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Press release from PR Newswire

ING Responds to Challenges Faced by Public Retirement Systems with New Tools and Guidance

Thursday, September 08, 2011

ING Responds to Challenges Faced by Public Retirement Systems with New Tools and Guidance11:00 EDT Thursday, September 08, 2011Whitepaper and checklist help government employers evaluate employee needs and benefits optionsWINDSOR, Conn., Sept. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As attention over public sector budgets and employee benefits programs continues to grow, ING's U.S. Retirement division announced today the publication of Public Pensions in Focus, a new suite of research and support tools for state and local government employers.The materials, developed by the ING Retirement Research Institute, include a whitepaper and a comprehensive checklist that public sector employers can leverage when making important decisions about their retirement systems, including their defined benefit pension programs.  The goal is to provide sponsors with an objective and well-informed approach to analyzing their existing systems, the needs of their employees and the options that are available if a change is in order."The public sector landscape has changed dramatically in recent years.  Many government employers are looking very closely at their retirement systems to make sure they can meet their short-term and long-term goals for funding retiree benefits," said Brian Comer, president of Public Markets for ING Retirement.  "We believe that each public employer must make an informed decision based on their unique situation.  Some will find that they need to significantly restructure their plans, while others will be fine and not require a change.  We are seeing examples of both cases play out in the market.  No matter what the outcome, it is crucial to approach each situation with a systematic and documentable process."According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 20 million employees and seven million retirees and plan beneficiaries are covered by some 2,500 state and municipal pension plans.  The sheer numbers, along with the impact these benefit obligations have on public sector budgets and tax burdens, creates a complex and often emotionally-charged debate that affects Americans across the country. In addition to providing an overview of the issues and opportunities facing the U.S. public retirement system, ING's Public Pensions in Focus whitepaper offers government plan sponsors actionable direction by walking them through the following steps:Pre-planning:  Pre-planning helps plan sponsors lay the groundwork for a retirement program analysis and involves identifying relevant information about various stakeholders in the retirement program.Situation Analysis:  With pre-planning documentation serving as a guide and framework, the situation analysis calls for an objective analysis of the current retirement program and its future viability.Choosing a Strategy:  Decisions about the appropriate solutions require an assessment of all available features and options, such as costs; benefits and risks; ability to meet stated organizational goals; impact on stakeholders; and potential obstacles and benefits. Implementation:  If change is required, it is imperative to create detailed communications and implementation plans that clearly identify such things as team members and responsibilities; key dates and events; contractual, legislative and legal factors; and performance metrics and feedback mechanisms.As part of the process, ING's Public Pensions in Focus checklist helps walk a sponsor through all the key steps before undertaking any large scale changes.  Completing the checklist provides a structure for approaching any discussion about redesigning a program.  "The stakes are too high for public employers to make an uninformed decision," noted Comer. "We realize there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution, but these resources can be a roadmap to guide plan sponsors as they navigate through a difficult evaluation process."ING has been meeting the retirement needs of working Americans for over 40 years, and provides plans, services and support to approximately half the states and 4,300 towns and municipalities across the country.  The business holds top rankings in the industry and is one of the few providers that serves all types and sizes of customers, including corporate, government, healthcare, K-12 and higher education employers.To access Public Pensions in Focus, or other original ING research, please visit the ING Retirement Research Institute at www.ingretirementresearch.com and select the "publications" page.About INGING U.S. is a subsidiary of Dutch-based ING Groep NV.  In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves approximately 15 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit www.ing.us.SOURCE INGFor further information: Joe Loparco, ING U.S., Office +1-860-580-2677, Cell +1-860-462-6525, joseph.loparco@us.ing.com