January 24, 2018
PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Greenwich Retirement Board Chairman Announces Pension Plan Updates
GREENWICH, CT - As we enter the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget cycle, I thought it would be
constructive to share some facts as they pertain to the Town of Greenwich Retirement System.
After Healthcare and Debt Service, the Retirement System is the third largest fixed charge in the
Town's budget at approximately $22 million per year. This represents approximately 5% of the
total Town budget. To the extent we have a healthy, competitive, and a high performing
Retirement Plan (the Plan), everyone benefits-the members of the Retirement System and the
2017 was a year of change for the Retirement System. I would like to take a moment and share
with you the changes that have taken place, the performance of the Retirement Plan, and the
After extensive discussions by both the Retirement Board and the Board of Estimate and
Taxation (the BET), the Retirement Board selected Neuberger Berman to manage the assets of
the Plan using their discretion subject to guidelines (the Investment Policy Statement) established
by the Trustees of the Retirement System. The BET approved this decision unanimously, and
Neuberger Berman has been acting accordingly since the beginning of the current Fiscal Year
(July 1, 2017).
Concurrent with the change in investment management, the Retirement Board elected new
leadership, and shortly thereafter, a new member (Mike Wacek) was selected and appointed by
the First Selectman, the RTM Moderator, and the BET Chairman to join the Retirement Board.
Mike's background as an actuary and reinsurance executive has been a welcome skill set to the
Retirement Board's deliberations. In addition to the two appointed citizens, the Retirement Board
consists of the Town Comptroller, Peter Mynarski, and two employee-members elected by the
membership of the Retirement System-Captain Mark Kordick and Firefighter Kevin Coyner.
Both Mark and Kevin have given their time and talents to the Retirement Board for many years.
For calendar year 2017 the Plan Assets were up 15.8%. The benchmark against which we
measure performance this past year was up 14.7%, so it is fair to say the active management of
the assets added 1.1 % more value than would have been expected had they simply been invested
in passive indexes in accordance with benchmark weights for each asset class.
Looking back, the Plan Assets over the past three years are up 7.9% annualized compared to the
benchmark of 7.6%; and for the past five years the Plan Assets are up 8.7% annualized compared
to the benchmark of 8.6%. Where the Plan has been challenged, is when one looks back to a
longer period. For ten years, the Plan Assets are up 5.2% annualized compared to the benchmark
of 5.4%, and over this period the actuarial assumed return was 7.4%.
With a new Investment Policy Statement, which contains new policy benchmarks, and with
Neuberger Berman managing the day-to-day investment decisions for the Plan Assets, the
discussion now needs to move to the financial health of the Plan itself and future funding
requirements. It is the intention of the Retirement Board to lead this discussion in the months
ahead. A review of the underlying assumptions behind the Plan's assets and liabilities, the
appropriate rate to discount future earnings to meet future liabilities (the discount rate), and the
funding ratio (the relationship of asset values to liabilities) are some of the topics I expect the
Trustees to discuss with input from our actuary, investment manager, BET liaisons and RTM
As it stands now, I believe the Town of Greenwich Retirement System is a model for other
municipal plans: we have one of the lowest municipal discount rates in the nation at 6.75% with
seasoned and consistent assumptions, and a funded ratio of assets to liabilities of 77.3%. And
our service to the members of the Plan is first class. While looking back a decade ago,
performance lagged expectations, it should be clear that in the most recent years, and last year in
particular, that is no longer the case. It is my expectation that a civil discourse on these topics
will lead to an even better Retirement System for all constituents-retirees, employees in the
Retirement System, and the taxpayers at large who fund the Retirement System-in the years
For more information, contact Atiya Jones, Retirement Administrator to the Town of Greenwich
Retirement Board, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph L. Pellegrino, CF A
Town of Greenwich Retirement System
Board of Estimate and Taxation
Board of Selectmen