Pre-Retirement Seminar Season is Here

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That’s right! The Pre-Retirement Seminar season is upon us! In years past, we have usually started our Pre-Retirement Seminar season near mid-March. However, this year we started the seminars a bit earlier because we added more seminars to the schedule. In fact, our first regional seminar is this week in Chesterfield.

Who should attend a seminar? I would recommend that if you are within 5-6 years of retirement you should attend. I know you might be thinking that it is too far from when you plan to retire, but there will be another one for you to attend once you get closer. So, I suggest that you attend a seminar when you are about five years out and attend another one once you are within a year of walking out the door.

Also, if you are a person who is responsible for your employer’s benefits (Human Resources, Payroll, etc.), you are welcome to attend a seminar as well! These seminars are a great source of information to help you answer some of your employees’ questions.

Why should I attend a seminar? Seminars are packed with great educational information that will help you better understand your LAGERS benefit and allow you to make informed decisions about your options at retirement. Our full-day seminars also include a presentation about Social Security and Medicare. When you leave a LAGERS seminar, you should feel like you have a better grasp on your retirement plan.

When and where are the seminars? We are having 33 seminars across the State of Missouri in 2017. Some are full-day seminars and others are in the afternoon or evening. Click the calendar image below to find a seminar in your area and register for one!

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This calendar is searchable. For example, if you would like to see what seminars are in the St. Louis area, type “St. Louis” into the search bar. It will compile all of the available seminars in that area.

These Pre-Retirement Seminars are the best available resource you have to get a better understanding of your LAGERS benefit.  However, if you are unable to attend a seminar, we have live webinars (also in the above calendar) every month that are a good resource as well. But, if you can attend a seminar before retirement, I strongly encourage you do so to ensure you make an educated decision and feel more comfortable about your retirement benefit.

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Jeff Pabst, CRC Senior Communications Specialist

Monthly Article Round-Up

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Every month, we read several articles regarding the retirement industry. These are just a few that I thought might interest our readers.

Many people are trying to go into retirement debt free. So, you may not think that concentrating on maintaining a high credit score is all that important. However, this article goes into some of the reasons why doing a little maintenance on your credit rating may not be a bad thing. Some apply to those who bring some debt into retirement. Yet, some other suggestions are for more practical reasons like purchasing a vehicle.

http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-credit-score-matters-in-retirement
I found this next post to be very interesting. It talks about some of the issues that are going to be faced by companies in the near future when the baby boomers leave the workforce with all of their institutional knowledge. He has a conversation with a blue collar worker that knows the ins and outs of his business and has put quite a bit of effort in to the details of mastering his craft. The writer goes on saying that retirement planning can be much like the efforts of quality control and hard work put in by blue collar workers. It takes a dedication to quality control. Very interesting read…

http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlaura/2017/01/29/blue-collar-wisdom-about-retirement/#3c470c5172fd

The next article from this month is something that those who are currently retired and those who plan to retire in the coming years will be interested in. It talks about the top three things that most retirees forget once they reach retirement. The first is taxes. I’m sure the thought is, “I’m retired, I don’t need to worry about taxes.” Wrong. Taxation is still a part of being retired; you just may not pay as much in taxes. Another mention in this article is about keeping good medical records when you are retired. This again plays in to your taxes because you may be able to use a medical expense deduction depending on the amount of money you spend on medical expenses. Check out the article for more details!

http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/01/30/3-biggest-tax-mistakes-retirees-make.html

Finally, I found this article to be a good fun way to finish out the article round up. The retirement planning that you always hear about is the financial aspects. However, you should also be thinking about what you are going to do once you leave the workforce. I know you may be saying that you have a huge “to-do” list that will take you forever to complete. However, when you have a significantly larger amount of time to complete the list, it will get done much quicker than you expect. This article gives you several ideas of how to spend your time once you have left the workforce and complete that “to-do” list.

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2016-05-11/21-fulfilling-ways-to-pass-time-in-retirement

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Jeff Pabst, CRC Senior Communications Specialist

 

Quarterly Update

Starting in January of this year, we decided that we would like have a quarterly update from LAGERS Executive Secretary and Chief Investment Officer. So, a few days ago, I sat down with Keith and Brian to get a quick update from the last quarter.

Quarterly Update: 4th Quarter 2016 from Missouri LAGERS on Vimeo.

Keith had a few interesting topics that he brought to our attention. One that I found to be particularly interesting was the addition of 12 new LAGERS employers. That in itself is par for the course because LAGERS adds 10 – 15 new employers every year. The part that I found to be interesting was that of those 12 employers, 7 switched from a 401(k) type defined contribution account. That is close to 60% of the new employers changed from a defined contribution plan because it wasn’t providing them with the retirement security they desired.

