Leader of Maine Company Testifies at Senator Collins’ Hearing on Strengthening Retirement Security
The Brewer-based engineering consulting firm CES increased employees’ participation in their retirement plan from 62.3% to nearly 90%
Click HERE to read Mr. St. Peter’s testimony
Click HERE for b-roll of Senator Collins and Mr. St. Peter
Washington, D.C.—When Denis St. Peter became President and CEO of CES, Inc.—an engineering consulting firm based in Brewer with offices throughout Maine—nearly a decade ago, one of his priorities was to increase his employees’ participation in the company’s 401(k) plan.
Mr. St. Peter was concerned that many CES employees were underfunding their retirement savings. In 2010, only six in 10 were participating in CES’ retirement plan, and the average contribution was a meager 3.9 percent of salary. After Mr. St. Denis implemented a new approach, participation increased to nine in 10 employees with an average contribution of 13.9 percent.
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Aging Committee, invited Mr. St. Peter to testify today at an Aging Committee hearing on improving retirement security. Mr. St. Peter discussed his successful initiatives that significantly boosted the retirement savings of his employees.
CES’ achievement stands in stark contrast with the overall retirement picture in America. There is currently a $7.8 trillion gap between what Americans have saved for retirement and what they would actually need. Half of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Senator Collins noted that this situation has developed over the past forty years as a result of the move towards “defined benefit” plans, limited access to employer-sponsored plans, and strain on the Social Security program.”
“America is on the verge of a retirement crisis,” said Senator Collins. “The typical working household in Maine has saved just $3,000 for retirement. Under Mr. St. Denis’ leadership, CES has dramatically improved the retirement security of its employees. I appreciated his willingness to share the challenges small businesses face in establishing retirement plans and the steps he took to strengthen this benefit for his employees.”
“For those living paycheck to paycheck, it can be difficult to cover the heating bill or to afford much-needed medications, much less save for the future. For many, saving for retirement seems out of the question,” Senator Collins continued. “This is a significant public policy problem that requires bipartisan solutions. After spending decades in the workforce, seniors should be confident that they will have the money needed to pay their bills and enjoy their retirement, without fear that they will fall into poverty during their golden years.”
Under Mr. St. Denis’ leadership, CES adopted several best practices to help promote retirement savings. These included:
- Implementing a match up to 4 percent for employees’ contributions;
- Educating employees on the importance of investing by disseminating information on investment strategies;
- Establishing an investment committee to review performance of investment funds; and
- Using a third-party administrator for compliance testing and administrative advice
Other witnesses at today’s hearing included Gene Dodaro, the U.S. Comptroller General at the Government Accountability Office, John Scott, the retirement savings project director at PEW Charitable Trusts, and Linda Stone, a fellow volunteer at the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. Their testimonies can be read HERE.
Earlier this week, Senator Collins introduced two bipartisan bills intended to improve retirement security, and she spoke about them on the Senate floor.
- The SIMPLE Plan Modernization Act, introduced with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), would provide greater flexibility and access to small businesses and their employees seeking to use the popular SIMPLE plans as an option for saving for retirement. Their legislation was endorsed by AARP. Read more about the SIMPLE bill HERE.
- The Retirement Security Act, introduced with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), would help small businesses offer retirement plans to their employees and encourage individuals to boost savings for retirement. Read more about the Retirement Security Act HERE.