The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), worked with stakeholders on the Technical Advisory Committee to consider ways to improve outcomes for defined contribution pension plan members while also improving regulatory effectiveness and efficiency.
On November 9, 2021, FSRA and OSFI hosted a webinar to share the outcomes of the technical advisory committee and hear feedback from the sector.
Over 400 attendees participated in the webinar and had the opportunity to ask questions.
FSRA & OSFI webinar - A Regulator’s Perspective on Defined Contribution Pension Plans
Date: November 9, 2021
Transcription prepared by Media Q Inc. exclusively for OSFI
Transcription préparée par Media Q Inc. exclusivement pour BSIF
DATE/DATE: November 9, 2021 1:00 p.m. (EST)
LOCATION/ENDROIT: Web-Cast OTTAWA, ON
PRINCIPAL(S)/PRINCIPAUX: Caroline Blouin, Executive Vice President, Pensions, FSRA
Tamara DeMos, Managing Director, Private Pension Plans Division, OSFI
James Hoffner, FSRA
Mike Ius, OSFI
Jesse Heath-Rawlings, FSRA
Nadine Atallah, OSFI
Mark Eagles, FSRA
Chuck Saab, OSFI
SUBJECT/SUJET: FSRA/OSFI Webinar: A Regulator’s Perspective on DC Plans (English).
Caroline Blouin: Good afternoon everyone, bonne après-midi à vous tous. Je m’appelle Caroline Blouin et je suis (voice of translator). I’m Caroline Blouin I’m the Vice President at the FSRA and so, I am very, very happy to open our session today. (end of translation)
(in progress) …the VP of Pensions at FSRA, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario. It is my pleasure to be here and open our session today. I am joined by Tamara DeMos, Managing Director, Private Pension Plans division at OSFI, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions of Canada.
It's been a real pleasure working in partnership with OSFI over the past year and truly a clear tangible step towards our desire for increased collaboration and harmonization where possible. So, thank you Tamara to you and your entire team. Truly the past year has felt like we were just one big team, and we look forward to more of these opportunities to collaborate in the future.
So now onto logistical items. To begin, I’d like to let you know that this information session is available to listen to in the official language of your choice so you can click the interpretation button at the bottom of your Zoom screen, it looks like a little globe. I you select English you will hear interpretation in English for any French spoken. If you select French, you will hear interpretation in French for any English spoken. And if you don’t want to hear any interpretation don’t touch anything, you’re perfect.
Alors, en français. Pour commencer, je tiens à préciser (voice of translator) To recap I would like to say that you can follow our webinar in the official language of your choice thanks to the interpreter who is present today. So if you want access to simultaneous interpretation, all you need to know is that you click on the button that is at the bottom of your Zoom screen, it looks like a little globe and if you pick English you will hear the English of anything that is being said in French and conversely if you click on French you will hear in French anything that is being said in English. And if you don’t click or pick on anything at all, and you don’t need interpretation well, your good to go, don’t click on anything. (end of translation)
Caroline Blouin: Now, I would like to open officially our session with a land acknowledgment. So land acknowledgments are important and meaningful, it’s a gesture and step towards reconciliation for the injustices that have been carried out against our indigenous communities. Please join me in a moment of silence to set our intentions on truth and reconciliation.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the wonderful land on which we’re meeting. My FSRA colleagues and I are speaking from Toronto and the land on which we’re gathering is the traditional territory of the Wendat, the Anishnabeg, the Haudenosaunee, Metis and the Mississauga’s of the New Credit First Nation, and now it’s the home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. We acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississauga’s of the Credit.
Tamara DeMos: My colleagues and I from OSFI are mostly speaking from Ottawa. I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on land that has long served as a meeting placed amongst indigenous peoples including the Algonquin People.
Caroline Blouin: And we recognize that those of you joining us today may work on different traditional indigenous territory. We invite you to reflect upon what this means for you. I know our presenters are super excited to share with you the outcomes of the joint FSRA and OSFI Technical Advisory on Defined Contribution Pension Plans. We’ve saved some time at the end to address your questions at the end of the webinar. I want to remind you that if you have a (inaudible) specific questions about your own defined contribution plans or a DC plan that you support we’re happy to take those on but let’s schedule a separate meeting either through OSFI or FSRA after the webinar today.
So over the past year, so since December 2020 until the end of the summer we worked with a wonderful committee, so I want to acknowledge and thank all of the Committee members who have supported us. You see their names here. Thank you so much. So, it was a committee of 18 members and when we constituted the meeting, we really paid a lot of attention to ensuring we were representing diverse perspectives from the sector. So we have representations as you can see here from labor, lawyers, plans supervised by OSFI, plans supervised by FSRA. We tried to incorporate different sizes of plans as well. We had MEBCO that was represented, brokers, all of the life co’s(ph), almost all of the red co’s (ph) were represented, so thank you so very much. And then we had professional and industry representation as well. So overall it was totally tremendous, I know it was a big ask, we met many times but thank you very much. And were so thrilled to be sharing the results of our consultation process with you with the sector.
I also want to acknowledge and thank our colleagues at CRA, the Ministry of Ontario, Finance Ontario and Finance Canada for being present and attending every single Committee meeting, being engaged in the discussion and really listening to what the sector is saying. All of us working together in the ecosystem is so important to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the sector.
So the goal of our work together with the Committee was to find ways to improve outcomes for DC Pension Plan members and also to enhance regulatory and effectiveness for DC Plans and of course to celebrate my birthday. We had a committee meeting on my birthday and I will forever remember very fondly OSFI and the Committee singing happy birthday to me. It was so terrific and touching. Just thinking about the memory brings back a smile and a lot of brightness to my heart.
And dear audience we have a surprise for you. I hear that OSFI has prepared a song to start us off. So I’ll turn it over to Tamara to start us off.
Tamara DeMos: Yes, funny one Caroline. I think we would like very much to not scare people off.
Caroline Blouin: So, I’ll turn it over to Tamara.
Tamara DeMos: Yes, I, I think that we would very much like to not scared people off. I’m not sure if any of you have attempted to have choruses through Teams or Zoom but my experience has proven this to be a bit challenging and in fact, a little bit scary. Thank you, Caroline, good afternoon, everyone, bonne après-midi à tous. I’m delighted to be here today, and I hope you find this session useful and insightful. I’d also like to say how much we here at OSFI have enjoyed working with FSRA on this endeavor. I also want to thank the TAC Committee for all their contributions.
People have often asked us why we decided to embark on this joint collaboration and Caroline, and I shared bilateral’s where we discussed our priorities. And in one of these sessions, it came up0 that improving our supervision of Defined Contribution Pension Plans was a high priority for both of us, so it was just natural that we decided to collaborate on this (inaudible).
You will see in the presentation today that the Technical Advisory Committee or TAC as we call them thought that we should go even further and that in fact, the guidance should be extended to across Canada to the recommendations to the CAPSA (inaudible) Decumulation Plans and Guideline Committee. The joint FSRA/OSFI Technical Advisory Committee on Defined Contribution Pension Plans is an important part of FSRA and OSFI stakeholder and engagement process. Because it created a process for two-way dialogue and understanding assisting both regulators in developing better processes, guidance, and approaches to its regulation of the pension sector and ways to harmonize supervisory approaches to improve regulatory efficiency and effectiveness. One thing that I should mention is that OSFI and FSRA’s responsibilities do not extend to making changes to the applicable pension standard legislation. For federal pension legislation this is the Federal Department of Finance. And for Ontario pension legislation this is the Ontario Ministry of Finance.
