RICHMOND, March 9, 2021 — The Virginia Retirement System’s (VRS) communication campaign supporting the 2020 updates to the Optional Retirement Plan for Higher Education (ORPHE) took first place in the conversions/403(b) consolidations category, for public plans with 1,000 to 5,000 participants, at the annual Eddy Awards sponsored by Pensions & Investments (P&I) in March.
VRS and TIAA submitted a joint entry for the ORPHE 2020 campaign, which focused on increasing value for plan participants by making provider and investment choices more consistent. With input and onsite support from VRS and plan record-keeper ICMA-RC, TIAA managed the communication strategy, including creative content, mailings and educational programming. Approximately 3,100 accounts, or 28% of the overall optional retirement plan population, were migrated from a third provider to either TIAA or the VRS Defined Contribution Plan.
The campaign provided information on upcoming changes, education on administrative changes and explanations of necessary action steps for affected participants whose balances would transition to a new provider. It also provided details on provider options and how participants could get assistance during the transition.
“Improving plan efficiency and transparency was our goal for this initiative,” VRS Director Patricia Bishop said. “VRS worked with TIAA and ICMA-RC to inform ORPHE participants at every step of the way and emerged with improved services and a more cost-efficient plan administration. We are honored to receive the Eddy Award in recognition of this multifaceted transition.”
“We greatly value our client partnerships and the positive financial outcomes we can collectively create for participants,” said Doug Chittenden, Head of Client Relationships at TIAA, a leading provider of financial services. “We were pleased to collaborate with the Virginia Retirement System to effectively communicate program changes and support their participants in taking advantage of the retirement benefits they are offered.”
The award, honoring communication campaigns that motivate and educate plan participants, was announced at P&I’s annual East Coast Defined Contribution Conference, March 8-11.