Additionally, Keith mentioned the fact that a record number of LAGERS members, 232, retired on January 1st of this year. Join us in congratulating these new retirees!

Then, Brian gave us a quick update about the performance of the LAGERS investment portfolio. One part that I found to be quite reassuring was the fact that our 20 year investment return number is currently 7.9%. This is encouraging because LAGERS long-term goal is to reach 7.25%. By meeting this goal it ensures financial stability of the system and potentially stable contributions for our employers.

Brian also spoke about the efforts of the investment team to expand our private equity investments in Europe and in the United States. Private equity, he explained, is a long-term investment and makes a lot of sense for LAGERS since we are long-term investors.

Finally, Keith finished up with some of the actions our Board of Trustees took in the last quarter. One of those actions was to complete a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis to ensure our system is planning for the present and future. Finally, LAGERS adopted a new vision statement that states “a secure retirement for all.” This is something that LAGERS firmly believes in and works every day to ensure our membership has a secure retirement plan.

Keep an eye out for another update next quarter!

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Jeff Pabst, CRC Senior Communications Specialist

50 Years of Retirement Security and Counting…

50th-2-no-textMissouri LAGERS is preparing to celebrate 50 years of providing retirement security to Missouri’s local government workers!

LAGERS was created by the 74th general assembly in 1967 and officially opened its doors the following year. During its first year of existence, the young system was administered through a contractual agreement with the Missouri Municipal League and added its first full time staff member in 1969.

By June 1969, 70 Missouri local government entities had joined LAGERS with a total of 4,600 member employees and $2.1 million in assets. Today, LAGERS is the largest pension system for local government employees in the state of Missouri, covering over 680 employers, 33,000 active members, and 19,000 retirees, with over $6 billion in assets and an overall aggregate funding level in excess of the national average.

Missouri LAGERS believes that a secure retirement should be for everyone who works hard, and that retirement security is the foundation for building strong communities across the state. LAGERS is an integral part of providing local communities with the tools they need to attract and retain the high quality workers necessary to making communities a great place to live, work, and retire. LAGERS has helped thousands of local government workers retire with dignity and security over the past 50 years and looks forward to carrying our mission into the next 50 years and beyond!

LAGERS is planning to celebrate its 50th birthday in several ways:

New Vision Statement

LAGERS Board of Trustees recently adopted a new vision statement: “A Secure Retirement for All.” Our vision is the very essence of why LAGERS staff gets up and goes to work each and every day. We strive in everything we do to ensure that our members can someday retire with dignity and security.

 

New Responsive Website

Coming in July 2017, LAGERS will be rolling out an all-new responsive website. The new website will feature enhanced user navigation; new, interactive content, and even more great ways to connect with your LAGERS system. LAGERS remains committed to ensuring that you have the best access to information you need about your benefits!

 

A History of LAGERS

Stay tuned on our social media channels throughout the year as we look back at a complete 50 year history of the LAGERS system. Beginning as a dream in 1967, LAGERS has grown into a nationally acclaimed pension system, setting the gold standard for pension administration across the county.

 

LAGERS Annual Meeting

Don’t forget to join us at our annual meeting as we return to the site of our very first LAGERS Annual Meeting at Lake of the Ozarks.

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A LAGERS Success Story

We are so thankful that we get to touch the lives of our members in a positive way. That is how we live up to our vision of “A Secure Retirement for All.”

Please take a moment to read this letter we received from the son of one of our members who recently passed away. Louis Finke was an employee for the Clay County Health Department and died at over 100 years of age this past spring. He was able to live into retirement over 30 years. We are grateful for his service to his community and proud that we were able to help provide him with a secure retirement after his service ended.

Mr. Finke’s son Ronald wrote to LAGERS to tell his father’s story. “On behalf of our family, I wanted to thank you for your organization’s service to my father and mother. This pension income was very important and helped him to afford home health care for him and our mother for 15 years. He was also able to live in his own home with only part time care until just after reaching age 100.”

This is what being a LAGERS member is about, and why we do what we do every day.

Read the letter here.

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The Old Debate is Back Again

Retirement written on an envelope with dollars. Savings concept.Those on both sides are arguing the merits and the downfalls of the 401(k). The Wall Street Journal’s article earlier this week, then a couple of responses to it from Bloomberg and Forbes have shown that the argument of whether or not a 401(k) type investment can be the sure path to retirement security has people on both sides trying to convince you, dear reader, which way to go when planning your future. Yep, the old debate is back again. .

LAGERS View

Our position is simple, and accurate. We agree with the Wall Street Journal’s article (which comes straight from the source of those who designed the 401(k) system in the first place) that 401(k)’s were never meant to take over as a viable retirement security mechanism for the average worker, but rather, to supplement a traditional pension.

