Lay Pension Plan: Part 2

Today we continue our two-part series, “Lay Pension Plan: Can You Trust the Anonymous Trustees?with part 2.

As we mentioned yesterday, for months people have been asking questions about the cuts in the Lay Pension Plan.  Mostly what they get in response to the questions seems to be secrecy, not the sort of transparency desired.  All of the questions in our posts of yesterday and today came from people who follow the blog.

Yesterday we covered the first 5 of 10 categories of questions the archdiocese should be answering.

1. Fund Trustees
2. Qualifications for the Plan Administrator(s)
3. Compensation for the Plan Administrator(s)
4. Vendors
5. Conflicts of Interest

Today we cover the final 5 concerns:

6. Costs

What was the total cost of benefits management in 2005 before Jim McDonough, Carol Gustavson, and others took over?  What are the total costs today?  As we all know, whatever losses seen are not just based on the stock market and claims filed by an increasing number of retirees, but they are also based on all these administrative and management costs as well.

7. Goals and Performance

What goals are the vendors of the trust given?  Who sets those goals?

How is the RCAB Benefits Trust investing the money?  Who invests it?  Is the track record worse than the Dow Jones Industrial average or other stock market indices? 

Update: a good answer exists for these questions, but the archdicoese is just poor at communicating it.  The Collective Investment Partnership spells it all out here.  But who knew? Why is this not a part of the roadshow presentation that Carol Gustavson is giving across the archdiocese to employees?

8. Transparency

Is there any impediment to making public all agreements entered into by the Trust or on behalf of the Trust?  Is there any reason to not make the periodic earnings reports submitted to the Trust public? (By the way, the same should be done for the Clergy Retirement Fund).  If there is an impediment, what is it?  If there is not, why not publish them?  Where is the transparency?

9. RCAB Give and Take

How much has RCAB had to plow into the Lay Pension plan? Is the cause for the subsidy mainly due to a bad economic environment or has the investment philosophy changed? Or is it both with some other mitigating factors thrown in?

How many millions of dollars does the RCAB retain from the investment returns for some other purpose or Corporation Sole expense?  How much could premiums be reduced if the RCAB did not retain those $X million?  Would $1 million be enough of a cushion?

10. Finance Council Investment Advisory Committee

With proven members of the investment community on the Investment Advisory Committee of the Archdiocesan Finance Council, why has it taken so long for a rebound of RCAB investments? Some of the members of the Investment Advisory Committee have been around for a  long time (eg. Peter Lynch, Thomas O’Neill, Deacon Charlie Clough). Have the investment managers been changed? If so, what are their pedigrees?

Update: we believe some answers to the questions in #10 are here in the overview of the Collective Investment Partnership.

Aside from these ten areas of questions and concerns posted yesterday and today, everyone out there who has paid into the Lay Pension Plan and must rely on the plan in the future is feeling really good about the management of the fund.

We have written to Carol Gustavson to ask for answers to yesterday’s questions and have not yet heard back.  The Benefits Trust website lists these two emails if you want more information: cgustavson@rcab.org, benefits@rcab.org.  If the answers to the questions on the blog matter to you, feel free to copy the blog post into an email and drop it to Carol and the benefits email address and see if you can get a response.  You might also want to copy Jack McCarthy, the Vice Chair of the Finance Council (jack.mccarthy(at) neu.edu). Let us know what you hear back

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