2015's Innovator Award winners have all broken new ground to help close the gap in pension benefits inequality.
At American Express Co., the global retirement team introduced a worldwide best-practices framework so that an employee working in India might have a similar chance of finding financial security in retirement as a colleague in the U.S.
Elsewhere, plan executives in Wisconsin are using new tools to battle the persistent problem of gender differences in the retirement savings rate.
GEICO deployed technology and behavioral science to nudge participants, especially a younger generation more used to instant gratification, to think about the long term. In North Carolina, state legislation enabled lower asset management fees — and potentially higher supplemental retirement income — for public school teachers, bringing them in line with other DC participants.
One way or another, the five recipients of the Innovator Awards, sponsored by Pensions & Investments and the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association, helped to level the retirement playing field.
This year's winners are:
• Barbara Kontje, American Express director of retirement for the Americas and Smart Saving, and the company's global retirement team;
• Shelly Schueller and Tarna Hunter, deferred compensation director and legislative liaison, respectively, at Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds;
• Dina Pon, assistant vice president of human resources at GEICO; and
• Janet Cowell, North Carolina state treasurer.
Along with six finalists who received Awards of Excellence, they all were honored at P&I's West Coast Defined Contribution Conference held Oct. 18-20 in San Francisco.
“All of the winners really pushed above and beyond the norm to create something truly new to help provide plan participants with more options to help themselves,” said Amy Resnick, P&I's editor.
The role of DC is evolving, said Lew Minsky, executive director of DCIIA.
“Plan sponsors are starting to understand the direct relationship between retirement security planning and workforce planning,” he added.