Latest CAPSA consultation looks at electronic pension communication

The Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities has released a draft revision of its guideline No. 2, which looks at electronic communication in the pension industry.

The guideline was initially set out in February 2002 to help pension plan administrators and members apply new electronic commerce legislation to communications required under pension legislation.

In the CAPSA’s initial consultations to develop the updated guideline, stakeholders indicated that the impact on communication processes, products and strategies due to technological changes has also influenced plan administrator communications, and that this should be reflected in the updated guideline. 

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In response to this feedback, the CAPSA established a committee to examine developments related to best practices in e-communications in the pension industry, conduct a review of the guideline and recommend revisions within the limits of existing legislation. It also established a working group composed of pension industry experts from several jurisdictions.

“Pension legislation in Canada has historically implied the mandatory use of paper documents,” stated the draft revision. “For example, ‘written,’ ‘in writing,’ ‘signed’ or ‘certified’ are used throughout various pension legislation. However, the growth of e-communication in personal, professional and business applications over time has provided opportunities in pension plan administration to increase engagement, streamline processes and lower costs.

“Email, sophisticated websites and an increasing use of various e-channels and products offer enhanced communication techniques that are useful and relevant in the pension landscape. The challenge the pension industry faces in utilizing e-communication is that pension legislation varies across jurisdictions when defining default provisions for communicating on pension-related matters.” 

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In Canada, current pension legislative approaches to electronic communications fall into three broad categories, according to the CAPSA. These include recognizing e-communication as equivalent to written communication unless the recipient directs otherwise; being silent on e-communication; and specifying that e-communication is permitted only if the recipient has authorized it.

“This guideline does not override existing e-commerce legislation, nor does it create legal rights or obligations in jurisdictions where e-commerce legislation does not exist,” noted the draft revision. “Each plan administrator should consider how to apply the guidance, so that their communication process and products fit within the context of their applicable legislation, industry guidelines and common law considerations.” 

The draft revision, which is available here, is open for consultation until Dec. 13, 2018.