As the burden of funding retirement has shifted from employer to employee, defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s, have become the primary source of retirement savings for an increasing number of Americans. Yet, DC plans were originally designed as supplemental retirement savings vehicles and were generally never intended to provide guaranteed lifetime income.

The mission of the Institutional Retirement Income Council (IRIC) is to facilitate the culture shift of defined contribution plans from supplemental savings programs to programs that provide retirement security through institutional income strategies and solutions within our defined contribution system. By providing a forum for insightful, solutions-oriented thought leadership on institutional retirement income, the IRIC is promoting the need for retirement income adequacy for defined contribution plan participants.

A membership-based organization, IRIC is supported by sponsors, and a panel of industry advisors, who are dedicated to sharing best practices, informing about legislative and regulatory issues and facilitating solutions for plan sponsors and their participants.

IRIC is a product agnostic and provider agnostic organization.  IRIC supports guaranteed products, non-guaranteed products, and other drawdown income strategies. Through best practices development, IRIC creates an environment that fosters adoption and utilization of retirement income directly from DC plans that best meets the needs of both sponsors and participants.


The mission of the IRIC is to facilitate the culture shift of defined contribution plans from supplemental savings plans to programs that provide retirement security through institutional income strategies and solutions within our defined contribution system.


The vision of the IRIC is to be recognized by plan sponsors, intermediaries, recordkeepers, product manufacturers, and distributors, as the industry’s leading source of information and thought leadership on institutional retirement income solutions.

To accomplish this we will:

  • Establish a forum for unbiased, solutions-oriented thought leadership on institutional retirement income;
  • Identify and overcome barriers that impact the offering of institutional retirement income solutions by plan sponsors and utilization by participants;
  • Develop best practices and tools for how institutional retirement income solutions may be evaluated, selected, implemented, and monitored;
  • Identify and address issues and concerns that will arise as institutional retirement income solutions become more prevalent; and,
  • Promote the need for retirement income security for defined contribution plan participants.
  • Establish the IRIC’s brand and reputation;
  • Develop and create comprehensive best practices and tools;
  • Increase awareness and utilization of best practices and tools among key audiences, and,
  • Facilitate solutions to key industry challenges.

Strategic Initiatives

Establish the IRIC’s brand and reputation

  • Announce the expanded sponsorship of the IRIC to key audiences through initial press release
  • Create a fully integrated marketing/public relations plan
  • Explore the viability of strategic partnership(s) with other industry associations and/or media partners

Develop and create comprehensive best practices and tools

  • Create tools to enable comparison of products
  • Provide information to facilitate plan sponsor decision making and enable the RFP process
  • Define best practices for plan design, implementation, and communication
  • Provide information and a consistent framework on products that are available

Increase awareness and utilization of best practices and tools among key audiences

  • Publish educational information to raise awareness of our leadership position
  • Enhance and expand a robust website
  • Training for Consultant/Advisors share our expertise via hands-on training
  • Participation as speakers at industry conferences
  • Leverage our strategic partnership(s)

Facilitate solutions to key industry challenges

  • Standardization of recordkeeping
  • Strengthening the plan sponsor case for taking action
  • Provide insight into Legislative and Regulatory issues
  • Provide our perspective to product manufacturers

Bruce Ashton

Founding Member | Faegre Drinker

William Charyk

Chairman / President | Arent Fox

John A. Pickett

Founding Member, Board of Directors | CAPTRUST Financial Advisors

Martin Schmidt

Founding Member | MAS Advisors

Martha L. Tejera

Founding Member | Tejera & Associates

Steve Vernon

Advisor | Rest-of-Life Communications

Ben Yahr

Board of Directors | Ernst & Young

Christopher O’Neill

Advisor | Mesirow Financial

Mark Shemtob


Laura Schumann

Sr Director, Product Development & Management | NRECA

Michael Kreps

Chair | Groom’s Retirement Services Group


Bruce Ashton

Bruce L. Ashton is a partner in the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Practice Group of the national law firm of Faegre Drinker. He has more than 35 years of experience handling a wide range of employee benefits matters. His practice concentrates on representing plan service providers (including RIAs, independent record-keepers, third-party administrators, broker-dealers and insurance companies) in fulfilling their obligations under ERISA. His experience includes representing public and private sector plans and their sponsors, negotiating the resolution of plan qualification issues under IRS remedial correction programs, advising and defending fiduciaries on their obligations and liabilities, and structuring qualified plans, non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements.

