Editorial | Published in April 2012

The Next Stage

As my family prepares for baby No. 2’s arrival in just two months, my husband and I have been challenged to help our daughter prepare for the idea of her soon-to-be new reality, a reality that is quite difficult to comprehend at the tender age of 20 months, with no precedent for what lies ahead.

By Alison Cooke Mintzer | April 2012

I have turned to books about helping a toddler with the transition and read about the best way to introduce the baby to the big sister and, as anyone does when looking for advice, spoken to friends. However, none of those resources is quite perfect for our particular situation, so my husband and I constantly try to evaluate whether a particular bit of advice is applicable to us. For now, we are simply trying to do our best to guide our daughter through this time with the information we have accumulated, making judgments as we go.

As I compiled this year’s Buyer’s Guide, the situation my family and I are facing resonated with me. Plan sponsors are challenged with trying to ensure their retirement programs are the best fit for their companies, as well as employees and retirement plan participants, many of whom are soon to be confronting a new reality of retirement or nonretirement and are still unsure what that word "retirement" will mean.

The introductory article to this edition tackles an issue that is core to the administration of retirement programs—one that appears to fall into the human resources category but, as the article says, has implications across all areas of the company: why you want your employees to be able to retire. Many employees plan to delay retirement, which can lead to challenges for their employers. The articles that follow offer insight about tools and trends used in retirement plans to help employees better prepare for retirement.

In this year’s Buyer’s Guide, we again provide an overview of many topics plan sponsors regularly face in the ongoing organization of their retirement programs. We have segmented the topics into four sections: defined contribution administration, defined benefit administration, defined contribution investing and defined benefit investing. The articles aim to bring you up to date on the latest developments in each of those key areas and provide perspectives to help you decide how well those aspects of your retirement plan or plans are working.

Of course, similar to my foray into seeking advice about the new baby, the articles and topics discussed here admittedly are high-level perspectives that do not—and ­cannot—take into account the unique set of challenges facing your individual programs. Plan sponsors have a varied set of choices to make and frequently are at odds over how to determine which program attributes are best, or most appropriate, for their particular situation.

With that in mind, we offer this Buyer’s Guide to provide you with the information you need to evaluate your plan’s administration and investments against industry best-practice standards, and to help you build and maintain a more competitive retirement program.

I hope you will find it to be a powerful and useful guide for your retirement plans.

Note: For this special annual Buyer’s Guide issue, we suspend publication of most of our regular departments and columnists. All will be back in our next issue.