P6-12 Craig Brokaw, newly appointed controller of STL, is considering ways to reduce his company’s expenditures on annual pension costs. One way to do this is to switch STL’s pension fund assets from First Security to NET Life. STL is a very well-respected computer manufacturer that recently has experienced a sharp decline in its financial performance for the first time in its 25-year history. Despite financial Problems, STL still is committed to providing its employees with good pension and postretirement health benefits.
Under its present plan with First Security, STL is obligated to pay $43 million to meet the expected value of future pension benefits that are payable to employees as an annuity upon their retirement from the company. On the other hand, NET Life requires STL to pay only $35 million for identical future pension benefits. First Security is one of the oldest and most reputable insurance companies in North America. NET Life has a much weaker reputation in the insurance industry. In pondering the significant difference in annual pension costs, Brokaw asks himself, “Is this too good to be true?”
Answer the following questions.
a. Why might NET Life’s pension cost requirement be $8 million less than First Security’s requirement for the same future value?
b. What ethical issues should Craig Brokaw consider before switching STL’s pension fund assets?
c. Who are the stakeholders that could be affected by Brokaw’s decision?