Tag Archives: retirement

Advice for the Gig Economy on Retirement

Mark Miller, a journalist who writes about financial matters surrounding aging and retirement wrote a nice piece today  called "Retirement in the Gig Economy".http://www.wealthmanagement.com/retirement-planning/retirement-gig-economy  He discussed how Uber has a partnership with Betterment,https://www.betterment.com/why-betterment/ a fintech company that optimizes returns for investors through technology-enabled smart rebalancing and global diversification.  For Betterment it is a lead generation play, for Uber it is a way to deflect attention from the no benefits independent contractor issue, by providing some elective options.

He also mentions Honest Dollar, another fintech player that developed specialized retirement products for clients. One of those enabled  clients who engaged independent contractors to offer those contractors access to retirement products (IRAs, SEP IRAs etc.)  directly through its platform by a deduction from their fee payments. Goldman Sachs bought Honest Dollar in March, because they are "revolutionizing the retirement industry" by appealing to small businesses and gig workers.

Another firm in the space is Ubiquity,  a San Francisco based “fin tech” firm that is focused on providing retirement vehicles for small business and sole proprietorships, or as their website says, the “other 40 million”https://www.myubiquity.com/educate/. The company has their own version of an individual 401K, which they call a “single (k)”.  It has a flat fee and can be set up online. A single(k) enables an independent to make a larger contribution to retirement then would be allowed in a typical IRA or Roth IRA.

These firms are important for gig workers to know about, because they are providing solutions in today's environment.  What is more exciting are the opportunities that may come tomorrow. With very little fanfare, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously recommended Senate Bill 3471, The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act. (RESA) The bill would enable a pool of employers to contribute to retirement programs.  No action was taken by the 2016 Congress, but given the support for the measure, there is an expectation it will be taken up in 2017.

That would bode well for other efforts that are underway for pooled employer programs.  New legislation  is expected to be introduced in New York state in this year. Handy, a digital platform for handymen and household workers, along with Tech NYC, a New York state trade association, is introducing a portable benefits bill Gig Economy workers. http://www.villagevoice.com/news/uber-but-for-benefits-ny-tech-companies-propose-a-gig-economy-solution-9517993 The proposed voluntary program envisions a 2.5% fee paid by participating companies into a benefits fund. Workers could access the fund to purchase benefits, whether health insurance or pensions.  The catch, according to some, is that the bill defines the workers as independent contractors, effectively cutting these gig workers off from employment benefits like overtime.  The bill’s proponents point to the need for incremental progress toward the goal of improving the social safety net.

Little steps can help.  As the saying goes, a journey of 1000 steps begins with one.

Retire the Word Retirement



Retiring the Word Retirement

I listen to podcasts while I walk the dog and recently heard two different comments about retirement, not the concept but the word itself.  The podcast was the Ted Radio Hour show on Aging.  One commentator, Dan Buettner,  was describing his research into parts of the world where people live longer on average then the rest of the population. These pockets of longevity included Okinawa.  The researcher notes that in the Okinawan language there is no word for retirement as Americans think of it.  The closest they come is a term, eekeegai ( I apologize for my spelling…it is radio after all…)  that describes “the reason for which you wake up in the morning”. Retirement in that sense is the ultimate reason for being.

A later segment in that same show featured the wonderful Chilean American novelist,  Isabelle Allende. she says that in her native tongue the word for retirement is “jubilation” related to the american term of the same name.  Retirement, her argument went, is something joyous.  It is the time when one has paid his/her  debts to society and can therefore enjoy life; it is a time to be celebrated.

When you think of the English term, it does not quite convey the same import or celebration. Consider the Wikiword definition of retire.  The first entry is the one traditionally associated with work,  “to stop working on a regular basis.” The subsequent definitions are a bit more off putting. They include to withdraw,  to remove from circulation ( e.g. old bank note are retired) , to retreat ( e.g. to retire the regiment),  and to draw back or away — to be aloof. ( he retired to the library.) Then there is my personal favorite, to make a play in baseball which results in the batter being out. This may be the only one that conveys any joy, although the joy would be for  the defensive team only.

In the spirit of creative solutions, perhaps we need a better term to describe the period after “one stops working on a regular basis. ” The encore career notion is gaining traction in some areas, but many people are unfamiliar with it. We seem to be stuck with retirement. Maybe that is why so many (including myself) are flunking retirement.

“Passing” retirement

There are those days in the San Francisco Bay area that are just too perfect for words.  This time of year, the air is cool and crisp and the Bay is a deep lapis blue .  It is on these mornings as I walk my dog in the Presidio and marvel at the beauty, that I wonder why I have done such a bad job retiring.

What is wrong with slowing down and smelling the roses?(Something I always try to do, by the way, and am often disappointed by the uninspiring aromas of some varieties, but I digress.) Although I love the puppy, there are days when I wish I didn’t have to do the hour long exercise walk with her.  After all, there are conference calls to attend to, emails to send, research to do. Nonetheless, I need to make sure the puppy gets her constitutional. As much as I start out begrudging the time,  often, as I get deeper into the woods and see the Golden Gate bridge in the distance rising out of the fog or glowing in the sunlight, I think, but for the dog, I wouldn’t be here. But for the dog I wouldn’t see a wonderful sunset or a coyote in the morning mist. But for the dog I wouldn’t be able to practice my best balance beam technique on the lovely  serpentine logs of Andy Goldsworthy ‘s wonderful installation.

As such, I guess I owe the puppy some thanks, for she is helping me appreciate my world.  I may still not have a passing grade in retirement, but she is helping me understand its allure.  Maybe one day I will get there…

Lucy and and Andy Goldworthy's logs

Lucy and and Andy Goldworthy’s logs

In the beginning….

…there was the Oxford English Dictionary. To retire originally meant to move to a position of safety and or relaxation.  One would “retire to he bedroom”, for example. In fact an archaic definition of retirement is “a secluded or private place.”

Retirement is now a modern concept of  “ceasing work “, but I don’t find that quite accurate.  Perhaps it does involve the termination of regular remunerative tasks for a long term employer, but it can also involve the exploration of new pursuits . That exploration process can require much effort and focus and yes, work. So, the “ceasing work” definition is really not applicable.

Clearly we need a new definition of retirement, and that is part of what I hope to discover through these posts.

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