In that same spirit of creating a two-way dialogue I wish you a good session. I encourage you to ask questions. As Caroline mentioned we have left time at the end to respond to these questions. We want this to be an interactive session, so we ask that you submit any questions via this application called Slido. To access Slido please open another browser on your computer or mobile device and go to slido.com and you can – the slides also has instructions there. So when asked, enter the event code, FSRAOSFI, F-S-R-A-O-S-F-I then the passcode is the same FSRAOSFI, F-S-R-A-O-S-F-I. Once logged in you can submit your question. You can also vote for the questions you would like us to answer. To properly view our session today, please go to the top right corner of your Zoom screen and click on the view button, when there, select side by side speaker. This will ensure that the presentation and active speaker are the focal point at all times.
Once again, welcome to the webinar. And I’ll now invite our first presenters, James Hoffner from FSRA and Mike Ius from OSFI to share the tax recommendations for strengthening the CAPSA CAP Guidelines.
Mike Ius: Thank you Tamara. Today my colleague and I will be walking through the recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee that were submitted to CAPSA for consideration when reviewing the CAP Guidelines. We thought it might help to provide a little bit of context to the DC Plans that OSFI and FSRA regulate. As you can see from the slide FSRA and OSFI regulate many DC Plans with a wide variance of size. DC Plans represent about three quarters of individual pension plans regulated by each, however, only approximately 13 to 14% of members and four percent of assets. In terms of membership about seven percent of these plans have more than 500 members and about 15% of DC Plans have more than ten million dollars in assets. This shows that vast majority of DC Plans are small however we do need to recognize that both FSRA and OSFI have DC Plans with assets over one billion dollars and several more with more than 100 million. This illustrates the diversity of the DC world in which the Committee is making these recommendations. I’ll turn it over to James to describe the process by which the Committee came up with these recommendations. James.
James Hoffner: Great. Thanks Mike and good afternoon. As Caroline and Tamara have described the Committee had several informed candid discussions. Over time certain ideas began to gel about how to have good DC Plan experiences. OSFI and FSRA had thought initially that this input could be used to create new guidance for their respective jurisdiction, the Committee suggested however that the idea should be shared with CAPSA to consider for the CAP Guidelines. This approach made sense for a few reasons. First, CAPSA is in the process of reviewing the CAP Guidelines which haven’t been materially modified since they were introduced in 2004. The timing of CAPSA’s review and the joint OSFI/FSRA Committee is a fortuitous coincidence. Second and fundamentally, improving existing guidance is important for regulatory harmony and efficiency. We know the CAP Guidelines are widely accepted within the broader CAP centre, it made sense to work with them. Third, the recommendations could be relevant to the administration of other CAP plans that are not DC Plans. This is why the Committee is making its recommendations to CAPSA.
If you’ve already read or skimmed the recommendations, you’ll note that they’re pitched at a conceptual level. To appreciate why we did this I’ll emphasize how the recommendations originated. As mentioned, they emerged from discussions about how the experiences of DC Plan members can be made better. We didn’t sit down as a committee to specifically critique the CAP Guidelines, instead the Committee focused its collective experience to identify areas of current activities that can be improved. As a result, there are some instances where there are recommendations for change and there are already existing guidelines on the issue. In these instances, the recommendation should be understood as encouraging CAPSA to consider whether the existing guidelines and go further or be given different emphasis to better signal the appropriate considerations and supervisory expectations.
It's also important to note the Committee was quite aware of the need to get the balance right in terms of governance burden. DC and other CAP plans are voluntary in nature, supervisory expectations should not be counterproductive by making it too onerous for employers to offer these plans. The objectives is to facilitate better plan member outcomes in a manner that is sensitive to the context in which the plans are offered.
Finally, pension professionals are a passionate group so while these recommendations reflect the overall view of the Committee, they may not in each instance reflect the view of a particular Committee member. Nonetheless, the recommendations reflect the practices and the views of many leading plans and service providers. With that I’ll turn things over back over to Mike to explain the first recommendation outcome focus decision-making.
Mike Ius: Throughout our working group meetings the Committee repeatedly came back to the importance of purpose as the key principle to guide decision-making. Purpose provides a framework for decision-making, the type of information to provide as well as the appropriateness of services and fees. Purpose brings into focus what is important in the plan and the Committee felt that the guidance could go further in making this concept more resonant in plan governance activities. A clear sense of purpose focuses attention to the areas that produce the biggest impact on retirement income and the Committee also agreed that a lifetime retirement income is a more accurate description of the purpose of plan than savings. It is after all a pension plan.
With that in mind consider the following decisions that have a significant impact on member outcomes. First, simply participating in plan. Auto enrolment and eligibility criteria are key points to look at here. The sooner a member participates in a CAP plan, the better the outcome is likely to be.
Second, greater and earlier contributions. Features like higher default contribution rates and auto-escalation of contributions help ensure members maximize their potential outcomes. That said, this is where we maybe can add a caveat. The Committee recognized that in some plan situations specifically where plan members may have a lower income, a DC Pension Plan may not always be the best way to maximize the member outcome. For example, some indicated that a TFSA may be a better vehicle because it’s an after-tax product whereas payments from a pension plan are treated as income which can result in a reduction of certain government benefits. This should be considered when designing the plan.
Finally, appropriate investment selections. This is an area that has received a lot of attention in the past. That said, this aspect of plan design could further benefit from approaching it with member outcomes in mind. We’ll go into more details on this in a later recommendation.
Considering member outcomes can also be useful in assessing the effectiveness of the plan design for delivering the plan’s intended outcomes. While plan design is less the plan administrator’s concern, plan sponsors will want to consider how their designs are delivering on the desired outcomes. Attention to outcomes can serve to differentiate the characteristics of different CAP plans and assist plan sponsors in choosing the CAP plan or a combination of CAP plans most suitable for this purpose.
Member engagement can sometimes be a challenge which makes these features even more important. This leads us to our next recommendation, member engagement as a pillar of success. I’ll turn things over to you James.
James Hoffner: Thanks Mike. As (inaudible) knows will note DC plans by definition require members to bear certain risks and related to that take certain actions. Members therefore have to be engaged to make the decisions to lead to good outcomes. But we know member engagement faces several challenges including financial literacy, capacity to save, and competing interests for people’s time. And we know that member engagement is an important priority and focus of the sector. The Committee discussed how plans have approached engagement. It’s an area where service providers compete to differentiate themselves and digital capabilities are expected to get better. So there’s a lot of good activity happening around engagement.
The Committees recommendation is for CAPSA to consider how the guidelines can further support the sector with engagement. In a sense the CAP Guidelines set out what information should be provided to plan members. The issue here is for consideration of how information should be provided to plan members. For instance, there has much written about techniques for communicating information effectively such as using plain language and framing information to attract attention and facilitate decision-making.
The Committee also noted that an engaged employer can play an important role in creating trust and plan communications. These are examples of insights that plan administrators can use in assessing whether their plan communications are being made effectively.
