In 2018, Colorado PERA lowered administrative costs while also improving service, according to an annual report issued by CEM Benchmarking, a global pension fund benchmarking and consulting agency.
The cost to run PERA equaled $52 per active, inactive, and retired member, which is 13 percent less than PERA’s peer average of $60 per member, and about half of the $103 average cost for all organizations in the study. PERA’s administration costs actually fell 0.4 percent per year between 2015 and 2018, while peer average costs remained unchanged. Even as PERA reduced administrative costs needed to operate the system, it was also able to improve its customer service scores.
Balancing customer service and administrative costs
Every year, CEM Benchmarking conducts an in-depth analysis of global public pension systems. Colorado PERA has improved or maintained its overall service score—this year 91 out of 100—for the sixth consecutive year and continues to stand out as a leader in the field.
To assess the 62 pensions in the study, CEM Benchmarking looks at two primary factors: Each organization’s administrative costs and the quality of service its members receive. The top-level findings reaffirmed PERA’s place as a top performer in each category when measured against both the 12 organizations in its peer group and also when measured against all organizations in the study.
“The PERA Board of Trustees and staff are committed to providing high-quality service to our members at a low cost,” said Ron Baker, Executive Director of Colorado PERA. “As we look forward, PERA is committed to seeking innovative ways to provide better service to the membership while remaining responsible stewards of their retirement dollars.”
Delivering top-notch service
CEM Benchmarking defines service from the perspective of members receiving the service, not from the perspective of PERA employees. The report states, “high service means more channels, faster turnaround times, more availability, more choice, better content and higher quality.” To evaluate service, CEM Benchmarking examines hundreds of data points collected from all service divisions in the organization and provides comparative data with pension funds of similar size and assets under management (confirm how peer group is set).
Key to PERA’s industry-leading ranking were factors such as average wait time for the call center and percentage of calls that conclude in desired outcomes. The report also compares the average time needed to process key service requests and the availability of counseling and education sessions, among other factors.
Amid a rapidly changing world, the demand to consistently deliver quality service at a low cost is often easier said than done. When a third-party study shows that PERA has established such a pattern, it demonstrates not only sound stewardship of member dollars, but also a commitment to serving each of PERA’s more than 600,000 members.