July 1, 2019

Beyond DB And DC: Towards Retirement Income Plans For The 21st Century

“The goal of this workshop is to bring together asset owners, policy makers, academics, and selected industry representatives to discuss the major issues facing {retirement income systems} globally, and to highlight ‘best practices’ in responding to those issues.”


“Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But perhaps, it is the end of the beginning…..”.



A Confession and the Motivation for this Letter

The first quote above came from the brochure advertising an international workshop “on the major issues facing DC systems”……which I blatantly misquoted to read “on the major issues facing retirement income systems”. Why? I argued in my opening workshop remarks that the ‘DC’ and ‘DB’ words have outlived their usefulness. They have become triggers for adversarial ‘DB vs. DC’ debates that lead to the hardening of ‘pro-con’ predispositions rather than moving beyond them.

The second quote above came from my 20th Century hero Winston Churchill who seems to have made pithy quips and one-liners fitting any situation imaginable. The original context for his “this is not the end” comment was the British El Alamein victory in the North African desert in 1942. Today, it fits the quest for redesigning retirement income systems (RIS) for the 21st Century rather well. Some notable early redesign and implementation victories are not the end but perhaps, the end of the beginning of the reforms we need to make.      

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