Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
A Message from Retirement Administrator, Linda Webb
VCERA Members, Employers and the Public,
We are all adjusting to the threat of COVID-19, and we understand you may have concerns on how VCERA is responding to the crisis.
First, the VCERA offices are closed to the public, and staff is working almost entirely remotely. However, we are working and performing our critical functions. VCERA is adhering to the Governor’s order and placing the health and safety of our members and staff – and their families – above all else.
For our retirees, we do not anticipate any disruption in paying retirement benefits. We consider this the most critical function at VCERA – paying our retirees on time is Job One. The next VCERA benefit payment date is Tuesday, March 31. As always, direct deposit transactions will take place on or before this date, and checks will be mailed by this date. (For retirees who have not enrolled in direct deposit, we strongly urge you to do so; you can download the form here.)
Though we are not currently seeing members in person, we will be serving members remotely using the technology available. More information is provided below on how we are accomplishing this. Our response may be delayed, but we will get your message and get back to you as soon as we can.
As for the health of the fund, certainly COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on the economy, and thus on VCERA’s investment portfolio. But be assured that your retirement benefits are safe. For more information on this, I encourage you to read the statement below from our Chief Investment Officer, Dan Gallagher.
Thank you for your patience while we all weather this storm. We are committed to serving our members today and for years to come.
A Message from Chief Investment Officer, Dan Gallagher
Over the past month, the U.S. stock market has faced significant losses, following an 11-year period of historic gains. The Dow and S&P 500 have fallen approximately 30%, and global financial markets across the board have followed suit. These market declines are primarily attributed to factors such as coronavirus, a significant drop in energy prices, and market sentiment. While these factors have had a dramatic short-term impact on the markets, short-term effects fade over time for long-term investors.
VCERA’s investment portfolio is positioned to achieve long-term objectives. While market sell-offs have a short-term impact, the portfolio is designed to recover through its long-term investment strategies which include discipline, diversification and rebalancing. The portfolio is diversified across the risk spectrum, with approximately 19% of assets allocated to safe-haven fixed income (risk adverse assets). Additionally, the ability to rebalance the portfolio allows for increased protection given an economic downturn or market sell-off. The most critical aspect for a long-term investor is ensuring sufficient liquidity for cash to meet pension payment needs and to not be forced to sell long-term assets at fire-sale prices. Staff and consultants continuously monitor portfolio liquidity to avoid such circumstances. While the next quarter results are not available yet, they certainly will be lower. However, your pension plan is designed weather the course even in challenging markets.
VCERA’s Office is Closed to the Public
In accordance with Governor Newsom’s order and to support social distancing efforts, VCERA staff are working remotely. We will continue to provide services and do not anticipate any interruption of retirement benefit payments to retirees.
Contact VCERA by phone at (805) 339-4250 and leave a message with your contact information. Staff will check this voicemail regularly and calls will be returned as soon as possible during normal business hours. (Note that calls returned by VCERA staff will appear as an unidentified caller while staff is working remotely.)
Contact VCERA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments or to submit paperwork. Please do not include your Social Security Number, bank account number, financial information, or any other personally identifiable information in your email. Staff will be monitoring this email during normal business hours.
Please submit paperwork by email to email@example.com or by fax to (805) 339-4269. If you do not have access to a scanner, we will accept a clear photograph of your document. Please do not include your Social Security Number, bank account number, financial information, or any other personally identifiable information on these documents.
Retirement Payments are on Schedule
Retirees—your upcoming pension payments are on schedule. The next VCERA benefit payment date is Tuesday, March 31. As always, direct deposit transactions will take place on this date, and checks will be mailed by this date. Please note, retirement benefit statements will not be mailed in March, but can be viewed and printed online at https://my.adp.com (registration guide).