February 15-17, 2017
Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver
Benefits Canada is pleased to present the 18th Annual Defined Contribution Plan Summit. The DC Plan Summit is the premier annual conference in Canada for DC leaders and influencers. The Summit’s highly interactive format focuses on sharing best practices and fostering knowledge transfer through leading-edge content and audience engagement. Interactive sessions are designed to encourage delegate participation and facilitate discussion about critical DC issues. The conference will also feature domestic and international plan sponsor case studies.
DC Plans: Coming of Age
In Canada, DC plans are maturing and becoming more sophisticated than ever before. As contributions and plan assets grow, investment options are evolving. Plan membership is evolving too and many employers are now operating in multi-generational workforces with a wave of employees who are reaching retirement. These shifts in the DC world have created new challenges for employers when it comes to investments, governance, engagement and plan design. At the DC Plan Summit, join us as thought leaders, employers and academic speakers share their actionable wisdom on innovation and the coming of age of DC plans.
2017 Conference Agenda Highlights:
- Interactive Workshops
- Engaging Keynote and Academic Speakers
- Canadian, American and Australian Case Studies
- DC Investment Spotlight Presentations
- Networking Opportunities with Senior DC Decision-makers and Industry Leaders
Join the conversation: Tweet @BenCanMag #DCPlan17
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DC Plan Summit
February 15-17, 2017
Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver
(Please note this is a draft and subject to change)
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Registration and Reception
Dinner and Entertainment
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Opening Keynote: Making Data More Human
In this talk, Jer Thorp shares his beautiful and moving data visualization projects, helping audiences put abstract data into a human context. From graphing an entire year’s news cycle, to mapping the way people share articles across the internet, to the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan, Thorp’s cutting-edge visualizations use technology and data to help us learn about the way we use digital technologies, become more empathetic in the data age, and ultimately, tell the story of our lives. How can understanding the human side of data lead to innovation and effective change? What value is there in the novel and interactive approaches to data visualization? And, what are the business applications of creative data-focused research? Thorp teaches audiences how adding meaning and narrative to huge amounts of data can help people take control of the information that surrounds them, and revolutionize the way we utilize data.
Jer Thorpe, co-founder, Office for Creative Research
Income in Retirement - The Only Objective
The fundamental goal of a pension plan should be to provide confidence about income in retirement. In this presentation, Nobel laureate Professor Robert Merton shows how shifting the retirement goal of a Defined Contribution plan from a pot of money to lifetime income requires changes in how we measure both risk and plan member success. Merton will also illustrate how allocations focused on providing more certainty of future retirement income can be personalized using information readily available on most administrative systems, and focus member communications on meaningful information.
Robert C. Merton, distinguished professor of finance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
American Case Study: Enhancing Outcomes by Customizing the DC Investment Program
The world’s largest airline continued their focus on improving their U.S. 401(k) plans’ investment lineup in an effort to integrate their various plans as a result of the merger between US Airways and American Airlines. Integrating multi-billion dollar 401(k) plans with a keen eye toward enhancing retirement outcomes led to the development and implementation of a custom investment lineup including custom target date funds. The session will provide a case study on plan mergers, investment lineup development and implementation and communicating large scale plan changes to over 100,000 plan participants.
Ken Menezes, managing director, asset management, treasury department, American Airlines
Low volatility equity investing for DC
The recent research in behavioral economics may help explain why defined contribution (DC) plan members often make sub-par investment decisions. In this presentation, Tim will explore how low-volatility equity investing may help address such behavioral biases among plan members.
Tim Choe, quantitative analyst, Fidelity Investments
When the landscape changes one must evolve or potentially perish. This session will examine the current hypothesis of risk and looks to identify a path forward.
Daniel Morris, portfolio solutions manager, Schroders
11:50 a.m.-12:25 p.m.
Creating Successful DC Retirements
In this panel discussion, three plan sponsors from different industries will discuss their unique approaches to helping their DC plan members retire successfully. See how one organization uses an engaging member communication campaign to raise the bar on what and how information is provided to plan members. Another plan sponsor has continued to adjust their investment offering as the DC industry has evolved and DC plans have grown up. Learn how another organization was able to leverage their business to provide effective, low cost, income products for its retirees. While each of these organizations is unique in their approach enhancing DC success, a common tactic among them is offering pre-retirement sessions for employees. Hear how each has implemented their own unique sessions to get employees engaged in retirement planning and retired on time.