What’s the Real Goal?

“What’s being lost in the rhetoric is the point of what we’re ALL trying to accomplish – or what we should be focusing on:  better products and services for customers. We want people to focus on working hard and doing their jobs, and when they’ve fulfilled that part of the deal, allow them a mechanism to retire with some dignity and security. A pension provides that. That is the point of a retirement plan,” Says Bob Wilson, LAGERS Assistant Director, Member Services. “The point of a 401(k) is wealth accumulation, which can be a good tool to help supplement a pension plan.”

Wilson says the old “three legged stool” approach still applies.  “Defined benefit pensions were never designed to be the stand alone solution.  Neither were 403 leg stool.png1(k) type investment plans or Social Security.  They were designed to work together, providing diversity and balance.  There is no shortcut or magic pill in retirement planning.  You have to be diligent, work and plan.  Well-designed pensions are a great stable base to add a wealth accumulator like a 401(k), but alone a 401(k) is too volatile to serve as a stand-alone retirement plan.  Having that stable base allows you to withstand the volatility of your 401(k) due to market swings without getting short-sighted, panicking and/or giving up.”

Security – What Matters

The shift of companies away from pensions in favor of 401(k)’s as the main form of retirement security reflects a lack of commitment of the employer to the workers and the communities. The fact that the creators of the 401(k) system have regrets about the path they started for the American worker in the early 80’s shows that they can be unreliable on their own.

We at LAGERS want our members to worry about serving their communities that they work in, not their retirement security. We want good employees to plant roots within their communities and stay.  A pension offered by an employer helps employees to feel a little more secure about their futures. “The driver of these plans is to make the communities better and give some security to those who serve. We all want to retire with dignity,” says Wilson.

The Solution to Retirement Security

So what’s the solution? A combined approach. A commitment to work. A commitment to save. A commitment to employers and our communities.  A long term mentality. The promise of a dignified exit from the workforce. That’s what’s going to create retirement security for all of us.

Growth in 2016 – 12 New Employers Added!

2016-new-employersThe team at LAGERS is proud to announce that in 2016 we added 12 new employers! This reflects our incredible growth over the past few years, as well as our constant commitment to our organization’s vision, which is embodied in the phrase “A Secure Retirement for All.”

We strive to live out this vision statement every day when we come to work and will continue our efforts to bring retirement security to existing and new employers and members in 2017. We have a lot of exciting new ways we plan to accomplish this in the future, so keep watching our blog and following us on social media to keep up with us in the New Year.

We wanted to give you a few examples as to why these new employers decided that LAGERS was the right choice for them.  It comes down to our commitment to help our employers recruit and retain top talent while giving them the opportunity to exit the workforce with dignity when that time comes.

“We wanted a better retirement plan for our employees; one that offered more financial security for them. Providing a great retirement plan like LAGERS should improve the district’s employee recruitment and retention goals, and possibly provide some added financial comfort.” Bill Florea, Director of Operations, Nodaway County Ambulance District.

“Our board wanted to provide a better retirement for all our employees. LAGERS will be a great addition for the benefit package of our current and new employees in the future.” Vickie Mitschele, Office Manager, Laclede County PWSD #3.

“We had recently conducted a study to audit our current retirement system, and found that a defined benefit plan would have a greater return on investment than the defined contribution plan that we had. That makes LAGERS a better retirement solution for us, and will give our employees a better outlook on their retirement future. We’re looking forward to the switch!” Greg Vogel , Fire Chief, West Overland EMS & Fire Protection District.

We’re thankful to them that they are joining our family, and we can’t wait to make great things happen for their employees, our new members. Here’s to a great start to 2017 for all of us!

December Article Roundup

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Trying to figure out if, how, and when Social Security benefits fit into my retirement plan makes my head spin. For me, I tend to err on the side of caution when planning for retirement and assume it won’t be there at all when I’m ready to retire in another 25 years. This article is part of a great 30 day series dispelling some of the common misconceptions about Social Security benefits. While there are several articles in this series that are worth a read, this one in particular tells us 20 and 30 somethings a more realistic way to include Social Security in your retirement plan without overestimating what you most likely will actually receive in benefits.

Read: Dispelling Social Security fears and myths

 

As we gather with our loved ones this time of year, here is something that you can add to your list of things to talk about. Studies show that financial decision-making peaks around age 53 and gradually begins to decline thereafter meaning that many retirees may eventually need help managing their finances. The solution? Get your family involved in your financial plan now. Suzanne Schmitt, VP of Family Engagement with Fidelity Investments says, “by engaging in conversations now and having a strong support system in place, families can help loved ones gracefully transition into that next phase of their lives.”