Bruce served as president of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) for the 2003-2004 term, was on the ASPPA board of directors from 1997 to 2007 and served as co-chair of ASPPA’s Government Affairs Committee from 1998 to 2002. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Actuaries during 2003-2004, was the president of the Western Pension & Benefits Conference Los Angeles Chapter from 2008-2009, and served as a member of the leadership counsel of the National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association (NTSAA). He currently serves on the board of the Institutional Retirement Income Council.

Bruce received the Harry T. Eidsen Founders Award from ASPPA in 2011 and has been recognized as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” and as a “Super Lawyer” in Southern California. Bruce is listed in the California edition of Who’s Who Legal and has been recognized by 401kWire as one of the Most Influential People in the 401(k) Industry.

Bruce is a contributor to Drinker Biddle’s Broker-Dealer Law Blog (, which provides practical insights on litigation, regulatory, compliance and fiduciary issues impacting broker-dealers. He has co-authored four books on employee benefits issues and a quarterly column in the Journal of Pension Benefits on IRS remedial programs, and is a frequent contributor to various tax and pension publications. He is a frequent speaker on employee benefits issues ranging from fiduciary responsibility to ESOPs, and is a regularly featured speaker at conferences sponsored by ASPPA, and other organizations.


William R. Charyk

Bill Charyk is a former managing attorney of Arent Fox LLP. In the past, he also served as the department manager of the general business department. Bill’s practice in the tax area focuses primarily on two specialty areas-taxation of partnerships and employee benefit/executive compensation tax planning.

Bill is also heavily involved with the tax and compliance aspects of the employee benefits practice. As such, he ultimately supervises the planning and implementation of a wide variety of compensation vehicles, including
defined benefit pension plans, Section 401(k) programs, employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), and various executive deferred compensation arrangements stock appreciation right plans and phantom stock bonus

Bill served as an adjunct professor of law at The Georgetown University Law Center for over 25 years where he taught a graduate-level course in taxation of partnerships, with special lectures devoted to ERISA plan investor issues. The internationally-based Chambers survey, the Washingtonian Magazine, and the Best Lawyers in America survey have repeatedly recognized Bill for his tax and ERISA expertise. Bill has been a member of the American College of Tax Counsel for over 30 years.

William earned a bachelor’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School, order of the COIF.


John A. Pickett

John joined CAPTRUST Financial Advisors spring of 2010 opening the company’s first Texas office in Dallas. He joins CAPTRUST following a successful career with RBC Wealth Management’s Institutional Consulting Group. At RBC, Pickett created a revered advisory practice, representing $8.5 billion in assets under management, with many of his client relationships spanning 25 years or more. Highly regarded as the consummate educator, Pickett is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and educational symposiums, including TEXPERS, the Investment Management Institute, and Institutional Investors. John graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Baylor University. He completed his Investment Manager Analysis Certification (CIMA) after attending courses at The Wharton School.


Martin Schmidt

Martin Schmidt is the head of MAS Advisors a retirement plan consulting firm. His areas of concentration include fee benchmarking, investments, plan design, product development, and vendor selection. Martin has over 30 years of experience working with plan sponsors, industry professionals, investment committees, investment managers, and service providers on benefit related issues. Through his knowledge and experience he has developed a thorough understanding of industry trends and fiduciary practices which have allowed him to develop effective solutions for both plan sponsors and service providers.

Martin is a former Principal with Buck Consultants where he managed the Midwest Region of their Retirement Practice. Martin’s experience also includes managing defined benefit and defined contribution teams at Hewitt Associates along with developing third-party relationships to expand Hewitt’s product offering which included developing the first daily trading platform to trade and settle activity with separate investment managers.

Martin has an MBA in Finance from Loyola University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Northern Illinois University.