Janice Holman, principal of investment consulting, Eckler
Jo Ann Ball, vice-president, human resources, Magellan
Michael Dodd, director of pensions, treasury and shareholder services, Co-operators
Colleen Falco, director, human resources services, Casino Niagara
During this highly interactive session, plan sponsors will have the opportunity to discuss topical issues with thought leaders in the industry in a collegial environment. Guided by a list of focused questions, moderators will engage delegates in sharing ideas within small groups in three different rounds. The designated moderator will aggregate the ideas over the course of this workshop and present the findings on the next day of sessions.
- Is talking retirement readiness enough to draw employee’s attention into their DC plan?
Priorities are constantly evolving for both employers and employees. Employers are concerned about increasing productivity, reducing costs and attracting new talent, while employees deal with competing financial demands. In this context, is talking about retirement readiness enough? Do we need to address basic financial literacy issues first to break through the communication barriers? How far do we go to integrate a more holistic financial wellness program and where do the responsibilities lie?
Nadia Darwish, vice-president, development, marketing and investment strategy, Desjardins Insurance
- How well are you positioned for the coming of age?
Most large employers have invested significant resources creating and fine tuning their on-boarding or orientation programs with the purpose of welcoming new employees, getting them adjusted to and accepted in their new work environment, with the end goal of getting those employees aligned and effectively contributing to the company’s purpose.
Canada’s population is getting older, which means that for most companies their employee population or at least a good percentage of their population is getting older as well.
The purpose of this session is to discover what programs are in place to assist long-term employees leaving an organization. Those employees may have dedicated 25 or perhaps as much as 40 years of their lives to the company.
Christine van Staden, vice-president, national accounts, Great-West Life Assurance Company
- Holistic retirement planning
Our research conducted over the last several years has shown that there’s a strong connection between a person's financial wellness and their physical, emotional and mental health. This connection continues into retirement – and helping members figure out all elements of their retirement is critical. All too often health is overlooked, but it’s an essential element of holistic retirement planning and key to enjoying life both now and in the future.
Nancy Campbell, assistant vice-president, marketing and communications, group benefits and retirement solutions, Manulife Financial
- Focus on retirement income health, not retirement wealth
The size of a plan member’s account balance – and their investment returns – are the classic benchmarks for defined contribution retirement savings success. But are those the right benchmarks? Dig a little deeper and a plan member’s real goal emerges: will I have the lifetime income I need in retirement? To better achieve that goal, we need to target income, not savings, in our approach to DC plans with a personalized approach that brings the two phases of saving for retirement together – accumulation and decumulation – and a shift in how we do both.
Mazen Shakeel, vice-president, market development, group retirement services, Sun Life Financial
The Future of Retirement: Five Themes for the Future
The DC retirement model is in a global transition and we are seeing the gradual end of the age of investor autonomy. What are the best practices moving forward in DC plan design in a world where the digital revolution is transforming all household financial choices? Who is "retirement ready"? Please join us as we discuss the shift to Target-date funds, a reframing toward outcomes of adequacy and income, and the retiree paycheck, and the Big 4 issues; Contributions Policy, Investment Defaults, Fees, and Retirement Income.
Jean Young, senior research analyst, Center for Investor Research, The Vanguard Group
Targeting Success – Implementing a New Default Fund
Implementing change on a company-wide scale is never easy. Ensuring change is properly communicated can be even more difficult. Erin Pederson, for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, will speak to her experience in implementing a new pension plan default fund; from inception to conclusion. Important considerations that will be discussed are fund choices, plan restructuring options, and communication strategy.
Erin Pederson, WorkAbility case management specialist, Saskachewan Indian Gaming Authority Inc.
Dinner at The Vancouver Club (915 W Hastings St)
Friday, February 17, 2017
Breakfast and Registration
Opening Keynote: The Big Shift: The Battle between Old Canada and New Canada
Canada, once one of the world’s most consensual countries, is polarizing; with the west versus the east, suburban versus urban, immigrants versus old school, coffee drinkers versus consumers of energy drinks. The winners—in politics, in business, in life—will figure out where the people are and go there too.
Darrell Bricker, global chief executive officer, Ipsos Public Affairs
Investment Spotlight by MFS
Designated moderators will have aggregated ideas over the course of the workshop and will now have the opportunity to present those key takeaways to the entire group. Each moderator will have five minutes to present.
Canadian Case Study: Flexible and Fabulous – Building Team Member Personal Equity with New Pension Plan at ATB Financial
ATB Financial implemented a flexible pension plan combining a defined contribution plan with other wealth accumulation options. This innovative benefit design and implementation approach aligns directly with the overall goals of the organization and the strategic drivers for the People & Culture team.
