Public pensions see worst performance in over a decade

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(NewsNation) — Financial experts and wealth managers such as John Shrewsbury are constantly preaching patience to their clients these days, and that’s especially true for clients worried about their long-term financial future.

But it’s not just 401(k) plans and stock investments that have taken a hit. Coupled with inflation and simultaneous drops in stocks and bonds, state and local pension plans have plummeted in value. It’s their worst year since 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Shrewsbury, co-owner of GenWealth Financial Advisors, points to a few reasons for the pressure on pensions.

“It doesn’t help that the equities markets have underperformed over the last few months,” Shrewsbury said. “But I think those two things, the inflation factor and more resignations, and people drawing on those pensions, really does create a hardship on the public pensions.”

Around 29 million Americans — from teachers and police officers to government employees — have been promised retirement benefits through state public sector pension systems, according to Pew Trusts, and more than two-thirds of those assets are subject to stock market swings. Year to date, the S&P 500 is down about 14%.

Couple that with the fact that many public pension funds are cash-strapped and underfunded, and some policy changes may be required to make sure those payments are met.

“There’s going to be a lot of pressure on those municipalities in those cities and counties and states to raise taxes to meet those obligations,” Shrewsbury said.

Overall, Shrewsbury said a lot of fund managers have buffers to protect pension plans from market crashes. His advice? Have a few other avenues for post-work wealth, such as a personal savings or a retirement plan.

“Hope is not a strategy. You’ve got to have a plan,” Shrewsbury said. “And you have to also think about what’s going on with your pension and understand the underlying investments and making sure that the trustees of the pension plan are doing the right thing with the money.”

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