Oregon PERS, Partners, Educate Thousands of Public Employees on Retirement and Financial Wellness


SALEM – The Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) wants public employees to understand that, no matter where they are in life, it is important for them to save for their financial future.

PERS members engage in one of the many sessions that focused on helping educate them as to steps to take on their path to financial wellness and retirement saving.

One of the most effective means the agency has developed to deliver this simple message is through its annual PERS Expo. This popular, one-day event, allows thousands of public employees the opportunity to have direct access to valuable retirement planning activities, workshops, and other resources. The event, held annually to celebrate National Retirement Security Week, aims to help public employees understand the importance of saving for retirement and preparing for other lifelong goals.

The annual Expo also works to demonstrate the importance of participating in the Oregon Savings Growth Plan (OSGP), the State of Oregon’s voluntary 457(b) deferred compensation plan. OSGP complements PERS by giving qualifying members a valuable tool to supplement their PERS pension.

PERS, OSGP, and other partners have worked to organize the event at the Salem Convention Center since 2016. They have placed special emphasis on making it fun and educational. In addition to a host of educational workshops, the Expo also features activities such as a prize wheel where members can test their retirement knowledge and the popular “Picture Your Path to Retirement” photo booth, which encourages employees to see themselves living the lifestyle for which they are saving.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed. This summer marked the third-straight year that the Expo earned PERS and OSGP a Leadership Award from the National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators (NAGDCA). This prestigious award is given in recognition for “the brightest ideas and most innovative solutions” in helping public employees save more for retirement.

“This session was fact filled, fast paced and the presenter was excellent. Good high level view of what I need to do next. The other 3 workshops were equally as informative regarding planning, organizing and knowing how to invest – all presenters were really good.”

60+, Tier One, State Agency

PERS was also honored by the Retirement Advisor Council for the success of Expo 2018 with a 2019 Excellence Award – Financial Wellness Program.

This national attention has also sparked the interest of retirement plan sponsors and industry leaders. In the lead-up to Expo 2019, the Cammack Retirement Group invited OSGP Program Manager Roger Smith and PERS Member Engagement and Communications Director Dean Carson to speak on its “Revamping Retirement” podcast. In September’s episode, Smith and Carson discussed the background and success of PERS Expo, and the agency’s efforts to help all Oregon public employees — from new hires to retirees — learn about their benefits in a fun and educational space.

Picture your Path to Retirement, an interactive booth where PERS members could see themselves living the retirement lifestyle for which they are saving while identifying where they are on the path to retirement.

This year’s Expo, yet again, took over the entire Salem Convention Center. Held on October 9, PERS and its partners offered public employees access to 13 different educational workshops throughout the day. Nearly 3,000 public employees took the opportunity to interact with PERS, OSGP, PERS Health Insurance Program (PHIP), Social Security, and Medicare counselors, and other financial experts.

For those public employees who could not attend Expo 2019, PERS, OSGP, and PHIP offer education sessions throughout the year at various locations. To view the schedule of upcoming sessions, follow the links below:

And of course, there will be next year’s Expo, which is set for Wednesday, October 7, 2020, at the Salem Convention Center.

About Author

Dean Carson is the Member Engagement & Communications Director for the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). PERS, the agency, engages with over 367,000 current and former public employees or their beneficiaries, and maintains important data about their public employment service, salaries, and other information. Learn more about PERS at www.oregon.gov/PERS.

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