Conference Coverage: 2023 DC Plan Summit

At the 2023 Defined Contribution Plan Summit, which was hosted in Montebello, Que. on Feb. 21-23, delegates learned from employer case studies and expert thought leadership about innovative pension plan design, financial wellness programs, decumulation solutions and investment opportunities to support their DC plan members.

Indeed, alongside high inflation and interest rates, members are facing several competing financial priorities, from simple day-to-day expenses to contributing to their workplace retirement plans. To meet this challenge, DC plan sponsors are evolving their savings programs to offer flexibility and innovation, focusing on catering to plan members’ different needs and expanding the scope of these programs.

Find out what you missed!


Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
New York Times’ bestselling author and former Google data scientist
Why big decisions are so hard to make

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, New York Times’ bestselling author and former Google data scientist, told the story of a horse called American Pharoah, who became the first in 37 years to win the Triple Crown.

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Elisha Ribeiro
Canada Life

Christine van Staden
Canada Life
Helping DC plan members mind the manageable risk gap

With group retirement plans aimed at helping members avoid risks and achieve their savings goals, defined contribution plan sponsors are uniquely positioned to step up and take a more active role in managing risk, said Christine van Staden, regional vice-president of group customer and national accounts business development at Canada Life.

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Marc-Antoine Morin
DC industry’s objectives shifting from retirement to financial wellness

The traditional aim for the defined contribution pension industry has been helping plan members save for retirement, but as the nature of employment, plan design, investment choice and member engagement evolves, that objective is changing to financial wellness.

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Jonathan Barry
MFS Investment Management
How Australia, the U.S. are tackling decumulation challenges

While a third of Canadians are very or extremely confident they’ll be able to retire at the age they want to, around 40 per cent are somewhat confident and a fifth say they don’t think they’ll be able to retire at all, according to MFS Investment Management’s 2022 global retirement survey.

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Matt Davison
Canada’s Financial Wellness Lab
AI insights on financial wellness

Financial stress is impacting Canadians’ mental and physical health, as well as decisions related to their pension plans, said Matt Davison, Western University’s dean of science and principal researcher.

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John D’Agata
McGill University

Yashar Zarrabian
Sun Life
A look at McGill University’s search for a comprehensive decumulation solution

While McGill University has factored decumulation into its pension plan for decades, the plan sponsor is continually fine tuning these strategies for members, said John D’Agata, the university’s director of pension and benefits.

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Aaron White
CIBC Asset Management Inc.
Demystifying what ESG means for DC pension plans

While there’s a lot of noise and confusion around environmental, social and governance factors, it comes down to delivering value for investors in terms of better risk-adjusted returns, said Aaron White, CIBC Asset Management Inc.’s vice-president of sustainable investments.

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Jon Knowles
Fidelity Canada Institutional
Exploring secular trends and the impacts on retirement outcomes

Factors such as population demographics, productivity and geopolitics impact economic growth and, by extension, the retirement outcomes of defined contribution pension plan members over longer-term time horizons, said Jon Knowles, senior investment analyst at Fidelity Canada Institutional.

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Jaye Calder
PepsiCo Canada
Demystifying what ESG means for DC pension plans

PepsiCo Canada’s enhanced defined contribution pension plan is supporting the retirement goals of a very diverse employee population.

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Fred Vettese
author and pension expert
Tips for getting more retirement income with less risk

Even though it sounds obvious, maximizing retirement income and making it last for life isn’t what drives most retirees when it comes to making decisions — which is contributing to the challenges around decumulation, said Fred Vettese, an author and pension expert.

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Pat Leo
Purpose Investments Inc.

Fraser Stark
Purpose Investments Inc.
Mitigating longevity risk key to ensuring income for life for DC plan members

Mitigating longevity risk is key to solving the decumulation challenge, said Pat Leo, Purpose Investments Inc.’s vice-president of longevity retirement solutions.

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John Cook
Mackenzie Investments
Eight billion reasons why capital investment matters again

With eight billion people consuming the planet’s resources, assets such as clean energy and sustainable agriculture are becoming increasingly important to institutional investors, said John Cook, a senior vice-president portfolio manager and co-lead of the Greenchip team at Mackenzie Investments

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Maria-José Perea
Keep it simple, thoughtful and measurable to engage millennials in retirement savings

With multiple generations in Canada’s diverse labour force, each generation has distinct needs and expectations, with millennials, in particular, creating increasing challenges for plan sponsors.

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Adam Watson-Smyth
Amazon Canada
Amazon fostering holistic financial literacy, wellness among employees

Any new benefit introduced at Amazon has to align to its 16 leadership principles, which the organization lives and breathes every day.

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To view highlights from the 2022 DC Plan Summit, click here.

To view highlights from the 2021 DC Plan Summit, click here.