Aug 10: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

Some tips to get your retirement plan back on track

While markets have gradually recovered from a brutal spring, some folks who were on track to retire may be thinking about staying on the job – or going back.

The Motley Fool blog offers some tips on how to get your retirement back on track, without necessarily having to go back to your old job.

“Rejoining the workforce is one option, but it doesn’t appeal to everyone,” the blog explains. “Those at a higher risk for COVID-19 may not feel comfortable exposing themselves to others who may have the illness, and even retirees who want to work may not be able to find a job with so many businesses shuttered or closed for good,” the Motley Fool adds.

If you’re retired, and your savings have been negatively impacted, try to cut back on spending, the blog advises.

“Limit the amount you spend on dining out, entertainment, and travel. Ask yourself before every purchase whether you actually need to buy that item or if you just want it,” the blog advises. Other money-saving tips include using reward points and cash-back options, taking advantage of sales, and making use of senior discounts, the blog notes.

An additional tip is to “rethink your plans for retirement.”

“Consider shortening or skipping planned vacations and avoid big-ticket purchases unless they’re absolutely necessary. Retirement will be less expensive without these costly purchases in your budget, and you can use the money you were planning to spend on trips to cover your basic expenses,” the Motley Fool suggests.

If you don’t (or can’t) go back to your old job, consider a “side hustle that doesn’t require a lot of work,” the blog states.

Rent out a spare room, or a parking spot. See if you can walk neighbour’s dogs for a few bucks. Become a house-sitter. “Think about what skills you possess or what jobs you might like to do and how to market yourself. Word of mouth and social media can be a good starting point,” the blog notes.

The last tranche of advice is aimed at American readers, but basically, the idea is to see if you qualify for any retirement benefits from the government. A drop in your income from your retirement savings might mean an increase in benefits like Old Age Security (OAS), which can be “clawed back” for higher-income earners.

“When you’re living on a fixed income, every dollar matters. These strategies may not all appeal to you, but try the ones that do to see what difference they can make,” the blog concludes.

One of the great features of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is the fact that you can receive a lifetime pension via an annuity. The plan has several annuity options you can choose from. While many Canadian retirees worry about living on income from fluctuating investments, an annuity means you’ll get the same payment every month for as long as you live, regardless of whether the markets go up or down. And you can choose an annuity that provides security for your beneficiaries as well. It’s just another way SPP builds security into your retirement.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Dreams can be realized if you put the work in, book suggests

A glance at the title on the Indigo website – How to Retire Debt-Free & Wealthy – made this writer decide to add Christine Ibbotson’s book to our retirement library. What else, after all, could anyone want from their retirement?  What’s great about this book is that it illustrates the path you need to take to get there, and uses dozens of different anecdotal/testimonial trails to illustrate the key points.

Ibbotson starts by noting that “very few clients (she is a licensed financial and investment advisor, estate planner and tax specialist) entering retirement will want to compromise their current lifestyles, but will find it difficult to live on less income, especially if they still have a mortgage or outstanding debt.”

That’s seminal retirement advice, and the book builds on it.

A key part of the book is her five-step methodology to establishing what she calls “your core plan.”  Step one is debt elimination, she writes. No easy way out – the best step is to target one of your debts with extra payments, pay it off, and then go after the others. “Once all the debt is paid, you can use these new-found funds to start a savings program towards investing,” she says.

The second idea is one we’ve not seen before, specifically the idea that your “mortgage amortization should match the years left to your retirement.”

“If you are now 45, the amortization on your mortgage should be 20 years,” she explains. Why this idea is so smart is that it basically guarantees you will retire without a mortgage, which is usually the largest debt we Canadians carry. Carrying a mortgage when you have less money (because you are retired) is not always a lot of fun.

Other ideas in the five-step plan are to set up a daily cash journal and track all expenses (so you know where every nickel of your money is going), determining your total debt-servicing ratio, and to “explore ways to increase your wealth” once debt is out of the picture.

