Monthly Archives: August 2017

We Made It! 700 Employers!

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As you may know, LAGERS recently reached a milestone of 700 employers. While this milestone may not seem that significant to most, it tells quite an amazing story. Each and every year, LAGERS adds around 10-20 new employers seeking a way to recruit quality employees and give them a path to leave the workforce when they reach retirement age. Those employers that join LAGERS believe that this system gives their subdivision the best way to accomplish their goal perhaps better than providing a defined contribution plan.

In fact, since 2011, LAGERS has added 99 employers and more than 50% of these employers switched from a defined contribution plan to LAGERS. This also tells a story -where employers’ defined contribution plans simply were not working for them. So they sought out the services of a secure retirement benefit through LAGERS…a flight to security.

I recently had the chance to sit down with LAGERS Executive Director, Bob Wilson, regarding this milestone. When he started at LAGERS in 1994, the system had only 350 employers. At that time it was his job to meet with each and every employer at least once every two years. Now that the system has doubled in size, we wanted to get a little bit of perspective from him. Check out the video below where he talks about his career and the focus at LAGERS through the years.

Thinking About Running for the LAGERS Board? Your Questions Answered.

With Annual Meeting upon us, you may be wondering what all the ‘Board Election’ fuss is about. As Member and Employer Delegates arrive at the Meeting, they take on the task of learning about and reporting back to their coworkers and employers the status of the LAGERS system. Perhaps of all a delegates’ jobs, however, none is more important than that of participating in the Board elections.  But what does it actually mean to be a Trustee on the LAGERS Board?  Here are answers to a few Board FAQS:

What Does the LAGERS Board do?

The principal role of the LAGERS Board is to ensure that LAGERS is appropriately governed and managed. Their job is to serve the best interests of LAGERS members and beneficiaries and to protect the assets of the system.

LAGERS Board takes on the broader issues and sets the tone of the system from the top down. Though many issues are handled at an all board level, many are also handled within specialized standing committees: Audit and Finance, Governance, and Legislative. While the Board holds ultimate oversight over both operations and investments of the system, they delegate many of the day to day tasks to LAGERS staff.

What are the Time Commitments for Serving on the Board?

Board members serve four year terms and meet at least quarterly at the LAGERS office in Jefferson City, as well as during LAGERS Annual meeting. There may be issues that require additional meetings or conference calls in between normally scheduled meetings.

Wondering what qualifies an individual to help make global decisions for a $6 billion pension system? LAGERS board members must comply with state law which requires a minimum of six hours of educational training per year for all Trustees.   These education requirements are generally fulfilled at the MAPERS (Missouri Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems Conference), through in-house training, or by other educational conferences across the state and nation.

Do Board Members Receive Compensation for their Service?

Serving on the LAGERS Board is a volunteer position, and trustees are not paid for their services. While they do receive reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses they incur while traveling to and from board meetings, they don’t receive any additional compensation.

Why Would I Want to Serve on the Board?

Want to know the coolest thing about LAGERS Board of Trustees? They are just like you: LAGERS members and employers working hard to provide/ earn retirement benefits that enable employees to retire with a little dignity and security. There is nobody who has greater skin in the game than LAGERS board members. They serve because they believe in the value and importance of your defined benefit. They believe that protecting the integrity of the LAGERS system means ensuring the retirement security of thousand of public servants across the state.  LAGERS board members are the voice for these public servants, and these public servants are the backbone of Missouri’s communities.

So whether you choose to run for the Board, participate in the board election process, or simply choose to trust others to make those decisions on your behalf, know that the individuals running your LAGERS retirement system care deeply about ensuring its long term success and stability.

LAGERS’ Intern Experience

This month Chelsea, our photography and design intern, leaves us to head back to school at the University of Missouri. We asked her to leave us with a parting gift, a blog post about her experience with us over the summer. Here is what she wrote:

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Through my experience as a summer intern at Missouri LAGERS I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and do outstanding things while traveling all over Missouri learning about our local government workers and what they do for our communities.

IMG_2726In the beginning of my internship I couldn’t help thinking what a great opportunity I had been given, and now as summer comes to a close I can see that the experience of this internship has exceeded my expectations.

