Campus fair promotes retirement road-mapping for financial fitness

Eager to get their financial ducks in a line, a steady stream of faculty and staff stopped by the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union on Thursday for the first-ever UC Berkeley Financial Fair.

Human Resources and University Health Services co-sponsored the fair as part of their ongoing efforts to help employees make the most of the university’s benefits package, and to showcase the myriad of work-life programs tailored to the campus community.

“As a public university, we can’t compete with the private sector on salaries, but we do offer a great benefits package,” said UHS work/life program manager Wendy Nishikawa, who organized the event. “In this tough economic climate, we thought it would be helpful to highlight all the financial resources and benefits that are available to employees.”

That smorgasbord of resources can prove daunting and difficult to navigate without professional guidance.

Take Gene Irschick, a recently retired history professor, who found grappling with the different benefits and options a trying experience at first.

“This fair is a wonderful idea,” said Irschick. “It’s great to be able to talk with real people who understand these problems and can give you answers to specific questions.”

UCB Financial Fair 2012

The campus's first-ever financial fair drew a steady stream of faculty and staff eager to learn about retirement planning and work-life benefits.

Nishikawa previously collaborated with Human Resources and the Retirement Center to develop the dedicated web portal that outlines the campus’s financial planning and educational resources.

Some 15 campus programs and affiliated vendors fielded questions Thursday on a variety of work-life topics, from saving, investing and retirement planning to insurance and kids’ college funds.

“I knew nothing about planning for retirement, but felt that I was getting to the point where I should, and this seemed like a good opportunity to get started,” said 27-year-old Lauren Roscoe, a student adviser in the College of Environmental Design.

While representatives manned information booths in Pauley Ballroom East throughout the half-day fair, a series of four financial-planning workshops in the adjacent conference room also drew crowds of employees eager to learn more about saving and investing for retirement.

Nancy Pargot, a senior retirement counselor with Fidelity Retirement Services, walked employees through the various UC plan options, online financial-fitness and retirement-roadmap tools and the importance of asset allocation and portfolio diversification. Visit the website.

“This isn’t just a financial situation,” said Patrick Cullinane, director of the UC Berkeley Retirement Center. “It’s a life situation, and people need to think about what kind of life they would like to have in retirement.”