Wrap-up: Revisiting traditional DC plan approaches

As the retirement savings environment evolves, the pension industry must be aware of the changes to move with them, said Zaheed Jiwani, principal at Eckler Ltd., in a session wrapping up the key learnings from Benefits Canada’s 2019 DC Plan Summit in Banff, Alta. in February.

These changes include shifting demographics, new offerings and consolidation among providers. “It’s important for you to take time to understand the services that are being offered to you and your plan members and to understand what the motivations and biases are,” he said.

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It’s also important to consider the context in which a plan is operating, noted Jiwani, and with uncertain market expectations, the traditional ways of evaluating investments are insufficient.

There are several ways to manage risk, so it’s key to consider how to maximize member outcomes, he said. “The focus should be on post-retirement and worst-case outcomes.”

Plan sponsors should focus on the end goal, and build a program backwards, said Jiwani. And when it comes to education, they should understand every plan member is unique. For instance, it’s important to use language that people understand. “We have to make sure we’re not going to be out of touch with all of our members, especially the younger ones.”

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And demographics matter. Plan sponsors can take advantage of analytics to develop more targeted approaches and demographics will drive solutions, he said. “The traditional approaches to investments, design and communications — all the areas we deal with have to be revisited.”

Read more coverage from the 2019 DC Plan Summit.