Murray Professor, Retired Banker Elected to Board
Murray State University Associate Professor Ben Littlepage has been elected to the TRS Board of Trustees along with retired banker Hollis Gritton as a result of this year’s members’ elections.
Dr. Littlepage, of Murray, will be an active member trustee. He is an associate professor and program coordinator for the master’s in postsecondary education administration program at Murray State. He joined the College of Education and Human Services in 2013. The graduate-level program has placed graduates in colleges and universities throughout Kentucky and the United States. Prior to Murray State, Dr. Littlepage was a higher education administrator for nine years. Dr. Littlepage holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Memphis and a master’s in student affairs from Western Kentucky University.
Dr. Littlepage, the son of a retired Kentucky educator, succeeds Dr. Lynn Patterson, who is retiring.
Mr. Gritton, of Union, was elected to the board in 2012 to fill an unexpired term as a lay trustee and was elected in 2014 and 2018. Most recently he has been vice chair of the board and chair of the Investment Committee.
Mr. Gritton is a graduate of Georgetown College; the Kentucky School of Banking; and the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University. From 1993 until his retirement, Mr. Gritton served as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Heritage Bank in Burlington. Previously, he served as senior vice president of Liberty National of Northern Kentucky and as president and CEO of Huntington National Bank of Boone County. He also served on the boards of Community Bankers of Kentucky and the Kentucky Bankers Association. Mr. Gritton is a former math teacher at Boone County High School.
The four-year terms begin July 1.
The board consists of 11 members: seven people elected by the membership (four active teachers, one retiree, two lay trustees); two appointed by the governor with investment experience; the state treasurer; and the state education commissioner.
(Posted June 2022)
In-Person Counseling to Resume by Appointment
While video and telephonic counseling remain efficient and will continue, beginning June 1, 2022, TRS will resume offering in-person counseling to members by appointment. For retirement counseling, TRS is prioritizing appointments during June and July for members considering a retirement date in the next five years. This is because of the large volume of summer retirements and counseling requests.
Employees will be wearing a mask during appointments. This is being done to minimize the risk of an outbreak among TRS counselors, who process benefit payments to retirees, that would endanger the timely payment of those benefits as required by law. Masks are not required for members.
Counseling appointments, whether in-person, video or phone, can be made by calling 800-618-1687 or emailing email@example.com. Video and phone counseling appointments also can be made through Pathway (https://mss.trs.ky.gov), the secure member account access website.
Members can access Pathway at any time, including creating benefit estimates for any retirement date.
(Posted May 2022)
TRS Receives Full Funding in New State Budget
The Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Kentucky (TRS) will receive full funding in the 2022-24 biennial budget approved recently by the General Assembly. This includes more than $1.36 billion over the two years to meet the actuarially required contribution for the Retirement Annuity Trust, which is separate from education appropriations of about $900 million that come to TRS in salary contributions.
The two years of the budget will be the seventh and eighth straight years of full or nearly full annuity funding.
The budget also includes $149 million for the state’s statutory contribution for both years for under-65 group health insurance under the 2010 Shared Responsibility law.
Additionally, the legislature appropriated $479.2 million to pay off liabilities for certain previously awarded benefits that had been amortized over several years. The budget as well provides $78 million up front for sick leave-related annuity liabilities projected to occur from retirements in the next two years.
“The continued full funding for teachers’ retirement benefits represented in these appropriations is immensely important and appreciated,” Executive Secretary Gary Harbin said. “We’re thankful that every version of the budget presented during this session provided full funding for retiree annuities and health insurance. This tremendous support keeps TRS on the path toward achieving actuarial funded ratios of 100%.”
(Posted April 2022)
National Recognition for a Funding Approach Used in TRS 4
The TRS 4 benefit plan’s central feature is a stabilization reserve fund that helps provide retirement security for members and maintain a fully funded plan. The concept of this fund, which can be used should there be any future funding needs, is receiving national recognition as an innovative approach.
The National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), which was co-founded by defined benefit provider groups, recently presented an award for a model public pension funding policy authored by the Pew Charitable Trust. The model plan combines features of policies in Tennessee, California and Oregon, including Tennessee’s reserve fund. The TRS 4 plan for new members that was created by House Bill 258 (21 RS), with input from many education groups and others, uses concepts from the Tennessee plan – primarily the reserve fund and risk controls – some of which are cited in the award.
Other innovations of TRS 4 include fixed statutory contribution rates for members and employers and monthly incentives to reward longer careers. This plan is designed as another way to ensure Kentucky teachers’ retirement plans provide a secure, lifetime benefit that replaces Social Security.
(Posted April 2022)
Summer Video Counseling
To meet the needs of members nearing retirement and because of the large volume of summer counseling requests, TRS will prioritize video counseling services during June and July for members considering a retirement date in the next five years. Any member can create estimates in Pathway at any time for any date.
(Posted April 2022)
TRS Statement on Sberbank Investment
UPDATE: TRS’s minor stake in Sberbank consisted of about $15 million in investments over several years, beginning in 2017, and about $12 million in sales by the time of the final sale on Feb. 23, as the manager reacted to sanctions being imposed on Russia. That loss was offset by dividends of more than $3 million paid over the timeframe, resulting in a net gain of about $200,000. The numbers communicated this morning did not include the dividends.
