The Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS), the pension fund that covers 60,000 Missouri local government employees and retirees, is 94.8% pre-funded according to the system’s actuary.
The pre-funded rate represents a pension plan’s assets versus liabilities, or, how much money a plan has on hand today to pay the benefits promised for tomorrow. Though LAGERS strives to be 100% funded, an 80% funded rate is normally considered the benchmark for a well-funded plan and the average funded rate for US public plans is 72%, according to the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. A 95% funded rate is roughly equivalent to having pre-funded 95% of your home mortgage.
The LAGERS investment portfolio, which has a return of 9.27% for the last 5-year period ending June 30, 2017, is a major reason for the above average funding level.
An increase in the funded rate is good news for the 701 local government employers that participate in the LAGERS system, and ultimately, taxpayers across Missouri because it means LAGERS is in a better position to meet all of its obligations now and into the future.
LAGERS is pleased to report as of June 30, a one-year investment return of 12.04% (unaudited), net of all fees.
Strong investment returns are always good news for members, employers, and taxpayers alike. LAGERS credits excess investment gains back to the employers helping to ensure the future security of the system and the members we serve.
And while one-year returns are of note, LAGERS greater focus remains on ensuring the long-term security of the system so that Missouri’s local government employers can continue to rely on LAGERS as a tool that attracts and retains the highest skilled, most dedicated public workers into our local communities .
This year, the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS) will celebrate 50 years of providing retirement security to Missouri’s local government workers!
Missouri LAGERS was created in 1967 by the 74th Missouri General Assembly as the ultimate retirement solution for local government employers across the state. Prior to LAGERS’ creation, only the largest governmental employers in the state could legally establish a retirement plan for non-uniformed employees. Through a cooperative effort in the mid-1960s with the Missouri Municipal League, local government units from across the state decided to change the law and together create a system that could provide a retirement solution for all of Missouri’s local government workers. No matter how big or small the community, LAGERS' founding members believed that a strong retirement system is a tool for attracting and retaining the highest quality employees into Missouri’s local communities, and provides those public servants with a tool to reach a secure retirement.
Fifty years later, Missouri LAGERS still holds this belief: that every hardworking public servant should be able to retire with a little dignity and security and that LAGERS can be a great solution that benefits both public workers and the communities they serve.
Beginning with just ten chartering member employers, LAGERS membership growth has been remarkable and steady for five decades with approximately 15 new local government employers choosing to partner with the system every year. Today LAGERS is comprised of nearly 700 local government units with nearly $7 billion in assets and serves nearly 60,000 members, retirees, and beneficiaries.
Over the years, LAGERS has established itself as a nationally recognized pension system. In 2015, LAGERS was named Plan Sponsor of the Year, by PLANSPONSOR magazine. The system’s strong plan design and funding policies have positioned LAGERS well for the future. LAGERS boasts a 95% funded ratio along with strong long-term investment performance and robust participant services. LAGERS truly has broken the retirement system mold and continues to set the standard in pension administration across the county.
LAGERS is planning to celebrate its 50th birthday in several ways:
LAGERS Board of Trustees recently adopted a new vision statement: “A Secure Retirement for All.” Our vision is the very essence of why LAGERS staff gets up and goes to work each and every day. We strive in everything we do to ensure that our members can someday retire with dignity and security.
Coming in July 2017, LAGERS will be rolling out an all-new responsive website. The new website will feature enhanced user navigation; new, interactive content, and even more great ways to connect with your LAGERS system. LAGERS remains committed to ensuring that you have the best access to information you need about your benefits!
Stay tuned on our social media channels throughout the year as we look back at a complete 50 year history of the LAGERS system. Beginning as a dream in 1967, LAGERS has grown into a nationally acclaimed pension system, setting the gold standard for pension administration across the county.
LAGERS Annual Meeting
Don’t forget to join us at our annual meeting as we return to the site of our very first LAGERS Annual Meeting at Lake of the Ozarks.
In an effort to keep members' and employers' information safe in the ever-changing world of cyber security, LAGERS participates in an annual security assessment of its core systems. LAGERS recently scored a 4 out of 4 rating, meeting and exceeding industry best practices for information security during its annual information security assessment held in June, 2017. The assessment was performed by project engineers at nGuard, an outside firm hired by LAGERS to identify vulnerabilities in the environment that is associated with LAGERS' key systems, networks and processes. A representative from nGuard stated that "LAGERS is in the top 5 companies in terms of score and findings" from the companies' overall assessments issued.
