Tag Archives: Benefits Canada

NOV 16: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

Pandemic’s a worry for Canadians, and impacting their ability to save: survey

New research from CIBC and Maru/Blue finds that 40 per cent of Canucks are worried about how the pandemic will affect “their retirement and savings plans,” reports Wealth Professional.

Also alarming – 23 per cent of those surveyed have “been unable to contribute to their retirement plans since the pandemic began,” the magazine reports.

There are also subtle additional ways the pandemic may impact future retirements, Wealth Professional notes, again citing the survey’s findings. Thirty per cent of Canadians surveyed believe they will have to work longer than they originally had planned, and 32 per cent don’t think they’ll do as much travelling in retirement as they had hoped, the magazine reports.

This level of pessimism around retirement has not been seen since 2014, the article adds.

Other learnings from the pandemic include:

  • 20 per cent say they are paying more attention to their personal finances
  • 21 per cent say they “won’t panic when markets become volatile”
  • 19 per cent agree it is “important to save for retirement/their future”
  • 26 per cent feel the pandemic has “significantly increased the cost of retiring”
  • 24 per cent now feel they can live with less and will reduce discretionary spending

The amount needed for a comfortable retirement is, according to Wealth Professional, “10.9 times their final pay to maintain the same spendable income after retirement.” The magazine cites findings from actuarial firm Aon for this figure.

These figures are certainly not surprising. Many Canadians have had their income slashed, are receiving benefits, and have deferred repayment of mortgages as we all try to tough out the pandemic.

It’s encouraging that nearly 20 per cent of us – despite being downtrodden by the pandemic – still see the value of setting aside whatever they can today to benefit themselves in the future.

Another part of the equation, of course, is living on the retirement savings – the so-called decumulation side, where all the money you’ve piled up is turned into what you live on in retirement.

According to Benefits Canada, Canadians need to think about how to make their retirement income last.

“We’ve had a number of tax rules and pension rules based on the age of 65 and that made a lot of sense years ago, but the issue is now, once you hit 65, you can live to 87 or even longer,” states economist Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary in the article.

“I think we need to allow people to put more money in tax-sheltered savings. I would like to see an increase in pension limits and [tax-free savings account] limits in order to help people save more for the future. I’d also like to see more rules around [registered retirement income funds], when you have to withdraw money out of your retirement accounts… to provide more flexibility,” Mintz states in the article.

These are solid ideas for making retirement savings last longer, and for helping Canadians accumulate even more savings than they have at present. If you are looking for a place to stash cash for your retirement future – a place where your savings will be professionally invested at a very low rate – look no further than the Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP). The SPP has an impressive rate of return of nearly eight per cent since its launch nearly 35 years ago. And if money is tight today, you can start small and gear up when better times return. Take the time to click over and check them out.

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 big funds doing about investments during the pandemic?

Photo credited to: Chris Liverani

The pension industry has a big footprint.

With the top 300 pension funds around the world managing an eye-popping $19.5 trillion (U.S.) in assets – and with quite a few of those funds being Canadian-based – Save with SPP decided to take a look around to see what our own country’s pension leaders are saying about investment markets.

With $409.6 billion in assets, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is the nation’s largest pension fund. CPPIB has identified four sectors of the economy it thinks will grow in the near future – e-commerce, healthcare, logistics (aka shipping/receiving) and urban infrastructure.

CPPIB expects “massive changes” in those areas, CPPIB’s Leon Pederson tells Tech Crunch. And while CPPIB invests for the long-term, the four areas identified by their research might “indicate where the firm sees certain industries going, but it’s also a sign of where CPPIB might commit some investment capital,” the magazine reports.

The $205-billion Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) saw small losses in the first half of 2020, reports Bloomberg.

“Some of our hardest hit investments were among our private assets. Heavily-impacted segments were leisure and travel, including our five airports, and assets where consumer spending declined, which is our shopping malls and Cadillac Fairview,” OTPP’s CEO, Jo Taylor, states in the article.

However, losses were cushioned by the plan’s strong fixed-income returns, the article notes – in all, $7.9 million in income from its bond portfolio helped OTPP limit losses.

The $94.1 billion Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan’s (HOPP) CEO, Jeff Wendling, recently told Benefits Canada that the plan is considering looking at some new investment categories as it pursues its “liability driven investing” strategy. With a liability driven investing strategy, the investment target is not beating stock market indexes, but ensuring there is always enough money to cover every current and future dollar owed to pensioners.

“We’re very focused on liabilities, but what you do when interest rates are at really extreme lows, in our view, is different than what we did in the past,” he states in the article. HOOPP, he adds, is now looking at infrastructure investing, insurance-linked securities, and increased equity exposure to generate income traditionally provided by bonds.