IMG_2644From having the opportunity to view the lake of the Ozarks from a 12 story high view to feeding a cheetah this summer it has truly been an honor to work for such a great organization with even better employees.

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Missouri LAGERS has helped me grow in my design skills as well as my professional skills. Being a part of the LAGERS team is truly a blessing and a wonderful place to intern.  I can’t wait to continue to do what I love and share with others my experiences.

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3 Common Misconceptions About Joining LAGERS

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One of my responsibilities over the years has been assisting some employers in joining the LAGERS system. The more of these employers I speak with, the more I have found there are some common misconceptions about the joining process. So, I thought I would clear up some of these common misunderstandings.

  • Misconception: Employers Must Cover 100% of Prior Service. Prior service is the time an employee has worked for a subdivision prior to the entity joining LAGERS. When an employer joins the LAGERS system, they do have the option to cover all of the employees’ prior service. However, they also have the option to cover 75%, 50%, or 25% of prior service. Also, if the employer has a plan that is similar in purpose to LAGERS, they will not be able to cover that prior service because it was covered by the previous plan.

 

  • Misconception: Employers Must Pay Unfunded Liability Before Joining. Before an employer can join the LAGERS system, they must get an initial cost study completed that will show the cost of all of the available benefit programs. Included in this cost study is the unfunded liability for covering the prior service of the employer’s current employees for all of the available benefit levels. Sometimes, employers misinterpret this section as being the amount that must be paid upfront when the employer joins LAGERS. However, it is just a disclosure of the liability that will be undertaken by the employer if they join. Instead, the unfunded liability is amortized over a 30 year closed period and paid for through the employer’s monthly contributions. If an employer would like to pay the liability when joining, they can do so, and it will lessen their monthly contributions.

 

  • Misconception: If an Employer Has LAGERS, They Can’t Have a Defined Contribution Account. Many of the employers who are looking into LAGERS are looking at making the shift from their defined contribution investment plan to LAGERS’ defined benefit plan. They believe they can only exclusively have LAGERS or a defined contribution account plan. In fact, LAGERS employers can have both LAGERS coverage and a defined contribution plan.

Historically, when defined contribution plans were created, they were intended to supplement an employee’s pension and Social Security income. So, this may be the best set-up for an employer to provide both a defined benefit plan through LAGERS and a defined contribution plan. This will give an employee the ability to ensure they can meet their secure retirement goals.

These common misunderstandings may have negative impact on an employer joining the LAGERS system. So, I thought I would address these here to help those employers who may be thinking about joining LAGERS. This is all in an effort to continue to give Missouri’s local government employees a secure and dignified retirement.

Is your employer looking into LAGERS? Please feel free to contact us!

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Jeff Pabst, CRC Education & Outreach Coordinator

There are still some people out there fighting for pensions

Photo by Ryan Tang on Unsplash

I recently attended a meeting of pension advocates from across the country where I had the privilege of presenting on communicating the value of public service. The big takeaway from this meeting: there are still people out there fighting for pensions.

The people I met are passionate about the necessity of pension plans and strongly believe – as I do – that pensions are the most efficient way to promote retirement security for all people. I was refreshed and energized to be surrounded by so many like-minded people and incredibly pleased to find that there are others who are willing to stand up for this very worthy cause.

As wonderful as it is to know there are other willing participants, we need more warriors in this fight. There is a well-funded machine operating in state capitals across the country that want to eliminate pensions in favor of unreliable 401(k) plans. We are going to need more people on the front lines if we are to turn the tides in this battle.

If you want to help, I would encourage you to sign up for LAGERS’ e-mail list so you keep up-to-date on what’s going on in Missouri in regards to pensions. Also, check out what the National Public Pension Coalition is doing to help in this struggle.

This is a worthy cause, one in which we can prevail with the right approach and increased number of people willing to speak up.

 

Jeff Kempker
Asst. Executive Director,
Member Services

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Working After Retirement?

bigstock-Grand-ma-in-the-kitchen-using--15279524We all dream of the day when we can retire. We dream of the option to come and go as we please, sleep as late as we want, and do as we wish.