The time and income projections in plan member statements were also topics of discussion. This will not be a surprise to people on this call, the Committee viewed account balance information on its own, is somewhat incomplete. It’s a number that’s a bit abstract on its own. An income projection on the other hand gives the account balance and context, projections enable members to better understand the course they’re on in terms of what their retirement income might look like and recognize whether they need or want to consider a course correction.
The Committee looked at model DC Plan member statements from the UK and European regulators, we included links to these statements in the recommendations. If you have a chance to look at them, you’ll see they prioritize income projections on the first page, they use infographics and color, they keep the message simple, they explain how a member can take action and they defer less important information to subsidiary pages and other documents.
In the Committee meetings it was discussed how statement designs in Canada are trending in this direction but are often weighed down with a lot of information to convey. We also discussed the issue of the continuing relevance of statements given the increase of digital access to account information.
Sit back and summarize. For member engagement the recommendation coming out of the Committee is for CAPSA to consider including in the CAP Guidelines principles focused on effective communication. Essentially, the recommendation is to support the entire sector in taking advantage of the way this (inaudible) into member engagement practices. With that, I’ll turn things over to Mike for the next recommendation.
Mike Ius: Great. Thanks James. So the next recommendation surrounds investment. Given the developments in the nearly two decades since the CAP Guidelines were introduced, the Committee recommends that more specific guidance should be provided regarding appropriate default fund selection as well as the investment line-up principles.
First, the Committee was clear that setting short-term investments as a default option such as a money market fund is generally not appropriate for plan members that likely have long-term investment horizons and the guidance should reflect this. The low returns these funds offer coupled with fees and the effects of inflation present challenges. Although members may rely on other sources of income in their retirement, for many a CAP plan is the backbone of their retirement planning. As a result, and given the challenges of member engagement, the default option should be suitable as the core of a member’s investments. Newer fund types have emerged since the introduction of the CAP Guidelines such as target date, target risk and other fund to fund types. And in many cases plans have set these fund types as the default option where no choice over asset allocation is actively made by the member. This move towards more appropriate fund choices is supported by legislation in BC and Alberta as well as PRPP and VRSP plans across Canada.
Going back to recommendation one which focused on member outcomes, administrators should ask themselves whether the amount of choices available to members actually facilitate portfolios that deliver better outcomes for members. Anecdotally, I’ve seen plans with over 100 fund options. The Committee noted the importance of behavioral economics when choosing an investment line-up. While there are plans in which members are more engaged and additional choices may be acceptable, line-ups with fewer investment options for members are generally considered to lead to better member outcomes. This has the benefit of more efficient governance of the plan as well. It requires less work on due diligence of these additional funds in order to meet the standards of care and fiduciary obligations.
With that, I’ll turn it back over to James to discuss the Committee’s fourth recommendation. James.
James Hoffner: Great. Thanks Mike. This recommendation is about underscoring but also helping with the governance responsibilities of CAP Plans and there are two aspects to the recommendation. First, the recommendation is to recognize the common standards of governance and responsibility of all CAP plans regardless of regulatory regime. So, what are we getting at here? In the Committee discussions there was a sense that there exists a view in the broader CAP sector that pension plans involve much more onerous governance standards than on Pension CAP Plans. We didn’t think this view was correct. We know that pension legislation and case law provide clarity for pension administrators about their fiduciary duty but clarity on the pension side doesn’t mean there aren’t governance responsibilities and standards for other CAP plans. The view expressed in the Committee was that all CAP plans, pension are not at a practical level involve the same governance practices and considerations. For example, the picking and overseeing investment line-ups and making decisions about fees and service providers. Non-pension CAP plan sponsors and pension plan administrators need to make decisions that are appropriate for their plans. There are without doubt regulatory differences between pension and other CAP plans, but governance responsibilities were not seen as materially different.
The second aspect of this recommendation is to support plans in their governance. Even if activities are delegated to a service provider there’s still an oversight governance responsibility. But the challenge for many CAP plans is sign of a desk (ph) activity. If you recall our first slide the majority of DC Plans are comparatively small, so the recommendation is for CAPSA to consider creating a governance to all that is more attuned to the CAP context, that allows plans to take a proportionate but still meaningful approach to governance.
Of course, there is CAPSA’s Governance Guideline, it’s a good guideline but it was also written in part with DB plans in mind which has some differences to DC Plans. What’s envisioned here is something that’s more efficient and tailored to the DC and CAP Plan context.
This brings me to the end of the governance recommendation. I’ll let Mike take it from here.
Mike Ius: Thank you James. The Committees fifth recommendation surrounds value for money. Investment and administration decisions can have a significant impact on member outcomes over a lifetime of membership and the guideline should highlight the importance of this. To make informed decisions about value plan administrators need to understand the fees being paid by the plan. The Committee noted in many cases that there’s a relatively low level of awareness of the main categories of fees payable by plans among administrators and sponsors, and this gets back to, to the point that James just mentioned about many DC plans being small, side of the desk activities. And this is backed up by experience that OSFI has when it surveyed plans about their fees.
Administrators and sponsors need to consider the reasonableness of all member-born fees not just the investment fees when selecting options for the investment line-up. This is especially true when fees are paid by members on a monthly basis. This obviously requires an informed understanding of all services and related fees. While the guideline currently has wording around the different categories of fees it could further break them down by providing definitions of fees and off grading (ph) expenses, record-keeping fees and advisor, broker, and consultant fees. Additionally, the guideline could even offer administrators questions that they could ask to help them make informed decisions.
Administrators should understand the value of each service in order to demonstrate its standard of care. One of the things we heard several times in the Committee is that absolute low cost should not be the standard. Low costs are important but so too are the services and investment strategies that can lead to overall member outcomes. For example, ensuring that the fees paid actually achieve tangible benefits for members in terms of net return or services. Guidance could also highlight of going to market on a periodic basis to ensure the plan has considered the available options and market price for all its service needs.
Finally, conveying information about the value of the plan to members can be particularly relevant for those members when comparing the features of their plan such as additional voluntary contributions to other opportunities that they may have such as RRSP or TFSA savings.
Over to you James for the Committee’s final recommendation.
James Hoffner: Great. Thanks Mike. As people on this call will understand decumulation or the pay-out phase presents several issues and risks for people to navigate. DC Plans are good environments in which to accumulate wealth with a pulling of expenses and the oversight of plan administrators, but many if not most plan members will leave their plans when they reach retirement if not before. We know that there are some DC Plans that offer in-plan (ph) benefits, but many other plans see challenges in offering these benefits from a supervisory perspective. A consequence of this reality is that former DC Plan members when they reach the point of receiving retirement income are typically outside the purview of pension supervision. The decumulation is nonetheless the necessary function or result in which the intended outcomes of DC Plans are realized.
The recommendation for CAPSA to continue to think about how guidance can support plan administrators and members with decumulation. Members of course will need to understand their options for moving their money outside of a plan if that’s what they wish to do. Beyond that, plan members also need to understand how to draw down income from their pension savings and that’s why risk allocation is important, but the Committee noted that perhaps equally or more important are other issues like longevity and sequencing risks. Also important is understanding the interaction of plan member savings with government programs.
