Who is most influential in shaping the future of the nation’s pensions? Institutional Investor names the top 40 for 2013. The list includes politicians (such as Rahm Emanuel and two U.S. senators), actuaries, hedge fund managers, government officials, academics − and two lawyers in private practice, David Boies (for his work defending Rhode Island’s pension changes) and Covington’s own Richard Shea. This is the first year Institutional Investor has compiled this list, which it describes as “the 40 most important people in the fight for − and against − defined benefit pensions.”
Richard Shea undoubtedly was selected as being on the side of defined benefit pension plans. Institutional Investor recognized him for “working tirelessly to advance the evolution of defined benefit and hybrid pensions.” One example, cited by Institutional Investor, is the 2012 conference Re-Imagining Pensions, which Mr. Shea organized with co-sponsors the Pension Rights Center and the Urban Institute. The conference, which was hosted on Capitol Hill by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, explored potential new plan designs as solutions to much of what ails the nation’s retirement system. These designs included proposals that reduce or eliminate the risk and volatility employers typically experience with traditional defined benefits plans, while providing minimum investment guarantees and lifetime income options that are not readily available in defined contribution plans. The designs presented at the conference include the “Portfolio Cash Balance Plan,” the “Adjustable Pension Plan,” and “Retirement Security Funds” − each of which adjust benefits in response to market forces.