Putnam Investments President and CEO Robert L. Reynolds asked financial advisors today to consider seven investment strategies that "could offer tremendous value to clients" and to support three key changes that "could dramatically lift America’s retirement readiness."

“We find ourselves moving -- ever-so-tentatively -- into a financial future with seemingly only one certainty: It will likely be very different than the investment world in which we all grew up,” Reynolds told more than 300 attendees at the 4th Annual Financial Advisor/Private Wealth Retirement Symposium at The Peabody Orlando conference center in Florida. “This suggests that conventional wisdom shaped by decades of high-return investing -- first in equities from 1982 to 2000, then in fixed-income markets over most of this young century -- needs to be re-examined, revised or even scrapped.”

Reynolds pointed to the lower returns and increased volatility of core equity and bond markets over the past decade as the deepest sources of investors’ angst. He suggested seven investment approaches for financial advisors and investment providers to consider:

•    Seek value beyond mainstream indexes (in both equity and fixed income markets).
•    Look beyond bonds to dividend stocks as a key source for income.
•    Adopt strategies that may help curb volatility and deliver a smoother, more reliable sequence of returns.
•    Pursue “diversification of investment philosophy” by incorporating absolute return strategies in portfolios along with traditional benchmark-driven investments.
•    Apply a stringent risk-allocation lens to assess the real “balance” in investment portfolios.
•    Invest in low-beta stocks to seek less volatile, more precise risk-adjusted returns.
•    Apply Sharpe-ratio or “high efficiency” metrics to judge securities and strategies.

On retirement issues, Reynolds said advisors should take the lead on three policy changes that would strengthen the workplace saving system.

One change would be for certain provisions of the federal Pension Protection Act of 2006 to become standard or required in workplace retirement plans, he said. Those provisions include auto-enrollment, annual re-enrollment, auto escalation, and automatic default to qualified target-date or balanced funds.

He also maintained that workplace savings plans should be offered to every American who pays mandated Social Security taxes.

Third, the new baseline for workplace retirement plan savings should be 10 percent of wages, Reynolds said. The average participant savings rate is now 7 percent. “We don’t serve anyone well by allowing them to believe that saving 3 percent -- or 5 percent -- or even 7 percent -- is enough to ensure retirement readiness," he said. "Let’s tell people the truth.”

Putnam has been vocal about the need to be attuned to changes in the investment markets. In February, the company launched an awareness-building marketing campaign, “New Ways of Thinking,” that encourages financial advisors and investors to take a more targeted approach to achieve desired levels of risk and return by considering traditional and alternative products, the benefits of Sharpe ratio investing, active risk management and other strategies. It also has introduced products aimed at specific goals that include accumulating and withdrawing income for retirement, preparing for higher education costs, and building a financial legacy.

At the end of January, Putnam Investments had $133 billion in assets under management. Its mutual funds are distributed by Putnam Retail Management.