Our Purpose is to help plan members achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives. Sustainability is now a mainstream concern of raising importance for Canadians.1 Among our most recent initiatives to support sponsors in how they address sustainability issues in their workplace plans is our proprietary Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) evaluation framework, as well as thought leadership pieces, such as the GRS Sustainability Playbook.
Moving forward, we have an opportunity to provide plan members with more information on sustainable investing principles, such as ESG integration, which is already available in the investment choices available to them. Sun Life has various initiatives planned to support members for 2021 and beyond.
We’re excited to announce that in September, we are launching a Sustainable Investing educational campaign for members. The objective is to introduce this important topic to plan members. It will help them understand what ESG is and how managers generally integrate ESG factors into their investment process. We believe this is an important first step in creating awareness that sustainable investing principles are already available in group plans. Research suggests2 that this awareness can be a powerful way to engage members and this can lead to better outcomes in their plans.
We recognize that each organization is on its own sustainability journey. This campaign supports plan sponsors to level set some important sustainable investing principles to their members. At this point, there is no information provided to members about the specific managers and investment options in their plan. In the coming months, we’ll begin to include information on how each fund on the core platform integrates ESG factors on Morningstar fund pages. This information can help them make informed investment decisions.
We’ll also address the different approaches to sustainable investing in addition to ESG integration, like Divestment. Many people associate sustainable investing with divestment of fossil fuels, or not investing in companies in the Energy sector. While Divestment funds are available on our platform, this is not necessarily the best approach to address sustainability issues and as such, they are not common in group plans. Energy companies are critical to the Canadian economy and provide livelihoods to thousands of people. Sun Life, and the majority of plan sponsors, believe that we need to support and encourage these companies to transform their business models to align to a more climate-friendly world. It is therefore important that we stay invested in the Energy sector, to support these companies in their transition to clean energy.
What will members see on sustainable investing?
- Ella messages
When members log in to mysunlife.ca they’ll be able to see a pop-up or a contextual zone message from Ella, Sun Life’s digital coach. She’ll greet and nudge them to learn more about Sustainable Investing. Once they click “Get informed,” they’ll get to the Sustainability landing page
- Sustainability page
If the members click on “Get informed” in Ella, they’ll get to a new sustainability page which will introduce a series of educational content. It will also contain three short videos. The videos will explain to members what ESG is and how investment managers generally consider these factors. Members will also have access to various relevant articles and industry research.
We know that plan members are at different levels on the sustainability learning curve and have various attitudes towards sustainable investing. That’s why we made sure to provide all the content in an easy-to-understand, factual format, split into digestible chunks.
What is next?
The key objective at this point is to provide members with general education, rather than with plan-specific information. We’ll continue to work with plan sponsors to identify what matters most to plan members when it comes to integration of these principles in their workplace saving plans. As we do so, the member information will become more detailed and plan-specific.
The time is now to align your corporate sustainability strategy with your workplace savings plans. Sustainable investing matters to your talent and can provide a powerful engagement and retention tool. We’re here to support you in this journey and communicate this in a meaningful way to your plan members.
Please contact your Sun Life Group Retirement Services representative
1 Sun Life Canadian Market Research Study, April 2021. (403 Canadians)
2 MFS, Top Things You Should Be Thinking About in DC, July 2020. (Over 4,000 plan members globally, including over 1,000 Canadians)