If we go back to the first recommendation of the Committee, outcome focused decision-making the recommended purpose for pension plans is to enable savings for the provision of retirement income. Having this purpose set out in the guidelines can help orient employers, plan administrators and plan information tools to support members transitioning out of their plans into decumulation.
With that, I’ll turn things back to Mike to conclude.
Mike Ius: Thank you James. In the Committee discussions there were a lot of topics raised and ideas discussed about how to improve DC Plan experiences. We tried to capture the essence of the key points but there’s a lot to unpack and we recognize that. We look forward to continuing the dialogue.
I will now pass it off to Jesse and Nadine to talk about the member guide. Thank you very much.
Nadine Atallah: Good afternoon, everyone. Bonne après-midi à tous. And thank you Mike and James for providing more insight on the recommendations for strengthening the CAP Guidelines. So before we jump to the DC Member Guide presentation, I will start by sharing a couple of interesting statistics. I know pension professionals just love to see numbers. Stat number one, according to the key findings from the 2019 Canadian Financial Capability Survey from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada or FCAC only 69% of non-retired Canadians are preparing financially for retirement either on their own or through a workplace pension. In fact, the survey noted that some Canadians are not saving at all. On a more positive note, this number increased slightly by three percent compared to the 2014 survey which leads us to believe that Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of the need to save for retirement. Now, that’s some better news. What the survey also noted is that among other factors those with lower levels of financial knowledge are least likely to be aware of what exactly they need to save to retire comfortably.
Stat number two, now if we shift our focus back to the DC Plans environment that Mike and James presented at the beginning, we note that over 90% of Ontario and Federal DC Plans are member choice. What this means is that members must be engaged in decision-making and have adequate knowledge and understanding to make well-informed decisions in order to achieve their financial goals in retirement. So, how do we support DC Plan members in being a good financial planner, a good investment expert, a good tax expert and probably a good actuary too so they can make appropriate projections and make sure they don’t run out of money too soon? Piece of cake, right.
Now, this leads us back to the Committee’s work. So while considering how we could improve outcomes for DC Plans in general, the Committee was of the view that member engagements and financial literacy play a significant role in improving outcomes for DC Plan members. The Committee also recognized that there is great value in the regulators communicating directly with plan members and providing them unbiased guidance. They felt that this would support members and plan administrators in creating an environment where members have access to information, resources and tools to enable well-informed choices in retirement planning. In addition, the Committee noted that partnerships with other entities could be useful in order for such guidance to have a greater visibility and reach a broader audience.
So if we could move to the next slide, please. Thank you, David. So after several work group discussions a plain language member focused guide was developed with the Committee to encourage member engagement with their retirement savings and support member education and a better understanding of DC plans. So the guidance is intended for DC Plan members, and it was designed to help members understand key decisions they need to make regarding their DC Plan. It also provides tools to make well-informed financial and retirement planning decisions through the use of examples to help demonstrate different outcomes.
So now that we have this great tool, how do we distribute it to plan members? So the Committee approached CAPSA (inaudible) and CAPSA endorsed the DC Member Guide. So in fact the Guide is officially a CAPSA document. At the end of October 2021 CAPSA launched the Guide on their website and shared the document with all CAPSA member jurisdictions to increase its visibility. Note that the Guide is also available on OSFI’s and FSRA’s websites and can be made available to DC Plan members by plan administrators and other industry participants.
In addition, to add to the good news FCAC also decided to promote the guide and make it available on their website. In fact the timing of the Guide, the DC Member Guide release is absolutely perfect. It coincides with FCAC’s 2021 Financial Literacy Month that just launched in November and FCAC will now provide in their November 2021 Financial Literacy Newsletter. This is really great in terms of distribution and reaching a larger audience.
So this summarizes the why and how the CAPSA Member Guide for DC Pension Plans came to life. And now, without any further delay I will hand over the mic to my colleague Jesse at FSRA who will give a brief overview of the DC Member Guide. Over to you Jesse.
Jesse Heath-Rawlings: Hi everyone and thanks Nadine for providing all that great background and context on the DC Member Guide. So my name is Jesse Heath-Rawlings, I’m the Senior Policy and Technical Lead on FSRA’s pension policy theme and I’m just going to take a few minutes right now to provide a bit of an overview of some of the content of the Guide.
So as Nadine mentioned, the document’s intended to provide some background information on DC Plans and to assist members in making some of those important decisions that they may need to make with respect to their plan. For that reason it’s intended to be written in simple and accessible plain language and to use a variety of visual aids to help reinforce some important concepts.
You’ll see as I’m speaking on the slides some excerpts from the document, don’t worry about trying to read these in full right now, they’re all just examples that can be found in the Guide. We really just wanted to put them on the slides to provide a bit of an illustration as to what the Guide looks like for you.
So just speaking generally, the DC Member Guide begins with a basic discussion of DC Plans within the larger context or retirement savings in Canada and in doing so, it reviews topics like, what a DC Plan is and how it differs from a Defined Benefit Plan, it looks at how income from a DC Plan can work together alongside other sources of retirement incomes such as CPP OAS and GIS to meet the needs of a member in retirement. And it also reviews some of the benefits of saving in a DC Plan relative to other options that may be available.
And as you can see from the slide this includes things like the tax benefits that apply to Registered Plan Contributions, the ease and convenience of having automatic payroll deductions and the legal standards that apply to registered plans under various provincial pension standards legislation.
So that type of general discussion of DC Plans forms the first part of the document. And the remainder of the document then reviews seven different topic areas each of which are really important areas for member decision-making or just important concepts to understand with respect to DC Plans.
If you go through the document, you’ll see that it follows a hypothetical individual named Martha as she makes different choices with respect to her plan and the Guide outlines the impact that each of those decisions ultimately has on her income in retirement. And I’ll just take a few minutes and look at each of those seven different topic areas here very briefly.
And perhaps we can go to the next slide here. Great. So first the document reviews the importance of enrolling early to accumulate in retirement savings and in doing so, it provides some explanation of the effect of compounding, and it looks at three individuals who enroll in the same plan but at different ages and using the same savings assumptions. So it shows the eventual retirement savings and income that each of these individuals accumulates.
Next slide, please. The next section looks at the importance of making adequate contributions to support the income that a member needs or wants in retirement. It looks at our hypothetical individual Martha as she decides to contribute an extra $100 per month to her pension which in her case her employer matches, and it shows a significant impact that those extra contributions ultimately have on her income in retirement.
Next slide, please. The document then discusses the impact that fees can have in the accumulation of retirement savings. It indicates that while lower fees are not always preferrable, members should be aware of the fees that they’re paying and the services that those fees provide for.
Next slide, please. The following section then discusses the importance of members choosing the investments that are right for them. So it provides a bit of information about different packets of investment options that are often available in many plans, and it emphasizes that there are usually tools and resources that can help members make their decisions. It also notes that members who are unsure of what options to choose may want to consider seeking financial advice.
Next slide, please. So the next section deals with decumulation, and it looks at three hypothetical individuals who each make different decisions as to how to withdraw their money during retirement. So one individual likes to purchase an annuity, another decides to transfer their money into a retirement product providing for a variable draw down each year, so something like a RIF (ph). The third Martha isn’t sure what to do so she seeks financial advice and after receiving financial advice she decides to allocate her money towards a mix of the first two options. The document notes that many people are like Martha and can benefit from finding the right type of financial advice.
