Central to the Innovator Awards are plan improvements that not only advance retirement outcomes for a particular group, but also introduce ideas that potentially reverberate elsewhere in the industry.
They are new solutions to problems plaguing defined contribution plan executives, such as how to cover the maximum number of people and ensure they're saving at suitable levels, said Lew Minsky, executive director of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association.
Judges also recognized defined contribution plan executives who worked to improve how pension assets are invested. Increasingly, sponsors also need to ensure there's a decumulation plan in place for converting the pension savings into retirement income.
In 2015, about 40 DC plan executives were nominated for the Innovator Awards, sponsored by Pensions & Investments and DCIIA. Seventeen judges individually scored the online entries, winnowing the list to 17 before debating the merits of their favorite candidates in a conference call to select the winners.
The 12 external judges were:
• Larry Cruz, human resources profit sharing team leader, Edward Jones & Co. LP, St. Louis;
• Jaime Erickson, executive director of retirement benefit plans at Comcast NBCUniversal, New York;
• Kendall Frederick, senior manager of treasury, planning & analysis, Hanesbrands Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C.;
• Jennifer Flodin, defined contribution practice leader and senior consultant, Plan Sponsor Advisors, Chicago;
• Cindy Franke, retirement plans manager at Snap-on Inc., Kenosha, Wis.;
• Alisa Hunt, benefits director at Kimberly-Clark Corp., Knoxville, Tenn.;
• Marla Kreindler, partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Chicago;
• Chris Lyon, partner at Rocaton Investment Advisors LLC, Norwalk, Conn.;
• Keith Overly, executive director of Ohio Deferred Compensation, Columbus;
• Carol Sung, 401(k) product manager at International Paper Co., Stamford, Conn.;
• Sean Waters, co-founder and managing director of Cook Street Consulting Inc., Greenwood Village, Colo.; and
• David Zellner, chief investment officer at the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, Glenview, Ill.
Mr. Minsky also was a judge. Representing P&I on the judges' panel were: Amy Resnick, editor; Nancy Webman, editorial director; Julie Tatge, executive editor; and Robert Steyer, reporter covering defined contribution.