when we could all use the help of a good financial adviser.

What you might not know is that if you work at the University of Arizona, you've got free access to just that.

Any UA employee can schedule free financial advising appointments with either of the University's Optional Retirement Plan providers – TIAA-CREF or Fidelity Investments.

You don't have to be enrolled in a University retirement program, or even be benefits eligible, to take advantage of the free service, which may be among the lesser-known UA employee perks.

"If you're getting a paycheck here on campus, you have a financial adviser. You just have to know to call them," said Joan Feldman, director of benefits for Human Resources.

Financial advisers are available for one-on-one appointments in person or over the phone to help with a variety of financial issues, such as budgeting, retirement planning and limited estate planning. Employees are asked to come prepared with all of their current financial information and are welcome to bring their spouses to appointments.

"They want to help you. They want you be successful in building your wealth," Feldman said. "Talking about financial concerns with a neutral person can be really helpful."

In addition to the free financial advising, Human Resources hosts a Financial Education Program for employees during the academic year.

Next year's program, still in the planning stage and expected to roll out in late September or early October, will feature seminars and educational open houses focused on supplemental retirement plans and how to structure a saving plan that fits your age, goals and life commitments. Participating will be representatives from TIAA-CREF and Fidelity as well as VALIC and Nationwide, two of the University's supplemental retirement plan providers.

Although most benefits-eligible employees must participate in a retirement program – either the Arizona State Retirement System or the Optional Retirement Plan (PDF) – setting aside additional savings can help provide for a more financially comfortable retirement, Feldman notes.

"Even if they have a good pension when they retire through ASRS or even if they have a nice return on their investments with Fidelity and TIAA-CREF, there can be surprises for people when they retire. In those cases, if they have a little bit of extra money it can really be helpful," Feldman said. "One of the big concerns we hear right now is paying for health care after retirement."

The UA offers two supplemental retirement plans. The Voluntary 403(b) Plan offers employees the opportunity to defer tax on a portion of earnings by purchasing traditional annuity or mutual fund products through the University's authorized investment companies – Fidelity, TIAA-CREF or VALIC. The state of Arizona's Deferred Compensation Plan, administered by Nationwide, allows employees to defer a pre-tax portion of earnings into a supplemental retirement account. 

With participants in ASRS already contributing about 12 percent of their gross income to retirement and participants in the optional program putting in 7 percent, Feldman acknowledges some people might be reluctant to set aside more. But she stresses that saving just a little bit extra can go a long way.

"People think saving is painful, saving is a chore, and one of the objectives we have is to help people make some simple savings calculations – maybe they just don't get a latte once a week. Then when they retire they can sit back and say that’s a really nice nest egg, and it didn’t hurt to create it," she said.

It's never too early to start thinking about retirement, says Staci Wilson, senior benefits analyst, who is helping to develop the upcoming Financial Education Program.

"I don't think our younger population really thinks about retirement, so some of the programs that we provide will hopefully give them a better idea of what retirement is going to cost and how much you can really make your money grow if you start saving when you're young," she said.

"We're really recommending supplemental savings for all populations," Wilson added. "There are some individuals who are just starting out, and they have very different savings needs and strategies than someone who's getting closer to retirement or someone who's at the height of their career, so we want to address the needs of all populations."

To schedule a free financial advising appointment, call:

  • Fidelity Investments – Damond Petersen, 866-588-2612, or Kyle Spahn, 480-220-6034
  • TIAA-CREF – Mark Largent, 866-548-3705, ext. 453249

For additional information, call Human Resources at 520-621-3662.

UA@Work is produced by the Office of University Communications

888 N. Euclid Ave., Ste. 413 (or) 
P.O. Box 210158, Tucson, AZ 85721

T 520.621.1877  F 520.626.4121

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