There was no farewell party when Keith Overly retired March 31 after nearly 17 years as executive director of the Ohio Public Employees Deferred Compensation Program, Columbus.
The program’s board of trustees wanted to hold an open house event at its mid-March meeting, but they had to hold the meeting by telephone as a concession to work restrictions caused by of the COVID-19 virus. Most of the headquarters staff was working from home, except for handful of who were working there on a rotating basis, including several who baked chocolate chip cookies — his favorite.
The absence of official recognition doesn’t obscure the role Mr, Overly played in building the plan as assets tripled, the number of participants rose by 41% and fees were cut by 65% as he capped a career while achieving an early personal goal.
“When I got out of college, I wanted to do something in public service,” he said. “I wanted something more than a paycheck.”
Between the time Mr. Overly started in October 2003 until his retirement, the 457 plan’s assets rose to $13.6 billion from $4.5 billion. The asset total was as high as $15.4 billion at year-end 2019.
Mr. Overly cut costs by adding collective investments trusts and separate accounts to augment and replace mutual funds. Now, more than half of the Ohio investment lineup is collective trusts and separate accounts. The average investment fee is now 27 basis points vs. 78 basis points due not only to the different investments but also to negotiations with investment managers for lower-fee share classes.
“Over the years, we put a greater focus on fee transparency,” he said. As plan assets rose, Mr. Overly used the greater scale to the participants’ advantage. During his tenure, the number of retirement accounts rose to 242,000 from 172,000.