"This year's winners displayed creativity and a commitment to helping their participants achieve a secure retirement,'' said Julie Tatge, executive editor of Pensions & Investments. "By shining a spotlight on this award-winning work, we aim to inspire other plan sponsors in their own efforts."
Lew Minsky, DCIIA's president and CEO, said he and the other judges were impressed by the measures plan sponsors are taking to improve retirement outcomes for America's workers.
"In the wake of a global pandemic, and in the face of significant market volatility, it's inspiring to see plan sponsors that remain willing to innovate in support of the financial well-being and retirement security of their employees,'' Mr. Minsky said.
The winners are:
- Cody Davis, director of benefits for CoStar Group. He supervises a program aimed at retaining and attracting employees whose average age is 37. The program was inaugurated in January, and it is offered through a third-party vendor and CoStar's record keeper, providing a company match if employees put a portion of their annual salary into their 401(k) and/or student loan payments. The maximum match is 4% if employees contribute 4% of pay.
- Josh Gotbaum is the board chair of the Maryland Small Business Retirement Savings Program, better known as MarylandSaves, which was launched in September 2022. This auto-IRA program has taken extra steps to encourage employees in small businesses — and the businesses themselves — to improve savings opportunities. That includes waiving an annual $300 state fee for employers if they participate in the program and including an emergency savings fund for participants. Future goals include a Social Security bridge feature, which will allow participants to delay claiming Social Security by taking distributions from their MarylandSaves account, leading to higher monthly Social Security benefits. Also on the drawing board is a managed payout system for participants to receive a monthly payment when they retire instead of receiving a lump sum.
- Sarah Reeder is deputy administrator of the Savings Plus Program, which offers 401(k) and 457(b) plans to most state of California employees. Reeder and the investments, fiscal and operations team implemented a fee-leveling program in April 2022 seeking to make fees more equitable among participants, increase transparency and encourage nonparticipating state employees to join the program. The program was designed to simplify plan communication and participant education, giving participants more insight into how fees affect their investments.
- Melissa Santostefano is assistant vice president, total rewards – retirement for Lincoln Financial Group. She supervised an effort to improve guaranteed income opportunities for participants in two 401(k) plans and two money-purchase plans, important because two Lincoln pension plans are frozen to new employees Structured like a target-date series, this annuity product, launched in December 2022, is separate from the Lincoln plans' target-date funds, giving participants greater flexibility in choosing a savings vehicle.
- Diana Winalski is deputy chief investment officer at International Paper. Winalski and the International Paper trust investments department added a stand-alone private real estate investment option for two 401(k) plans (one for hourly and one for salaried employees) in February. This option, an insurance company separate account, invests 75% of assets in commercial properties and 25% in real estate investment trusts, the latter component enabling daily liquidity and daily valuations. The goal of the fund is to offer attractive risk-adjusted returns, investment diversification and potential inflation protection. It's a more concentrated investment than offered by other DC plans, which incorporate real estate as part of target-date funds or balanced funds.