Ready to get talking? Read: Family Should Be Included in Retirement Planning

 

Even though your LAGERS benefit is a great base for building your retirement security, you most likely still need to be saving on your own to help ensure you can live out your retirement comfortably. If you are ready to start saving more for retirement in 2017, here are three super easy ways to get started.

Read: 3 tips for saving more for retirement in 2017

 

While I’m not typically an avid Dear Abby reader, this particular entry struck a chord with me. I hear very similar comments from our members all the time about couples not seeing eye to eye on their retirement plans. In this particular case, I think Abby has some great advice. My advice to all couples: remember that retirement planning should be about more than just money: make sure you are talking to each other about your expectations for retirement well in advance of actually retiring…it could help avoid major conflict down the road.

Read: Dear Abby: Wife resists husband’s retirement move  

 

Even this old dog gets to retire. My last article this month is just for fun, but it made me smile, and I’m sure it will make you smile too! Not all public servants are humans, but even our K9 counter parts work hard and eventually need to retire. Congratulations on your retirement Inga!

Read: Inga the sheriff’s bloodhound follows her nose into retirement

 

I Wish I Could Bottle Up the Holidays

 

This time of year is sometimes a mess. It’s dark when we go to work and dark when we head home, the weather is cold, dreary and unstable. And the kids secretly plot against us and take turns deathtostock_slowdown1being sick (I swear they do). We’re all especially busy and should be at our wits end.

But we aren’t.

To me, this time of year always seems different. My most enjoyable part of the holiday season is the almost random consideration that seems to overcome most of us. At this time of year we as a society seem, for whatever reason, to look beyond the surface of our fellow man and actually see the commonality of goodness we share. Whether at the gas station, store, at work or even passing each other on the street; we look at each other differently. We don’t look past each other as we scurry on our busy paths. We actually look into each other’s eyes – past that outward shell and actually SEE each other; maybe even say “hello”.  Have you noticed? So simple, yet so wonderful.

Whether a kind word, a thank you, a smile or even a simple nod of the head – signaling we appreciate the smallest of gestures. Even though we should be more stressed, we’re actually all a little more happy than normal during the holidays. Really. If you haven’t, noticed I urge you to keep an eye out on the way home from work tomorrow. You may experience the kind of subtle kindness that I’m talking about. It is so refreshing.

If I could bottle the holidays I surely would. If we could somehow carry that over to the rest of the year what great things we could accomplish. That’s my thought for the New Year.

From all of us at LAGERS, we thank you for the honor to serve you and we wish you the very best this time of year, and all year round!

 

Robert Wilson, Asst. Director

Robert Wilson, Asst. Director

ICYMI: Top LAGERS Bloggers Posts of 2016

bigstock-159845417-new-year-2017We’re in our third year as bloggers here at LAGERS. Every year we’re thankful that we can use this medium to promote and educate the public and our members on retirement security, pensions and topics relating to the next phase in life after our careers end.

This year our most popular blogs ranged widely in topics and subject matter. The top 4 are listed below, in case you missed them.

  1. You probably don’t know a lot about how much your employer pays for your LAGERS pension, and that’s OK (let the folks in finance and payroll worry about that). But if you’d like to know why it matters and why it doesn’t, read Manager of Member Services, Jeff Kempker’s, interesting read on how your employer finances your lifetime benefit.

Read “WHY IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR EMPLOYER IS PAYING FOR LAGERS BENEFITS (AND WHY IT DOES)”

  1. Want to know how LAGERS’ staff ensures the safety and security of your retirement benefit at the capitol? Elizabeth, a Sr. Communications Specialist and one of our legislative experts, gives a wrap–up of the year’s policy initiatives and what we do everyday to educate our lawmakers and politicians on pension security and local government issues that face our communities.

Read “2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION WRAP UP”

  1. “Let’s face it, governments are usually easy targets, but in reality, much of what is poked fun at is simply not true.” In second place is Elizabeth’s take on the misconceptions that face government workers. She provides insight into how we can change this mindset, and how to shed light on the falsity of these untrue stereotypes.

Read “THREE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT LOCAL GOVERNMENT WORKERS THAT JUST AREN’T TRUE”

  1. At the top by a wide margin was Jeff Kempker’s behind–the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a public servant who helps save lives in their community everyday. This is just one group of people that we are proud to serve at LAGERS, and it was definitely a privilege for Jeff to experience this peek behind the curtain at what they face every day when they go to work.

Read “3 THINGS I LEARNED FROM BEING A FIREFIGHTER FOR A DAY”

We hope you enjoy reading our blog as much as we enjoy bringing all this great information, education and commentary to you. Please share it with your friends and co-workers if you find this information useful and informative. We look forward to providing you with more blog content in 2017!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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