ASEC
STRATEGIC PLAN

I. ASEC Mission Statement
II. Background
III. ASEC Objectives
IV. Framework for Achieving Goals
V. Program Evaluation Methods
VI. The Forever Campaign

I. Mission Statement

The American Savings Education Council (ASEC) was formed to undertake and encourage initiatives aimed at raising public awareness about what is needed to successfully ensure long-term financial security in retirement. ASEC will work to build individual and employer awareness of the basic principles of retirement planning and saving, including all potential sources of economic security. These sources include Social Security, Medicare, traditional pension plans, profit-sharing plans, employment-based retiree medical benefits, long-term care benefits, savings programs such as 401(k), 403(b), 457, and simplified employee pension plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), personal assets, home equity, and others.

ASEC initiatives seek to encourage Americans to plan and save for retirement by starting early, letting their savings grow, and taking full advantage of retirement saving options. ASEC initiatives seek to encourage employers to offer retirement programs, savings programs, and retirement planning education. The emphasis will be on the practical benefits to individuals and employers of taking these steps.

ASEC's goal is to make retirement planning and saving a vital, permanent concern in the lives of Americans and in the economic interests of employers.

ASEC is a nonpartisan, nonlobbying council of private and public organizations that does not take positions on specific policy proposals. ASEC welcomes bipartisan support for its initiatives on raising awareness about planning and saving for retirement.

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II. Background

No matter how you look at the statistics, the bottom line is the same: many Americans are not saving enough for their retirement to maintain their current life style and be fully prepared for such contingencies as medical emergencies. That fact has two related consequences: first, people will suffer because they have not prepared; second, others will shoulder greater financial burdens because some did not prepare. Most informed experts agree that it is essential that Americans begin to make more realistic financial plans for their own retirement: that they do something for themselves. The retirement savings education campaign will focus on helping citizens understand what will be needed, what a "realistic" financial plan would be, and what it would take to implement that plan.

It is often not the fault of individuals that they do not adequately prepare. The nation has celebrated consumption over savings. It is much easier to borrow than to save. We have not educated the nation on the personal reasons to save for retirement and the long-term consequences of not doing so. This ongoing campaign will seek to reeducate the nation about the importance of retirement saving.

The dramatic growth of salary reduction savings plans (401(k)-type plans) has given the opportunity for payroll reduction saving to millions who never had it before, but many with that opportunity are not participating. To meet retirement needs, more individuals must participate. Enrollment in salary reduction savings plans can provide meaningful benefits for those who begin saving early, contribute regularly, contribute enough, and preserve the funds for retirement. To meet retirement needs, individuals must know how, when, and how much to contribute to these plans, because these plans generally do not guarantee lifetime monthly incomes and require greater personal oversight and management. Workers today need to be more educated than they have been in the past about the retirement plans in which they are enrolled. Many plan sponsors are now doing more to make that happen. The most effective method of educating individuals is through the work place. This is where many Americans learn to save.

The role of the employer in raising the awareness among employees about the need to plan and save for retirement cannot be overstated. Surveys indicate that employers are among the most cited sources of retirement education and planning information.

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III. ASEC Objectives

ASEC will seek to:

  • Elevate the retirement savings issue on the list of concerns and priorities for both individuals and the nation by building individual and employer awareness of the basic principles of retirement planning and saving.
  • Provide a clearinghouse of ASEC partners' resources and activities and resources and activities of other organizations that seek to raise public awareness about what is needed to ensure retirement security. The clearinghouse will provide the information necessary for organizations to coordinate their activities.

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IV. Framework for Achieving Goals

From Vision to Action

Changing behaviors especially those involving such a complex and difficult issue as retirement saving cannot be done overnight. The ASEC program will therefore be a sustained effort over time. The ongoing key to the ASEC effort is a consistency of message. At the same time, different program elements are intended to reinforce others and to build on each other. It is our hope that the public will hear from various sources, in different ways, the same call for increased saving.

The ASEC program seeks to reach a wide array of audiences. The program will consistently communicate its messages in personal, everyday terms. An effort will be made to garner media coverage of the issue from mainstream print and broadcast outlets as well as specialized publications and programs.

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V. Program Evaluation Methods

Ultimately, the success of this public education program will be measured by the number of Americans who gain an understanding of the need to save for retirement and then change their behavior and begin to prepare for retirement. Clear evidence of a positive trend will not be evident for some time. To measure the success of this program, we must therefore turn to other indicators. These include:

  • Media coverage of the issue: by counting the number of print articles on retirement saving and keeping a log of broadcast reports, we can determine if the campaign "over time" has a discernible impact on media coverage.
  • Public opinion: gauge public perceptions through opinion research (questions can be periodically tacked onto national polls).
  • Replication: count the number of organizations, businesses, and state agencies that are replicating campaign elements and themes.
  • Assess how others including government officials and agencies, partners, associations, and businesses are sounding the savings and financial preparation themes.

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VI. The Forever Program

This campaign is a beginning without an end, as each demographic wave will require a new wave of education. The campaign seeks nothing less than to affect the nation's consumption culture, by encouraging all Americans to consume less today and save, in order to consume more tomorrow and, in the process, to have better control over their own financial and life destiny.

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