Thought Leadership Thursday
In 2024, Together We’ll Expand NAST’s Educational Activities, Federal Engagement, and Savings Networks
Thought Leadership Thursday Article
I’m honored to serve as the new President of NAST and, in my first note to the membership and affiliates, I’d like to start by wishing each of you a happy new year. I hope that 2024 is a year of happiness and health for all of us.
The new year is a time to reflect on the past and to consider the future. As I reflect on the past, I’m so pleased to have engaged with the national-level work of NAST and am honored to have served in a variety of prior roles, including Chair of the ABLE Savings Plans Network (ASPN), Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN), and, most recently, Senior Vice President of NAST. These diverse leadership experiences in NAST have given me a great respect for the institution and our members. As I consider the future of NAST, I believe we can continue to build on past successes.
My 2024 new year’s resolution is for NAST to expand its educational activities, to boost its engagement with policy makers, and to grow the work of its networks. There is much we can do together in each of these three areas:
For many years, NAST has been dedicated to educating its members and the public about treasury management, public finance, college savings, and much else. In 2024, NAST can expand its educational mission:
Creating new, mid-career education classes and certificates for Treasury and network staff: With the expanding and evolving work of treasuries across the country, public servants need ongoing training and learning opportunities. To serve this educational need, NAST can partner with organizations that can offer rigorous public finance education and certifications that a wide variety of treasury and network staff from across the country can access and pursue.
Grow the Treasury Management Training Symposium: There is much to love about the Training Management Training Symposium (TMTS), the single largest gathering of treasury professionals in the country. TMTS can continue to grow and expand its content.
Launching a NAST Research Consortium: Building on NAST’s Public Finance Workforce Study, I’d like to expand NAST’s research and data analytics efforts to help us tell the strongest possible story about retirement savings, college savings, ABLE, unclaimed property, and much more. I hope to lay the groundwork for a NAST Research Consortium that will bring together academics, think tanks, and states in shared research efforts that can improve the work of state treasuries and inform the American public and policy makers.
Engagement with Policy Makers
NAST aims to serve as “the nation’s leading advocate for responsible treasury programs and financial policies.” One of our greatest advocacy strengths is our membership. In 2024, I plan to work with my fellow treasurers and state finance leaders to create a framework through which we are more directly involved in coordinated, national advocacy campaigns aimed at achieving NAST’s priority policy goals. We have made progress on SAFE Banking, SURCH, ABLE, advanced refundings, and more. During a time of divided government, it will take sustained bipartisan advocacy to move these policies forward.
State-administered retirement programs are being considered and implemented in more states. And one of the few major bipartisan policy initiatives in Congress has been retirement security. I want to make sure that NAST is at the vanguard of both support for our member states and bipartisan advocacy. One of my first acts as NAST President was to create the Retirement Security and Pensions Committee to replace the Pension & Trust Committee. This new committee will be charged with developing draft policies for NAST so that we can engage meaningfully with federal policymakers on a bipartisan basis.
These initiatives will require the dedication of the NAST staff, elected leadership, committees, and networks and I look forward to working with my fellow treasurers, public finance leaders, treasury and network staff, and corporate affiliates on these initiatives. I’m also excited to welcome many of you to my home of Chicago in September for the NAST Annual Conference. As the descendant of German immigrants, I’m glad to see that the conference will coincide with the start of Oktoberfest and, fittingly, there will be a wonderful riverside Biergarten just steps from the conference hotel.
There will be much more to share in the coming weeks and much exciting work to accomplish in the coming months. May 2024 be a prosperous year for NAST and for all of us who are committed to its success.
Michael Frerichs, Illinois State Treasurer