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BOLTON PARTNERS

Employee Benefits and Investment Consultants

 

Tom's
Thomas B. Lowman FSA, EA, MAAA Chief Actuary & Vice President At Bolton Partners we take great pride in the level of expertise of all of our consultants and associates. But, there is one consultant whose technical expertise and reputation truly raises the bar for our team here at Bolton Partners. Not only are we lucky enough to have him as Chief Actuary, but our clients also reap the benefits having guidance from someone so knowledgeable and well-respected in our industry.
Tom's Topics

 

CORNER

How should Financial Economics Principles Be Applied (or not applied) to Public Pension Plans?

 

Here are Tom’s thoughts on the application of Financial Economics to Public Pension plans.

 

Click here to learn more.

What’s up at the Actuarial Standards Board?

 

There are a couple of Actuarial Standard Board (ASB) projects underway that will impact what we disclose in future pension valuations.

 

  1. The ASB is working to finalize the Pension Risk ASOP (Actuarial Standard of Practice).  This is an improvement to current practice but focuses only on simple or qualitative disclosures.
  2. A much more controversial standard is further back in the development stage.  This would require actuaries to disclose the value of liabilities based on Treasury rates.  This would not impact funding.  This is being driven by the ASB and not its Pension Committee which underscores its controversy.

 

 

Model Legislation for Better Public Plan Governance (vs. Risk Disclosure)

 

Tom has submitted an article/proposal to the Society of Actuaries’ Pension Forum about the need for model legislation covering public pension governance, the basic questions presented by such a proposal, and the possible answers.  Tom’s expectation is that this will commence further and deeper conversations on this topic.

Click here to read more

 

 

Accounting For Volunteer Firefighter LOSAPs and New GASB 73 Rules

 

Many counties provide benefit plans to volunteer firefighters through Length of Service Award Programs (LOSAPs).  While it may be difficult to consider these pension plans since they cover non-employees, the accounting rules (GASB 68, paragraph 5 and GASB 73, paragraph 7) make it clear that the same pension accounting rules that apply to employee plans also apply to volunteer plans.

Click here to learn more

 

 

Road to Improve Public Pension Funding

Click here to read more

 

 

Comment Letter to the Actuarial Standards Board Regarding Principal Based Reserves for Life Products

 

The Actuarial Standards Board (ASB) asked for comments that included a question about who is the actuary’s client when working on public pension funds. Tom helped the Conference of Consulting Actuaries write a response.  Separately, the ASB drafted new language suggesting that life insurance actuaries are not responsible for their work.  Tom sent in a comment letter linking the two documents.

The comment letter can be found here.

 

 

Pension Plan Valuations:

Views on Using Multiple Measures to Offer a More Complete Financial Picture

 

The GAO just issued a report called: “Pension Plan Valuations: Views on Using Multiple Measures to Offer a More Complete Financial Picture.”  This is part of a larger debate about whether pension contributions and/or liability measures should be based on expected rates of trust fund returns or low bond interest rates.  The GAO report noted differences between the public and private sector and differences of opinions between experts.  One interesting observation was that different sides “agree that each generation should pay its fair share for pension cost, but disagreed about what this meant in practice.”  The GAO took no position.  The full report can be found here.

 

GASB Issuing New Standards for OPEB Reporting

 

We’re in the process of implementing GASB 67/68 for pension plans and GASB has released an exposure draft to set similar standards for OPEB.  The new OPEB accounting standards largely mirror the new pension standards, but would be effective for FY2018 in most cases.  We submitted a letter to GASB outlining our comments on the proposed changes.  Links to our letter and all of the letters received by GASB are below.

 

Bolton’s Comments on GASB’s Proposed OPEB Accounting Changes

 

GASB’s Online Listing of Comment Letters

 

Tom’s Testimony at 9/10/2014 GASB OPEB Hearing

Self Adjusting Pension Design

Variable annuity plans tend not to be the first choice of either employers or employees.  We like these designs but this article is about why they are not yet catching on.

 

Pension Section News

September 2013 – Issue 81

 

I have spent a lot of time over the last two years working with the Conference of Consulting Actuaries Public Plans Community (CCA PPC) in drafting a “white paper” on public pension funding policies.  The need for this paper is driven by several changes in the GASB accounting rules including the elimination of the annual required contribution (ARC) and changes to the expense calculation which makes the expense not only volatile but not known until well after budgeting is complete. The CCA PPC white paper is intended for a national audience, as part of a nation-wide review and discussion of funding policies for public pension plans. The CCA PPC white paper is very detailed but there is also a summary chart.

 

To view the CCA PPC white paper click here.

 

As a final note: Some of you may also have heard of a Society of Actuaries Blue Ribbon Panel paper.  The SOA paper has some useful concepts but is a poor alternative to the CCA paper and I suggest you focus on the CCA paper.  This is due in part to the SOA Panel only having one experienced public pension actuary compared to the CCA paper having representatives from all of the major pension consulting firms.

In early 2014 the Society of Actuaries issued a White Paper on Public Pension Funds.  The Panel that created the paper was comprised primarily of non actuaries and did not include any actuaries from the major public sector consulting firms. Many recommendations were made by the Panel.  The Panel asked the Actuarial Standards Board (ASB) to consider all of their recommendations.

 

Click here to view a memo about the Panel's recommendations that Tom sent to the ASB Pension Committee prior to meeting with that Committee on April 9th.

Public Pension Funds

Baltimore Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boca Raton Office

 

7279 Panache Way

Boca Raton, FL 33433

 

 

 

 

Atlanta Office

 

 

 

 

 

675 Seminole Avenue, NE

Suite 310

Atlanta, Georgia 30307

36 S. Charles Street

Suite 1000

Baltimore, MD 21201

 

 

9000 Midlantic Drive

Suite 100

Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054

 

 

 

 

Washington Office

 

1615 L Street, NW

Suite 510

Washington, DC 20036

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright (c) 2008 - 2016 Bolton Partners, Inc. All rights reserved.

        1-800-394-0263   info@boltonpartners.com

 

 

 

 

325 Sentry Parkway

Building 5 West, Suite 200

Blue Bell, PA 19422

 

 

 

 

Denver Office

 

3773 Cherry Creek North Drive

Suite 575

Denver, CO 80209

 

Philadelphia Offices