ORIGINAL RELEASE: Social media statements about the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Kentucky (TRS) being the second-largest shareholder in Sberbank are completely false.
From March 2017 until the final sale on Feb. 23, 2022, TRS invested $15.6 million with $12.4 million returned for a loss of $3.2 million.
TRS’s holding was in an over-the-counter, American-exchange portion of Sberbank known as an American depositary receipt (ADR). This is a small piece of the overall Sberbank capital structure.
TRS’s remaining exposure to holdings in Russia is proportionately negligible in a portfolio of about $26 billion.
(Posted March 2022)
Teachers’ retirement funds see record gains
Kentucky teachers’ retirement investments posted record gains for the recently concluded fiscal year – 29.94% for the Retirement Annuity Trust and 31.53% for the Health Insurance Trust.
Returns for the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Kentucky (TRS) annuity trust over the last 30 years are 8.59% compounded, which is in line with the 7.5% long-term assumed rate of return. TRS staff presented the pension system’s investment results for the year ended June 30 to the Investment Committee at its Aug. 26 meeting. The net return after fees and expenses is 29.59%.
“In relation to our returns, there’s not even a close second,” TRS Executive Secretary Gary Harbin said. “It’s just a phenomenal year in the markets, and our portfolio was positioned to take advantage of that. TRS’s disciplined approach established by the Board of Trustees and implemented by TRS’s investment team has shown to be beneficial in all markets. Since the great recession, TRS has earned $20.4 billion from investments compared to the average pension plan’s $15 billion, an outperformance of about $5.4 billion to the benefit of Kentucky’s taxpayers, including teachers.”
The net return for the Retirement Annuity Trust was 29.59%, while the net return for the health trust was 31.13%.
(Posted September 2021)
Watch Out for Phishing Scams
TRS is aware of “phishing” attempts from non-TRS email accounts and wants members to be suspicious of any email purporting to be from TRS that is not from an email ending in trs.ky.gov or from an authorized TRS service provider.
“Phishing” occurs when a scammer sends an email or text, sometimes falsely using the name of a trusted person or organization, trying to get you to reply or click a link. If you click it, the scammer, for example, sends viruses and other malware into your computer. Scammers design these messages to appear to be real and often suggest the message is urgent and requires action now or something bad will happen. They sometimes paste official logos into the email. They also will type one address in the body an email with the link going to another address.
TRS does not use email or text to request any payment or your confidential information to be provided in a response to that email or text.
To avoid being caught by “phishing” you can:
- By phone or by creating a new email message, contact the person or organization who supposedly sent you the email without replying or forwarding to the suspicious email.
- Look to see that an email address ends in trs.ky.gov. or is from an authorized TRS service provider.
- Find out more about the link by scrolling over it without tapping it.
- Report the email as spam.
- If it’s a text, block the phone number.
- Think twice about responding to emails or texts demanding “immediate action.”
(Posted August 2020)
Make sure you’re talking to TRS
TRS recently has received communications from members questioning whether financial planning solicitations they have received are from TRS, are from someone working with TRS and whether the communications are scam attempts to obtain confidential personal information.
These third-party solicitations are not from TRS, and nor does TRS offer counseling through third-parties.
Don’t be fooled. Good estimates of retirement benefits come from TRS directly and not any third party.
The rules that govern retirements are too complex for accurate estimates to be delivered from anyone other than TRS employees or from TRS Pathway, the member account access site. The best information about TRS benefits for TRS members will come from TRS. Estimates that come from third-party firms have been inaccurate. Worse, it could be a phishing scam to obtain your confidential information.
The preferred method for getting estimates is through Pathway (https://mss.trs.ky.gov). Because this is for members only, the estimate calculator will have your actual account information. General information about getting estimates is found on the TRS website at: https:// trs.ky.gov/active-members/retirement-planning/ retirement-estimator/.
(Posted: March 2020)
Keep TRS current with you
As the Teachers’ Retirement System provides increasingly more information to members by electronic means, it is crucial that members keep their email address, as well as their snail mail (home) address and telephone number, current.
Even if you change your address with the school district where you work (or worked), the school district doesn’t report that change to TRS. So, TRS needs to be notified of the change independently by members.
Several ways exist to update your information. First, your contact information can be changed in the Pathway online account access portal. Forms that can be printed and filled out are available in Pathway (with current information already filled in) and on the TRS website (see link immediately below). Otherwise, mail or fax a signed letter to TRS with your name and identification number and the new information. The mailing address is: 479 Versailles Rd., Frankfort, KY 40601. The fax is 502-848-8599.
Did you know: TRS reports to federal securities regulators
This report, which is linked from the Financials, Reports & Quarterly Investments page of the TRS website, is required for most institutional investment managers, including pension funds, investment advisers, banks, insurance companies, broker-dealers and corporations.
The report covers investments in publicly listed companies.
Other useful information
Annual reports, investment returns, financials and plan information
Salaries and expenses
State laws for TRS (KRS 161.220-716)
Administrative regulations for TRS
Newsletters and publications
Funding Work Group information and materials