Debbie Couch, leader of total rewards, ATB Financial
Australian Case Study: Not engaged- Married: Experiences from downunder
John Farrington will be providing a brief overview of the Australian system (ranked 3rd in the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index) and he will then argue that fund’s need to aim higher than just having their members engaged. The majority of the presentation will be on the practical steps that he has observed in his own fund and more widely in Australia. His focus is to provide practical initiatives and this will include a discussion on:
- The rise of data analytics
- The growing need for advice, including Automated Investment advice (Robo Advice)
- The latest in pension innovations in Australia, including his fund’s award winning MyPension product.
John Farrington, executive officer, corporate relationships, Equipsuper
11:35 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
DC by choice: the Dutch story
For the past decade, researchers and policymakers in the Netherlands have grappled with the challenge of redesigning their occupational pension system in a way that would maintain efficient and effective risk pooling while providing transparency and respecting individual rights. In 2015, a vision of the new regime finally emerged: individual accounts with clearly defined risk-sharing options in retirement. The first legislative steps towards the new model were taken shortly thereafter. This session will trace the thoughtful and scientifically-supported evolution of the proposed system and its implications. What did it take for Dutch policy experts to be pushed from the existing DB/target benefit regime to “DC with risk-sharing”, and what would it take for Canada to go there? Is the Dutch vision really the future of DC? What would this mean for plan investment, communication, and member education?
Barbara Sanders, assistant professor, department of statistics and actuarial science, Simon Fraser University
Closing Remarks followed by Lunch
DC Plan Summit Speakers
Darrell Bricker is the chief executive officer of Ipsos Global Public Affairs. Prior to joining Ipsos in 1990, Bricker was director of research in the office of Canada's Prime Minister. He was also a research consultant with firms in Ottawa and Toronto.
Bricker holds doctorate in political science from Carleton University (where he was a social science and humanities research council doctoral fellow), and a bachelor of arts and master of arts from Wilfrid Laurier University. He has also been awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by Wilfrid Laurier University, which named him one of their top 100 graduates in the last 100 years.
Bricker is a prolific author. He's written five national bestselling books.
Bricker is a popular public speaker who regularly engages with audiences around the world. He is interviewed frequently in the media, appearing on CNN, the BBC, Bloomberg, and Al Jazeera, as well as on all of Canada's major television and radio networks. He's written articles for publications as diverse as Canada's Globe and Mail and France's Le Monde. Bricker is a passionate supporter of Canada's men and women in uniform. He serves by appointment of the Minister of National Defence as the Honorary Colonel of the Queen's York Rangers, Canada's oldest army reserve regiment. For his volunteer work with the military he has received a commendation from the Commander of the Army, a commendation from the Admiral of the Navy, and has been awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal by Canada’s Governor General.
Debbie Couch is ATB Financials’ leader of total rewards. In her role, Couch advances the pension and benefits team with accountabilities for administering ATB’s pension plans, flexible benefits program and both short and long term disability programs. Couch’s most current impactful and creative initiative was the conception and implementation of the new ATB flexible pension plan. Prior to joining ATB, Couch held various financial positions and gained extensive experience in all aspects of finance including pension, treasury, taxation and financial reporting. Couch’s CPA, CGA designation has been complimented by having completed the CICA in-depth income tax program. One of Couch’s other passions is volunteering, expressed by being the past president and current board member for Easter Seals Alberta and current board member for Easter Seals Canada.
Tim Choe is a quantitative analyst at Fidelity Investments an investment organization dedicated to serving the needs of consultants and institutional investors, such as defined benefit and defined contribution plans, endowments and foundations. In this role, he is responsible for quantitative stock selection modeling and portfolio management.
Prior to joining Fidelity in 2006, Choe was a trader at Ronin Capital, where he traded equity options by applying various volatility arbitrage techniques. Choe earned his bachelor of science degree and his master of engineering degree in computer science and electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
John Farrington is currently the executive officer for corporate relationships at Equipsuper, a multi-employer profit-for-member fund with $7.5B in assets. He’s been with Equip for 11 years and he is responsible for all of the fund’s corporate relationships and product development. His career in the pension sector spans over 37 years, and he has had roles in administration, technical support, sales, product design and relationship management. Prior to joining Equip, he was vice-president of retirement services at Citigroup Asset Management and prior to that he held a variety of roles at AXA. He has a bachelor of arts (with a double major in philosophy) and a diploma of financial planning. He is also a fellow of Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.
