Dr. David Knox

Nov 15: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

November 15, 2021

Canadian pension system earns a “B” rating

Canada’s pension system stacks up reasonably well against those of other developed countries, reports Wealth Professional.

The magazine cites new research from the Mercer CFA Global Pension Index, research that covered pension systems that served “65 per cent of the world’s population,” and notes that Canada retained its prior “B” rating.

“Ranked for adequacy, sustainability, and integrity, Iceland came top … with an overall score of 84.2, followed by the Netherlands (83.5) and Denmark (82.0),” Wealth Professional reports.

Canada, the magazine reports, came in at 69.8, putting it “ahead of countries including the U.S. (61.4), Germany (67.9) and New Zealand (67.4).”

So while “B” is not bad, there is still work to be done, the magazine article continues. A higher overall savings rate (thanks to COVID) and economic growth help, but there are still issues that need to be addressed, the magazine adds.

“While COVID-19 had a disproportionate impact on the retirement savings of certain groups, such as women, gender gaps in retirement savings have long existed,” Scott Clausen, a Mercer Canada partner, tells Wealth Professional. “Employers are encouraged to review the design of their pension plans, as well as other compensation programs, to ensure that they are not unconsciously disadvantaging women in their workforce,” he states in the article.

The article points out that “most of the Canadian workforce are left to save for their pension themselves rather than through workplace schemes.”

Clausen tells Wealth Professional that this shortfall in coverage represents an opportunity for the country.

“Employers can provide a pension to their employees, while delegating the governance and administration responsibilities to a third party, by joining a collective defined benefit pension plan or by providing an outsourced defined contribution pension plan,” he states in the article.

Making it easier for women to save is something that pension systems in Canada and worldwide need to improve on, says Mercer’s Dr. David Knox. He tells Wealth Professional “the world cannot sit idle as data shows that poverty among older people is more prevalent for women.”

He suggests making it easier for individuals to join pension plans generally, as well as adding some sort of pension credit system that factors in time spent caring “for the young and the old.” Decades ago, it was quite common for most employers to offer some sort of pension plan for their employees. Over the years, the level of coverage has slipped.

The bottom line is this – if there’s any sort of pension arrangement at your place of work, be sure to join and contribute to the maximum. After a while, like any benefit deducted from your paycheque, you won’t notice money being put away for your future.

If there isn’t a plan to join at work, the responsibility for retirement saving has been shifted onto your shoulders. If you’re not sure how to go about the job of saving, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be an answer. SPP will invest the money you contribute – professionally, and at a low rate – and then can convert your nest egg to retirement income down the road. This do-it-yourself pension plan has been getting it done for an impressive 35 years. 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.


Dec 23: Best from the blogosphere

December 23, 2019

Canada’s pension system cracks the world’s top 10 – but there’s room for improvement

When it comes to government retirement benefits for its citizens, Canada is certainly world class.

According to The Wealth Professional, Canada has the ninth best pension system among 37 developed countries – this due to a recent ranking by the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index.

However, Dr. David Knox, author of the study, sees a few problems for Canada, despite its relatively high standing.

“Systems around the world are facing unprecedented life expectancy and rising pressure on public resources to support the health and welfare of older citizens. It’s imperative that policy makers reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their systems to ensure stronger long-term outcomes for the retirees of the future,” he states in the article.

One of the problems in having a system where retirement savings plans are looked upon as “wealth,” rather than a pot of money earmarked for the future, is that people tend to dip into the account early, Dr. Knox tells The Wealth Professional.

In plainer terms, people look at their retirement savings account, which may contain tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, and dip into it. That’s because, the article advises, “people feel more financially secure and are more likely to borrow (from) their retirement savings pre-retirement.”

Having those relatively fat retirement savings accounts also makes people more comfortable with debt, Dr. Knox states in the article.

“As the wealth of an individual grows, whether it be in home ownership, investment portfolios or their retirement savings, so does their comfort with amassing debt. The evidence suggests on a global basis, for every extra dollar a person has in pension assets, their net household debt rises by just under 50 cents.”

There’s another problem, the story notes. While Canadians have amassed a lot in retirement savings, there seems to be a discrepancy between the amount saved, and what they will actually need to fund their golden years.

“Canada currently has a US $2.5 trillion gap between existing retirement savings and future retirement needs,” states Jean-Philippe Provost of Mercer Canada in the article. “This gap reflects not only demographic forces, but also the combination of limited access to corporate pension plans for workers and a challenging long-term investment environment. Women are particularly affected by this savings gap,” he tells The Wealth Professional.

So the two takeaways here are this – try to avoid dipping into your retirement savings before you have retired, and be aware that you’ll need to save more than you have saved thus far.

The Saskatchewan Pension Plan has one-little heralded feature that prevents cookie jar raids. Funds contributed to SPP are “locked in,” meaning that you can’t access them until you start your retirement. Your retirement cookie jar remains sealed until that wonderful day when, freed from the bonds of work, you want to turn those savings into retirement income. 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