Five Questions With: Brian Rocha

Brian Rocha was recently hired as vice president of retirement plan services financial consultant for Rockland Trust.

He previously served as vice president and portfolio manager for Bank of America Corp. He has a bachelor’s degree from Bryant University and is a certified financial planner and a chartered retirement planning counselor.

PBN: What does your new role with Rockland Trust entail?

ROCHA: Rockland Trust made a strategic decision to create this new role to help service business owners and their employees with retirement planning strategies, and understand all of the options available to them. This role allows me the opportunity to help those business owners and their employees better understand their options and develop steps to achieve their retirement plan goals. One way I will do this is through educational workshops and communication with plan participants on a variety of topics, including financial planning, portfolio management, budgeting, asset allocation/diversification and estate planning.

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PBN: What are your goals for the next year as Rockland’s plan services financial consultant?

ROCHA: At Rockland Trust, we’re in the business of building relationships. We are committed to meeting the needs of our customers and providing value for them. One way we are doing this is through our Financial Wellness program, which is designed to deliver relevant content and to increase contact with plan participants via one-to-one virtual meetings and group seminars.

PBN: How has COVID-19 affected the advice you give regarding retirement savings plans?

ROCHA: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing a shift in clients’ mindsets from a singular focus to a broadened focus on their total “financial wellness.” In order for individuals to stay on track with their retirement savings, it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Our advice extends beyond retirement plan options to include strategies to tackle everyday life events such as being prepared if you experience an extended layoff, long-term care planning with disability insurance in the event you become ill, or making sure your assets are in order with proper estate planning.

PBN: Why is it important for business owners and individuals to seek professional expertise and services when crafting a retirement plan?

ROCHA: As a business owner, there can be challenges and risks in trying to manage your own company’s retirement plan. With the ever-changing tax laws and regulatory changes around fiduciary responsibility, it is prudent to work with an experienced professional to help create and select a retirement plan. Doing so can help reduce the liability and responsibility that comes with managing a plan. It is also beneficial to individual retirement participants because it provides a resource to help them navigate the myriad of choices to achieve their retirement savings goals such as investment selection, contribution rates and pre- versus post-tax savings options.

PBN: What long-term effects will the pandemic have on retirement and the way people plan/save?

ROCHA: The pandemic has impacted individuals on a variety of levels and in some ways has forced us to think differently about our future. For businesses who were able to keep their lights on over the past few months and maintain their workforce, we’ve seen an increase in contributions to retirement plans and plan participants reaping the benefits of the market’s volatility through dollar cost averaging.

Conversely, some businesses, namely small to midsized companies, were negatively impacted by the pandemic and some will experience lasting effects. Certain industries, such as hospitality, retail and transportation have been hit the hardest. This segment of the workforce has experienced record unemployment numbers, which may negatively impact their ability to contribute and save for retirement. With unemployment benefits expiring in July, it may also negatively impact their long-term retirement plan if they are forced to take early withdrawals.

Whether the current environment has created challenges or opportunities, it’s my job to help plan participants assess their current situation and develop a plan that allows them to continue working towards their retirement goals.

Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for PBN. Contact her at