Founding Member Testimonial:

My interest in IRIC is understanding and being part of the next phase in the evolution of DC plans. My background in product and plan design has helped me better understand the needs of the marketplace and how the Retirement Income products are positioned. As the Retirement Income products continue to evolve I am able to participate in raising awareness of the products and provide input into their overall design. This knowledge provides valuable guidance when working with Plan Sponsors in assessing the products and helps in raising the awareness of retirement income security in the marketplace.

Martha Dec 12 color 3

Martha L. Tejera

Martha L. Tejera is the head of Tejera & Associates, a fee-for service firm that focuses on helping employers meet their fiduciary responsibility in the selection and benchmarking of their retirement plan providers. Martha has consulted with industry leaders for over 25 years. Her knowledge and experience in the industry allow her to help plan sponsors select a provider and build a long-term, successful partnership with that vendor.

Martha works with a variety of individuals and team structures, including HR, finance, retirement plan committees, independent investment consultants, and outside ERISA counsel. This focus on administration allows for a comprehensive assessment of vendor suitability.

A former Principal with Mercer, Martha specialized in helping plan sponsors develop processes to improve their fiduciary oversight, manage vendor service levels and fees, and improve the overall value provided by their defined contribution retirement plans, while simultaneously managing costs. Martha’s experience also includes managing defined contribution recordkeeping teams for Mercer, Watson Wyatt, and in-house for Weyerhaeuser.

Martha is a former Enrolled Actuary under ERISA and a past Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. She is an honors graduate of the University of Washington in economics.

Founding Member Testimonial:

My interest in IRIC is both personal and professional. My actuarial background and extensive consulting experience with 401(k) and other savings plans gives me an appreciation for the trade-offs between defined contribution and defined benefit programs. Unfortunately, the experiences of my aging family members have highlighted what is at stake for individuals, their families, and our society, when market and longevity risks are borne by workers who do not have the capacity self-insure.

Through the collaborative efforts of IRIC, I see a way to positively impact the future security of America’s workforce.


Steve Vernon, F.S.A.

Steve Vernon, F.S.A., is President of Rest-of-Life Communications, and a Research Scholar at the Stanford Center on Longevity. In both roles, he speaks, writes, and conducts research on the most challenging aspects of retirement, including finances, health, and lifestyle. For more than 30 years, he consulted at Watson Wyatt and Mercer, helping Fortune 1000 employers design, manage and communicate their retirement programs.

Steve currently writes a regular column on retirement for CBS MoneyWatch. His books include:

  • Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck
  • Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years: Simple Retirement Planning Strategies That Work Through Thick or Thin
  • The Quest: For Long Life, Health and Prosperity (a DVD/workbook package)
  • Live Long & Prosper! Invest in Your Happiness, Health and Wealth for Retirement and Beyond
  • Don’t Work Forever! Simple Steps Baby Boomers Must Take To Ever Retire

Recent articles include:

  • The Next Evolution in Defined Contribution Retirement Plans: A Guide for DC Plan Sponsors to Implementing Retirement Income Programs, Stanford Center on Longevity
  • Foundations in Research for Regulatory Guidelines for the Design & Operation of Retirement Income Solutions in DC Plans, Stanford Center on Longevity
  • Retirement Income in DC Plans: The Next Evolution in Plan Design, Benefits Magazine
  • The Role of Annuities in Retirement, Journal of Retirement

He also serves as a member of the Institutional Retirement Income Council (IRIC). He is a Fellow in the Society of Actuaries, and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries.


Ben Yahr

I am passionate about helping people achieve financial security for themselves and their families. For more than 20 years, I’ve helped customers meet their financial objectives either directly or through my clients. I currently lead EY’s retirement income team, which focuses on helping clients with all aspects of their advice giving process, including assisting them develop their view on what constitutes good advice for their customers. I also lead EY’s readiness response team focused on helping insurance companies prepare for the changing rules around fiduciary standards.

Prior to joining EY, I led the Wealth Management business for the 1934 Group, a boutique financial advisory firm that provided consulting services to defined contribution plan sponsors and investment advice to affluent individuals.

