About a year ago, I had a conversation with some of my friends about what I do for a living. When I told them I work for a public pension plan, their reaction was not quite what I expected. They began telling me pension plans are old fashioned and the best type of retirement plan was the 401(k). They all work in private industry and are seeing fewer private employers provide pension plans. So, their assumption is, of course, the 401(k) is better.
Flexibility may not be a word you often hear associated with public pension plans. These plans are typically created by state or local policymakers, and changes to the plan structure are sometimes difficult and time-consuming. This is OK for many public pension plans because they cover workers with similar characteristics. It is common, for example, for all teachers covered by a pension plan to have the same retirement benefits regardless of the school district that employs them. All employees have the same benefits; the school districts and employees share in the cost of benefits; and all pay the same amount for those benefits.
Let’s think about these two words for a moment…”covet” (to yearn to possess or have something) vs. “begrudge” (to envy or resent the good fortune of someone, to be unhappy or upset because someone has something you think they do not deserve).
Since the Great Recession in 2008, warnings of an impending pension crisis have been splashed across the business pages of newspapers across the country. Despite these boisterous decrees, America’s public pension funds are stable. We explore the roots behind the false pension crisis narrative and examine the facts.
My colleague Penny and I recently spent some time in Rolla to honor one of our long-standing members, Rolla Municipal Utilities employee Rosalie Spencer, who was celebrating 50 years with the organization with a lunch reception. Around 70 of Rosalie's friends, family and coworkers present and past were on hand to celebrate her accomplishment. "When I started here, I told them if they hired me I wanted to stay until I retire. And I am." Rosalie plans to retire at the end of April of this year, and because she has stayed for 50 years should be able to replace a sizable amount of her salary with her LAGERS benefit.
“I think ethics is the most exciting topic in the world to talk about,” said no one ever.
I know people who actually cringe when they discover a seminar or conference they will be attending has a session on ethics. Some professions require training in ethics—for example, those of us with a CPA license must obtain a whopping two hours of ethics training per year. (Thank you Enron, Arthur Anderson, etc…)
Tagged compliance, Defending Pensions, Defined Benefit, Getting it Right, Members, pensions, Retirement, retirement planning, Retirement Security, Secure, secure retirement, Security, Strategy, Goals, ethics
"Your first year in retirement is a little like starting a new job, only without all the work. But still, it involves establishing a routine, figuring out when your money will come in, building new relationships, and feeling excited about the future. Starting a new job means dealing with a lot of unknowns, and beginning a new chapter in life as big as retirement is no different. Here is what you can expect from LAGERS during your first year."
A recent report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes that retirement security for Americans is on shaky ground and recommends Congress do something about it.
Above: 2016 annual benefits paid to LAGERS' benefit recipients in Missouri.
Employee benefits are often thought to be for the betterment of one and only one group - the employees. Rather than simply providing a salary, employers use benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacation to build morale, keep good workers, and to attract new workers. For these reasons, it makes sense to think that compensation other than salary are good for the employees and only the employees. But there is more to it than that.
A publicly-held company must make decisions that will positively affect the bottom line so the shareholders may profit. Likewise, government leaders serve the taxpayers and make decisions to enhance the prosperity of their communities. Decisions about employee benefits, therefore, cannot only be valuable to the employee, but also must make sense for the shareholder or taxpayer. In other words, all stakeholders must get some return on the investment for employee benefits.
Since the Great Recession in 2008, warnings of an impending pension crisis have been splashed across the business pages of newspapers across the country. Despite these boisterous decrees, America's public pension funds are stable. We explore the roots behind the false pension crisis narrative and examine the facts.