Target Benefit Regulations Lack Consistency

Regulations for target-benefit pension plans have been developed across the country in several jurisdictions and without consistency, says Barry Gros, a retired actuary and chair of the pension board for the University of British Columbia Staff Pension Plan in a C.D. Howe Intelligence Memo. The fundamental challenge for target benefit pension plans is to provide a reasonable targeted pension to members given fixed contributions going into the plan. The fundamental challenge for a traditional defined benefit pension plan is to determine the level of contributions to provide the promised benefit. Each faces very different challenges and has a very different focus. The approach now in place in several jurisdictions is to impose a universal provision for adverse deviation on target benefit pension plans, which has little recognition of the risks inherent in any particular plan and is prone to creating systemic intergenerational inequity. This approach seems to totally ignore the fundamental nature of target benefit pension plans and seems to try to convert them to defined benefit through the back door. As well, there is nothing in the current regulatory framework that reviews the process under which target benefit pension plans determine a reasonable pension. Many pension jurisdictions have recently completed a review of funding regulations for traditional DB pension plans and implemented significant changes. The timing is right for these jurisdictions to review fully their regulations for target benefit pension plans, says Gros.

Near Retirees Impacted By COVID

Data shows Canadians near and in retirement are more negatively impacted by COVID-19 than during the great financial crisis(GFC), says Fidelity Investments Canada’s ‘Retirement 20/20’ annual survey. In its 15th anniversary, this year’s report shows 40 per cent of pre-retirees have a negative outlook on their life in retirement ‒ the highest rate of negative retirement perception amongst surveyed Canadians since 2014. As well, 40 per cent of survey respondents indicated their salary or earnings had decreased due to the global pandemic. Amongst those negatively impacted by COVID-19, 50 per cent are reducing the amount of money they are able to save, as well as the amount they are able to invest, in comparison to last year. However, 80 per cent of pre-retirees and 92 per cent of retirees with a written financial plan felt positive about their (future) life in retirement and of those who indicated they had a written financial plan, 85 per cent also indicated they had worked with a financial advisor to build it. Financial advisors remain the most popular and trusted source of advice.

Investors Must Work Collectively

The second chief executive officers (CEO) council of the Investor Leadership Network (ILN) has emphasized the need for investors to work collectively to promote progress on the COVID-19 pandemic and groundswell of support for social justice and equality around the world. It also reiterated its commitment to contribute to a fairer and more equitable economy. The CEOs of the global investment firm members of ILN ‒ which includes AIMCo, CDPQ, CPP Investments, OMERS, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, OPTrust, and PSP Investments ‒ will also set individual, measurable goals to support greater gender representation in senior leadership positions and investment-related roles within their respective organizations, as a follow up action to last year’s discussion and part of their broader diversity and inclusion efforts.

Work And Life Balanced

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of Canadian workers feel they have effectively balanced work life and home life as they stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, says a survey by ServiceNow. Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) also say they prefer working from home rather than their usual workstation. And 81 per cent expect their employer to allow them to work from home in the future for up to 12 days per month while 89 per cent would like to be able to work from home for up to 14 days per month. The top benefits of working from home are saving time by not commuting, saving more money, having more time for personal projects or hobbies, being able to cook at home more, and having fewer distractions during the workday. The top challenges employees are facing while working from home are feeling disconnected or alone, technology issues, the time spent working, a lack of a functional workspace at home, having more distractions during the workday, and having difficulty balancing work and personal responsibilities.

RIA Membership Grows

Total membership grew from 310 to 399 during 2019 – a growth rate of 28.7 per cent, says the RIA’s ‘2019 Annual Report.’ It summarizes the organization’s progress along its strategic priorities for achieving the overarching goal of the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) which is driving the adoption of responsible investing (RI) in Canada’s retail and institutional markets. Membership grew across both organizational and individual segments. It finished 2019 with 271 individual members, up from 210 a year prior, and organizational membership grew from 100 to 128 over the same period. It says its annual conference is Canada’s flagship event on responsible investment and continues to attract ever-larger audiences. In 2019, it hosted a record 580 attendees at its conference in Montréal, QC, up 31.8 per cent from the previous record of 440 in Toronto, ON, a year earlier.

League Offers Personalized Care

League now offering employers personalized care teams. The expanded virtual care capabilities will be integrated within its platform and will enable employees to connect with a multi-disciplinary team of health experts and get real-time support for provider, clinical, and benefit inquiries all in one place. The virtual care team will be composed of care navigators, registered nurses, and benefits and claims experts, each with knowledge of the employee’s health, insurance coverage, and available employer-sponsored programs. With this insight, the team will be able to offer personalized advice and direct the individual to the most appropriate resources in real time. Employees will be able to access care teams through real-time chat, eMail, and telephone. In the future, the teams may expand to include pharmacists, dietitians, social workers, and health coaches.