I am a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, am a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA) and hold the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. I also serve as an adviser member to the Institutional Retirement Income Council and as a committee member on the AAA Lifetime Income Task Force.


Christopher O’Neill, Ph.D., CFA®, CFP®, FRM®, ChFC®

Chief Investment Officer, Director of Quantitative Research
Fiduciary Solutions
Mesirow Fiduciary Solutions

Christopher O’Neill is managing director, chief investment officer, and director of research in Mesirow Fiduciary Solutions. With more than 30 years of experience in financial and scientific research, Chris has expertise in quantitative investment manager selection, Monte Carlo simulation, and quantitative finance. In addition to managing the Mesirow Fiduciary Solutions research team, he is responsible for developing innovative manager selection and portfolio construction methodologies, as well as a retirement income framework that optimizes both product and asset allocation for traditional investment products and advanced retirement income products.

Prior to joining Mesirow in 2006, Chris was a research consultant at Ibbotson Associates, where he applied quantitative analysis and product development experience to support the efforts of the Investment Management Services, Fund of Funds and Financial Communications groups. Prior to Ibbotson Associates, he was president and founder of Quantalent Investment Consulting, LLC, an independent Registered Investment Advisor, where he offered quantitative investment advice and methodologies to other financial advisors. Before founding Quantalent Investment Consulting, he spent five years dedicated to financial planning, which culminated in a senior product management role developing an online investment advice tool for a major mutual fund company. Chris earned an AB in physics (magna cum laude) from Princeton University and an MS and a PhD in theoretical physics from Cornell University. He is a CFA® charterholder, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Professional, and holds Financial Risk Manager (FRM®) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) designations. In addition, he has published a variety of papers and academic reports in theoretical particle, accelerator, and gravitational physics.

Mark Shemtog HeadshotIMG_0894

Mark Shemtob


Mark Shemtob is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, an Enrolled Actuary under ERISA and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, the Conference of Consulting Actuaries and the American Association of Actuaries and Pension Professionals. He is an active volunteer within the actuarial profession serving on many committees.  Over a four-decade career Mark has provided actuarial and consulting services to employers with respect to the establishment of retirement plans. He served as an adjunct professor in the Rutgers University Business School teaching a course on various aspects of the United States retirement system. Mark is also a Certified Financial Planner specializing in retirement planning.

Effective a decade ago Mark shifted some of his efforts to addressing the challenges posed by the transition from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans and the challenge this posed to retirees in securing lifetime income. He has written and spoken extensively on this topic.  Below are links to three more recently published articles.


Laura Schumann

Sr Director, Product Development & Management

In her current role as Senior Director, Product Development & Management at NRECA, Laura is responsible for managing the product life cycle and enhancements for NRECA’s multiple employer health care and retirement programs, including both defined benefit and defined contribution plans. NRECA provides employee benefits to over 170,000 individuals at more than 1,000 rural electric cooperatives across America.

Laura previously worked as Director of Investment & Retirement Services at NRECA, managing the Personal Investment Retirement Consulting (PIRC) team to deliver investment education services to the NRECA membership, including live seminars and individual planning. In this role she also assisted with the oversight of investment managers for NRECA’s defined benefit and defined contribution plans.   

Laura holds a BA from the University of Richmond, an MBA from the George Washington University, and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM .

Michael Kreps

Michael Kreps

Principal, Chair Retirement Services
Groom’s Retirement Services Group

Michael Kreps is Chair of Groom’s Retirement Services group and works with a wide variety of clients on complex retirement and health plan issues. His firsthand experience with the legislative and regulatory process gives him a perspective that is often instrumental in helping clients develop and implement effective compliance and advocacy strategies. Kreps advises many of the country’s largest benefit plans and service providers on issues related to plan governance, administration, funding, and restructuring.


AllianceBernstein (AB) is a leading global investment management firm that offers high-quality research and diversified investment services to institutional investors, individuals, and private wealth clients in major world markets. We are one of the largest investment management firms in the world, with more than $665 billion in assets under management as of February 2023. We foster a diverse, connected, collaborative culture that encourages different ways of thinking and differentiated insights. We embrace innovation to address increasingly complex investing challenges. We pursue responsibility throughout our firm—from how we work and act to the solutions we design for clients.