In one of the many examples in the book, 50-somethings “Tracie and Kyle” are able to get out of a debt quagmire by tracking and then dramatically slashing their discretionary spending, enabling them to live on one salary. Then, both added side gigs, their debts were addressed and eliminated, and their turnaround resulted in an education plan for the kids and retirement savings for themselves.

The experience turned great spenders “into great savers,” the book declares.

For those who can’t imagine becoming savers, the book has a chapter just for you on “Ways to Save Every Day.” Do your own house cleaning and cut your own lawn. Do small repairs yourself. Cut back on phone and cable. Bundle services where you can. Buy second hand. Drive your car longer.  Cut back on expensive memberships. Buy generic brands. Buy in bulk, and shop when there are sales. There are many more tips like these in this well-thought-out volume.

There’s even advice on the tricky problem of making your money last in retirement. Ibbotson suggests when you are retired, there will be a “honeymoon phase” for the first five years of retirement, followed by the middle age of retirement (years six to 20) and the “long-term” phase, 20 years and beyond.

Use your unregistered savings for the first phase as much as you can. Start tapping into RRSPs, pensions, and government benefits in phase two. By phase three you will need income from your RRIFs and fixed-income investments, which you will have been “laddering” in phases one and two.

This great little book is well worth adding to your collection.  If, like the book suggests, you are banking on retiring more than 20 years from now, it’s probably well past time to start putting away money for retirement. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers you a choice of a Balanced Fund or Diversified Income Fund for your contributions. Be sure to check out SPP today!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

Retiring later means more experience and skills stay in the workforce: Prof. Donna Wilson

A wide-reaching report by University of Alberta Professor Donna Wilson reveals some compelling facts about retirement – including the idea that working to or even beyond traditional retirement age may make sense for many of us.

Reached by Save with SPP in Edmonton, Prof. Wilson, who teaches in the Faculty of Nursing, says the “whole idea of Freedom 55, and that wonderful retirement with big vacations, is a fantasy.”

“The reality of retirement is quite different,” she explains. Sixty-four is the median age of retirement in 2020. “A year ago, it was 63, the year before it was 62, and the year before that it was 61,” she notes. “This is a massive shift – more and more people are not retiring early, and that fact is not widely recognized.”

Many are working longer because they simply lack the retirement savings or workplace pensions to be able to afford to retire, she explains. Prof. Wilson points to European studies that see a lot of people still on the job there to age 68, 69, or even 70.

“In Europe, they have worker shortages and an aging population – open jobs that can’t be filled,” she notes. Yet, often “highly qualified people” are lured into retirement because of the terms of their workplace pension plans, and are leaving work when they still have a lot to offer.

“Many pensions are based on age and years of service, such as the 85 factor. When you hit that factor, many people say `I’m outta here,’” she explains.

Prof. Wilson says Canada should seriously look at modernizing its retirement systems to align better with the reality of people wanting to work or needing to work later.

Early retirees can find they are barely making ends meet in retirement, and “a lot end up going back to work. Finances are a huge part of it but many are not prepared to be cut off from their jobs and the people they work with,” she says.

The current pandemic crisis may offer some of us “a taste of what it (retirement) could be like,” she says. “You are stuck at home, you are lonely and bored, you’d love a nice trip overseas but you can’t go.”

Prof. Wilson says that with age 64 being the current median retirement age, it means half retire before that age and the rest after it. While it’s true that some folks may have health problems and truly need to retire at a younger age, most others don’t. What can be done to keep their experience and skills in the workforce?

The professor has spent time working in Ireland, which – like Alberta – has had a boom and bust cycle in its economy. When the economy is booming, “immigration is up, there are lots of jobs, housing prices rise – and then there’s a crash, and no jobs.”

Her Irish experience found that there are many “practical, concrete things” managers can do to retain older workers, most rooted in more open communication.

“When an employee is 55 or 60, and it is time for their annual review, the boss should say `we hope you don’t think you should retire,’” so the employee feels valued and needed, the professor points out.

