Through my first years as the Treasurer for the State of North Carolina, I focused on incremental and meaningful changes like educating North Carolina citizens about being responsible consumers when it comes to healthcare, minimizing investment management fees, reducing waste and fraud.
Behind the scenes, the Department of State Treasurer touches nearly every person in North Carolina through a variety of functions related to the financial health of the state. I lead the department, serving as the state’s banker and chief investment officer and, together, we are responsible for approximately $110 billion in assets. The department administers:
- the employee retirement systems for more than 900,000 public workers, along with their 401(k), 457 and 403(b) plans (myNCRetirement.com);
- the State Health Plan, which provides health care coverage to more than 727,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, and their dependents (shpnc.org);
- fiscal assistance and expertise to local governmental units by aiding them in the sale of local government debt obligations and in maintaining sound budgeting, accounting, and reporting procedures (NCTreasurer.com); and
- the NC Cash unclaimed property database (NCCash.com).
As keeper of the public purse, it is important to help people understand that the state is financially secure and, because of conservative management by the Department of State Treasurer, the General Assembly and meaningful oversight by Boards of Trustees, we are in a good position to withstand economic headwinds.
In March, I reported that the state’s pension plans were secure. In these volatile times, the S&P 500 tumbled and investments fell, yet North Carolina Pensions continue to be secure.
In fact, Moody’s Investors Service recently reported that North Carolina’s Retirement Systems, which includes state and local employees, is the best funded in the nation when looking at its Adjusted Net Pension Liability.
Additionally, a recent “stress test” by The Pew Charitable Trusts concluded that North Carolina’s state pension fund is well-positioned to maintain solvency during tough economic times. While these reports were not specific to a health crisis scenario, they did take a close look at the management of these funds and found that even in a volatile market and a recession, we would remain on solid footing.
Volatility is defined as the liability of something to change rapidly and unpredictably. There is a lot happening right now in our communities, in our work environments and in the markets. Every day is open to change and an adjustment in how we live. This uncertainty inevitably leads to questions about the future, investments and retirement.
It takes strength to persevere and stay the course. When it comes to retirement and pensions, the time you have invested is an important part in what the future holds. Compounded returns can significantly affect the future value. As a person who has chosen a career of service or if you are one of the many people who are working with one of the many volunteer fire departments across the state, the time you have worked carries even more weight. Your years of service contribute to your pension benefit if you work for a local government, and a member of the Local Governmental Employees Retirement System (LGERS), and your years of service also apply to your benefit eligibility for the Firefighters and Rescue Workers Pension Fund.
Saving for retirement takes discipline and requires responsibility – these are concepts you understand well, simply because of the way you have chosen to serve your communities. I encourage you to stay the course with your end goal in mind – your retirement.
We have many resources available to our members. These can be found at myNCRetirement.com. I also encourage you to register for your ORBIT account. With this secure account, you can view your counted years of service, contributions to eligible pension plans and understand the details as you look to your retirement.
Our mission at the Department of State Treasurer is to preserve, protect and sustain the state’s pension and healthcare plans, reduce investment fees while maximizing returns, and have a high level of transparency in everything we do. Our vision is to sustain and advance the performance and efficiency of the department, always focusing our loyalty and duty of care to members. With everything that is going on in our society right now — the angst and anxiety — the last thing I want any public servant leaving home worried about is the safety of the pension plan.
The North Carolina Pension Funds remain strong in these times. By mid-February we had reached unprecedented fund levels — $107 billion. And, because we have been conservative, we did not lose as much as others when the market took a turn. The North Carolina Pension is the safest and most secure of its type in the US. We are focused on the future, staying the course and strengthening our position by holding true to our responsibilities.
We have a critical mission at the Department of State Treasurer. We impact a lot of people in the state of North Carolina. We are constant in our determination to make sure the North Carolina Retirement Systems remain a benefit for current and future public servants.
We all thank you for what you are doing and continue to do for the people of North Carolina in serving the communities in which you live, work and play.
To learn more about the North Carolina Retirement Systems, please visit myNCRetirement.com.
To learn more about the Department of State Treasurer, please visit NCTreasurer.com
To learn more about Unclaimed Property, please visit NCCash.com.
The Department of State Treasurer, which administers the pension benefits for firefighters and rescue squad workers, is committed to keeping you informed about the benefits available to you as a member of the Firefighters’ and Rescue Squad Workers’ Pension Fund. For more information, visit https://www.myncretirement.com/non-retirees/current-employees/benefits/fire-rescue.
For more information on the Local Governmental Employees Retirement System, visit myNCRetirement.com.