ING Offers Tools and Guidance to Public Employers

September 8, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - As attention over public sector budgets and employee benefits programs continues to grow, ING’s U.S. Retirement division announced the publication of Public Pensions in Focus, a new suite of research and support tools for state and local government employers.

The materials, developed by the ING Retirement Research Institute, include a whitepaper and a checklist that public sector employers can leverage when making important decisions about their retirement systems, including their defined benefit pension programs. The goal is to provide sponsors with an objective and well-informed approach to analyzing their existing systems, the needs of their employees, and the options that are available if a change is in order.  

“Many government employers are looking very closely at their retirement systems to make sure they can meet their short-term and long-term goals for funding retiree benefits,” said Brian Comer, President of Public Markets for ING Retirement, in the announcement. “We believe that each public employer must make an informed decision based on their unique situation. Some will find they need to significantly restructure their plans, while others will be fine and not require a change. We are seeing examples of both cases play out in the market. No matter what the outcome, it is crucial to approach each situation with a systematic and documentable process.”  

In addition to providing an overview of the issues and opportunities facing the U.S. public retirement system, the whitepaper offers government plan sponsors actionable direction by walking them through the following steps: 

  • Pre-planning: Pre-planning helps plan sponsors lay the groundwork for a retirement program analysis and involves identifying relevant information about various stakeholders in the retirement program. 
  • Situation Analysis: With pre-planning documentation serving as a guide and framework, the situation analysis calls for an objective analysis of the current retirement program and its future viability. 
  • Choosing a Strategy: Decisions about the appropriate solutions require an assessment of all available features and options, such as costs; benefits and risks; ability to meet stated organizational goals; impact on stakeholders; and potential obstacles and benefits. 
  • Implementation: If change is required, it is imperative to create detailed communications and implementation plans that clearly identify such things as team members and responsibilities; key dates and events; contractual, legislative and legal factors; and performance metrics and feedback mechanisms. 

As part of the process, ING’s Public Pensions in Focus checklist helps walk a sponsor through all the key steps before undertaking any large scale changes. Completing the checklist provides a structure for approaching any discussion about redesigning a program.  

To access Public Pensions in Focus, or other ING research, visit the ING Retirement Research Institute at http://www.ingretirementresearch.com, and select the “publications” page.

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