Last year, after I became Chair, I wrote to you about what I hoped to accomplish in the near term and thought you’d be interested in hearing the progress your board and RPB staff have made. The imperative points that formed our agenda for 2016 were: to improve communications; to provide more investment choice; to ensure we truly hear, not just listen to, your suggestions and concerns; and to address your needs as efficiently and effectively as possible. So what did we accomplish?
Internally, we redefined and strengthened our staff. Robert Perry joined the RPB as Director of Participant and Employer Services. Robert, along with Andrew Buchhalter (Participant Service Representative) and Julia Kim (Employer Service Representative and new to the RPB), are dedicated to providing participants and employers with the highest level of personal attention. We also hired a Director of Marketing and Communications, Stephanie Berger. Stephanie is in the process of redesigning our methodology, message, and communications with each cohort in the plan as well as developing our financial education resources.
From an outside perspective, more than 350 participants registered for our initial webinar last April and 200 signed up for this January’s webinar, which–for the first time–included an invitation to financial advisors. The webinars have helped us keep in touch with participants but additional communication is not only needed, it is also being developed. One only has to look at the recent mailing about Investment Choice to see the difference in less than a year. And there is more coming.
As I mentioned above, it was evident from your emails and feedback at conferences, that a significant percentage of participants want to make individual choices rather than invest only in our managed funds. Although it was challenging to configure an outdated system to process the new funds, we overcame the technical hurdles and launched the Tier 2 investment options two months ago.
In 2017, it is my hope that investment choice will be expanded to include an option for Jewish values investing. Daily valuation and a more rapid turnaround of your statements are also on our agenda. I have said before, and repeat for emphasis, there are two parts to any enhancement–the committee work and the technology work. The committee work on a number of topics and enhancements is done. Now the work begins to get our providers’ systems to talk to each other. I do not want to over promise and under deliver, but please know everyone is working as hard as possible to get this done.
There are several people who need to be sincerely thanked for their efforts: Maria Rodriguez who is one of the most effective administrators I know; Vanessa Stevens, Patrick James and Lois Allwood, our accounting team that works behind the scenes to keep the records; Alyce Gunn who works long hours as both our CFO and manager of our systems conversion–she is remarkable; and Michael Kimmel who is excellent at running the shop. From his involvement in every facet of the RPB’s internal operations and external affairs, to getting his daughter ready for college and being a great father and husband, Michael does it all and does it well. If we issued a balance sheet he would have his own asset category.
It was a year of moving from conversation to action–from planning to results. I have no doubt that this momentum will continue. I pledge again that your Board and staff will continue to listen to, hear and be responsive to your needs.
G. Leonard Teitelbaum
Chair of the Board