Similarly, “if someone becomes a grandparent, they often retire to spend more time with that grandchild. Why couldn’t the boss say `wow, how nice, do you need to work half time or do you want a few weeks off to help with the new baby?’” By being accommodating about older workers’ needs to take care of grandchildren, but maybe also ill spouses or parents, managers could offer reduced hours and leaves, Prof. Wilson explains.

HR departments, she adds, ought to consider offering health and wellness programs to help retain older workers. “There’s a lot more (employers) can do to be more proactive, and positive about older people to avoid the ingrained ageism that is out there,” she says.

Ageism is a two-faceted problem, Prof. Wilson explains. First, younger people can treat their elders with a sort of disdain, assuming they can’t hear as well, see as well, or work as hard. And, worse, there’s “self-ageism,” where older folks tend to sell themselves short.

Ageism is a myth. Recalling the old Participaction commercials from years ago, Prof. Wilson notes that a 60-year-old today could be in much better physical shape than someone half their age.

We thank Prof. Wilson for taking the time to talk with Save with SPP. Here’s a link to her research.

Flexibility is important with any retirement savings program. If you plan to work later than age 65, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan allows you to delay the start of your retirement to age 71. At that point, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of income options. Be sure to check out SPP today.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

JUL 27: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

Life without savings “difficult, but not impossible,” experts say

Like many things in life, such as quitting smoking or losing weight, saving for retirement – even though it is good for us – is often difficult to do.

Jobs aren’t as plentiful these days, household debt is at record highs, and there just isn’t always a lot of cash for putting aside long term.

But what kind of retirement will people who can’t or didn’t save face when they’re older?

According to a recent article in MoneySense, life without retirement savings (or a workplace plan) is “difficult, but not impossible.”

Canadians who have worked and paid into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) can, in 2020, expect a maximum annual pension of “$1,176 per month – that’s $14,112 per year,” the article notes. However, the writers warn, not all of us will have worked long enough (and made enough contributions) to get the maximum.

“The average CPP retirement pension recipient currently receives $697 per month, or $8,359 per year. That’s only about 59 per cent of the maximum,” reports MoneySense

You can start getting CPP as early as 60 or as late as 70, and the longer you wait, the more you get, the article notes.

All Canadian residents – even those who don’t qualify for CPP – can qualify for Old Age Security (OAS). If you don’t remember paying into OAS, don’t worry – you didn’t directly pay for it via contributions. Instead, the OAS is paid from general tax revenues.

“A lifetime or long-time Canadian resident may receive up to $614 per month at age 65 as of the third quarter of 2020, which is $7,362 annualized. OAS is adjusted quarterly based on inflation,” MoneySense reports. 

There’s another government program that’s beneficial for lower-income retirees, MoneySense notes. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) “is a tax-free monthly benefit payable to OAS pensioners with low incomes. Single retirees whose incomes are below $18,600 excluding OAS may receive up to $916 per month, or $10,997 per year, as of the third quarter of 2020.”

What’s the bottom line? Someone qualifying for any or all of these programs can receive up to $23,721 per year, with “little to no tax required” per the rules of your province or territory.

The article notes that those saving $10,000 before retirement could add $25 to $33 a month to that total. Those saving $50,000 could see an additional $125 to $167 a month, and those putting away $100,000 will have $250 to $330 more per month.

The takeaway from all of this is quite simple – if you are expecting a generous retirement from CPP, OAS, and GIS, you may be in for a surprise. It’s not going to be a huge amount of income, but it’s a reasonable base.

If you’re eligible for any sort of retirement benefit from work, sign up. You won’t miss the money deducted from your pay after a while and your savings will quietly grow.

If there is no retirement program at work, set up your own using the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Start small, with contributions you can afford. Dial up your contributions every time you get a raise. With this “set it and forget it” approach, you’ll have your own retirement income to bolster that provided by government, which will give you a little more security in life after work.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

What are the best ways to teach your kids about saving?

