Here in Pennsylvania, December brings a marked change in the weather—a chill appears that wasn’t there just a few days before. As Australians, the James family is really rocked by cold weather. The coats come out for anything below 50 degrees! So, while some families sport flip-flops and shorts well into winter, my gang still clings to woolen hats and gloves to bring us comfort.

One of the many lessons I learned from 2020, is that finding comfort is important for everyone. Actually, most of us just want to know that everything is going to be all right.

Vanguard recently conducted a study to understand what matters most to investors in the wake of this year’s unsettling events. The data revealed that most Americans (62%) are managing their finances more closely because of the pandemic. Post-COVID investors are feeling more cautious, fearful, and skeptical. Millennials have been the most concerned, with 46% saying that COVID-19 has increased their interest in financial advice.*

Personalized peace of mind

As a plan sponsor, you can help reassure investors with timely, tailored support. Perhaps your plan participants already benefit from good plan design and the advice embedded in their selected Target Retirement Fund. Even so, with many investors looking for financial peace of mind, the climate is ripe for providing more personalized advice solutions.

We believe everyone can benefit from advice—from the do-it-yourselfer to the more hands-off investor. Our research shows that advice helps investors maintain more appropriately diversified portfolios, increases the probability of achieving a financial goal, and may contribute to an investor’s overall sense of financial well-being.**

However, what’s right for one participant might not be a good fit for another. Tailoring the experience to the needs of each person is key—some only need a nudge in the right direction, while others are looking for specific guidance. Some investors just want to check in to see if they are still on track. Others nearing retirement may be concerned about timing, Social Security options, and retirement income sources. In each scenario, easy access to advice can make a big difference in investor outcomes.

No longer a pipe dream

When I worked in the retirement business in Australia 20 years ago, I used to think that being able to get advice directly to participants was just a pipe dream. Cost-effective technology just didn’t exist.

Today I’m thrilled to see our teams working in a dynamic way to provide participants with advice and guidance. Our advice focuses on total financial well-being, which includes such things as debt management, emergency savings, and retirement income paychecks. We’re taking investors beyond retirement to support them as they pursue their unique financial goals.

I grew up in a blue-collar family, and my parents’ energy was all about maintaining our family’s financial viability. As the cold winter sets in, I’m grateful that we’re helping families find the comfort they need. Whether it’s thick winter coats or flip-flops, we want to help everyone achieve whatever it is they need to increase their chances of investment success.

For more information, please visit advice/wellness landing page or contact your Vanguard relationship manager.

* Source: Generational Views on Financial Advice, Investing, and Retirement. A Vanguard Digital Advisor™ Survey. Vanguard, August 2020.
** Source: Pagliaro, Cynthia A., Stephen P. Utkus, Assessing the Value of Advice, Vanguard, September 2019.


  • All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
  • Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
  • Investments in Target Retirement Funds are subject to the risks of their underlying funds. The year in the fund name refers to the approximate year (the target date) when an investor in the fund would retire and leave the workforce. The fund will gradually shift its emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative ones based on its target date. An investment in a Target Retirement Fund is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date.
  • Advice services offered through Vanguard Institutional Advisory Services® are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc., a registered investment advisor.