Large pension plans like CPPIB, OTPP and HOOPP have enjoyed a lot of success over the years. The takeaway for the average investor is that the large scale of these plans allow them to do things the average person can’t – like directly owning businesses (private equity), or shopping centres and offices (real estate) in addition to traditional stock and fixed-income investments. The big guys are taking advantage of diversification in their holdings, and so perhaps should we all.

Individuals and workplaces can leverage the investment expertise of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Its Balanced Fund is invested in Canadian, U.S. and international equities, bonds, mortgages, and real estate, infrastructure and short-term investments. And the fund has averaged an eight* per cent rate of return since its inception in the mid-1980s. Check them out today.

*Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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.

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.

JUN 15: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

60 per cent of pension plan members report barriers to retirement saving

New research from Benefits Canada magazine shows that even folks who are in retirement plans say they’re finding barriers to saving – all thanks to the impacts from the pandemic.

The magazine’s annual CAP (capital accumulation plan) Member Survey was carried during the start of the crisis, from March 30 to April 1.

A capital accumulation plan is any type of savings vehicle where members put in money – sometimes matched by the employer – over their working lives. At the end of work, the total amount saved for retirement is then either paid out to them via an annuity, drawn down from a special locked-in RRIF, or a combination of both.

The folks at Benefits Canada asked people in these types of plans how the pandemic was affecting their spending and saving habits.

The research found that Canadians “are continuing to juggle their financial priorities. More than half (54 per cent) of CAP members are prioritizing day-to-day expenses, followed by paying the mortgage or rent (47 per cent), paying off personal debt (38 per cent), enhancing personal savings (34 per cent) and saving for retirement (28 per cent),” the magazine reports.

A fairly low number of respondents – 41 per cent – “described their current financial situation as excellent or very good,” the magazine notes. A further 40 per cent said their finances were “adequate,” but 19 per cent said things were “somewhat poor or very poor.” A whopping 60 per cent said “they’re unable to save as much as they’d like for retirement due to other financial debts, such as credit cards or student loans,” Benefits Canada reports.

Debt is definitely a barrier to saving, the magazine reports. “I think the big thing we need to start to get across to workers, savers, Canadians . . . is that having too much credit card debt is the opposite side of insufficient retirement savings,” Joe Nunes, executive chairman of Actuarial Solutions Inc., states in the article. “It comes from too much spending. We have to get better at educating people that they need to keep the spending in check to get the savings in order.”

The problem, however, is that the pandemic is making Canadian household debt even worse.

“You don’t need to be a psychic to predict that over the next weeks and months, the country will see an increase in personal bankruptcies, while household debt is going to soar,” reports Maclean’s magazine. “Well before COVID-19, there was growing concern over the country’s personal finances, with debt-to-income ratios topping 176 per cent in the third quarter of 2019, which means for that every dollar of income we earn we owe $1.76.”

With so many people off work and receiving CERB benefits, which may equal only about half of what they were making at work, credit cards and lines of credit will feel the strain, the magazine predicts.

Let’s face it – at a time when just staying healthy and avoiding COVID-19 is the new national priority, followed by keeping a roof overhead and food in the fridge, retirement saving is going to get bumped to the bottom of most people’s to-do lists.

But remember that with some capital accumulation plans, like your RRSP or your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account, you can reduce your contributions and put in what you can. If you can’t chip in what you did last year, put in less. Any contribution, however small today, will benefit you in the future, thanks to the professional investment growth it will receive over the years. You can ramp things up again when better times return.

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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Apr 27: Best from the blogosphere

The pros and cons of allowing emergency access to retirement funds

It’s been a grim time for all of us, coping with this pandemic, and Save with SPP and everyone at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan hopes everyone is staying safe.

With businesses closing, and the jobless rate rising, some experts are suggesting that raiding the retirement cookie jar be allowed – penalty-free – to help people access savings during the emergency.

Interviewed by Benefits Canada, noted pension expert and actuary Malcolm Hamilton was asked what he thought about a plan by Australia to allow folks there to withdraw up to $10,000 a year from their superannuation plans this year and next.

““It looks to me very creative and very sensible,” Hamilton, also a senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute, told the magazine. The magazine notes that the withdrawal option Down Under is open only to people “who are unemployed or who have had their working hours reduced by 20 per cent or more.”

“Telling people you’ve got to leave your money in your pension plan so you have enough money later, when you don’t have enough money now, is really stupid… who, given a choice, would elect to be hungry now instead of hungry later? You have to deal with the immediate needs first,” Hamilton tells Benefits Canada.

