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Retirement Plan Enhancements

The Bethel University retirement program provides an important benefit to help you plan your financial future. We continually look for ways to improve the program to make it better for our employees. We would like to share some information from our most recent review and some exciting enhancements that will be effective with your retirement contributions submitted after June 1, 2019.

Background

The Board of Trustee Officers (Officers) act in a fiduciary capacity for the plans. Among the responsibilities of the Officers are to:

  • assess effectiveness of the record-keepers
  • review investment options offered
  • monitor the expenses charged to the participants 
  • act in the best interest of the plan’s participants and their beneficiaries  

The Officers gather feedback from employees on the retirement plan through the Retirement Governance Advisory Committee (RGAC). In addition to faculty and staff, the committee also includes a retiree, Board of Trustee member, and Converge Worldwide member. Currently, this committee includes: Leslie Chapman (trustee), Jessica Daniels (GS faculty), Beth Dischinger (staff), Bill Doyle (retiree), Brian Holland (CAS faculty), Ross Jahnke (staff), Mark McCloskey (Seminary faculty), Steve Schultz (Converge), and Molly Wickam (CAPS faculty).

As a refresher, Bethel has three retirement plans:

  • The Defined Benefit or Pension Plan, provides longer term employees a defined monthly benefit during retirement. This plan was frozen to new enrollments in January 2006.
  • All retirement eligible employees are enrolled in the Defined Contribution Plan (DC plan). This plan currently provides a 5% employer contribution to either TIAA or Mutual of America (MOA). No contribution is required from employees to receive the 5% employer contribution.
  • All employees, regardless of their benefits status, are eligible to participate in the Tax-deferred Annuity Plan (TDA plan). This plan provides employees the opportunity to make their own retirement plan contributions through a tax-deferred payroll deduction to either TIAA or MOA.

Process

Because it hadn’t been done recently, the Officers wanted to do a thorough review of the DC and TDA plans to ensure they are an effective retirement tool for Bethel employees. To aid in this review, we sought the expertise of Jim Jensen, partner and senior consultant with DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C. DiMeo Schneider is a Chicago-based investment consulting firm with over 250 institutional clients including many colleges and universities. Jim was initially introduced to Bethel by Patrick Brooke, former chief financial officer, to assist the Bethel University Foundation Board of Governors in managing our endowment and pension plan investments. In the review of the DC and TDA plans, Jim drafted a request for proposal (RFP) to look at plan record-keepers and other plan options that may benefit plan participants with the goal of lower expense rates for participants and providing best-in-class investment options. Having a single record-keeper is a key component in achieving these goals.

Decision

The RGAC was brought together to review the RFP and recommend a single record-keeper and investment lineup. Several record-keepers were considered, including our current providers MOA and TIAA. After much discussion, the RGAC recommended to the Officers to select TIAA as our single record-keeper, an industry record-keeping leader for higher education. A revised investment lineup was also recommended to the Officers. The Officers voted to approve both TIAA as our single record-keeper and the new investment lineup. 

It is important to note that these changes are being made solely for the benefit of employees. They do not affect the university’s budget. These changes are designed to benefit employees through lower expenses and superior performing investment options, improving the probability of achieving greater retirement savings. 

Current MOA Participants

You will have the opportunity to move your current DC plan savings to the new funds. Any existing balances that you have with MOA in the DC plan will automatically be mapped into comparable investments in the new fund lineup with TIAA if you do not take any action.  

For those participants investing in the MOA TDA plan, you will need to complete a transfer form to move your tax-deferred retirement money to TIAA. 

Current TIAA Participants

You will also have the opportunity to move your current DC or TDA savings to the new funds. 

Next steps

In an effort to make this transition easier, Bethel will be offering participants large-group meetings in late April, led by Jim Jensen and a TIAA representative, to discuss the investment array. In addition, a TIAA representative will also be available to do individual meetings in early May.

Watch for additional information coming next week about these retirement plan enhancements and the large-group and individual meeting dates and times. In the meantime, if you have questions, please feel free to contact Barb Lamfers with questions at b-lamfers@bethel.edu.

In partnership with you,

Cara Wald

Chief Human Resources and Strategy Officer