LAGERS continues to follow its Board of Trustees directive to make the security of all members' information a primary focus and priority, and LAGERS staff is committed to this initiative to maintain a high level of security for our members and employers.
Missouri’s largest retirement system for local government workers has partnered with UMass Medical School’s Disability Evaluation Services to provide enhancements and support for its disability certification and re-certification process.
Determining disability eligibility is a critical component of the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS), a $6.9 billion system that covers close to 60,000 current and former local government employees within the state of Missouri.
“We were seeking to improve our process and access to expertise in our disability claim analysis and review. We were impressed with UMass’ depth of resources, degree of effort and desire to assist us with process improvement,” said LAGERS Executive Secretary Robert Wilson. “We’ve found them very responsive and dedicated to helping us improve.”
On July 1st, Missouri LAGERS will begin administration of the City of Jefferson’s Fire Pension Plan – its first legacy pension plan as allowed under the Local Plans Legislation which was signed into law last June.
“This has been a culmination of effort by our local government leaders, state legislators, and LAGERS staff, and we are excited to see our first plan transfer administration into our system,” says outgoing director Keith Hughes. “The heart of this legislation was truly to provide an alternative solution to local governments who wanted to get out of the pension administration business.”
And that’s just what the City of Jefferson will be doing on July 1st. “As far as both city retirees and LAGERS members are concerned, they shouldn’t notice anything different as we expect the transition to be seamless, but we hope that it will be a burden lifted on the city,” notes incoming director Bob Wilson.
“We have been overwhelmed by the positive response from employers across the state,” Wilson adds, “and we have several more employers already waiting in line to transfer their plans into LAGERS.”
The City of Jefferson originally joined LAGERS in 1970, but only offered LAGERS benefits to its general and police employers, while fire employees participated in a separate pension fund. The city has since closed their Fire Pension Fund and all new hires in the Fire Department now participate in LAGERS. Retirees in the closed Fire Pension Fund will, effective July 1st, begin receiving their pension check from LAGERS instead of the city, but will otherwise not notice anything different. The city, however, will no longer bear any of the administrative, actuarial, auditing, legal, investment, or compliance burden of managing a pension fund.
“This truly is a win-win for everyone. Retirees are assured their benefits remain secure and the city can focus on providing great services for its taxpayers. LAGERS is truly honored to be a part of this,” notes Wilson.
Jefferson City, MO - October 18, 2016 The Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS) Director of Investments Megan Loehner was named one of the Top 30 Women Rising Stars in Institutional Investing by Trusted Insight magazine.
At LAGERS, Megan's job entails focusing on all aspects of portfolio management. She is a graduate of University of Missouri, where she received a B.S. and a master’s degree in accounting. Loehner is a Certified Public Accountant, a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
An excerpt of the interview with Trusted Insight:
"Many people don’t understand the math on what they would actually receive over a lifetime compared to what they contribute to their pension. It’s not that the systems don’t relay these important messages, sometimes the small negatives or the overbearing bold print on the front of the newspaper overshadows the large positives within the fine print, and sometimes there’s a disconnect in the desire to understand."
For more information or to read the article, go to
Jefferson City, MO - September 20, 2016 The Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS), the pension fund that covers almost 60,000 Missouri local government employees and retirees, is 94.7% pre-funded according to the system’s actuary. This is up from 94.4% a year ago.
“This is wonderful news and a shining example of how LAGERS is getting it right for our members, employers, taxpayers, and the communities we serve.” said Keith Hughes, the Executive Director of the $6 billion LAGERS fund.
The pre-funded rate represents a pension plan’s assets versus liabilities, or, how much money a plan has on hand today to pay the benefits promised for tomorrow. Though LAGERS strives to be 100% funded, an 80% funded rate is normally considered the benchmark for a well-funded plan and the average funded rate for US public plans is 73%, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. A 95% funded rate is roughly equivalent to having pre-funded 95% of your home mortgage.
The LAGERS investment portfolio, which has a return of 7.57% for the last 5-year period ending June 30, 2016, is a major reason for the increase in the funding level.
An increase in the funded rate is good news for the 686 local government employers that participate in the LAGERS system, and ultimately, taxpayers across Missouri because it means LAGERS is in a better position to meet all of its obligations now and into the future.
Jefferson City, MO – April 15, 2016 Governor Jay Nixon has appointed Claire (West) Scoville as the citizen trustee of the board of trustees for the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS).
