Milliman expands Employee Benefits practice in Asia to Malaysia

Milliman today announced that the company is further expanding its employee benefits practice with the hire of Lin Fong Chow as Practice Leader, Employee Benefits Malaysia. Lin Fong brings with her more than 17 years of benefits and rewards experience in Malaysia.

Farzana Ismail, Managing Consultant for Milliman in Malaysia said, “When we set up the Milliman office in 2016, we were keen to quickly expand our full global service offering to the Malaysian market. I am delighted that we will now be able to offer the Malaysian market access to a locally based team of Employee Benefits consulting talent to complement our existing insurance and health expertise.”

Mark Whatley, Practice Leader, Employee Benefits South East Asia, added, “Lin brings with her a wealth of experience working on both the consulting and corporate side of Employee Benefits and is driven by a passion for putting clients first.”

Seven simple steps to a stress-free enrollment

When it comes to open enrollment, communication matters. But is it working? Many employers don’t think so. A recent survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that 80% of organizations think employees don’t open or read materials. And 49% think employees don’t understand the content. So what’s the solution? Try these tips to get your messages across.

1. Look at last year. Consider the feedback you got on last year’s campaign. Which communication pieces resonated? Which fell flat? Take a look at the questions employees raised and work those into your materials for this year.

2. Define success and then measure it. Determine what a successful campaign looks like. What are your goals? Do you want a certain number of employees to enroll in a medical plan or use the online tools? After enrollment, look at the numbers and gather employee feedback via focus groups or an online survey to guide future campaigns.

3. Cut the clutter. People don’t want to weed through a 50-page brochure to find information. Remember that readers are used to quickly scanning an article for the high points. Break up paragraphs into bullet points, pull important details into callouts, and use infographics in place of long-winded narratives.

4. Know your purpose. Start with what you want your communication piece to do and let that drive the format. For example, if you want to educate, use FAQs and examples. If you want to inspire employees, feature testimonials.

5. Use straight talk. Don’t try to sugarcoat change messages. Clearly explain what’s happening, why it’s happening, and when it’s happening. Change can be hard, but you have to be honest with employees to earn their trust.

6. Start early and communicate often. Give employees a heads-up early on, especially if you’re making major plan design changes. Announce key dates, such as when enrollment will be and when employee meetings will be held. As the deadline approaches, remind employees to take action.

7. Go for variety. Reach your employees with a variety of media to appeal to generational and personal preferences. For example, if you’re explaining a new high-deductible health plan, you might mail employees a print piece to their homes, post a video online, and walk through the new plan at employee meetings.

If you need additional support, be sure to talk with your Milliman communication consultant.

Corporate pension funded status dips by $2 billion in May

Milliman today released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans. In May, these pensions experienced a $2 billion dip in funded status as investment gains mostly offset a four-point decrease in the monthly discount rate. The funded ratio for the Milliman 100 PFI remains unchanged at 91.6% as of May 31.

Sometimes no news is good news for corporate pensions. May’s 0.73% investment gain exceeded monthly expectations, and helped balance out the month’s modest decrease in corporate bond rates.

From April 30, 2018 through May 31st, Milliman 100 PFI plans experienced a $7 billion increase in asset values, while the projected benefit obligations (PBO) rose by $9 billion. As a result, the deficit increased from $139 billion to $141 billion for the month. Over the last year (June 2017 – May 2018), the Milliman 100 PFI funded status deficit has improved by $116 billion.

Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 4.34% by the end of 2018 and 5.03% by the end of 2019) and asset gains (10.8% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 100% by the end of 2018 and 116% by the end of 2019. Under a pessimistic forecast (3.64% discount rate at the end of 2018 and 3.03% by the end of 2019 and 2.8% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 87% by the end of 2018 and 81% by the end of 2019.

To view the complete Pension Funding Index, click here. To receive regular updates of Milliman’s pension funding analysis, contact us here.

Pension and OPEB underfunded status after Michigan PA 202

The Protecting Local Government Retirement and Benefits Act (the Act) addressed underfunding issues associated with pension plans and retiree medical plans in Michigan that are sponsored by local governments. Prescribed actuarial assumptions used to make calculations have not yet been set. This paper by Milliman consultants Tim Herman and Jack Chmielewski aims to help stakeholders of Michigan’s many local government pension and other post-employment benefit programs develop informed expectations around the range of outcomes that could result from the state treasurer’s decisions about actuarial assumptions as they relate to the Act.

Regulatory roundup

More retirement-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

BLS publishes chart on lump-sum distributions related to DC plans
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has published a new chart highlighting the most common payment option for participants in defined contribution (DC) retirement plans. According to the BLS, “As workers approach retirement, they might wonder how their retirement savings will be paid out. Among private industry workers in defined contribution plans in 2017, most participated in savings and thrift plans (73 percent). Other common plan types include deferred profit sharing (25 percent) and money purchase pensions (18 percent). A lump sum was the most common payment option available to workers in these plans. A lump sum provides retiring workers the full amount of their retirement savings and earnings with no further benefits received from the plan.”

To learn more, click here.

Final rule aimed at improving investors’ experience issued by SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a final rule aimed at improving investors’ experience when investing in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and other investment vehicles. The rule permits asset managers to deliver shareholder reports by making them publicly accessible on a free website and sending investors a paper notice of each report’s availability via mail. If an investor prefers to continue receiving shareholder reports by mail, they may do so. The new rule goes into effect January 21, 2021.

To learn more about the final rule, click here.

Helping Australians make effective savings decisions today for a better retirement future

Superannuation is one of the most valuable products working Australians own. Yet it’s one of the products they care least about.

Forcing people to buy a product when the value can’t be unlocked for many years is not a good starting point for engagement. Attempting to persuade members to save more super by using broad-based one-size-fits-all targets has failed.

But research suggests that when members are able to see their future selves in vivid and realistic detail, they are more willing to make choices today that may benefit them in the future. Super funds can play a role in connecting the two.

In this article, Milliman’s Jeff Gebler says that the super industry’s dominant comfortable retirement savings target is not indicative of who its members are or who they will become. He says that funds can help members see themselves in meaningful, positive terms, thus sparking genuine engagement and better long-term decisions.