The Association for Canadian Pension Management is urging New Brunswick’s Financial and Consumer Services Commission to ensure unclaimed entitlements from ongoing pension plans are eligible for transfer to the province’s unclaimed property fund at the option of the plan administrator.
Under a proposed revision to New Brunswick’s unclaimed property program, organizations and government entities holding lost or forgotten financial property — for example, assets from a pension plan windup — will be required to attempt to locate owners and, if unsuccessful, to report and deliver the property to the commission.
In its letter in response to the revision, the ACPM’s Atlantic regional council said it agreed with the recommendation under certain situations, such as a terminated plan member that can’t be located. “In situations where the plan administrator is unable to locate a terminated member, assuming a reasonable search effort, it is our opinion that allowing the plan administrator to transfer those assets to the unclaimed property fund will reduce the administrative effort on the part of the plan administrator,” noted the letter.
“The commission has considered the issues facing pension plan administrators in New Brunswick,” it added. “At this time, the main issue in connection to unclaimed property relates to plans for which a windup report has been approved. The commission may consider additional accommodation for ongoing pension plans at a future date.”
When it comes to missing pension plan members, other provinces have taken similar steps, though they haven’t gone as far as taking over missing members’ accounts. For instance, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario’s final guidance, published in December 2020, said plan administrators and members share the responsibility of maintaining current contact information. It recommended administrators maintain a records management system and retention schedules that support long-term administration of the pension plan and to exercise care and diligence in preserving accurate member data as the plan evolves due to redesign, restructuring and transfers.