Many of us boomers were good at ignoring the great financial advice given to us by our more successful parents. That meant we had to learn about personal finance in the School of Hard Knocks, and may explain why most of us now owe $1.70 for every dollar we earn.

Great steps are being taken to ensure the upcoming set of young Canadians get schooled a bit about money; CNN recently reported on Ontario’s plans for financial literacy classes in the primary grades.

Save with SPP had a look around the “information highway” for some thoughts on what the top things we parents should be tell our kids and grandkids about managing money.  The folks at the Homeownership.ca blog offers a few tips from noted financial author Gordon Pape. First, Pape tells the blog, talk about money, and be open about it with the kids. Why let them grow up “in a world of ignorance” when you can instead honestly answer their money questions? The second tip is to avoid trying to teach them things you don’t know about, and to make the learning fun – make it more of a game.

Yahoo! Finance Canada adds a few more ideas. “Encourage teens to get jobs and earn money,” the site advises. “Help your children open a bank account. Show your kids how to map out a budget.” Other ideas here include using a glass jar as a piggy bank, so the young ones can see their savings grow, and talking to kids about how credit cards work.

The federal government has some ideas to share about money also (no snickering). Lead by example and use your own credit wisely, the site suggests. “If your teens see you using credit wisely, they may be more likely to follow your example,” the site adds. The key messages for younger credit users is that credit is not income – it is borrowed money that has to eventually be paid back. As well, the site notes, “if they repay the full amount they spent each month, they won’t need to pay interest.”

These last points are key, and something many of us either don’t know or don’t really want to hear. A line of credit or a credit card is a convenient way of borrowing money from a lender. While you can access money from these sources just as you would from a bank account – you can tap to pay, you can pull bills out of a machine – what is less visible is the cost of that borrowing.

Years ago, the federal government mandated credit card companies to show how many years it would take to pay off a credit card if you pay only the minimum amount. That’s another good thing to show the younger set!

If you are teaching your kids about saving, and they are old enough to start a retirement savings account, a nice option is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Younger people have a huge savings advantage – they may be 40 or more years away from retirement. That’s four decades for every invested dollar to grow. So starting young on retirement savings will pay off generously farther down the line.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

JUL 20: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

Canucks doing better than we think at retirement saving: report

It’s somewhat rare to see a headline saying Canadians are on track for retirement saving, but that’s the key point of new research from HEC Montreal’s Retirement and Savings Institute.

The study, funded by the Global Risk Institute, was featured in a recent Benefits Canada article.

The positive news – “more than 80 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 64 are prepared for retirement and the vast majority have a high probability of being prepared,” the magazine notes.

According to the research, which was conducted featuring a large sample of more than 17,000 Canadians, those who are the best prepared are those whose household earnings are below the national median, and “those covered by pension plans,” Benefits Canada notes.

Those who are in the worst shape – somewhat surprisingly – are “upper-middle earners without retirement savings,” the magazine reports, adding that CPP and QPP improvements may benefit that segment of the population down the road.

The authors of the study used what they called a “new stochastic retirement income calculator,” which unlike many calculators, models “the evolution of private savings, accounting for individual and aggregate risk; taxation of savings, including capital gains; employer pensions; a realistic stochastic modelling of work income; the value of housing; and debt dynamics.”

So for those, like us, who got lost at “stochastic,” it seems that this calculation takes into account risk, taxation, future work income, housing prices and levels of debt when calculating what one actually needs to maintain the same standard of living in the life after work.

That calculation showed that on average, participants would have 104.6 per cent of the net income they need, once they are retired, to maintain their pre-retirement living costs.

We can share a personal experience here. When the head of our household decided to get an estimate of what her pension from work would be, she was at first a little dismayed to see that the gross annual pension income – despite 35 years of membership in her workplace plan – was lower than what she was making at work. But when she looked at the net, after-tax income, or take-home pay, it was actually higher. It’s because she’s paying less income tax, no longer making pension contributions, and no longer paying into CPP and EI. That all makes a big difference on the bottom line.

