Wyoming Education Association

Summer 2019

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1133200

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Page 21 of 31

X X WEA at Work 19 It's Time for School Districts to Get Onboard with Automatic Enrollment by Polly Scott Who among us hasn't heard about the looming retirement crisis and sighed a breath of relief for the retirement benefi ts we have as public employees in Wyoming? SEC Commissioner Kara Stein called it the approaching "retirement tsunami" and the term is a good one. It refers to the many people who have been faced with an individual- based approach to retirement security, and as a result are not going to have adequate income when they are no longer able to work. It seems apparent a societal change to the overall approach to retirement security is needed. While that change may take a while, I am encouraging Wyoming Retirement System members and participating employers to get onboard with "automatic enrollment." Everyone needs to be accumulating personal assets for retirement, but people procrastinate when it comes to actually doing it. Automatic enrollment is a way to increase participation in voluntary retirement plans, like the WRS Deferred Compensation 457 Plan. Automatic enrollment sets individual retirement savers up for success with an opt-out instead of opt- in approach to enrollment. Over the last ten years, auto enroll has become the norm in private sector retirement plans as a result of federal legislation that paved the way. But this legislation didn't encompass plans run by government employers, and for that reason only about 14 states have automatic enrollment for their public employees. Wyoming is one of them! In 2015, the Wyoming Retirement System advocated for the Legislature to change state law to allow for automatic enrollment into the WRS Deferred Compensation 457 Plan. As a result, automatic enrollment has been in place for State of Wyoming executive branch employees for four years. In that time, nearly 2,000 employees have been automatically enrolled into the WRS 457 Plan. Today, 96% are still contributing and continuing to save for their retirement goals. Employees view automatically enrolling them into the WRS 457 Plan as a service their employer provides to them. Employees are always in charge and can opt out, make changes or quit contributing anytime. As of this article, none of our school district employers are using automatic enrollment. Of the approximately 20,000 school district employees throughout Wyoming, only about 3,000 of them are participating in the WRS 457 Plan. The more we use automatic enrollment, the more that will change. While many school districts off er competing 457 or 403(b) choices, the WRS 457 Plan stands head and shoulders above most of them in terms of quality and cost. WRS has developed a spreadsheet that we will provide to any employer or individual wanting assistance comparing diff erent vehicles. WRS participating employers can elect to automatically enroll employees into the WRS 457 Plan, and four of them are doing so – State of Wyoming, Albany County, City of Powell and City of Cheyenne. It is free and actually saves employers time in the long run, while improving retirement outcomes for employees. We can easily accommodate employer matches, but they are not necessary for auto enrollment. Encourage your employer to elect automatic enrollment. If you are involved in collective bargaining, consider making it part of your agreement with your employer. I will gladly meet with any employer or governing body wanting to learn more about automatic enrollment. It has been successful and more employers need to put it in place for their employees. ------------ Polly Scott is the WRS Communications and 457 Plan Manager. She recently served on Wyoming's Task Force for Retirement Income Security. You can reach her at polly.scott@wyo.gov. Visit retirement.wyo.gov to fi nd many tools for retirement savers. Polly Scott, Wyoming Retirement System Polly Scott, Wyoming Retirement System

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