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Prospecting questions

Does your company currently offer a group retirement plan as part of its employee benefit program?

  • If the answer is YES, go to Section A.
  • If the answer is NO, go to Section B.

Section A:  Existing Plan

 Plan-related questions

1. Does your company contribute to the plan or are there only voluntary employee contributions?

  • [Important:  If voluntary only and the company has no plan to contribute, you may wish to pursue another prospect that offers greater potential.

2. Is the plan valued by employees?  Do they appreciate the company contributions made and the processing of payroll deductions?

  • [These questions assess the company’s commitment to the plan and its relevance in attracting and retaining quality employees.]

3. Are there any changes you intend or would like to make to the existing plan?

  • [“Yes” may indicate the opportunity to co-ordinate a plan review or service provider search to identify improvements.]

 Investment-related questions

1. Do employees ever ask company management how to invest the contributions in their group retirement plan accounts?  Do employees seem confused about the details of your company’s group retirement plan?

  • [“Yes” indicates the need for personalized investment and retirement planning advice or investment education (opportunity for IAs).]  
    Notes:  Manulife’s investor profile questionnaire helps employees determine an asset mix of funds and/or guaranteed investments that best fits their personalized risk profile and retirement objectives.  Manulife’s various educational and retirement planning tools also help members make informed investment and retirement-planning decisions. Investment and retirement-planning advice is also available to members by contacting you as Investment Advisor for the plan.

2. Do employees receive sufficient information about the funds available and have access to decision making tools to help them become educated investors?

  • [“No” indicates the need for improved member communications and investment planning education (opportunity for IAs).]  
    Notes:   Manulife’s leading member account statements provide an estimate of a member’s annual income during retirement.  Our secure member website was recently enhanced to provide members with the essential information needed to monitor and manage their account. Manulife has a variety of educational tools to help members better understand investment and retirement planning concepts, including educational videos, “Steps Retirement Program” – an online retirement planning tool, annual workbooks, member newsletters, and financial advice through our alliance with financial journalist and television personality, Gail Vaz Oxlade.

3. Do you receive adequate information and reporting to effectively monitor the activity and status of the plan?  Do you receive reports identifying how the assets within the plan are invested - broken down by age group?

  • [”No” indicates the company is not receiving sufficient information to effectively monitor and manage the plan in its role as a fiduciary.]  
    Notes:  Through Manulife’s secure website, plan sponsors have convenient online access to plan level reports, member account information, and transaction processing.  Manulife’s Plan Sponsor Call Centre is available to assist with day-to-day administration of the plan.  The Manulife Client Relationship Manager assigned to your plan is available to assist with matters that are more strategic or need escalation

4. Has your company recently reviewed the investment management fees (IMFs or MERs) on the funds within the plan to ensure they are competitive?

  • [If “no”, offer to conduct a service provider review or Request For Proposal (RFP) search process.  Explain that you will probably be able to reduce the investment management fees charged.]
    Note:  The fees within Manulife’s group retirement plan will most likely be lower than those charged by retail mutual funds, which are typically greater than 2%.

5. When was the last time that your company reviewed the investment performance of all the funds within the plan to ensure they are competitive?

  • [If not recently, offer to provide an evaluation against similar funds and appropriate benchmarks to ensure the funds are performing among the best in class.]  
    Note:  Over 25 different portfolio managers and more than 95 funds are represented on Manulife’s investment platform, so there is a wide variety of choice for plan members.

6. Is your company periodically monitoring the portfolio managers of the investment funds offered within your group retirement plan?  Are you aware if there have been any changes in key fund-management personnel, or whether the portfolio manager’s investment philosophy, style, or strategy has changed?

  • [If “no”, offer to review the funds available to identify whether there have been any key changes by the portfolio managers.]
    Notes:  Manulife’s i-Watch® program was created to monitor the fund managers selected and to provide confidence that the funds offered within our plans are of superior quality.  This information is readily available to the plan sponsor on the plan sponsor secure site.  Most mutual fund company group retirement programs only offer funds within their own proprietary fund family.

 Plan governance-related questions

1. Are you familiar with the Capital Accumulation Plan (CAP) Guidelines?  Does your company understand its role as a fiduciary to employees under the CAP Guidelines and the related liability?

  • [If no, briefly describe the concept of the CAP Guidelines and the expectation they be followed as a best practices to ensure good governance.]  

Note:  The Capital Accumulation Plan (CAP) Guidelines are best practices for the effective governance of company-sponsored group retirement plans.  These Guidelines outline and clarify the rights and responsibilities of plan sponsors, service providers, and plan members. The Guidelines ensure plan members receive the information and assistance they need to make informed investment decisions. The CAP Guidelines are not regulations and do not have the force of law; however, sponsors are expected to follow the Guidelines as a best practice.

2. Is your company aware of its specific responsibilities as Plan Sponsor under the CAP Guidelines? 
In particular:

  • Are you certain that your plan offers a sufficiently diverse range of investment options?   Does your company have a written guarantee providing legal protection that your plan offers adequate investment diversification? 
  • Have you developed specific guidelines or criteria for adding or removing funds from the choices available to employees?
  • Do you feel employees receive sufficient information about the funds available to them?  Do employees have the decision-making tools needed to make educated investment decisions?
  • Have you defined the roles and responsibilities of service providers, plan members, and the sponsor within the CAP?
  • Have you identified specific criteria for selecting and monitoring service providers? Examples are industry experience and knowledge, financial strength and stability, fees/cost, service support infrastructure etc.?
  • Do you have a process for documenting and resolving plan member complaints regarding service providers or with the rules of the plan?
  • Do employees have a booklet which describes the purpose as well as terms and conditions of your company’s plan (e.g. employee and employer contribution formula, plan eligibility, withdrawal restrictions, vesting)?
  • Does your company have a pension committee and are plan reviews conducted at least annually?
  • Have you determined if investment advice will be provided to plan members?  If so, who will provide advice and how will it be delivered?

Note:   Manulife’s online Plan Governance Support Centre provides information and automated tools to help Plan Sponsors meet the requirements for good governance under the CAP Guidelines.

Section B:  No Existing Plan

 Human Resources related questions

1. Does your company want to retain key employees?  Is the lack of a company-sponsored retirement program mentioned (e.g. in exit interviews) as a reason for employee departures?

2. Does your company want to attract and hire qualified employees?  Does your company sometimes lose targeted candidates to competitors that offer a group retirement plan?

3. Does management have concerns that, at the end of a long career with your company, some employees may retire with limited savings?

4. With the elimination of mandatory retirement, does your company have issues with older, perhaps less productive employees refusing to retire because of financial concerns?

5. Are you aware that according to multiple Benefits Canada Capital Accumulation Plan Member surveys:

  • Most employees think of their employer more positively because of the company retirement plan and the majority of employees would be reluctant to leave their employer because of the company retirement plan?
  • Employees who feel more financially secure are less anxious about the future and are often more productive at work?

 Group retirement plan related questions

1. Why has your company not established a group retirement plan previously?  Was it because of financial reasons, administration concerns, or low perceived need?

2. Is the company concerned about the increasing costs of its group life and health plan for employees?

  • [Explain that with a group retirement plan, the company can control costs so the benefit is predictable.]  

3. Is management concerned about contributing to a group retirement plan?  Does the company want to ensure that any money it contributes is used for retirement purposes only

Use the Fact Finding Questionnaire to gather key information about a group retirement plan prospect.

 

GPDS Online Training module brochure
Group Retirement Plan Fact Finding Questionnaire