So, the authors of the study conclude, “on average, if (Canadians) retire at the age they intend to, maintain their saving and debt payment strategies and convert all of their financial wealth into income, Canadians have net income in retirement which is higher than their pre-retirement income.”

The reason for the high numbers may be that for those making at or below the median income  “are well covered by the public system even if they have no savings or [registered pension plan] coverage,” the authors of the report state in the Benefits Canada piece. It’s those with income above the median and who also lack workplace pensions – about 15 per cent of Canadians – who need to worry, the article concludes.

If you don’t have a retirement program through work, and don’t really want to take on saving and investing on your own, an excellent option is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. The plan will invest your contributions at a very low investment cost, thanks to the fact the SPP is not operated on a “for profit” basis. Since its inception in the late 1980s the SPP has grown the savings of its members at an average annual rate of eight per cent. And when the time come for you to convert those savings into a lifetime income, the SPP has flexible annuity options to turn your hard-saved dollars into a lifetime income stream.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

A little planning today will benefit your loved ones when you’re gone

We often focus most of our planning on things like building wealth, paying off debt, transitioning to retirement, and taking care of ourselves physically and mentally.

All these worthy projects should be joined by another – estate planning. It’s important to think about what your loved ones will need once you’re gone.

Save with SPP took a look around the Interweb to see what the experts advise about estate planning for Canadians.

At the Advice for Investors blog, the main tips are having an updated will, naming powers of attorney and jointly holding assets.  The blog cites a recent RBC study that found that only half of Canadians had a will and “one in three had done nothing at all to prepare for passing on wealth to the next generation.”

Without a will, the blog warns, “provincial bureacrats will determine how the estate is distributed,” rather than you. Having powers of attorney in place for legal/financial matters and health will be of critical importance should you suddenly lose the ability to manage your own affairs, the blog notes.

And when you make your assets joint with your spouse, “the interests of a deceased owner automatically gets transferred to the remaining surviving owners,” the blog notes.

The MoneySense blog adds in a few more ideas – life insurance, the idea of giving away money to family while you are still alive and setting up trusts for kids and grandkids.

Insurance, notes Lorne Marr of LSM Insurance in the MoneySense blog, “may be used as an estate planning tool – an opportunity to leave a legacy or pay taxes so your heirs don’t have to.” The article suggests insurance is best taken out at a young age, when your health is at its best. You should buy enough insurance to cover all your debts and replace what you earn, the article notes.

Giving gifts to adult children while you are still alive “may reduce the overall tax burden on your estate when you die,” notes Lawrence Pascoe, an Ottawa attorney, in the MoneySense article. “Gifting money is a good way to help out your kids while you’re still alive and can watch them enjoy it,” he states in the article.

For younger kids, the article notes, you can set up a trust account that provides them with income at a later age. “You can stipulate what the funds can be used for, such as educational expenses, a new home, retirement savings,” the article notes.

The Manulife Financial website devotes an entire web page to one thing – beneficiary designation for insurance and/or a retirement plan.

If you don’t name a beneficiary – or name minor children as one – your estate may get tied up in probate, the article warns. In some provinces your spouse is automatically your beneficiary – check before you sign, the article suggests. If there’s a way to name a contingent beneficiary – someone to pay out the assets to if your chosen beneficiary dies before the payout – do so. And be sure to review your beneficiary designations regularly, the article concludes.

If you’re a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan you can look after your survivors in several ways. Your SPP beneficiary will receive any assets in your account if you die before collecting a pension and a variety of different options are available for your spouse and beneficiary upon your death after retirement. Check out SPP today.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

JUL 13: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

Pandemic a bigger challenge to retirement saving than Great Recession: report

Unless all your retirement savings are invested in low-risk securities like GICs or government bonds, you’ve probably spent a lot of time watching the pendulum swings in the market since March.

A new report from Fidelity Investments Canada says it’s clear that today’s pandemic-influenced markets are worse for savers than the shaky markets of the “2008-2009 Great Financial Crisis.”

