Straight talk on retirement and pensions
February 6, 2018
2018 starts with a boom: great news from last year
Happy New Year! This is the second post for BOOM! – a new blog addressing current issues relating to pensions and retirement. Let's take a closer look at the plan's recently released Report to Members. Your trustees take great pride in producing this report (available on this website), and I encourage you to review it today – but only after you finish reading BOOM!
Report to Members highlights the plan's financial performance
The plan's net return on investments for the year ending August 31, 2017, was 7.3 per cent with net assets available for benefits exceeding $4.6 billion – almost $300 million more than at September 1, 2016. Greater plan performance details can be found in the annual report, available online May 2018.
Update on non-guaranteed benefits
The new Report to Members highlights recent changes to the plan and post-retirement benefits program. These include the $0.90 per $1,000 of salary increase to employer and employee contributions to the inflation adjustment account (IAA) effective April 1, 2017. The new contribution rates were in step with negotiated salary increases in the college sector.
A future BOOM! post will be dedicated to how inflation affects your pension. Suffice to say, inflation adjustments – also known as cost-of-living allowances – while not guaranteed, are granted from time to time by the College Pension Board of Trustees. Money in the IAA is used to fund those allowances once granted.
Also in 2017, extended health care and dental coverage for retirees was transitioned from Pacific Blue Cross to Green Shield Canada. The change in carrier supports the long-term affordability of this valuable voluntary program.
Changing plan member demographics – specifically life expectancy, employment patterns and retirement age – were addressed by modernizing the plan, beginning in January 2016. The formula used to calculate pensions was amended to a full two per cent on all income earned, eliminating the need for a bridge benefit. The previous plan rules continue to apply to service earned before 2016.
Your new plan website
The fall of 2017 marked the launch of this redesigned website. The new site was created for you – we conducted extensive member research and usability testing to ensure the site and My Account can support your needs more effectively.
The site has several new features, including a new topic- and task-based design that makes it easy to access information and do the tasks you wish to perform. There's also more relevant news, and learning articles to help keep you informed and abreast of the latest developments important to you, no matter what stage you're at in your pension journey.
New employees can learn how the plan works in the Guide for new members, or take an eLearning course about pension basics. Mid-career employees can learn more about their benefit statements or how life events such as time away from work or separation/divorce affect their pension. And those nearing retirement can gain a better understanding of the important decisions they'll need to make about their pensions by going through a planning checklist or enrolling in the Approaching Retirement workshop.
Online retirement is now a reality for most members. This means, when you're ready, you can apply for retirement online using a simple step-by-step process. Check out the features of My Account by signing in today.
Share your feedback
What do you think of the new plan website? There's a short four-question survey available on the home page, where you can provide feedback and suggestions to help us improve your pension experience online. Please take a minute or two to complete it. The survey is available until March 31, 2018.
Claude Marchessault is the Executive Director of the College Pension Plan of British Columbia