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Retirement 20/20: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Retirement 20/20: Looking Back and Looking Forward

By Kelley McKeating, FSA, FCIA

The first electronic issue of the Pension Section News, this past January, contained several articles about the Pension Section Council's Retirement 20/20 initiative and the September 2006 Building the Foundations for New Retirement Systems conference that the council hosted. We hope that you've had time to take a look at the conference report, available at Retirement2020.soa.org.

We want to let you know what's been happening with the Retirement 20/20 initiative over the past few months, and we hope to entice you to become involved with some of the projects that are part of the effort.

What Has Happened since 2006?

Your council has focused on four areas since the 2006 conference: issuing a conference report, getting the word out on Retirement 20/20, initiating research and planning a 2007 follow-up to the 2006 conference.

Conference Report

After last September's conference, we created a report detailing the discussions that took place at that event: the core themes that emerged, the tensions that were identified, as well as the needs, risks and roles of key stakeholders. We also created a shorter "headlines" report summarizing the most important issues and ideas that came out of the conference. The full report and "headlines" report are both available online at Retirement2020.soa.org. The headlines report is also available in hard copy.

Getting the Word Out

Others are becoming engaged in the debate. Articles about the Retirement 20/20 initiative have appeared in several publications, and we're continuing to promote it with the media. Examples include:

Pensions and Investments, "Actuarial group looking to reboot pension system with new alternative," (Pionline.com), April 30, 2007

The Washington Post, "The Off Chance of Retirement Investing," (Washingtonpost.com, Financial Futures), May 6, 2007

Business Insurance, "SOA Says New Retirement System Needed," May 28, 2007

National Underwriter Life & Health, "SOA Effort Explores More Flexible Retirement Systems," July 16, 2007

In addition, we've presented a summary of the outcome of the September conference at several actuarial meetings and to the Texas Pension Review Board, and upcoming articles in Benefits and Compensations Digest (U.S. and Canadian versions) will discuss findings from the 2006 conference.

Research

Shortly after the 2006 conference, the Pension Section Council commissioned an analysis of where and how "self–adjusting systems," one of the headline themes from the 2006 conference, are working today. The result was a very informative paper by John Turner called Autopilot: Self–adjusting Mechanisms for Sustainable Retirement Systems. The paper is available on the 20/20 Web site.

Additional research has been initiated on several fronts. We expect to present the results of this research at a 2008 conference, further building on the foundations established in 2006.

We are about to issue calls for papers to encourage research and discussion on the topics of:

What self–adjusting mechanisms might work well in retirement plans, and how they might be incorporated into new retirement systems, and How society, employers and the financial markets can change the "signals" sent to individuals regarding appropriate retirement–related behavior.

2007 Conference

This year's Retirement 20/20 Symposium, an event entitled Resolving Stakeholder Tensions–Aligning Roles with Skills, promises to be an energizing search for solutions to resolve the important tensions that exist between retirement system stakeholders–issues that must be resolved if a new type of retirement system is to be successful and sustainable in the long term.

Want to Get Involved?

There are several ways to get involved with the Retirement 20/20 initiative:

We need volunteers to be involved with either of the calls for papers discussed above. Volunteers would be part of a project oversight group which would work to review submission proposals, communicate decisions to the researchers, provide guidance, review completed papers and help to ensure that all submitted papers are completed and ready for presentation at the Retirement 20/20 conference in the fall of 2008.

We need two or three volunteers to help with the compilation of group pooling examples, an idea that arose shortly after the 2006 conference. These examples would serve as a resource tool as the Retirement 20/20 initiative continues.

We are developing a measurement framework with which to evaluate proposals that come out of the Retirement 20/20 initiative as well as from other sources. The framework is still in its design stage. Volunteers could help to design the framework, be involved in testing it, and/or use the completed product to evaluate proposed retirement solutions.

We want opportunities to speak to new audiences about Retirement 20/20. We can send a speaker to your event, send you printed copies of the 2006 conference "headlines" report or give you slides and other materials to make the presentation yourself. In particular, we will be looking for opportunities to speak about the findings of the 2007 conference in late 2007 and early 2008.

To Find out More

You'll find links to the reports, articles, and more at Retirement2020.soa.org.

For general questions, comments or suggestions, or to volunteer for any of the activities, please contact Emily Kessler.

Kelley McKeating, FSA, FCIA, is a consulting actuary with Dilkes, Jeffery & Associates in London, ON. She is chair of the Pension Section Communications Team.