Eric Monteiro 
     Senior Vice-President, Group Retirement Services

Welcome to our Group Retirement Services 2020 Year in Review. Our summary of results over the past year – and what a year it was! You can navigate the site by clicking on the topics that interest you most.

Before you dive in, I’d like to thank our Clients and partners for the warm welcome to the Group Retirement Services family. It’s a privilege to join such a great community – and to push the boundaries of innovation for you and our industry. 

A couple of things have impressed me most in my first few months: 

  1. The strength of our partnerships. These relationships have been built over many years – and in some cases decades. I’m extremely proud that together we’ve navigated and tackled the challenges of the past year.
  2. The huge responsibility that we have to you as the leading provider of Group Retirement Services in Canada – it drives a deep commitment to helping you and your plan members achieve the best possible outcomes, both through our work together, but also through our advocacy efforts. And our focus on innovation and continuous improvement has never been stronger and more critical to retirement outcomes, as we reset to the new normal.

While the pandemic required all of us to shift quickly, we remained focused on supporting you and your plan members. Many of our actions and the insights we were able to share with you in 2020 will provide benefits for many (much brighter) years to come. Here are a few highlights:

  • One-stop for information and support. Early in the pandemic, we immediately created a GRS COVID-19 webpage for plan sponsors and a webpage for plan members. With government policy changing daily, we wanted to make sure you were provided with the latest information, equipping you to make decisions in real-time. In addition, we extended our call centre hours and opened on Saturdays when the need was greatest. In 2020, our Call Centre Representatives supported over 720,000 calls with over 200,000 conversations. We continued to focus on staying connected with you. We did that through different activities and partnering with you in charting a path through these uncertain times.
 
  • Helping plan members manage volatility. Throughout the year, and at the height of market volatility, we developed emails, Ella “nudges”, and videos to encourage plan members to stay the course and stick to their plan. We also added sessions to our plan member Financial Wellness Webinar series to address market volatility issues. Educating plan members gave them the confidence to remain disciplined and to keep a long-term perspective. And it worked! 97% of plan members did not change their investments. 
 
  • A focus on health and financial wellness. Based on a Sun Life and Mental Health OMNI Study, 51% of Canadians experienced mental health issues due to financial concerns. Understanding the health challenges many Canadians were facing in 2020 - we provided resources for mental, physical and financial health support. This included partnering with Credit Counselling Society to offer free credit counselling and debt management services to plan members. We promoted mental health services through Lumino Health’s Stress and Anxiety explorer. We also encouraged plan members access to multiple virtual health care providers that were accelerated through Lumino Health.
 
  • Insights when you needed them most. We continued to provide data analytics and market insights to support plan design reviews and changes. We did this through reports, videos, webinars, podcasts and more. 
 
  • Helping you navigate sustainability. Sustainability issues are front and centre globally – and have become a critical factor in the investment process. We wanted to help you and your plan members navigate sustainability issues as they relate to your plan investments. To do this, we launched our proprietary Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) evaluation framework to help identify ESG leaders in major asset categories on our core investment platform.
 
  • AI innovations through Ella. Throughout a volatile 2020, we continued to leverage our artificial intelligence capabilities through our digital coach, Ella. Ella kept plan members on track and provided financial guidance. She had more than 7.3 million engagements with plan members on financial security and health and wellness. And through Ella, plan members have contributed $700 million to their savings products. These additional savings help them achieve their financial goals, including retirement.
 
  • Digital innovations. We created an even better end-to-end plan member experience – making it easier for them to use and value their plan. From easier enrolment, to more intuitive site navigation, to a simpler way of making investment changes, the significant investments in our digital assets will continue to yield benefits for plan members. 

As we move into 2021, we’re in a great position to support you and your plan members in many areas, including the accelerated digitization of our business. It’s been a challenging year. But with vaccines on the horizon, I’m hopeful for brighter days ahead.

Eric Monteiro  
Senior Vice-President, Group Retirement Services 
Sun Life Canada 

Eric