“Data shows Canadians near and in retirement are more negatively impacted by COVID-19 than the Great Financial Crisis,” states Peter Bowen, Vice-President, Tax and Retirement Research in a media release from Fidelity. “However, we are in this together and there is help. By seeking financial advice and writing down an action plan, Canadians can feel better and navigate the uncertainty,” he states in the release.

The data was gathered for Fidelity Canada’s annual Retirement 20/20 survey, which gathered data from Canadians “already in and approaching retirement.”

Here are some of the key findings mentioned in the media release:

  • 40 per cent of retirees reported “a negative outlook on their life in retirement,” the worst score in this category since 2014.
  • 40 per cent said their earnings had decreased owing to the pandemic, and 50 per cent said that fact, in turn, means they are “reducing the amount of money they are able to save.”
  • Those (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.”
  • Eighty-five per cent of those with a plan said they worked with an advisor.

What’s different about this market rollback from the 2008-09 crisis?

According to Nicolas Samaan of Manulife, interviewed by Wealth Professional, this crisis has a different element to it.

“You’ve seen on LinkedIn people posting about losing their job and people helping each other,” Samaan tells Wealth Professional. “You see that human interaction, not just financially but in general, people making sure others are okay.

“It’s more about wellness – that is so much more important. I’ve always said to people, if you don’t have the health to do your (personal projects), it’s not going to work. In that sense, this crash was very different than what we’ve seen in the past,” he states in the article.

Samaan is right. The last crisis was scary but on a strictly economic basis – will banks fail, will the economy tank? This one has the overlay of a worldwide health crisis – will we find a way to cope with, or become immune from, this virus, and will the economy be able to hold on until that happens?

Picking stocks when markets are uncertain is not something for the faint of heart. Having professionals handle the investing is especially valuable at times like these. It’s nice to realize that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan has averaged an eight per cent rate of return since its inception in the 1980s, a period of time that included the Tech Wreck in 2000-2001 and the Great Financial Crisis a decade or so ago. The pros can make adjustments when markets take an unexpected turn, and can look at alternative ways to grow your money. Check out the SPP today.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

The CAAT is out of the bag – any employer can now join established “modern DB” plan

We often hear how scarce good workplace pensions are, and how many employers, notably those in the private sector, have given up on offering them altogether.

But, according to Derek Dobson, CEO and Plan Manager of the Colleges of Arts and Technology (CAAT) Pension Plan, there is an option for any Canadian employer that doesn’t want to go through the effort and expense of managing a pension plan for their employees. That option is CAAT’s DBplus plan.

Dobson tells Save with SPP that there are three main themes as to why some employers – with or without their own pension plan – might want to look at DBplus.

Running what is called a “single employer” defined benefit (DB) plan means the risk of ensuring there’s enough money invested to cover the promised benefits rests on the shoulders of one employer. In a multi-employer plan, however, many employers are there to shoulder the load – the risk is shared.

As well, he notes, it might be a chance to upgrade pension benefits. “A lot of organizations want to have access to something better for their people… some employers offer nothing, or a group RRSP. Now they can move to a modern DB plan,” Dobson explains. One study by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (see this prior Save with SPP post) found that most Canadians would take a job with a good pension over one that pays more, Dobson notes.

A final benefit, he says, is the ability that DBplus has to move all employees to a common retirement benefit platform. “In many organizations, you may find that one group of employees has nothing, one has a defined contribution plan, others have a DB plan that is now closed to new entrants… DB plus allows you to put everyone on the same platform,” he says.

Noting that another large pension plan – Ontario’s OPSEU Pension Trust – has launched a similar program for non-profit organizations, Dobson says the idea of leveraging existing pension plans to deliver pensions to those lacking good coverage “is great…the long and the short of it is that there’s a general belief that these larger plans want to put up their hands to help where they can.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” he says.

Why are pensions so important?

