FSRA prioritizing pension plan flexibility in consultation

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario is prioritizing pension plan flexibility, reviewing prudential framework and focusing on burden reduction for 2020-21.

In its consultation document for its 2020-21 priorities and budget, the FSRA also said new investments in its human capital resources will improve pension relationship management. And, as it announced in July 2019, the regulator is forming pensions technical advisory committees and other sector-specific management consultation bodies.

Read: FSRA creates new advisory committees on pension sector matters

For plan flexibility, the FSRA is implementing a relationship model for large plans and jointly sponsored pension plans, offering more focused support for complex transactions and plan mergers and releasing principles to guide the pension sector.

In terms of prudential framework, the consultation document noted ad hoc technical advisory committee work is underway to review preventative and predictive tools the regulator can use to improve outcomes for members of single-employer pension plans and ways to identify potential risks to the pension benefits guarantee fund.

These include a financial and risk assessment of the PBGF to enable its long-term financial sustainability; an investment risk governance review of large, complex plans; and chairing a Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities’ leverage working group and collaborating on environmental, social and governance issues; and a review of multi-employer pension plans to identify and share best practices.

Read: A road map to clarity on the multi-employer pension plan promise

And for its focus on burden reduction, the consultation document said a FSRA approach guidance is coming soon and noted the technical advisory committees have been established, with work underway, for missing members and asset transfers, two key areas identified as opportunities by the pension sector.

“FSRA is continuing to work with [the Ministry of Finance] to ensure appropriate oversight of the pension sector that balances protecting pension benefits and rights of pension plan beneficiaries while ensuring the viability, growth and sustainability of pension plans in Ontario,” noted the consultation. “Since launch, FSRA has made progress on its identified pension sector priorities. These priorities will continue to guide FSRA in its supervision of the pension sector.”

Read: How Canadian legislation is moving to solve issue of missing pension members