RTX Chief Investment Officer Robin Diamonte
RTX’s Chief Investment Officer Robin Diamonte is on a mission
to improve retirement savings rates for diverse populations, but she needs more
“This specific project is extremely exciting because we are
trying to understand and improve retirement savings for women and people of
color,” Diamonte said.
As a founding member of the Advisory Group for the Collaborative for Equitable Retirement Savings
– a joint initiative of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, DCIIA,
and Morningstar -- Diamonte has been
working alongside other leading employers and retirement industry experts to
find clues to help retirement plans work better for women and workers of color.
One of the opportunities to improve plan outcomes is to better address “leakage”
the industry term for what happens when people make early withdrawals from
their retirement accounts. The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program
reports that there are $60 billion to $105 billion of savings lost to premature
plan cash-outs per year -- and finding solutions to reduce those cash-outs is
an important part of improving retirement outcomes for all Americans.
Diamonte wants to help get to the bottom of exactly who is
withdrawing early from their retirement accounts, for what circumstances, and
whether some plans have a better way of helping participants to save more. She
is part of an ongoing data collection, analysis, and plan design innovation effort
at the Collaborative for Equitable Retirement Savings.
Concerned that much of the leakage is disproportionate to minorities,
she asked her own company, RTX Corporation, to supply data to see what things
she could discover.
“When we cut the data, when you adjust for salary and tenure
and age, you get some really interesting data that shows that there are significant
differences in how much (on average) diverse employees save, contribute and
invest,” she said during a phone interview with Markets Group.
leadership, a cross-functional RTX team – composed of investments, HR, and
DE&I professionals, is already taking action intended to address these lower
savings rates. For instance, RTX plans to introduce an
emergency savings vehicle that is easily accessible, as well as a new Raytheon
Financial wellness platform. Diamonte will be personally hosting seminars for
Black, Hispanic and Women employee resource groups to emphasize the importance
of saving early, staying invested, building an emergency savings fund, and
investing in an age-appropriate diversified portfolio. These virtual seminars will
help the employees at Raytheon plan ahead for health expenses, college 529
plans, and expensive emergencies that might arise in their lives.
The more data RTX and Diamonte have, the more targeted and
supportive Company programs can become. She reflected, “Black women and
Hispanic women tend to take out more withdrawals, have more loans, and right
now, we don’t have the data to show whether they are single or married, or
divorced... for example, If we saw single parents were taking out more loans,
we could design a program for single parents.”
Statistically, although the number of people with emergency
savings has increased over the past year, 22% of Americans still don’t have
emergency savings, and 57% of Americans are uncomfortable with their level of
emergency savings, according to a 2023 Emergency Savings Report from Bankrate. Diamonte has found that those with
auto-savings and auto-escalation plans in place tend to save more, and so, with
that in mind, she’s helping to create an auto emergency savings program. The
program will give people access to a higher-yielding, separate savings account,
where they will work to target a savings fund at least three times their fixed
monthly expenses and leave it untouched unless there is an emergency. It will
come directly from their paychecks.
With more data, the group could, perhaps, learn whether
hardship withdrawals are driven by health reasons or supporting elderly parents
or younger generations.
“Right now, it would be interesting to get different types
of data. Because if we had corporate and public as well as geographical and
industry data, we might be able to see if there are outliers – people doing a
better job than others. We could learn what are they doing differently that
might be working,” she said.
And so, Diamonte is putting out a call for
people to participate. “The Idea is trying to help, to implement and then actually test to see
if anything is working.”
The Collaborative for Equitable
Retirement Savings is a first-of-its-kind project, providing
analysis of 401(k) plan data. In exchange for the contribution of anonymized employee
demographic data and transaction records from the retirement plan, the
Collaborative is providing employers with free analysis of how a retirement
plan is performing – and the specific drivers of disparities in balances -- by
race, gender, and other variables. Robin is asking all plans to participate.
“Below are some resources that plan sponsors can use, in addition to the website, as they evaluate whether they would like to participate,” she wrote in an email to explain the project to reporters, allocators and other business leaders, listing: an Op/Ed about the Collaborative for Equitable Retirement Savings in Employee Benefit News; a two-pager about the Collaborative; a Sample plan sponsor analysis template; the data elements requested; and data transfer and security protocols from Morningstar.
By Christine Giordano