By Dan Kadlec, Time
In the presidential debates, we’ve heard more about Donald Trump’s anatomy than what may be the most pressing financial issue directly in front of millions of boomers: Where will they find monthly retirement income that is guaranteed for life?
The retirement industry can talk about almost nothing else, which in hindsight seems a predictable turn. Did we really believe Americans would manage their 401(k) plans well enough to stash away 25 years of post-career financial security? We haven’t come close, and in this sense the 401(k) has been a colossal failure. Now the first wave of pensionless retirees is about to land, and politicians have almost nothing to say on the subject.
One reason is that there are no quick fixes, which is why it may be time to dust off a long-term solution first floated in the 1990s and still championed by one of its architects, Bob Kerrey, the former democratic senator from Nebraska. He would like every child born in the U.S. to receive $1,000 in a “KidSave” account that would compound over 65 years before being tapped. “For most people it’s not income that matters,” says Kerry, now with investment firm Allen & Co. “It’s wealth accumulation.”
In other words, retirement security is less about what you earn and more about how much and how soon you save. Compound growth over seven decades can do a lot of heavy lifting.
Kerrey reiterated his support for what he calls “wealth accounts” last week during a discussion on the financial impact of longevity, hosted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch at the Museum of American Finance in New York. These wealth accounts would be funded at every child’s birth through a government loan, to be repaid when the child enters the workforce some 25 years later.