When you have a device that’s not working as well as it could be, what’s the first piece of advice you’ll get from the IT department (or a helpful friend/family member)?
Sometimes a reboot is all your computer or other device needs to improve performance. But sometimes, it’s not. If that’s the case, what’s the second piece of advice you’re likely to receive from your support team?
In order to improve processes, fix bugs or unlock new features, often times our applications need a software update. Not only will it make the annoying notification badges go away, but your programs might update with new tools and become more efficient.
For our staff, 2023 felt like the reboot after one big software update. We spent much of 2022 preparing to merge two of our retirement plans, and then on January 1, 2023, the Statewide Retirement Plan went live. This update improved our plans’ financial security, made our processes more efficient, and unlocked a few new features that benefit our Members.
Then in spring, another supplemental update unlocked the newest feature of the Statewide Retirement Plan, the One-Time Lump Sum payment option for Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs).
These changes, along with all our normal business functions, made for an eventful 2023. The purpose of this post is to acknowledge the various accomplishments, both regular and unique, that propelled us through a very successful year for the Fire & Police Pension Association.
FPPA’s 2023 Year in Review
New Office Space
2023 marked our first full year in our new office space, our first new workspace in multiple decades. This space was purposely built not only to accommodate our expanding staff, but to create an environment that fosters collaboration, communication and innovation in service of our Members.
In addition to normal business operations, our office space hosted nearly 500 Members and Employers for in person meetings and seminars.
In order to pay the benefits promised to our retirees, we must begin by collecting payroll contributions on behalf of Members. FPPA’s contributions team collected over $296 million in contributions from our Members and Employers this year. But that nearly $300 million figure is not just a lump sum… it represents thousands of Members from hundreds of fire and police departments, and 17,000 payroll files processed by a contributions team of just seven individuals—over 2,400 files per person!
FPPA’s Long-Term Investment Pool rebounded from a rollercoaster 2022, achieving a 9.97% return in 2023. Thanks to this, our average return since inception (1980) remains strong at 9.12%.
This year, FPPA evaluated 1,300 investment deals, but only accepted 2.5% of the opportunities we reviewed. This 2.5% approval rate is lower than the student acceptance rates at Harvard (3%) MIT (4%) and Cal Tech (3%).
2023 was another very busy year for Member retirements. In a slight increase over last year, 262 Members began drawing a retirement benefit in 2023, making it the second highest single year total. Death & Disability and Survivor benefits also surged to 105, in the biggest year in FPPA history for that category.
Bonus fact: FPPA Members purchased $12.5 million worth of service credits in 2023, the equivalent of 400 years of service.
Rounding out the cycle the collecting and investing funds, and then approving benefits for Members is this: nearly $288 million in benefits paid to FPPA retirees in the last 12 months. And since a large majority of our payees remain in Colorado in retirement, that’s rounding up on $300 million (largely) recycled back into the state’s economy.
This year, FPPA sponsored legislation gave our Board the ability to grant a new type of Cost of Living Adjustment to retirees. After the bill passed, the Board adopted a new COLA policy that includes the option for One-Time Lump Sum payments under certain conditions.
As a result, last October, FPPA paid out $9.8 million in One-Time Lump Sums to eligible retirees in the Statewide Retirement Plan.
FPPA on the Road
Furthering our connection with and commitment to our Members, FPPA’s Relationship Management team logged 14,000 miles crisscrossing the state to see members at 106 fire and police departments. That is a lot of driving, but we find there’s no better way to build trust than to see our members face to face.
Looking Forward: Big Things in 2024
Following a memorable 2023, we’re looking forward to more success in the next 12 months, including:
- A new piece of legislation, aimed at securing needed funding for the Statewide Death & Disability Plan, is making its way through the Capitol
- Rolling out an online retirement application
- Other online features and process changes yet to be announced
And, while we don’t anticipate any slowdowns along the way, there’s always this option if we run into any challenges:
Ryan Woodhouse is the Content and Publications Manager for the Fire & Police Pension Association of Colorado. When not creating content for FPPA, Ryan can be found fly fishing in the Colorado high country or shouting at the TV during University of Wisconsin football and basketball games.