Salem, OR–The Oregon Retirement Savings Plan took a major step toward its July launch this week with the selection of Ascensus as plan services provider.
The Oregon Retirement Savings Board conducted a public request for proposals this fall for a firm to manage the account records, operate the website, and receive and process the retirement payments for what will be the first operating state-sponsored retirement savings plan. The plan will be available to those Oregonians who lack a savings option at work.
After consideration of three highly qualified finalists, the Board on Tuesday approved an intent to award the contract to Ascensus, pending contract negotiations.
Pennsylvania-based Ascensus is the nation’s largest independent retirement and college savings services provider, with more than $139 billion in assets under administration. The firm is helping seven million Americans save for the future, in partnership with financial institutions.
“The Oregon Retirement Savings Plan will help build a stronger financial future for hundreds of thousands of Oregon workers,” said State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, the chairman of the Oregon Retirement Savings Board. “The administrator will be a key partner to ensure the plan works well for everyone, and the Board was impressed by the expertise and services that Ascensus will provide.”
As part of the successful bid, the company will absorb early startup costs and be repaid over the life of the contract. The company will collect a small annual fee from retirement accounts to cover the cost of administration, recordkeeping, marketing, and the package of investment options made available to retirement savers. The value of the contract ultimately will be based on the number of participants and assets invested.
“We applaud the state of Oregon for their forward thinking and leadership in creating a program that will enable many Oregonians to be able to save for a better retirement,” said Bob Guillocheau, chief executive officer of Ascensus. “We are honored to be selected as provider of the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan and are thrilled to bring our expertise, technology, and service philosophy to offer state residents the support they need to achieve their retirement goals.”
With more than 35 years of experience, Ascensus partners with financial institutions to offer tailored solutions that meet the needs of financial professionals, employers, and individuals. Ascensus specializes in recordkeeping, administrative, and program management services, supporting over 46,000 retirement plans and over 3.8 million 529 college savings accounts. It also administers more than 1.5 million IRAs and health savings accounts and is home to one of the largest ERISA consulting teams in the country.
Passed by the 2015 Legislature to address the crisis of inadequate savings, the Oregon plan will be available to those Oregonians who do not have access to a retirement savings option, such as a 401(k) plan, at work.
More than half of the Oregon workforce does not have an available retirement savings plan at work, and studies show that people are 15 times more likely to save if an option is available through payroll deductions. Workers who are eligible will automatically have a portion – initially 5 percent — of their paychecks deposited into their own secure retirement accounts, unless they opt out.
Treasury has been meeting with representatives of employers, workers, payroll administrators and consumer groups to guide the formation of the program. It is estimated that 64,000 businesses – most of them small businesses — will have employees eligible to participate in the plan.
A hearing will be Dec. 15 to collect feedback to a detailed draft of administrative rules, and written comments will be accepted through Dec. 23.
To help achieve the goal of a smooth and orderly launch, the plan will be phased in over several years and will be coupled with public education efforts. The Oregon Retirement Savings Board is seeking businesses – large and small — that want to be part of the initial pilot group of participants.
The Oregon plan will impose no fiduciary risk to employers, and clerical responsibilities will be kept low. The plan will not be a pension, will not be connected in any way to the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund, and will not offer any matching funds or any guarantee of performance by the state or employers.
Learn more about the plan at www.oregon.gov/retire.
The Oregon State Treasury protects public assets and saves Oregonians money through its investment, banking, and debt management functions. State investment policies are set by the Oregon Investment Council. The State Treasury also promotes public outreach and education to help Oregonians learn strategies to save money, invest for college and make smart financial choices. You can learn more about the Oregon Treasury and Oregon Retirement Savings Plan on Twitter at @OregonTreasury.