Editorial | Published in March 2011

Months in the Making

As I’m sure you can appreciate, a lot of hard work goes into every issue of PLANSPONSOR. For the very most part, however, that hard work takes place within a relatively short window of time bounded by our monthly publication cycle. However, the work in this issue began months ago when we opened nominations for our Plan Sponsors of the Year. It continued till Christmas while Plan Sponsor of the Year nominees responded to our requests for information, till the end of January when we announced our selections as finalists, and culminates today with the publication of those we honor from that elite group as Plan Sponsors of the Year.

By Nevin E. Adams | March 2011

Yet, in a very real sense, it began long before that: when Ernst & Young decided to keep and maintain both a defined benefit and defined contribution plan to attract and retain a diverse workforce; when Tapemark Company expanded its investment committee to include three employees, brought in risk-based portfolios, and enlisted the help of a registered investment adviser; and when the Pubic School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri reoriented its asset allocation policy to provide a different assessment of risk and liquidity. It began when Heritage Valley Health Systems undertook a campaign that brought participation from 52% to 82% in just four years; when the California Savings Plus Program had to figure out a way to rebound from a 54% drop in new enrollments. On the pages that follow, you’ll find out more about how these Plan Sponsors of the Year met—and succeeded in overcoming—these challenges. These, as well as the stories of an outstanding collection of finalists, are inspiring accounts of plan sponsors that have distinguished their programs in unique and quantifiable ways—and with demonstrable results—and we all benefit from their example.

Also inside this month’s issue, you’ll find out that skillful international equity managers are showing there is still money to be made from within the EAFE universe, how pension plan sponsors in the U.S. and U.K. have different priorities when it comes to risk management, and how some plan sponsors are turning that FICA tax withholding "holiday" into a new savings promotion. You’ll also enjoy Fred Reish’s take on the difference between a retirement plan and a savings plan, gain insights from Steve Saxon on "issues not to gift wrap for IRS executive compensation auditors," and find Mike Barry’s perspective on how being treated as "special" could work to the disadvantage of defined benefit pension plans. All this—and much, much more. Enjoy! 

Awards for Excellence March 24, 2011 | New York City 

In just a few weeks, PLANSPONSOR will convene its annual Awards for Excellence dinner. We’ve done this for several years now, and each year has been, in its own way, bigger and "better" than the year that preceded it. That, of course, is where we will acknowledge—in person—the achievements of the nation’s best plan sponsors, as well as the best-in-class winners in a variety of key industry categories, and announce our Retirement Plan Adviser and Retirement Plan Adviser Team of the Year winners. I hope you are able to join us for what promises, once again, to be a very special event. For more information about the event, contact Carol Popkins at

PLANSPONSOR National Conference June 14–16, 2011 | Chicago 

Following the most successful PLANSPONSOR National Conference (PSNC) ever, this year’s event offers a solutions-oriented agenda focused on helping you build—and benchmark—a better retirement-plan program. Our 2011 panels include a focus on: participant engagement, benchmarking/monitoring the fund menu, fiduciary best practices, fixing 403(b) plan mistakes, what to do about fee disclosures, and how to build and manage an investment committee. In addition—for the first time ever—we’re offering a special pre-conference "boot camp" for those who are newer to these programs, or who simply want to catch up. All in a convenient Midwest location—and at a price you won’t believe! You can’t afford to miss this. More information is online at