Next slide, please. The next section deals with the importance of longevity, risk and planning for retirement. So it notes that at age 65 many people often underestimate their expected longevity, and it encourages people to plan for the possibility that they might live longer than they think.
Next slide, please. And finally, the last section examines the important interaction between retirement age and income in retirement and in doing so it looks at three plan members who are on the same savings path but ultimately decide to retire at different ages. It highlights the difference in savings and income for an individual who retires at age 60 for example as compared to an individual in the same circumstances who continues saving until age 70.
So that generally concludes our overview of the DC Guide and I’ll now turn it over to my colleagues, Chuck and Mark who will have a bit of a discussion around some additional developments and next steps. So over to you Chuck and Mark and thanks everyone.
Mark Eagles: Thank you Jesse and Nadine. So Chuck and I are up next here, and I think I have the easiest part of this whole presentation. I’m talking about things, things that were going to do coming up in the months and years to come. The Committee clearly encourage us to, to, to continue to evaluate our resources and tools that can help employers and to continue to work with industry, government and other regulators in improving the regulation of DC Plans and we fully intend to and have probably started down that road to do that. I would say that we would welcome suggestions from anyone in the industry about areas where we can make improvements.
The third sort of overall recommendation there was in the future to make sure that we keep CAPSA informed of what we’re doing in order that other jurisdictions that belong to CAPSA can sort of see what were doing, and then perhaps do some of the same things and also that CAPSA itself can, can modify what it publishes from time to time.
Just one example on the CAPSA front there is a CAPSA committee that’s been meeting, and we’ll continue to meet looking at decumulation and one of the decumulation options being the new VPLA’s and so both OSFI and FSRA are participating in that committee. And I just note that one of the main goals that we have going forward is harmonization. I think everyone’s sick of having ten sets of rules applying to various DC plan options and, and things that are available.
So next page David. I’ll just go into a little bit of detail about what we at FSRA are doing right now and, and in the few months to come. We are taking a hard look at everything we do in the regulation of DC Plans. Of course, what I mean is what, what do we review? What do we ask for from our DC Plan sponsors and administrators? We, we are looking at for instances annual information return (ph) filing and we have to date gone through that, removed certain questions that we think didn’t really serve much purpose some of which were probably carry overs from Defined Benefit Plan filings so trying to streamline those filings and only ask for information that’s helpful. We’ve also looked at adding a couple of simple questions to give us data that we then can then give to industry that I think would be very helpful, things such as asking for information about the number of investment options made available to DC members, asking for information on the average fees paid with respect to funds made available in these plans and also taking on the role of asking about whether funds, ESG style funds are offered or not. So, that revised filing content will probably be out sometime next year and before that happens, we will also be discussing with other people in the industry to get feedback on it.
And finally, we are working with in our case our Ontario government to look at any regulatory – certain regulatory changes that could be made to assist with DC Plans. And you may have noticed that in the last two weeks the Ontario government posted a – information about proposed changes that they are making or attempting to make regarding DC Plans. One is to cease requiring the filing of a statement of investment policies and procedures for DC Plans. And second is to do away with the requirement for external audit of financial statements for DC Plans. So, I think those are two really, really useful changes that will hopefully be in place in the next few months.
I think that’s it for now. I’m going to hand it over to Chuck, he’ll talk a bit about OSFI and then we’ll move onto questions. Thank you.
Chuck Saab: Thank you Mark. Hello everyone. So from OSFI’s perspective we will apply the insights gained by the Committee to further develop our supervisory framework for federally regulated pension plans. We’re currently reviewing filing requirements for DC Plans and hope to be able to share any changes as a result of our review for the 2022 year ends for filings that are due for June 2023 and later. As part of OSFI’s review of the filing requirements, OSFI will be looking at various items to see if we can streamline our regulatory framework in terms of DC Plans, including issuing guidance outlining OSFI’s expectations with regard to the contribution planner such as, the frequency of providing such planner to the custodian, and when does the custodian have to notify OSFI. We believe the contribution planner is a powerful tool for OSFI’s supervision of DC Plans and therefore, imperative that we clarify our expectations regarding its use.
We will look at potentially focusing on loosening the requirements for or even exempting the filing requirements for auditor’s report for most DC Plans and we will be reviewing the Annual Information Return, it’s the OSFI 49 and the Financial Statements, the OSFI 60 required filings to see if there are – to see if there are, to see if there are opportunities where these could be streamlined. Pardon me.
In addition, as part of our review we will potentially consider issuing or reviewing existing guidance on DC Plans. With regards to the SIPP, Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures, the Benefits Standards Act and the Regulations do not require pension plans to file their SIPP’s with OSFI which the Committee told us that was appreciated. At this time, we don’t foresee any changes in this regard.
With regards to the default option and auto features these were discussed in-depth at the Committee. Regarding the default option, OSFI already has guidance on selecting default investment options which can be found on our website. Regarding the auto-enrollment, auto-escalation features, OSFI hasn’t published any guidance on this yet. While the Pension Benefits Standards Act and Regulations do not prohibit these features it is our understanding that there may be some limitations under the Employment Standards legislation that prohibit payroll deductions without the express consent of the employee. OSFI intends to review this further but any guidance on this topic would have to reflect the potential application of the Employment Standards legislation.
With regards to the electronic filings OSFI has in place an electronic filing system via the regulatory reporting system where plan administrators would file – would file with us via their pension plan information such as their Annual Information Return, their financial information and plan amendments. The electronic filing of plan amendments is a fairly new feature and has been in effect since April 2020.
With regards to the regulatory reporting system we have received feedback over the past few years that this system is not user friendly and very difficult to access. We understand the frustrations this can cause you and we apologize. This system is a tri-agency system which is used by the Bank of Canada, CDIC, OSFI as well as banks and the insurance industry to gather and process regulatory returns. It was designed first and foremost to make it very secure to protect the information gathered.
We will now move to the question-and-answer period. And I believe we have probably a little over 20 minutes for that. So we want to make this an interactive session therefore, we will ask you to submit any questions via the Slido application. To access Slido please open another browser on your computer or mobile device and go to slido.com. When asked please enter the event code FSRAOSFI that’s F-S-R-A-O-S-F-I and password is also FSRAOSFI. Once logged in you can submit your question. You can also vote for the question you’d like us to answer. If we do not have enough time to answer all Slido questions, or if we’re unable to answer it today, please refer to the email addresses on the screen and send your questions to the appropriate email in-box.
As a reminder, also please feel free to ask your question either in French or English.
Okay. We received several pre-submitted questions prior to the webinar, and we’ll answer a couple of these ones first. Some of the questions were addressed throughout the presentation and others were responded to directly prior to the webinar, however, if you feel that we have not responded to your pre-submitted question during the presentation, please feel free to ask your question again through Slido or you may simply send us your question by email at the appropriate email address.
Okay. One question here that I think Mike Ius from OSFI could answer. I’ll read that one out. How does OSFI measure the efficiency the employer pension plans registered with OSFI apart from the audits? Are there any specific tools that employers can use to see where they stand and what could the potential risk for their plan, some thing that suggests beyond the regular administration and governance improvements? Mike, can I hand that over to you?
