RD891 - Virginia Retirement System – Popular Annual Financial Report for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2022
As VRS celebrates 80 years of serving those who serve others, our team consistently meets member needs at every stage by providing services, retirement counseling and education throughout their careers and into retirement. Our activities throughout the fiscal year contribute to this overarching goal of helping members holistically plan for tomorrow, today.
We continue to focus on advancements in customer service technology. After launching online retirement last year, we were pleased to see 38% of July retirements using online functionality – reducing manual processing volume and freeing staff to handle more high-touch cases. VRS maintains its position in the most coveted quadrant of the cost-effective services chart, where we deliver high service at a low cost in comparison to our peers, according to CEM Benchmarking Inc.
We launched a new online counseling appointment scheduling system, providing convenient access for members and automated appointment reminders. The technology also helps staff with managing and reporting. Members and retirees can now manage their optional group life insurance coverage online through myVRS. And the new VRS Member Guide provides concise benefit information with important action steps, timelines and online resources.
VRS partnered with MissionSquare Retirement, the third-party record keeper for its defined contribution plans, to boost awareness and use of the Commonwealth of Virginia 457 Deferred Compensation Plan’s SmartStep automatic-increase feature while driving engagement with the participant website, Account Access. SmartStep puts the member in the driver’s seat and allows them to set voluntary contribution increases at dates they select. The campaign received several national awards, including the prestigious Art Caple President’s Award from the National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators (NAGDCA).
VRS had a noteworthy legislative session and is gratified by the collective actions by the General Assembly and Governor to allocate additional funds to the various retirement plans. To illustrate, due to exceptional investment performance in fiscal year 2021, the actuarially determined contribution rates for the upcoming biennium for state and teacher plans would have been lower than the prior biennium. We are extremely pleased, however, that the legislature and the Governor retained the higher contribution rates from the prior biennium for the state and teacher plans, while fully funding the VRS board-certified contribution rates for the State Police Officers’ Retirement System (SPORS), the Virginia Law Officers’ Retirement System (VaLORS) and the Judicial Retirement System (JRS). Also, they allocated $1 billion – $750 million in June 2022 and, contingent on funding, $250 million in fiscal year 2023 – to reduce unfunded liabilities and improve plan health.
After two years of remote work, most employees now report to the office for collaboration days, while some designated staff work remotely. The flexibility to serve customers in-person and remotely has expanded our customer service channels for members and retirees.
VRS’ success relies on a dedicated team. I’d like to thank the Board of Trustees for their tremendous support and stewardship. Their leadership empowers our team to provide exceptional service to our members and beneficiaries.
Patricia S. Bishop, Director