The Workplace Retirement Plan Coverage Conundrum:
The Challenge, Perspectives & New Opportunities
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The podcast series where employers find candid, in-depth interviews with industry experts, new best practices and valuable perspectives on current events.
Recap, highlights, and my thoughts
Today we take a little detour from talking about the usual 401(k) or workplace retirement plan topics and focus on the challenge for many people around the country who are gainfully employed but don’t have access to a retirement plan at work. Personally, when I first heard some of the stats we discuss today they were surprising to me.
I have two guests which both shared great perspective today, Lisa Massena, the Executive Director of OregonSaves the first state retirement plan to go live and Andrew Biggs, a resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who has a wealth of data and research about retirement savings at his finger tips.
As hopefully you have heard in prior episodes when I have two guests on that usually means they are not always going to agree on everything. Our conversation starts with a conversation around the data, what options individuals who don’t have access to a retirement plan at work have today and how the conversation will evolve in the future. With Lisa here, we also spend some time talking about how state retirement plans factor into the coverage conversation. She shares Oregon’s experience, early results and reactions after their launch in late 2017.
Good stuff and I hope you take as much away from our conversation as I did.
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Thanks for listening!
Sincerely Your Host,
Lisa Massena, Executive Director, OregonSaves - Ms. Massena joined OregonSaves as its first Executive Director in September of 2015. With its Board and a strong team of internal and external collaborators, Massena helped design and launch the innovative retirement savings program that, when fully implemented, is expected to be available to over 1 million Oregonians who currently do not have access to retirement savings at work.
A native of the Northwest, Ms. Massena began her career in Oregon focused on investment and retirement solutions for employers and individuals, co-founding an investment consultancy in 1991 that specialized in defined contribution plans. When the internet beckoned, she joined a startup firm in San Francisco providing online portfolio advice for 401(k) savers. In 2001 Massena was recruited to State Street Corp. where from San Francisco and Boston she led regional, Americas and global teams providing investment analytics services to institutional clients. She earned a B.A. from Portland State University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits.
Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has been interviewed on radio and television as an expert on retirement issues and on public vs. private sector compensation. He has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future. In 2014, Institutional Investor Magazine named him one of the 40 most influential people in the retirement world. In 2016, he was appointed by President Obama to be a member of the financial control board overseeing reforms to Puerto Rico’s budget and the restructuring of the island’s debts.
Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.