Mike Ius: Yeah, of course. Thank you, Chuck. So, OSFI continually monitors individual plans as well as other developments surrounding their sponsors and sponsor industries. We do that in order to identify potential risks. Examinations are one aspect of our supervision and represents one of the most in-depth measures. However, in addition to examinations we monitor our plans through several tools, such as our estimated solvency ratio exercise and our tiered risk indicators which are test runs on the data from annual returns.
So I guess one thing I’d say is while we certainly have insights into risks from our experience with a large variety of plans, I would also suggest that individual pension plans are in an excellent position, potentially better than us to identify some of the risks that are unique to their own plans. If you’re looking at trying to find some support in determining those risks or how we might look at a pension plan and, and develop your own sort of risk assessment of your plan, I’d suggest having a look at our risk assessment framework for financially - sorry for federally regulated private pension plans which can be found on our website. Under this framework OSFI internally rates individual pension plan risks as low, moderate, above average, or high and we also rate the quality of risk management, so controls and oversight. We this we arrive at a composite risk rating or overall risk rating as well as the direction that risk is moving, so increasing, stable, decreasing.
So for the framework there’s an overview document as well as six separate guidance notes that sort of delve into the various aspects of the framework. We don’t share these individual ratings or the overall ratings with plans or the industry at large, but I think if you had a look through those documents, you could pretty easily get an idea of where any individual plan might land through those guidance notes.
Additionally, we always suggest having a look at the CAPSA Guidelines particularly the Governance Guidelines Self-Assessment which can help plan administrators assess how successfully their pension plan follows best practices and governance principles.
Chuck Saab: That’s great. Thanks Mike. The next question here I think Mark Eagles from FSRA could answer this one. I’m going to read it out here Mark for you. Recently, the Ontario government announced draft regulations that will eliminate the need for Ontario member directed DC Plans, DC only Plans to have SIPP’s. If that regulation is adopted would FSRA still recommend SIPPs as a prudent practice for such plans? Over to you Mark.
Mark Eagles: Okay. Thank you, Chuck. I guess I would say first of all that the change really is about filing stuff with us. So, we don’t – if that regulation change goes through there will be no need to, to produce or file those SIPPs with us. However, I think most people would recognize that in almost all of DC Plans the funds that are made available to members have their own SIPP. Each fund has a SIPP saying how it’s invested and, and that’s the key document that administrators need to have access to when their deciding on what funds to make available and also, they need to be available to members, to members who do want to see that. So, we would expect that that would continue. I mean, that’s a part of governance and what, what we’re really – what the regulation change is doing is saying that that SIPP for the pension plan itself is not necessary. Most of those SIPP’s really just included all the SIPPs of the underlying pension funds or investment funds that are made available. So, I hope that answers that question.
Chuck Saab: Great. Thank you mark. We did receive – Mark you stay online here because I think you’d be best fit to answer this one here. We received another set of sort of three questions that go all together that were pre-submitted. I can read them out to you here. Let them read them out to you, maybe even make a couple of points on what they are.
So, should companies allow employees to top up their DC pension plans by allowing contributions as contributions under the DB Plan are mandatory? This was followed by, is five percent of the base salary still appropriate level, an appropriate level of funding for DC Plan? What is, what is the average funding level? And then finally, that came along with that, what should companies be doing to encourage staff to review their DC Plan investments regularly? Mark.
Mark Eagles: Okay. I’ll try and be quick because I think this question maybe has some specific plan elements to it, but generally as a regulator, we’re all for more. So, if a plan wants to permit members to contribute more, I can’t really see a downside to that in almost every case. And then that would be true whether it’s a DC stand alone plan or a DC that’s provided in combination with a Defined Benefit Plan. The five percent - the salary I assume is a plan specific thing although I do think that – I’ve seen many, many surveys over the years and information from Stat’s Canada and so on, probably the average employer contribution was somewhere around five or six percent although it will change it will vary greatly between industries. So I, I don’t think there is a one size fits all. It really depends on the, you know, the purpose of the plan. Many DC Plans are provided it’s – as a sort of side piece to something else. So, I, I don’t think we can say that there’s one contribution level that sort of is the right level for everyone, although generally more is better in, in most cases.
And reviewing investments regularly and crunching (ph) numbers to do that I don’t think we have any magic potion to achieve that. We, I think just see – someone earlier touched on some issues around member engagement and so it’s a big issue but no magic answer to that question at this time.
Chuck Saab: Okay. Well, that’s great. Thanks Mark. We will now turn over to the questions on Slido. I’m just looking at Slido here. Let me start with a question on, on the CAPSA recommendations. I’ll read that out and I will probably wager that Mike would probably want to answer that. So the question is, how did CAPSA respond to your recommendations? Mike, can I send that over to you or?
Mike Ius: Sure Chuck.
Chuck Saab: Yeah.
Mike Ius: Sure. Yeah. So CAPSA has not formerly responded however, we were invited to present an overview of these recommendations to CAPSA in July. In addition, the recommendations have come up in our sort of regular ongoing interactions with CAPSA and the CAPSA Guideline Committee has undertaken to review and consider the recommendations to determine whether they’re appropriate additions to the CAP Guidelines. They’re – that Committee is continuing its work and is expected to post its revised guidelines for consultation in Spring of 2022.
Chuck Saab: Okay. That’s good. Thank you, Mike. Here’s a question – actually I’m looking at this next question here on income projections and then there’s another one down as well that talks about the assumptions, how did you arrive to the assumptions. So I think those two could go together. I’m just thinking out loud here. Probably Jesse would want to answer this one here. So the question is, the income projection scenarios don’t disclose the assumptions used to convert the future account balance to a monthly income stream, why not? Jesse, do you want to take a stab at that one?
Jesse Heath-Rawlings: Sure. So if you look at page seven of the DC Member Guide, you’ll see a little note about how those projections were arrived at. It might not include you know every assumption, but it reads sort of generally. All examples are based on an assumption of typical life expectancy and do not differentiate according to the sex of the members so you use blended annuity rates, they assume the member will use their savings to purchase a single life annuity (ph) and estimates are based on an interest rate of 3.0. So some of the key assumptions are there and that might not be you know, every assumption that went into those calculations, but I think you know, in producing this document, we often had to make this sort of decision between making it a bit more accessible to members including more technical detail and I think you know that, that sort of note there tries to, you know be on that, on that line. But you know if there are further questions about the assumptions that were used, feel free to reach out and we can give you a bit more background on that. So, just basically the only reason that they’re not in the Guide is just we thought it might make the Guide a bit too technical for members.
In terms of the other assumptions that were used, I think it’s fair to say that FSRA, OSFI and the Technical Advisory Committee, all kind of recognize that there’s no one perfect set of assumptions you can use for a document like this. There’s a range of reasonable assumptions and people might disagree on exactly what the best one is, but we thought that the, the important thing to do was pick assumptions that were within that reasonable range and use them consistently. So, you’ll see that kind of reflected. We did have discussions and debates about exactly what assumptions were most appropriate, we think that we landed somewhere within that reasonable range, and we sought actuarial input from our team you know, when, when the assumptions had an actuarial component.
