The Canadian Source Of Employee Pension Fund Investment And Benefits Plan Management

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September 2007

Cross-country Views Collected

By: Patrick Longhurst

This past year, I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the National Speaker for the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute (CPBI) for 2006/2007. The purpose of the program is to enlist an experienced speaker on a topic of interest to CPBI members and to deliver a common message in all eight CPBI regions. In this role, I was able to speak to Canadians across the country on a substantive pension issue that has been germinating in my mind for a number of years: What do Canadians actually think of their retirement income system and, if change is required, is there any common ground among the various stakeholders involved?

This article tells the story of the rest of the journey.

cross country views collected

Getting Started

When I took on the role, I had three months to get my thoughts together and be ready, by October 2006, for a sophisticated audience of consultants, union representatives, sponsors, and pension regulators. Some days, this was a daunting prospect, but, thankfully, I had generous assistance and support from contacts I have made in the industry over the years. Some of the comments I heard in discussions with these contacts included:

In September 2006, I visited the UK and was delighted to find a comprehensive report on their retirement income system, prepared by the government, complete with a smiling photograph of Tony Blair! I explained to the cashier that this would fit perfectly with a speech I was preparing for Canadians, to which she replied, “Well, don’t make a bloody mess of things the way they have here!” I now had my opening story. How could I fail?

The Presentation

My final presentation focused on giving the audience a broad background, which would enable them to complete a questionnaire after the speech. My goal was to analyze the survey results from across the country and see what common opinions I could identify.

I started with a conceptual approach to retirement income systems, drawing heavily on recent World Bank reports. My point was that every country has a retirement income system composed of a series of pillars. These pillars might be:

I proceeded to review what is happening in other countries. In addition to the study prepared in the United Kingdom, I also looked at developments in:

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