FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dated: July 18, 2003
Contact: Connie Mauro, 703 / 893-1456 ext. 1014, cmauro@Cheiron.us
New Washington, DC area firm growing rapidly by helping employers and labor unions with troubled pensions, escalating health costs
Swimming vigorously against a tide of ebbing local business activity, a Washington-area start-up actuarial services firm has completed its first six months’ operations securely in the black and is adding staff.
“We must be doing something right to be growing at a time when a lot of our competitors are scaling back,” says Bennett H. Shaver, president of the Vienna-based Cheiron, Inc.
The firm was launched last November by Shaver and Gene M. Kalwarski. Shaver, a former executive director and trustee of Maryland’s State Retirement and Pension Systems, was joined by eight seasoned actuarial consultants formerly associated with a large international consulting firm. Cheiron (www.Cheiron.us) provides actuarial and financial analytical services primarily to large corporate, public sector, and jointly trusteed management and labor pension and welfare benefit (Taft-Hartley) plans.
“The treacherous investment and economic climate, the worst since the Great Depression, is causing pension plan sponsors to look for more responsive ways to understand where they are and what they need to be doing to meet the future needs of their beneficiaries,” Shaver explains. “And it appears that our particular approach is meeting a significant market need,” Kalwarski adds.
Cheiron’s basic strategy for supporting clients revolves around powerful electronic analytical tools that provide virtually instantaneous and highly sophisticated financial projections based on alternative funding and investment scenarios.
Cheiron’s tools also allow employers to forecast health costs and adjust benefits and contributions as needed. “Given the rapid run-up in health costs, this service is particularly valuable to clients today,” Shaver says.
“Our clients can sit in the driver’s seat and do their own forecasting, and make decisions on the spot, rather than wait the weeks it typically takes a conventional actuarial firm to produce the numbers and reports showing clients what they want to know,” Kalwarski adds. “By time that happens, the plan sponsors often forget the context of why the question was asked in the first place.”
“Typically, the source of their challenges is much broader than investment losses,” he notes. “The slow economy and accelerating employee demographic shifts have created what experts throughout the industry are labeling the ‘perfect pension storm’ for many employers in the Washington region and around the country.”
Cheiron’s staff is up over 40% since its founding. The firm’s six-month revenues came in at twice the level projected at start-up, and the company expects its rapid growth to continue for the remainder of the year.
The firm’s most sought-after services are P-scan, which enables pension sponsors to find workable solutions to deal with the impact of the perfect pension storm, and Gatekeeper, which gives clients an objective periodic evaluation of all their vendors’ work product and advice.
“Since we’re an independent firm with no ties to accounting or investment management companies, we can provide completely unbiased advice,” Shaver says. “So far the Gatekeeper service has alerted several clients to serious issues involving the quality of advice they have received,” he adds.
For example, Gatekeeper has alerted Cheiron clients to the fact that their pensions are on the brink of a funding crisis that could have been anticipated (and therefore possibly averted) several years ago.
Cheiron currently serves clients nationwide from offices in Vienna, Virginia, D.C. and Charlotte, NC. Cheiron is also embarking on a series of strategic alliances with other respected actuaries around the country.
Cheiron SERVICE HIGHLIGHTS
Cheiron offers its clients:
- Innovative and dynamic pension liability and asset forecasting.
- Cheiron efficiently provides quarterly assessments and “what-if stress testing” to help clients address funding issues before they reach crisis levels. Conventional valuations only give pension plan sponsors an annual look at last year’s funding status. In today’s highly volatile economic conditions and securities markets, more frequent and timely information can buy valuable time to make funding adjustments.
- Creative analysis of medical and health plan costs and trends.
- The return of double-digit health cost inflation is making this a critical area of focus, even a matter of survival, for employers and many health care systems. Cheiron’s cutting-edge analytical and forecasting tools empower clients to anticipate future costs and liabilities and adjust their plan designs and strategies accordingly.
- Unbiased investment performance measurement and analysis.
- At a time when conflicts of interest within the institutional investment community are rampant and have contributed to billions of dollars of investment losses, Cheiron’s seasoned analysts come with no strings attached. Cheiron has no affiliation with investment management or investment banking services, and focuses exclusively on what’s best for its clients and their fund beneficiaries.
- Empowering, interactive financial models.
- These tools help organizations make smarter strategic investment and resource deployment decisions. Cheiron believes its clients are best served by being able to “sit at the controls” with powerful, sophisticated modeling tools so they can make the best-informed financial decisions -- without having to open their checkbook and pay a consultant every time they want to test a new scenario.
Cheiron SUBJECT EXPERTS AVAILABLE FOR BACKGROUND BRIEFINGS OR ON-THE-RECORD INTERVIEWS:
- Gene Kalwarski, FSA, EA, MAAA
- Pension investments and under-funding… Corporate, public sector, and jointly trusteed management and labor (Taft-Hartley) pension and welfare benefit practices… Federal regulation of pensions and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp… actuarial science and consulting services.
- John Colberg, FSA, EA, MAAA
- Health care cost trends and their implications for employee benefits, health cost forecasting, retiree health costs.
- Peter Hardcastle CFA, FIA, FSA, EA, MAAA
- Pension investment practices, investment industry conflicts and their implications for the current financial status of institutional pension funds.