Ontario-based pension plan sponsors can help reduce the number of missing plan members by examining their communications strategies and maintaining best practices in record keeping and data management, says Caroline Blouin, executive vice-president of pensions at the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario.
“As an employer, there is an opportunity to provide some education and remind people if they’re moving to call and update their contact information. The employer needs to remind employees, but the members also need to do their part in staying connected with their pensions.”
According to the FSRA, there are more than 175,000 missing pension plan members in Ontario. Collectively, these individuals or their estates are entitled to more than $3 billion in assets. The organization is also encouraging plan members to stay connected with their pensions through initiatives like its recent Pension Awareness Day.
As of 2017, pension plan sponsors in Ontario are required to provide active members with an annual pension statement — or every two years for terminated or retired members. Previously, most members would connect with their previous plan sponsors around the time they retire, but now plan sponsors must proactively identify and communicate with terminated and retired members more frequently, notes Blouin.
She suggests plan members go back through their work history and think about whether they had a pension at each job. If so, they should contact that employer to update their information in order to stay connected over time.
“On average, people will have around seven different jobs in their working life and it’s hard to remember all of these pieces. As we get older, we may completely forget about our first job. Pensions aren’t top of mind in our daily lives and there’s so much to think about in your career, so you can see how this happens.”