Other experts, the magazine reports, agree. Financial author Fred Vettese also sees the Australian policy as a good idea.

“Why not do this? What they’re doing is simply giving people access to their own money sooner. I don’t see anything wrong than that. And they’re not giving them all their money; it’s fairly limited and it’s also under fairly strict conditions,” he tells the magazine.

Other experts see downsides to allowing an early withdrawal of retirement savings.

Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald of Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing tells the magazine she is concerned that allowing emergency access to retirement funds might be “short-sighted.” (Here’s a link to an earlier Save with SPP interview with her.)

“The idea is that this will pass and, if we can get beyond it without tapping into our nest egg, then that’s the better approach because life will need to go on,” she tells the magazine.

And Hugh O’Reilly, a senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute, says people who take their money out now, at the peak of a crisis, will be effectively selling low, and will miss out when markets rebound. “I think it’s going to do it much more rapidly than in a typical bear-market scenario,” he tells Benefits Canada.

There are already a few allowable reasons – making a down payment for a home, or paying for education – where Canadians can tap into their Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) early. But in both cases, the money is supposed to be repaid, and those who don’t repay are taxed annually on what they should have repaid. And if you just withdraw RRSP money, there’s a withholding tax followed by a possible second tax hit when you file your income tax.

That all said, we have never seen times like these. Maybe the government will decide to permit withdrawals with some sort of repayment option down the road. Save with SPP worries about people taking money out of their retirement savings for other purposes and then not being able to afford to replace it, because that could lead to hardship when they are older.

One great thing about being a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is that it is an open plan. You can decide how much to put into your account, and when times are tough, you can choose to reduce or even stop contributing until better times return.

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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Mar 30: Best from the blogosphere

Is Freedom 55 changing to Freedom 70?

Younger people are, for the most part, saving away merrily for retirement. But new research from Mercer, reported on by Benefits Canada, suggests the younger set may be going about things too conservatively.

That, in turn, could force them to keep working until age 70, the article explains.

Why?

“The report found millennials often opt to invest conservatively in low-risk, short-term investments such as money market funds. Using this strategy means many younger workers may not be able to retire until they’re 70,” the magazine reports.

(Save with SPP will remark that at the time of writing, with stock markets making thousand-point daily swings, “low-risk” investments are sounding pretty good.)

However, Benefits Canada reminds us, it’s not short-term results that matter with retirement savings – it’s a long haul from being a perky young person to a grey-haired gold watch recipient. Your rate of return over the long-term, not the short-term, is what really matters.

A more balanced approach, the magazine reports – citing the Mercer findings – such as “a healthy mix of equities and bonds” could allow our millennial friends to log off for the last time as early as age 67.

Equities carry risk, the article notes, but millennials need to aim for a long-term rate of return of six per cent or better to reach retirement savings targets. “A savings rate that’s any lower than six per cent total annual combined employer and employee contributions means retirement may not be possible at all,” Benefits Canada warns.

Other retirement-limiting factors for millennials include debt, paying off student loans, and entering the expensive housing market,” the magazine notes. “Those factors make age 65 retirement very unlikely for most millennials.

It’s a similar story for the slightly older Gen X group, the article reports. Those age 45 should be trying to ensure that they contribute 17 per cent of their gross earnings (this includes their own contributions plus any employer match) towards retirement savings, the article adds.

Even boomers, who generally had better access to workplace pension plans, are going to find it hard to leave work by age 65, Benefits Canada tells us. “One factor delaying retirement age for boomers is the shift from DB to defined contribution plans, requiring a mindset shift many aren’t making, said the report. Also, employers offering less conservative investment vehicles, such as target-date funds, didn’t become commonplace until 2010, which likely proved too late for some boomers,” the article explains.

Do you see the common thread here? Those who save early in a balanced savings vehicle have a better chance of hitting their retirement goals. Those starting in their 40s need to chip in much more, and once you are 60 plus you better hope you have a pension plan at work, because your savings runway is running out of pavement.

It sounds daunting, for sure. But if you are looking for a balanced approach to saving for retirement, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan offers the Balanced Fund, which has averaged an impressive eight per cent rate of return since its inception in the 1980s. With SPP, you decide how much to contribute – you can start small when you’re young, and ramp it up as you get older. Fees are low, and the level of expertise by SPP’s investors high. 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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Feb 3: Best from the blogosphere

Many plan post-retirement work, but few actually do: RBC survey

You’re forever hearing folks who haven’t done a lot on the retirement savings front say that their retirement plan is to just keep working.

However, a recent Benefits Canada article, citing new research from RBC, brings up some interesting findings that may throw a bit of water on those “keep working” plans.

