The Shareholder Association for Research and Education is joining the College of Applied Arts and Technology’s new DBPlus pension plan.
“As a small, non-profit organization, it’s difficult for us to access the kinds of plans that have traditionally been available to larger organizations,” says Kevin Thomas, executive director of the SHARE. “So, like other non-profits, we provided retirement benefits as far as [registered retirements savings plan] contributions and things like that, but we were looking for a much more sustainable model that provides the benefits of a pooled retirement system.”
With a staff population far more engaged on matters of retirement than many other organizations, the SHARE’s employees took the lead in finding the right option, says Thomas.
“The great thing about this is that it was really staff-led. One of our people spent the time to investigate options, spoke to a lot of non-profits in British Columbia to understand what they were looking at and what they needed and came back with recommendations around various plans and options. And the staff unanimously voted to join the plan.”
Given the SHARE’s organizational focus on environmental, social and governance issues in investing, Thomas believes the CAAT is on the right path where those issues of engagement are concerned, and he is looking forward to working with the CAAT on these topics.
“We work for pension plans and shareholder engagement and proxy voting and investment services and we also work in pension policy and we advocate quite strongly for good defined benefit pension plans in Canada and other retirement security options,” he says. “So it’s been a bit ironic that we haven’t had the same option for our members, but now that kind of thing is available to organizations like ours, so we’re going to be one of the first to jump in.”
As an industry player itself, the SHARE’s pension choice is a vote of confidence for the CAAT plan, says Derek Dobson, chief executive officer and plan manager of the CAAT plan.
“We were quite happy and quite excited because they had gone through this very extensive due diligence process. . . . And having gone through that extensive process and being seen as the right thing for their members was great,” he says. “In addition, knowing that they provided the opportunity for their employees to vote on what was best for them, and we received a ringing, I believe, unanimous endorsement from their employees, that speaks to Canadians’ needs for a predictable lifetime income in retirement and also extols the requirement for employers to have fixed contribution rates.”
About 8,800 of the CAAT’s members have moved over to DBPlus since its inception, says Dobson. “Right now we have about 50 employers in total and so all of them have a foot in the DBPlus camp if they have part-time members and then there are several employers who are just in DBPlus for full-time and part-time members. That would have started with the Toronto Star, which joined in October.”