Farrington has a passion for improving the retirement outcomes for the members of his fund and has been relentlessly seeking to provide improved services and products.
Ken Menezes is the managing director of asset management within the treasury department of American Airlines. His group is responsible for managing the investment activity of the various retirement and health/welfare plans, providing oversight of the company's short term investments and surety bond portfolio, monitoring financial risk including interest rate risk, FX risk and commodity risk and providing analytical support for the treasury department. Prior to this role, Menezes was part of the Corporate Finance team with responsibility for managing the company's liquidity and capital markets transactions.
Menezes has a master in business administration degree from Southern Methodist University and is also a CFA charter holder.
Robert C. Merton
Robert C. Merton is the school of management distinguished professor of finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management and university professor emeritus at Harvard University. He was the George Fisher Baker professor of business administration (1988–98) and the John and Natty McArthur university professor (1998–2010) at Harvard Business School. After receiving a doctorate in economics from MIT in 1970, Merton served on the finance faculty of MIT's Sloan School of Management until 1988, at which time he was J.C. Penney Professor of Management. He is resident scientist at Dimensional Holdings Inc. and is the creator of Dimensional Managed DC. He currently focuses on the target retirement solution, a global integrated retirement-funding solution system. Merton received the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1997 for a new method to determine the value of derivatives. He is past president of the American Finance Association, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Merton received the inaugural Financial Engineer of the Year Award from the International Association of Financial Engineers, which also elected him a senior fellow. A distinguished fellow of the Institute for Quantitative Research in Finance ('Q Group') and a fellow of the Financial Management Association, he received the Nicholas Molodovsky Award from the CFA Institute. He received the 2011 CME Group Fred Arditti Innovation Award and the 2013 World Federation of Exchanges Award for Excellence. Merton's research focuses on finance theory, including lifecycle and retirement finance, optimal portfolio selection, capital asset pricing, pricing of options, credit risk, loan guarantees, and improving the methods of measuring and managing macro-financial risk. Merton received a bachelor of science in engineering mathematics from Columbia University and a master of science in applied mathematics from California Institute of Technology.
Erin Pederson works with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, which operates six First Nations casinos in Saskatchewan and has approximately 1,900 employees province-wide. Pederson got her start in employee benefits in 2010 as a contract administrator for Saskatchewan Blue Cross. When an opportunity opened up to cross train into group eligibility, Pederson jumped at the chance. From there, she was successful in transitioning into the group underwriting department as the group underwriting assistant, which allowed her to secure a junior underwriter position a year later. While in the underwriting department, Pederson completed her CEBS designation in three years. She made the jump to SIGA in 2015 to cover a term as the manager of benefits. Leaving a permanent role for a temporary one was a risky move (especially for an underwriter), but the experience and opportunity to work with pension as well as a benefits plans was too good to pass up. It was in this role that Pederson successfully implemented target date funds to SIGA’s pension plan. Pederson secured a permanent position at SIGA as the WorkAbility case management specialist in August 2016, currently responsible for assisting internal and external stakeholders in returning ill and injured employees back to work. Pederson holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Alberta and is a fellow in the International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists.
Barbara Sanders is an assistant professor in the department of statistics and actuarial science at Simon Fraser University. She is an actuarial educator and researcher with a strong interest in pension design. She is a fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, and has spent eight years in pension consulting before joining Simon Fraser University in 2010. Her research is heavily influenced by her background in industry, focusing on the application of actuarial modelling tools to emerging issues in pension practice. Sanders is passionate about disseminating her research findings to a general audience and translating advances in actuarial science to pension practice.
Jer Thorp is an artist and educator from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in New York. Coming from a background in genetics, his digital art practice explores the many-folded boundaries between science, data, art and culture. Thorp is an adjunct professor in New York University's ITP program, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation. From 2010-2012, Thorp was the data artist in residence at The New York Times.
For more information on the speakers, please contact Lauren Harris, Conference Editor, Benefits Canada
Event Location: Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver
Contemporary accommodations bring more fun to travelers staying at 489-room The Fairmont Waterfront, a luxury hotel set in a prime location in Vancouver where lots of fun destinations are within reach. A wide array of delicious food choices are featured at ARC Restaurant + Bar, with guests and locals invited to indulge in the local and handcrafted cuisine offered throughout the day
For more information about the conference accommodations please contact Joanne Boccia at
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