But what happens when you get that call. The call from your former employer telling you that they need you back. Even just “for a few hours a week” or maybe even a few days. Or what happens when you realize you have so much time on your hands that you need to keep busy doing something; or maybe you get the itch to do something completely different from what you did before in your career?

What are your options in LAGERS?

Well, you do have options. It depends on if you plan to go back full or part time, whether you’re doing something new or coming back to your former employer.

Read our previous blog on this subject , and check out our section on our new website “Working After Retirement”. And as always, if you have other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions. We’re always here to help!

Annual Meeting is Getting Closer!

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As we enter August, it means the kids are going back to school, playoff baseball is approaching, the leaves will soon be falling and of course football! But, that’s not the only thing that is quickly approaching. In a nearly two months, we will be gathering for the LAGERS system’s 50th Annual Meeting. That’s right, 50 years of retirement security! We will be holding our meeting at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Lake Ozark Missouri on October 19 & 20th.

 

As you may have seen on social media or an email, there is no longer a fee to attend the Annual Meeting. This meeting is such a great way to network with your colleagues across the state, learn more about your retirement system and meet LAGERS board and staff. Also, this is such a great place to have your voice heard by participating in the board of trustee elections. What a better way to participate in the future direction of your retirement plan.

So, put the dates on your calendar, register online, book your hotel room and we will see you in a couple months!

 

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Jeff Pabst, CRC Education & Outreach Coordinator

Employer Spotlight – City of Springfield, Dickerson Park Zoo

Last month we celebrated National Zoo Keeper Week by visiting our members at the zoo in Springfield, Missouri. Since some of the employees of Dickerson Park Zoo are LAGERS members we wanted to see what a day in the life of a LAGERS member at the zoo was really like.

One of the first things we did was meet the baby cheetahs. Zookeeper Sheila even let us feed mama cheetah!

LAGERS member Sheila Samek at work at the Dickerson Park Zoo

We visited many people and animals that day, including Brock at his “Keeper Chat” where he educated us on Dickerson Park Zoo’s elephants.

We also saw April at the animal hospital, and learned all about the Zoo’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Project.

April Marler with one of the patients at the Dickerson Park Zoo Animal Hospital

It was a wonderful day learning about what these unique LAGERS members do everyday to keep the zoo running. From the zoo keepers to the maintenance department, these hardworking employees do their jobs every day knowing that when they retire LAGERS will be there for them.

Special thanks to everyone at the zoo, and especially to Joey Powell in marketing for coordinating our trip. We’ll be posting more pictures of our trip on our Facebook page very soon, so keep on the lookout for those as well.

It’s great to get out of the office and see our members in action!

Quarterly Update

Quarterly Update.png“It’s a very important thing we do. We have a very important job for our members” – Bob Wilson, new LAGERS director.

In our latest quarterly update video, Bob and Brian Collett, CIO, give us an update on LAGERS, including topics like:

  • The health of the system, and how we keep LAGERS financially strong
  • An update on investment returns, and how LAGERS uses 5 year smoothing
  • Long term strategies for LAGERS success
  • And Bob’s vision of LAGERS moving forward as director.

Watch our latest video here:

July Article Roundup

Dog Siesta On Beach ChairIt might be the lazy, dog days of summer, but there’s still a lot of retirement news out there for you to catch up on, now that you’re back from that beach vacation. Here are some notable articles for you from July.

Retirement misconceptions, from A to Social Security

“I had better not count on Social Security for anything because the system is going bankrupt” – Heard this one before? There are a few misconceptions out there in the retirement discussion, and this article does a good job trying to dissect and dispel them.

Read the article here.

Post-retirement plans should start before you retire

Want to turn a passion into a part- (or full-) time profession in retirement? This article helps you put that plan into place.

Read the article here.

Why you should be saving 15% (or more) of your income

Let’s face it – the cost of retirement, just like everything else, is going up. This article even claims that the average couple today could need up to $400,000 in retirement for healthcare alone! Read more about why you need to up your retirement savings goals here.

Read more here.

Your 401(k) match may have some strings attached

How much do you really know about your company 401k/match program? Make sure that you’re familiar with the details. This MarketWatch post points out some things to look out for.

Read more here.

Now you’re all caught up. So get back out there and enjoy the last few weeks of summer. We’ll keep you updated again next month.

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