State Treasurers call for new guidance for pension plans in response to growing role of private equity-backed insurers

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Colorado State Treasurer David Young sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh calling for new guidance from the Department of Labor to ensure the safekeeping of retirement assets when plans transfer liabilities to insurers.

Citing the growing role of private equity-backed insurers in the annuity and pension risk transfer markets, including Athene’s recent annuity buyout of the JCPenney pension plan, the treasurers called on the DOL to issue additional guidance.

“When retirement assets are put into riskier, more complex financial instruments outside the governance of ERISA and PBGC, it behooves regulatory agencies – at both the federal and state level – to ask tough questions and provide guidance to protect plan fiduciaries and beneficiaries. We believe that this fast-evolving area of pension transactions requires additional review and regulatory guidance. Accordingly, we urge DOL to issue additional guidance to pension plan fiduciaries.”

Read the full letter.