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RC assists Oakland County, MI in employee education effort.

(OAKLAND COUNTY, MI)--Employees of Oakland County. MI are taking advantage of a unique opportunity to decide whether their employer's defined benefit plan or defined contribution plan best fits their individual retirement strategy.

Oakland County chose the ICMA Retirement Corporation (RC), a Washington, DC based specialist in public sector retirement administration, as the sole provider for its new defined contribution plan. Known as the Oakland Performance Retirement System, this plan is an IRS Section 401(a) money-purchase plan.

RC is providing administrative services, a comprehensive participant education program, and 17 investment fund options valued daily Six of these options are portfolios with an SEC-registered mutual fund from Fidelity, Putnam, Gabelli or Lindner as its underlying investment.

Approximately 3,100 Oakland County employees hired prior to July 1, 1994, have until the end of 1995 to decide whether they want to transfer to the defined contribution plan. If an employee chooses to participate, the value of his or her accumulated benefit from the defined benefit plan is transferred to the defined contribution plan.

For participating employees, Oakland County also annually contributes an amount equal to 6 percent of their salary, subject to a seven-year graded vesting schedule (effective from the first day of employment.) In addition, employees can contribute 0 or 3 percent of their salary, which Oakland County matches.

A central focus of the program is the comprehensive education package RC developed to assist participants in making their decision.

In the enrollment phase, RC is conducting group meetings of Oakland County employees to detail the Oakland Performance Retirement System. During the session, participants view RC's video Consider Your Options, developed specifically for the Oakland County plan. The video walks employees through the differences between the defined benefit and defined contribution plans and introduces them to specific features of County's money purchase plan. Participants also receive statements valuing the benefit of their current plan, prepared by the defined benefit plan's actuary.

Following the group meetings, Oakland County employees are encouraged to set up one-on-one sessions with RC registered representatives. During these meetings, RC representatives run laptop computer illustrations of how employee retirement benefits could grow under both plans.

In addition, more than 100 Oakland County employees attended retirement planning sessions conducted by Gordon Tiffany, a Certified Financial Planner who is RC's director of financial and retirement planning. Employees also had the option of individual follow-up consultations.

All Oakland County employees hired after July 1, 1994, are automatically enrolled in the new defined contribution plan. For these employees, Oakland County contributes 5 percent of salary each year, subject to the same seven-year vesting schedule.
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Title Annotation:Special Report; ICMA Retirement Corp.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 11, 1995
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