Ms. Scoville brings extensive public pension and policy experience to LAGERS board. Before retiring in 2011, Scoville operated her own consulting firm where she represented public pension systems, political subdivisions and other clients before the Missouri Legislature. Prior to this, Scoville worked for the Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement from 1984 – 2006 and began serving as Executive Director in 1993. Her primary duties were to provide analysis and recommendations to the Legislature and to Missouri’s public retirement plans concerning the long-term fiscal and actuarial impact of state legislation and local ordinances.
In addition, Scoville has served on many public pension related boards including the Jackson County Employees Pension Plan, Jefferson City Firefighters Retirement Fund, City of St. Louis Pension Task Force, State Retirement Advisory Commission, and the Missouri Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems. She also previously served as the citizen trustee on the LAGERS board from 2001-2004. She received the Public Pension Lifetime Achievement Award from the Missouri Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems in 2007.
Ms. Scoville’s term begins immediately and will end December 31, 2020. She replaces John R. Franklin, whose term expired. The LAGERS board of trustees is made up of three elected member trustees, three elected employer trustees and one appointed citizen trustee.
Jefferson City, MO – April 1, 2015 The Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS) has been awarded the 2015 Plan Sponsor of the Year by PLANSPONSOR Magazine for the public defined benefit category. According to an article in the March issue of PLANSPONSOR magazine, the system was chosen for this award because of its strong one-, three- and five-year investment returns of 19.0%, 12.2% and 15.0% respectively, their innovative participant services, strong plan design features, leadership in public policy, and an overall focus on the membership.
“Anything and everything you do, stay focused on the membership, and you will always get the right results,” Keith Hughes, LAGERS Executive Director, said.
LAGERS is a $6.3 billion system that covers close to 60,000 current and former local government employees from 668 cities, counties, fire protection districts, libraries and other government agencies within the state of Missouri. Joining LAGERS is voluntary and the system adds about 15 new employers each year.
The magazine specifically noted LAGERS’ “Reframing the Debate” campaign that aims to show the value of the public sector workers that serve their communities. LAGERS found that 94% of their members continue living in the community they served after they retire. The retirement benefits they are receiving are then reinvested in the local economy. LAGERS Economic Impact Report, which is distributed to the state’s legislators, shows that $216 million was paid to the system’s retirees living in Missouri in 2014. Showing those kind of numbers to senators and representatives demonstrates that “there are two sides of that financial equation,” Hughes said.
PLANSPONSOR magazine is the nation’s leading source of information and solutions for retirement benefits administrators. According to the magazine’s web site, each year the editors recognize U.S. retirement plans that “show a commitment to their participants’ financial health and retirement success, and are leaders in their respective categories.”
LAGERS is the fourth Missouri public retirement system to be named the Plan Sponsor of the Year in past seven years. The Missouri State Employees Retirement System (MOSERS) received this honor in 2008, the Public School & Education Employee Retirement Systems (PSRS/PEERS) of Missouri in 2011, and the State of Missouri Deferred Compensation Plan was selected in 2013.
Jefferson City, MO - January 21, 2016 - Senate Bill #639, sponsored by Senator Jeanie Riddle, R-Callaway County and House Bill 1443, sponsored by Representative Mike Leara, R-St. Louis, would give local governments the opportunity to voluntarily transfer the administration of their frozen pension plan to the state wide Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS).
The local government must already have some employees covered under LAGERS in order to pursue this option and final action could not be taken by the local employer without approval from the local pension board and the current plan members.
“We are a prime example of a system that would benefit from this,” said Norm Robinson, Jefferson City Fire pension board’s vice chairman. “The active firefighters are already in LAGERS, as are all the other city employees in Jeff City.”
Similar legislation received wide support from law makers during the 2014 and 2015 legislative sessions but failed to reach the finish line for enactment.
“We currently have 50 retirees, 10 surviving spouses,” Robinson said. “We have expenses for actuarial services, auditing services, liability insurance — costs that would be mitigated by going into LAGERS.”
LAGERS Director, Keith Hughes, says there is no mandate for local governments to choose LAGERS for their pension administration.
“This simply gives the local employer another option for pension administration, allowing them to focus on serving their communities,” he said.
Senator Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, who sponsored the 2015 bill, called the proposal “common sense. It’s optional to (retirement) systems, and it just gives them some flexibility.”
LAGERS is the third largest public pension plan in Missouri and the largest for local government employees. The system currently serves around 60,000 current and former local government workers and beneficiaries.