The survey asked a group of pre-retirees if they planned to keep working, either full or part-time, after they retired. Half of those surveyed said yes, they’d keep at it.

But when actual retirees were asked if they were still working, only 11 per cent “reported they actually had returned to full or part-time work,” the magazine advises us.

The pre-retirees had many reasons for planning to work after retirement, the article notes, including “staying active mentally (68 per cent) and physically (48 per cent), staving off boredom (44 per cent) and generating income (43 per cent).”

Part of the reason why people aren’t working in retirement, the article notes, may lie in the fact that retirement is not always as “planned” as people expect. More than half of the pre-retiree group (55 per cent) say they “expect to know their retirement date a year or more in advance.” But of the retirees, only 39 per cent said they knew their retirement date well in advance, with 16 per cent “reporting they had no advance notice at all.”

“We know that the majority of Canadians do not have a retirement plan, and those who do are more prepared and confident,” states RBC’s Rick Lowes in the Benefits Canada article. “A plan helps you understand all your options so you don’t have to make major trade-offs to enjoy the retirement lifestyle you desire.”

Findings in the UK, reported on by the Daily Express, reached a similar conclusion. There, “nearly two-thirds of people who retired earlier than expected said they were forced to stop working rather than choosing to leave due to no longer needing the income,” the newspaper reports.

The chief reason they stopped working early related to health or physical problems (40 per cent), followed by being “made redundant” or losing their job (18 per cent), followed by eight per cent who left work to care for a family member, the story informs us.

In the UK study, the Daily Express notes, less than one in five people (17 per cent) had sufficient savings to be able to retire earlier than they expected.

There seems to be a sort of sunny view of retirement from pre-retirees that is tempered by the experiences of actual retirees. The idea that one can pick a retirement date a year or more out, and then keep working away afterwards, seems to be challenged by the findings of research.

The majority of retirees didn’t pick a date, with some not having a choice at all. Health, losing a job, caring for a loved one all play a part in determining whether or not we can keep at it on the job front. Only 17 per cent said they had enough savings to be able to pick their own day, thanks to personal retirement piggy banks and/or pensions at work.

Most of us don’t have a pension plan at work. Saskatchewan Pension Plan, a do-it-yourself DC pension plan that handles the heavy lifting of investment and generating a lifetime pension for you. Join the 33,000 SPP members who have watched the plan generate returns of 8 per cent annually since the plan’s inception in 1986.

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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jan 27: Best from the blogosphere

US looks at making retirement plans easier for small businesses to offer

Up here in Canada, workplace pension plans are becoming scarce, especially for small, private sector employers.

It’s the same story in the USA – however, a report in Benefits Canada suggests that our friends south of the line are getting encouragement from their government to roll out more retirement programs for small business employees.

The article reports that “the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, known as the SECURE Act, won final congressional approval” late last year, and has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

One of the more interesting angles of this legislation, the magazine notes, is that it will make it easier for “small businesses to band together to offer 401(k) and other retirement plans. The option, called multiple-employer plans, lower the costs of administering a plan.”

A 401(k) is a defined contribution-like product that is similar to an RRSP. Unlike an RRSP, the 401(k) can have an employer match. So instead of each small business having to face the cost of setting up and administering its own 401(k), this new legislation would allow them to join together with other small companies to form a multi-employer plan – a plan for multiple businesses. This would greatly lower administration costs, the article notes.

As well, the old $500 credit US businesses got for starting a retirement plan has increased ten-fold to $5,000, the article reports.

It’s hoped, the article concludes, that this new legislation will increase access by companies with less than 50 employees to retirement benefits – right now, only half of them have any kind of retirement program through work.

The 401(k) program got a boost recently from Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, although it was a bit of a backhanded compliment.

In a recent interview broadcast on BNN Bloomberg, Greenspan suggested that the American equivalent to the Canada Pension Plan, Social Security, be changed from its current defined benefit mode to a 401(k) like defined contribution model.

“The source of the problem is that we have a defined-benefit program for social security…  what we need to do is go to a defined contribution program… that will put a damper on our major problem,” he says in the interview. The concern in the US is that the Social Security program, paid entirely out of tax revenue, is not sustainable for the long term.

Putting the two thoughts together, perhaps having more workplace retirement programs is a good thing if the Social Security program that backstops US retirement isn’t in the best of health. Let’s choose to focus on the good news that a federal government is making it easier for small businesses to offer retirement benefits.

If you don’t have a workplace pension plan, or you do but want to contribute even more towards your retirement, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is a logical place to start. The SPP offers the winning combination of low fees, a strong track history of growth, and the ability to convert your savings into a lifetime stream of retirement income. It’s a one-stop retirement centre – 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, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22