As an innovator in defined contribution (DC), we’re striving to define the future through visionary research and distinctive solutions that provide financial security in retirement. DC plan participants are looking for retirement income security, and workplace retirement plans may be their only savings source. With over a decade of experience in delivering guaranteed income without sacrificing participants’ liquidity or growth potential, we’re fully invested in creating better retirement outcomes.


Coherent is a global software as a service (SaaS) company redefining how business and IT teams leverage no-code to manage vital business logic. Most companies run critical business operations on hundreds of spreadsheets. Additionally, they spend billions globally on IT budgets to recode the business logic inside spreadsheets to add connectivity to other applications, auditability, and cloud scalability.

Spark is Coherent’s flagship solution, offering a no-code SaaS platform that makes building business software as fast, approachable, and cost-effective as using Excel. Create your first application programming interface (API) from your existing Excel rules, formulas, and data models in minutes and make it available via the cloud to securely connect with any modern application. Then supercharge it by adding deep version control, automated testing, and parallel simulation capabilities. Retirement plan providers, third-party administrators, and recordkeepers use Spark to offer innovative solutions to plan sponsors and participants. For more information, visit:

Empower Retirement / Great West Life & Annuity

At Empower, we imagine a future in which Americans can replace their working income — for life. With a pioneering spirit, we are blazing new trails to help participants pursue their financial independence.

We bring four key values to every partnership:

  • Service excellence
  • Constant innovation
  • Public policy
  • Outstanding people

With a singular focus on monthly income in retirement, we apply our core values and decades of experience to help you create a better retirement experience for your clients’ employees.

For more information please visit:

Lincoln Financial Group

Built on Abraham Lincoln’s ideals of courage, strength and optimism, Lincoln Financial Group has been a proven provider of retirement solutions for more than 60 years. We manage thousands of retirement plans that enroll millions of people in organizations of all sizes in the small business, corporate, healthcare, education and non-profit sectors. Lincoln Financial Group champions the commitment of plan sponsors and intermediaries to drive better retirement outcomes by personally engaging and motivating employees to invest in their futures with optimism.

As a leading retirement plan provider, we are committed to offering our partners a broad array of plan solutions to meet their needs including independent, market-driven investments, superior plan design and fiduciary and compliance guidance. We currently provide recordkeeping services to over 1.4 million defined contribution plan participants.

Lincoln Financial Sponsorship Press Release View

SS&C Technologies Holdings

SS&C Technologies Holdings (NASDAQ: SSNC) is the world’s largest hedge fund and private equity administrator, as well as the largest mutual fund transfer agency. SS&C’s unique business model combines end-to-end expertise across financial services operations with software and solutions to service even the most demanding customers in the financial services and healthcare industries. SS&C owns and operates the full technology stack across securities accounting, front-to-back-office operations, performance and risk analytics, regulatory reporting, and healthcare information processes. SS&C’s trusted and proven technology delivers an unparalleled level of scalable capabilities for the most complex portfolios, the most sophisticated strategies, and the highest volumes of transactions. Through a series of carefully selected acquisitions and organic growth, the breadth and depth of SS&C’s expertise in financial services and healthcare technology are unmatched. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Windsor, Connecticut, the company is home to 22,000+ employees across 150 office locations in 35 countries globally. With 18,000+ clients spanning across the health and financial services industries, our customer’s needs and requirements are always at the forefront of our strategy.

To learn more, please visit:


State Street Global Advisors is a global leader in asset management and one of the premier managers for U.S. defined contribution plans.

  • We are entrusted with more than $2.67 trillion* in assets.
  • We have more than 30 years of experience in the DC market.

*Assets under management were $2.67 trillion as of September 30, 2017. AUM reflects approx. $36.00 billion (as of September 30, 2017) with respect to which State Street Global Advisors Funds Distributors, LLC serves as marketing agent; State Street Global Advisors Funds Distributors, LLC and State Street Global Advisors are affiliated.

For more information, please visit: