Q&A: How HBC connects with retirees

Marc Poupart, divisional vice-president, pension and retirement programs, with Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), discusses his company’s extensive DC retiree base.

How does HBC stay connected with its retirees?
We’ve probably had thousands who have left HBC [through] retirement, but once they retire from a DC plan, they usually buy an annuity or an investment product, so they move out of the plan. We then lose sight of the pension part. But we do stay connected with our retiree base, be it DB or DC, because one of the things we offer long-service employees of the companies is discounts at the Bay and other banners.

Does HBC’s connection with its DC retirees through offering discounts mean that they often come back with questions or feedback about retirement?
Since most DC retirees would have purchased an annuity and/or a LIF [life income fund], there is no direct payment from the HBC pension plan. So discussions are more around the retail business and other retiree connections.

We sometimes get notified of changes such as addresses, death, etc., which we pass on to the annuity/LIF provider.

With the past few years of poor markets, have retirees expressed concern about retirement adequacy?
I see more people going to the LIF side and saying, ‘Can I get what I need?’ I think you’re now seeing more people retiring, starting to draw a pension and getting a part-time job, some of them returning to HBC.

As far as our other savings plans, such as the group RRSPs and even the TFSA [tax-free savings account], we’ve had a modest uptick, but people are saying, ‘It’s a good product, and I can get it at a better fee than the bank,’ so they take advantage of it.

Also, find out what HBC is doing to overcome employee apathy.

Helen Burnett-Nichols is a freelance writer in Hamilton, Ont. burnett.helen@gmail.com

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