Keeping you up to date, providing valuable insights, and supporting informed decisions

Our commitment to thought leadership and advocacy helps us drive change and sustainable outcomes for you and your plan members. Throughout the past year we continued to provide data analytics and insights to support informed decisions regarding your plan design.

We also continued to be the voice of our Clients and plan members, bringing your concerns and priorities to the table in our conversations with regulators and various levels of government.

In the first half of 2023, we published three Bright Papers related to inflation and its impact on group retirement plans.

The impact of high inflation and volatile returns on group retirement plans – provides an overview of how the rising cost of living is impacting how members approach their group plans. The piece outlines how, despite a volatile environment, CAP administrators can strengthen the resilience of their plans through regular governance reviews and modernization.

Brace for impact: Adjusting for inflation in Capital Accumulation Plans - explores how some of the conventional wisdom associated with asset accumulation and decumulation may evolve if high inflation persists. The current economic climate is clearly a source of stress for plan members. This article outlines how we’re partnering with you to support plan members financial wellness in navigating this inflationary period.

The Real Deal: How Real Assets can improve member outcomes in Capital Accumulation Plans (CAPs) - looks at the important role that real assets have within workplace savings plans, including inflation protection and diversification benefits. This is your go‑to reference guide on real assets, either as a stand‑alone option, or within pre‑built funds, like target date or target risk funds.

For more articles and other thought leadership pieces visit our Bright Papers page. 

Designed for Savings is Sun Life’s biennial benchmark report on workplace savings plans in Canada. Packed with plan data, trends and analysis, it provides the most comprehensive look at capital accumulation plans (CAPs) in Canada. The 2023 report is based on the data of 1.4-million* Sun Life workplace savings plan participants - the largest pool of CAP data in the country. Our 2023 edition captures the resilience of plan members and sponsors in the face of recent challenges: A pandemic, labour shortages, and higher inflation and interest rates. We hope the report provides you with actionable insight to better support you and your plan members.

For more details visit the Designed for Savings page and download and access the full 2023 report.

Read the press release.

Press coverage.

*2022 CAP Suppliers Report, Benefits Canada. Data as of June 30, 2022. Based on data supplied by providers for: defined contribution plans, group registered retirement savings plans, deferred profit-sharing plans and employee profit-sharing plans administered assets.

In April, we hosted our GRS Market Update. We had an all-woman panel of three experts:

  • Tiffany Wilding, North American Economist - PIMCO,
  • Karen Kerr, Institutional Portfolio Manager - PH&N/RBC GAM,
  • Christine Tan, Portfolio Manager – SLGI.

They came together to discuss top-of-mind issues including higher interest rates and inflation. The panel covered the broad macro-economic environment affecting stock and bond prices and expectations, and how equity and fixed income managers are positioning their portfolios to deliver results for your employees. We saw a record number of attendees at the live event this year and look forward to hosting another Market Update in Q1 2024.

GRS was proud to be a presenting sponsor of the 2023 Benefits Canada DC Plan Summit, that took place February 21-23 in Montebello, QC.

The DC Plan Summit is the premier annual conference in Canada for DC leaders and influencers. The Summit’s highly interactive format focuses on sharing best practices and fostering knowledge transfer through leading-edge content and audience engagement. Interactive sessions are designed to encourage delegate participation and facilitate discussion about critical DC issues.

This year Yashar Zarrabian, Regional Vice-President, Quebec, and John D’Agata, Director of Pension and Benefits, McGill University, participated in a fireside chat about McGill University’s search for a comprehensive decumulation solution.

While inflation has been subsiding in 2023, the long-term impacts of the highest inflation rates in decade will continue to be felt. The current environment has amplified the retirement industry’s focus on making tools, resources and advice available to plan members. This helps retirees and those nearing retirement weather the inflation storm. It can also help plan members understand the benefits workplace plans offer. The recent article “Inflation waits: The long-term impacts on plan sponsors and members,” from Eric Monteiro, shares more on how plan sponsors and members can manage the impact of inflation.

GRS was a presenting sponsor of the Canadian Pension & Benefits Institute (CPBI) Forum 2023 which took place on June 5-7 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Fiona Tam, AVP, Strategy, Data and Analytics and Jackie Patel, AVP, Marketing and Communications presented a sneak peek of the recently launched, Designed for Savings Report. They shared some key insights on how the last few years have affected plan member behaviour, what’s happening at decumulation and if plan sponsors are making significant shifts to their Capital Accumulation Plans (CAP). Attendees voiced how insightful this biennial report is and their anticipation of the launch.

Sun Life conducted further member research studies in the first half of 2023, to help evolve our sustainable investing plan member experience. Currently, we offer an education page that includes:

  • information on the different Sustainable Investing approaches,
  • how managers integrate ESG factors and
  • what Sun Life’s role as a record keeper is to evaluate and engage with investment managers.

Our fund fact sheets now include information on how each fund integrates ESG factors into their investment process.

In this year’s research studies, we tested a few tangible concepts with members. This included the additional education they need; what is most important when they invest, and the type of ESG information at the manager/fund level that would be most relevant for them. We will provide updates on enhancements to our sustainable investing member experience, as it evolves and helps members make informed investment decisions.

With our Clients in mind, we’re driving industry advocacy by championing Sun Life’s positions on key public policy files, including:

We work closely with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), governments of all orders, and regulators to find ways to help Canadians achieve lifetime financial security.

Sun Life is a key pension stakeholder that governments and regulators across Canada consult on pension policy. We do this by participating in public consultations, leading industry discussions, and having meetings with governments and regulators. These activities help us support the retirement security of Canadians, and position Sun Life as a thought leader and a valued pension stakeholder in Canada. 

This past summer, we launched our 2023 Designed for Savings benchmark report. In October, we have released the Industry Focus report. The Industry Focus report is a new addition and serves as a supplement to the full, comprehensive report. It offers a deeper dive of our group plan members and sponsors within 18 industries as well as small businesses. This new report presents unique data points, which have not been previously shared by industry. Among the highlights are key data-points relating to contributions, investment choices and decumulation outcomes.

You can access this report on the Designed for Savings webpage.

Earlier this autumn, Sun Life participated in the CPBI webinar1 dedicated to Real Assets. There has been a recent renewed interest in Real Assets. Globally, many investment managers have acquired Real Asset investment capabilities.

Watch the recording of the webinar to learn more about:

  • What is driving their recent popularity?
  • What are the benefits and what are the risks?
  • How can Capital Accumulation Plans (CAP) access them?

Webinar featured:  

  • Zhang, Assistant Vice‑President, Portfolio Management, Sun Life Global Investments (SLGI),
  • Dave Tallman, Vice‑President, TD Asset Management Inc., and
  • Michael Robbie, Investment Solutions Executive, Sun Life Group Retirement Solutions.

You can also read our Bright Paper published last quarter on the role of Real Assets in your plan.

1Available to CPBI members only.