Dobson points out some key reasons. “The average person these days will live to age 90, and on average, they retire at age 64 or 65,” he explains. “That’s 25 years in retirement. So having a secure, predictable income, one with inflation protection and survivor pensions, and that is not being delivered for a profit motive – that’s why these plans are so powerful.”

Another great thing about opening up larger plans to new employers is that it addresses the problem of “pension envy,” Dobson says. Instead of pointing out who has a good pension and who doesn’t, now “everyone has access to one, to the same standard.”

Those without a pension have issues to face when they’re older, he warns. “The Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security systems weren’t designed to be someone’s only source of income,” he explains. “We had a three-pillar system in the past – CPP, OAS, and the third pillar, your workplace pension plan and your private savings,” Dobson says. But a large percentage of Canadians don’t have pensions at work, and a recent study by Dr. Robert Brown found that the median RRSP savings of someone approaching retirement age is just “$2,000 to $3,000,” Dobson says. Yet the same study found Canadians are willing to try and save 10 to 20 per cent of their income for retirement.

Dobson says he is energized by the goal of bringing pensions to more Canadians. “It’s a way of making Canada better,” he concludes.

Here’s a video about how the CAAT pension plan delivers on benefit security.

We thank Derek Dobson for taking the time to speak to Save with SPP.

If you don’t have a workplace pension, or the one you have offers only modest benefits, don’t forget the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP allows you to decide what your savings rate will be, grows those dollars at a very low management rate, and can convert the proceeds to a variety of lifetime pensions when you retire. Check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

JUL 6: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

New research from the World Economic Forum, reported by Corporate Advisor, suggests the “savings gap” between what we should set aside for retirement, and what we actually have, is on track for monumental growth.

“Globally, experts are concerned many people could be sleepwalking into retirement poverty. The World Economic Forum (WEF) highlighted that the gap between what people save and what is needed for an adequate standard of living in retirement will create a financial black hole for younger generations,” the Advisor’s Emma Simon reports.

The WEF looked at the some of the world’s largest pension markets, including Canada, the U.K., Australia, the U.S., the Netherlands, China, India and Japan, and concluded “the gap” could reach a staggering $400 trillion U.S. in 30 years.

But, the article says, there is still time to do something to avert a crisis.

“With ageing populations putting increasing pressure on global pension and retirement plans, employees, employers and governments need to take more responsibility and act to prioritise pensions and savings,” Simon explains.

Countries around the world have done some interesting things to boost retirement savings.

In the U.K., the article notes, “automatic enrolment” was rolled out in 2012. This means that new employees are automatically signed up for their workplace pension plan, with an option to opt out. Thanks to this, there are 10 million more pension plan members in the U.K., although there are concerns about 9.3 million who aren’t in plans because they were too old for auto-enrolment, the article explains.

In Australia, the Superannuation fund system was made mandatory “in 1992 for all employees older than 17 and younger than 70 earning more than $450 (AUD) a month.” So this means everyone is saving on their own – but with the current maximum contribution of 9.5 per cent (soon to rise to 12 per cent), there are questions as to whether they are saving enough.

A Benefits Canada article from a couple of years ago raised the same question – are Canadians saving enough for retirement on their own? While Canadians had accumulated an impressive-sounding $40.4 billion in RRSPs as of 2016, the article notes that the median contribution annually was just $3,000.

As of 2018, reports the Boomer & Echo blog, the average Canadian RRSP was an impressive sounding $101,155. But if someone handed you $100 grand and then said “live off this for 30 years in retirement,” it wouldn’t sound quite so great.

There’s no question that saving needs to be encourage in Canada and around the world. The Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security both provide a pretty modest benefit, and most of us don’t have a workplace pension. So steps should be taken to encourage more access to pensions, to look at increases to government benefits, and to encourage more saving.

If you don’t have a workplace pension plan, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be just what you’re looking for. The SPP is a defined contribution plan. You can contribute up to $6,300 a year, and your contributions are carefully invested at a very low fee. When the day comes that work is no longer a priority, the money you’ve accumulated through growth and ongoing contributions can be converted to a lifetime pension. Check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.