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Retired UMN employees express concerns with new Fidelity retirement plan

The retirement plan was announced last fall and has garnered criticism from some faculty and staff.
Hailee Schievelbein

After the University of Minnesota finalized its move to a new retirement plan this summer, some staff and faculty began experiencing difficulties receiving their retirement payments.

The University’s transition from Securian Financial to Fidelity Investments was slated to take place in April but was delayed until June by COVID-19. Now that the transition is complete, some retired employees have cited late payments and poor communication throughout the process.

Faculty and staff have also voiced concerns about a lack of communication from the University about the transition to Fidelity since it was widely announced to employees last fall.

Vicki Glasgow, who worked as a librarian at the University for 35 years before retiring in 2006, said she felt concerned about receiving her monthly scheduled July payment due to conflicting statements from Fidelity customer service. Like Glasglow, retirees can depend on the checks as a source of income along with social security benefits.

Glasgow said she chose other methods of ensuring she would receive money during the month, which included setting up a one-time deposit for the month of June.

“Everyone I talked to at Fidelity gave me different information and contradicting information about whether University of Minnesota retirees would or would not receive a distribution in July,” Glasgow said. “What I did was go online at Fidelity and set up a one-time distribution … that is getting me and my family through July, but I’m very still very worried about what happens in August.” 

The July payment period followed a standard ‘blackout’ period, where employees were unable to access their accounts while funds were being transferred. According to an emailed statement from Krisann McMahon, a Retirement Programs Manager, the University has been supporting faculty and staff through events and one-on-one sessions with Fidelity advisors during the transition.

“Some participants – including retirees, former employees, and current employees who are eligible – may see changes in how recurring automatic withdrawals are being processed for funds that are transitioning from Securian to Fidelity. These may impact the timing and amount of their automatic withdrawals,” read the statement from McMahon.

According to the University’s website, Fidelity has a different process for recurring payments than Securian. In the statement, McMahon encouraged retirees to call Fidelity if they are experiencing issues. Fidelity will also be sending out letters to those who have been impacted, which is also currently available online.

Fidelity Investments declined to comment for this story. 

Another retiree, Susan Gangl, expressed concern over her own July payment, which came in a few days late. Gangl is a retired University librarian as of 2017.

“It also left me wondering, ‘Well what does that mean for next month?’” Gangl said. “Whenever you have something that …  you are expecting to happen and it doesn’t, you start to worry. And then, I had trouble getting through to fidelity to find out what was going on.”

Similarly to other retirees, Gangl also said she ran into issues communicating with Fidelity. The company’s website also included errors about missing names where her beneficiaries should have been, she said. Gangl has now resolved both of these issues, and her payments have been rescheduled.

Kay Kane, another retired University employee, also faced difficulties with the transition to Fidelity when she received her distribution checks late. Kane retired from the University in 2009. 

“Everyone I know was happy, very happy with Securian and then we got transferred to a company that’s not providing reliable customer service or information,” Glasgow said. “And it’s just a precipitous decline in the service and the management of our retirement funds that didn’t have to happen.”

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