Probably the area where we had the most discussion on was the contribution levels which were set for Martha at $100 per month. Some people might feel that that’s a little bit too low, for other people that might feel like a significant budgetary item in a month. And I think that at the end of the day we tried to go with contribution levels that would be accessible to individuals earlier in their career. So, while they may be a little bit lower than what a mid-career or late career person would be contributing to their plan, hopefully it’s a number that, you know, somebody’s who’s just thinking about getting into a DC Plan or thinking about contributing, it doesn’t seem too intimidating to them. So hopefully that clears things up a bit.
Chuck Saab: Good. Thanks Jesse. I’m not sure if you want to stay on for that one as well. If not, let me know. The next question – here’s a question on income projection scenarios. I think that was addressed. Okay. So here’s a question actually maybe it’s – it is for you so, will there be specific guidance as to what level of fees, (ex. One percent of assets is considered reasonable or unreasonable)? I’m not sure if you want to take that one Jesse or maybe James, what do you think?
Jesse Heath-Rawlings: I can say we don’t, we don’t have any plans for that type of guidance. You know, the recommendations to CAPSA are more along that vein but specifically from FSRA, no, and maybe James can jump in and provide a bit more context.
James Hoffner: Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s right. I think setting, setting a few would be more of a policy discussion perhaps than necessarily a supervisory. I think what’s important for you know, any plan administrator or a plan sponsor of another CAP Plan is always to consider the process by which they, they get information to make informed decisions, to make sure they have the relevant information and are making appropriate decisions in the context of their plan.
Chuck Saab: Very good. Thanks James. Okay. So, here’s —
Unidentified Speaker: Sorry, does Mark have (inaudible)?
Chuck Saab: No, I think we’re good.
Unidentified Speaker: Okay.
Mark Eagles: I was going to say one thing here.
Chuck Saab: Go ahead Mark.
Mark Eagles: Okay. I was just going to say to that on the fee side of things it’s very difficult to, to have one size fits all, you know, one percent is (inaudible), the fee you want to see because it will vary greatly between the type of fund involved and the size of the plan. And to really be meaningful you would have to give a breakdown kind of average fees across 20 different types of funds and, and different asset sizes and all of that. So I think that’s beyond our scope at this time and beyond the data that we even have at this time. Now, some day maybe some office has all – have the whole funds made available with fees clearly on a comparable basis and, and, and that data can be made available, but I’m not sure that that exists right now at least not in, not in our office.
Chuck Saab: Okay. Well, thanks Mark. I think the next one I will loop that one back to Mike. Can industry participants make suggestions to OSFI and FSRA about what additional changes would be best, if so, who should we contact? Mike?
Mike Ius: Yeah. I – as you can see on the screen here, we’ve got, we’ve got some contact information, absolutely we’re happy to hear about, you know, other suggestions, so I would encourage you to send emails to the appropriate email address on the screen.
Chuck Saab: Okay. Thanks Mike. So, here’s an interesting question. I might have to give it Tamara to potentially think of this one. Tamara here’s the question, are OSFI and FSRA thinking about suggesting to the legislatures, Ontario and federal to introduce a safe harbor provision for DC Plans as we see in the U.S.? Tamara, would you mind looking at this one or?
Tamara DeMos: Yeah, I guess. I’m trying to remember the safe harbor is – like if you kind of follow these rules then this is to encourage, I think after retirement for Defined Contribution Plans to continue after retirement. And these are – our intention was not – like, that was not part of the scope of this, of this review. And it really is kind of a policy discussion, it really is for – as I mentioned at the very beginning, it, it’s for our colleagues at the Department of Finance and Ministry of Finance to kind of consider those, those policies and we have not through this process looked at that. I don’t know if any of my other colleagues wanted to kind of elaborate on that.
Chuck Saab: Any takers? James, Mark? Okay. Thank you, Tamara. So this is – I think Jesse you might want to answer this question here. When can we expect the DC Guide for Plan Sponsors to be released? I guess we already talked about this one. Jesse?
Jesse Heath-Rawlings: So, the DC Guide for Members is released on CAPSA’s website already. In terms of a guide for plan sponsors we don’t have anything specific in the works. If it’s, you know, talking about the CAPSA Guideline for CAP Plans I’m not sure exactly what the timeline is on that, to the update to that document, others might, might know better than me.
Tamara DeMos: I think – sorry Chuck, it’s Tamara. But Mike had mentioned that they continue their work and expecting to post the revised guideline for consultation in Spring of 2022.
Chuck Saab: Good. Thank you, Tamara, thank you Jesse. So the next question is, why did OSFI/FSRA go to CAPSA with these recommendations instead of issuing this guidance? James, Mike?
James Hoffner: Yeah, I can —
Chuck Saab: Go ahead James.
James Hoffner: Yeah, yeah, thanks Chuck. I think, I think we, we hit sort of toyed with that idea of issuing our own guidance but I think the Committee was, was very clear that in order to make things I think efficient and harmonious across the – in terms of the regulations and guidance for plans to follow, as well as for the various service providers that support the plans, I think what would be – what would be most advantageous would be to make the recommendations to the CAP Guidelines and to see if the recommendations could be accommodated there because that would provide just, just greater regulatory efficiency rather than having you know, separate, separate guidance for specific jurisdictions.
Chuck Saab: Perfect. Thanks James. We are mindful of time. We probably have time for just about one quick question here. Maybe I’ll ask Mark this one, to give this a quick response if that’s possible Mark. When is the CAP Guideline going to change? Mark, I know you’re on these committees, do you know if you can?
Mark Eagles: Yeah, I think that’s what Tamara was referring to earlier. But the CAP Guideline is probably going to be modified and published for comment Spring or Summer 2022 so people will be able to see what’s been changed, has been changed and they can provide comments at that time.
Chuck Saab: Okay. Well, this is great. This, this brings us to the end of the questions and answers at this time. If we were unable to answer your question today, please feel free to email – to send us an email. The slide is on there with the email addresses. Or actually no, it’s on the second last slide of the slide deck and send your questions to the appropriate email address here. Here we go, it’s now on here. So for FSRA it’s [email protected] and for OSFI it’s on our general website, [email protected]. Perfect. So thank you very much for all those that have submitted the questions and the responses to that. Caroline, Tamara, this – I will pass it to you for closing remarks before we wrap up. Thank you.
Tamara DeMos: Thank you very much Chuck. As luck would have it, I’m in a condo and right outside my window are – it’s garbage day so I hope you can all hear me okay. Thank you all for attending today’s webinar. Merci à tous d’avoir participés à la session d’aujourd’hui. (voice of translator) Thank you to all of us for having participated in the webinar today. (end of translation)
Thank you to all of our presenters for sharing their time and insights with all of us today. I would again like to thank the Technical Advisory Committee participants for their time and their valuable insights. I thank you again to Caroline and her team for their collaboration. I would also like to thank the OSFI team, Chuck Saab, Mike Ius, Nadine Atallah and (inaudible) for their dedication to this project over the last few months. And there’s some people I want to mention who are working behind the scenes to make sure this webinar without a hitch. That’s Jessica Resh (ph) and Ryan Dagger (ph) and (inaudible) Sajani (ph).
