Jim Casella's Blogs

Jim Casella's Blog

Jim Casella is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Asset International, having joined the company as part of Austin Ventures' acquisition in January 2009. Jim has been a partner with Austin Ventures the past several years, serving as CEO-in-Residence for their Growth/Private Equity practice and focusing on business-to-business media opportunities.

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In Retirement & Energy Independence: Two Issues to Be Addressed, I called for both political parties to raise the level of discourse to longer term issues that are global in nature and move beyond the rhetoric that one finds during the duration of political campaigns. Today I want to focus on the funding of retirement liabilities and will address energy independence in a future column.

 

Retirement funding is not an issue that is limited to one country or one form of government. It is a real issue for democracies in continental Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as Canada and Australia. It is also a very real issue for China, as the effects of the "one child" policy come into focus. And it is a real issue for the Latin American countries, too, with Brazil and Chile taking leadership roles.

 

Now that the Great Recession is behind us and a sustainable recovery is underway in many countries (continental Europe has made strides to avoid defaults and the Euro looks like it can survive with some painful austerity measures having been put in place), there are communities of thought leadership coming together to address this issue and find solutions to this global phenomenon. It is clear that the retirement age around the world will go up significantly and we will need to make certain that economies are strong enough to support workers staying in place longer and still provide jobs for people in their early 20s who are starting to enter the job market. This is a very real issue in Europe, where the unemployment rate for many college educated people in their 20s remains in the high double digits. We also saw during the Arab Spring that this is a very real issue. The other side of providing a college education for many is to have strong enough economies so that graduates can find employment in their chosen field.

 

I have found that professionals, globally, who focus on this issue are coming together as communities to recognize best practices and point us toward long-term solutions. With the Crisis behind us, there is more willingness to travel and share best practices, which will help us find long-term solutions as our populations age and demand a retirement with dignity.

 

Asset International companies take a leadership role in this area, providing forums for the exchange of best practices and a sharing of insights. This past week in New York City, Alison Cooke-Mintzer and Charlie Ruffel hosted the PLANSPONSOR AND PLANADVISER Awards for Excellence 2012. Over 300 attendees came to recognize those whose achievements will help us identify best practices.

 

aiCIO lead by Kip McDaniel will host their annual Summit Series this year: coming up in mid-April in New York City, A Focus on Meeting Your Targets, and in mid-June in London, A Focus on Asset-Liability Matching. Also in mid-June in Chicago , we will host the PLANSPONSOR National Conference 2012.

 

I am confident that this issue will emerge as a central topic in this fall's presidential election in the U.S., particularly with regards to Social Security and Medicare. Let's hope we get more than "sound bites" from both parties.

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