As you are aware, the international concerns about coronavirus are serious and have begun to impact us all. In view of recent events we hope the following information about our pension fund should help relieve any worry or anxiety you may have about your benefits and our operations:
- Pension payments to our retirees will be made on time as promised. There is no reason to believe that they would be interrupted.
- We have more than $91 million in cash available to us to pay our retirees’ monthly benefits. This is more than adequate for the foreseeable future.
- While domestic stocks have taken a hit in recent days, our $700 million bond portfolio has increased in value by eight percent. Bonds are quickly and easily converted to cash in the event that we need additional liquidity, for either pension payments or reinvestment in other discounted assets. Again, we do not foresee any reason to believe additional cash is needed to continue uninterrupted retiree benefits.
- Our intent for now is to keep our office open, but we have closed it in the past due to hurricanes and flooding events. Our office has emergency plans in place to continue operations remotely if necessary. These plans have been tested and operate well, so services will continue in the foreseeable future.
- Out of consideration for our staff and other members of the pension fund, we are asking members who think they may have been near sick persons to refrain from visiting our office. The Harris County and City Health Departments can offer further guidance on what you should or should not do if you suspect you may have come in contact with a person infected with coronavirus. Right now, there are only 12 confirmed cases in Harris County. Regardless, we should all behave with abundance of caution.
- Also, if you’ve traveled to a country which is known to have been seriously affected, please refrain from visiting our offices. You may reach us by phone or email in case you have questions.
Finally, we are learning that the coronavirus is most serious for people who are in their 60s and older, which of course is the age group of many of our retired members. We hold out hope that this virus will be quickly contained in much the same way that Swine Flu, SARS, MERS and other infectious diseases have been in the last 20 years. Historically, stock market reactions, like what we have seen, are relatively short-lived. We are long-term investors and our pension fund has survived – and thrived – after many similar downdrafts caused by wars and other unexpected events. We are certainly taking all this very seriously and with utmost concern for all our members. At the end of the day, we are very confident that we are prepared for what may be ahead and we hope you will share in our optimism.
If you have any concerns or questions, we encourage you to call or email us. Our main line is 281-372-5100 or 800-666-9737. Two good email addresses in this situation are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.