Caroline Blouin: Thank you so much —
Tamara DeMos: Yeah, yeah, go ahead Caroline.
Caroline Blouin: Thank you so much. It’s been a true pleasure working with you and your team. I will miss our frequent meetings that’s for sure between OSFI and FSRA. It was a pleasure working with the entire Committee and having discussions. And once again thank you so much to our colleagues at the CRA, the Ministry of Finance in Ontario and Finance Canada at the federal level. Your support and presence during all of these discussions is really valued and appreciated. Thank you very much.
And with that I think we will end it. Again, if you have any questions about your plans, about the materials we’ve released, please do send us an email we’re always happy to get on the phone and answer any questions you may have.
Tamara DeMos: One thing, one thing – we welcome feedback on today’s session and you’re going to receive a short evaluation, so we want to make sure and encourage to take a few minutes to provide their thoughts on that with us. Thanks. Sorry Caroline.
Caroline Blouin: Oh, that’s okay. Thank you very much. So with that I’ll bring us to a close. Thank you so much for attending.
Question and answers
Q: When would these recommendations take effect? Will there be an early adoption option?
A: The recommendations to CAPSA are being considered for inclusion in a refreshed CAP Guideline. This Guideline will be finalized by CAPSA in 2022. The recommendations are premised on FSRA and OSFI’s view of good administration, so it would encourage administrators to consider how their current practices align. Administrators can adopt practices that align with the recommendations now.
Q: Has the TAC consulted with securities regulators when considering their guidance for CAP plans? The client focused reforms and NI 31-103 provide high standards.
A: Engagement with other financial industry partners on the CAP Guideline will be handled by CAPSA.
Q: Why did the committee develop a DC Member Guide when similar products already exit in the industry?
A: Various industry participants (service providers and consultants) took part in developing the DC Member Guide. FSRA and OFSI heard there was an opportunity for a Regulator-provided product that was neutral and could focus on key issues. Some administrators and providers suggested this Guide could be shared with their members. This Guide is also a compliment to the key outcome of recommendations to amend the CAPSA CAP Guidelines.
Q: Have you considered the Quebec civil law and applicable legislation when you made your recommendations?
A: No – OSFI applies the federal PBSA and FSRA applies the Ontario PBA.
Q: Would you please provide a link to the Guide on the FSRA and OSFI websites?
A: This Guide was endorsed by CAPSA and is available on CAPSA’s website: Link to the DC Member Guide. A link to the Guide is also available on FSRA’s and OSFI’s website.
Q: When will we see these changes/developments?
A: The recommendations to CAPSA and the DC Member Guide are available now. CAPSA has indicated it has received the recommendations and is considering them now. A new CAP Guideline would be published for consultation in Spring 2022.
Q: Will new developments like the VPLA be supported by OSFI and FSRA?
A: FSRA: Yes. FSRA welcomes new developments to support different decumulation vehicles for Ontarians. FSRA is participating in CAPSA’s working group on decumulation, along with other provinces, specifically considering how provinces can support the VLPA regime. Any legislative changes necessary to accommodate VPLA’s will need to be developed and adopted by the Ontario government (as it will in each provincial and federal jurisdiction).
OSFI: OSFI is also a member of the CAPSA decumulation committee and will work to develop a harmonized framework for VPLAs. It will ultimately be the Department of Finance’s decision on how to best approach VPLAs, as it will require legislative change.
Q: Could we expect governance disclosures for DC plans in the future such as Annual Value for Members assessment and Reporting of Net Investment Returns per UKs TPR?
A: No, FSRA is not currently considering a Value for Money type-assessment or communication on the same.
OSFI is not currently considering additional disclosures, however future reviews of our guidance and filings may consider this question.
Q: Will OSFI also reconsider whether audited financial statements are still required for DC Plans?
A: OSFI is currently evaluating potential changes to the requirement for DC plans to file audited financial statements. We expect any changes to be implemented for the December 2022, Plan year end filings.
Q: Can brokers/advisors electronically file the information to OSFI on behalf of the Plan Administrators?
A: Yes. Under the Regulatory Reporting System (RRS), plan administrators can assign various permissions to third party service providers, who may then submit returns on behalf of the plan administrator.
Q: Could you elaborate more on when you said that there would not be any external audit required for DC plans? When would be the potential effective date?
A: The Ontario Government is consulting on a proposed regulation change which would remove the requirement for Ontario registered DC plans to have their financial statements audited. Financial statements would still be required to be submitted to FSRA. FSRA does not know whether the Government will approve the proposed changes or when they would take effect.
Q: Did you have any discussion with CRA relative to past DC admin errors?
A: This topic was not raised in committee meetings.
Q: Do you have any insight if Insurance companies will offer modeling retirement on statements?
A: The committee did discuss retirement projections and recognized their potential usefulness. Some of the recommendations made regarding the CAP Guidelines reflect that viewpoint. The committee heard that many record keepers already provide a projection as part of statements to their clients. Many committee members recommended inclusion of a projection on the first page of every statement. FSRA may consider them as part of future work on member statements.
Q: Will there also be guidance for administrator managed plans, which often perform better than plans with member-directed investments?
A: FSRA’s and OSFI’s recommendations to CAPSA were only regarding the CAP Guideline – which Guideline limits itself to plans where members direct the investments. It is our view that most of the information and practices set out in the CAP Guideline apply equally to administrator invested DC plans.
Q: Good to hear that FSRA will ask DC plan administrators if an ESG fund option is offered. Is OSFI considering such a requirement?
A: OSFI is not currently considering asking whether an ESG fund option is offered, however future reviews of our guidance and filings may consider this question.
Q: Did the Committee consider how DC plans should embed environmental sustainability and incorporate ESG factors, as a matter of best or expected practice?
A: The committee did discuss this. OSFI and FSRA support a CAPSA working group developing ESG guidance. This topic should be included in that guidance. FSRA does not have a view on whether or how ESG factors should be incorporated in a DC investment line-up, however FSRA intends to continue to capture whether any funds include ESG features, should the government decide to remove the requirement to file a SIPP for member-choice plans.
Q: What about missing members or inactive members in a Pension Plan. Can this responsibility be assumed by the Insurer if the DC plan is with an Insurer?
A: The duty of care to manage the plan rests with the administrator, even where responsibilities are delegated to service providers. OSFI has released articles regarding missing members through its InfoPensions and PBSA Update newsletters. FSRA has produced guidance to support administrators on the subject of missing members. Also, we note that, generally, as long as such activity is supported by plan documents, a DC plan can purchase an annuity from an insurer as a default option if a DC plan is wound up and all reasonable efforts to locate a member have been taken but the member cannot be found.
Q: Has OSFI/FSRA considered asking the government for safe harbour rules to encourage addition of decumulation features by reducing perceived risk of offering them.
A: The topic of safe harbour was raised in the committee meetings. Staff employed by both the governments of Ontario and Canada observed the discussion.
Q: Has CRA been involved in these discussions and if there were any thoughts or conversations around increasing the 18% contribution limit?
A: CRA representatives observed many committee meetings. There were no discussions around the contribution limit.
Various services may be embedded in the fees. Asking only for fee info may be misleading for comparison purposes.
FSRA and OSFI have noted this observation – and it is reflected in some of the comments to CAPSA.