Michael Frerichs (pronounced FREH-ricks) was first elected Illinois State Treasurer in November 4, 2014 and re-elected on November 6, 2018. In Illinois, the Treasurer’s office predates the state’s incorporation in 1818. Voters in 1848 chose to make it an elected office. Frerichs is the 74th person to serve in this role.
In Illinois, the Treasurer is the state’s Chief Investment and Banking Officer. The office invests money on behalf of the state and local units of government. Frerichs also believes in providing individuals with financial tools so that they can invest in themselves.
He does this by encouraging savings plans for college and trade school, increasing financial education among all ages, removing barriers to a secure retirement, and reuniting Illinois residents with their unclaimed property.
The Treasurer’s Office actively manages approximately $35 billion. The investment approach is cautious to ensure the preservation of principal. The investment returns are significant: For every $1 spent to run the office, Frerichs nets $42 for the state’s residents.
Since taking office, Treasurer Frerichs has made significant strides in the fight for consumers by making sure Illinois residents get what is owed to them through the Unclaimed Property Program. A record-breaking $239 million in forgotten cash and stock was returned to individuals, employers, and non-profits in Fiscal Year 2019. By making changes to the Bright Start and Bright Directions College Savings Programs, Frerichs has lowered fees and provided more investment options, making college more affordable for families saving for their child’s future.
Under Treasurer Frerichs’ leadership, Illinois launched the Illinois Achieving a Better Life Experience Program (ABLE), a savings and investment program that allows people with disabilities and their families to save and build financial wellness without risking federal benefits. Illinois leads the 17-state bipartisan National ABLE Alliance, which offers people with disabilities nationwide a high-quality, low-cost ABLE savings and investment program.
In November 2018 Treasurer Frerichs launched Secure Choice, a retirement savings program that will benefit an estimated 1.2 million private-sector workers in Illinois who do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Treasurer Frerichs was born and raised in the small, downstate farming community of Gifford, Illinois. He graduated from Yale University and spent two years in Taiwan where he taught English to young students and learned to speak Chinese. He returned to Champaign County and launched his own technology business. He was elected to the Champaign County Board and elected Champaign County Auditor. He also served as a volunteer firefighter.
In 2006, Frerichs was elected Illinois State Senator representing east-central Illinois. As chairman of the Higher Education Committee he championed efforts to make college more affordable. He also served as chairman of the Agriculture and Conservation Committee and became a Certified Public Finance Officer.
Frerichs currently serves on the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Treasurers, the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers, the College Savings Plan Network, and the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. He also serves as a trustee on the Illinois State Board of Investment.
Treasurer Frerichs resides in Champaign with his young daughter, Ella.