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Top five factors to consider when evaluating retirement consultants for your business

The Canadian retirement landscape is continuously evolving, presenting challenges and opportunities for businesses aiming to support their employees' current financial wellbeing and future fiscal security. Rapid change in all facets of life and within the pension industry means it’s time to start taking a more proactive approach to each employee’s retirement savings options.
To ensure successful retirement outcomes, your organization needs support to navigate the pension and benefits landscape. You also need experts committed to keeping a watchful eye on the state of the economy, changing workforce patterns, data and overarching macro trends that will impact each offering served to your employees.
The right retirement consultant will share new tools and ideas and help you make decisions to better understand and bolster your retirement plan. Selecting the ideal partner in shaping and governing your retirement offerings has become increasingly crucial, considering the multifaceted needs of a diverse and evolving workforce.

Risks of not working with a retirement consultant

There are several risks to consider if you decide to navigate the retirement landscape alone. 

Losing Talent

Employers' support for benefits and pensions significantly influences employees’ decisions to join or remain with a company. Strong candidates will do their research and “shop around” for employment opportunities with companies that offer benefits that best serve their individual needs. Choosing a one-size-fits-all solution and moving on to the next task will put you at risk of losing current and future talent.

Overlooking diverse workforce needs

Failing to cater to the needs of a multigenerational workforce and ensuring employees understand how to utilize their benefits fully can lead to dissatisfaction and disengagement. At any given time, employees may be entering the workforce for the first time, while others are approaching retirement. Communicating the importance of retirement planning to younger workers, while best serving your seasoned employees, must be achieved to cater to their individual stages in life.

Missing opportunities and compliance issues

A lack of awareness about new opportunities or failure to adhere to changing regulations can result in financial consequences, reputational damage, hidden risks or missed advantages to your people’s retirement outcomes. Having a consultant in your corner with a keen awareness of the overall landscape, as well as region-specific requirements and considerations, can prevent a multitude of issues and ease the strain of trying to keep up-to-date with rapid changes alone. Plus, your organization could benefit from cost savings or more value-adding options you may not yet know are out there.

The importance of selecting the right retirement consultants

While a simple search for ‘retirement consultants’ will yield plenty of results, just as you wouldn’t hire the first candidate who sends in their resume for a highly specialized role, you shouldn’t pick a consultant without careful evaluation and vetting.
Experience and expertise are important factors, but an understanding that retirement is one piece of the “total wellbeing puzzle” (that is, financial, mental and physical wellbeing) is key. Your top retirement consultant choice should understand the tremendous impact benefits have on employees’ ability to remain focused at work and drive innovation and collaboration in what they do to enhance your customers’ experience. They also need to be able to advise you how different choices you might make for your employees impact your business risk and operational needs.
Recognizing the weaknesses in the consultant evaluation process, such as one-size-fits-all solutions, high fees, limited employee engagement and outdated tools, is equally as important. Initiate deeper discussions with consultants to determine if they align with your company’s values and can help you meet your employees’ needs.

Partnering with the right retirement expert ensures long-term benefits for your organization. Canadian businesses must take proactive steps in structuring, governing and educating about retirement plans to secure their employees' future financial stability, so consider these five factors while assessing possible retirement consultants.

Factor 1: Understanding your business needs
The first step in evaluating retirement consultants is assessing your organization's retirement outcome goals, challenges, risk tolerance and the specific services required. A customized approach aligned with company values enhances collaboration and produces more successful outcomes.
Every retirement plan is different, and every organization has a different set of priorities. The right consultant can customize a solution, as well as its governance and operations, and focus discussions around your needs. They should be able to build a strategy based on your objectives and help you achieve goals tailored to your workforce and business profile.

Factor 2: Expertise and credentials
Experienced and qualified retirement consultants play a pivotal role in optimizing retirement benefits and savings programs. In Canada, certifications and expertise tailored to the country’s unique retirement landscape are essential.
The right consultant can identify any inefficiencies or risks in your program. Let your consultants ensure they have the knowledge and experience required to help you combat challenges and achieve better outcomes. Gather real references, testimonials and referrals as well as proof that they can walk the talk.

Factor 3: Regulatory compliance

Consultants must stay up-to-date with changing federal and provincial regulations to minimize any legal risks that could affect your business. The right consultant should serve as an extension of your team with unique skills to untangle the complexities involved in retirement regulations.
As your business objectives change and employees move through various life stages, your retirement partner should know exactly what your organization needs to know and do at every step. Consider Factor 2 when evaluating your consultant’s expertise and knowledge of the Canadian retirement landscape to mitigate risk and ensure your company is staying in compliance.

Factor 4: Communication and employee education
Consultants can help facilitate employee education and engagement in retirement planning through effective communication, regular reporting, training, learning seminars and resources that are accessible across the organization. Many workers are losing confidence in knowing they will be financially secure when they retire. The right consultant will offer independent and strategic financial coaching for either groups or individuals that encompass more than just pensions.

Start to shift your thinking of your retirement program as an anchoring component of a financial wellbeing strategy, and choose a consultant who shares this same mindset. Even defined contribution retirement programs, which too many employers still assume they can pay into and ignore, should be seen as foundational to your organization’s financial wellbeing strategy, and your consultant should be able to help you communicate what your workforce needs to know in a way that keeps their best interests in mind.

Factor 5: Cost and value
With today's financial pressures and uncertainty, both employers and employees are looking for ways to make scarce dollars go further in all areas of their lives. Employees and employers alike need their contributions to go further. Affordable, efficient retirement programs deliver on that goal, and your consultant should know what solutions will work best for you.
Transparency in fees and service agreements is vital. Your retirement planning consultant should help monitor and manage your organization’s pension plans to help you find the most beneficial, cost-effective solution, while also keeping your budget in mind when communicating the cost of their services. Balancing these expenses with the value and benefits offered ensures a measurable return on investment, as well as a stronger relationship between your team and your retirement expert.

Choose a partner with a comprehensive approach

Retirement readiness extends beyond benefits. It encompasses mental and financial wellbeing and does not view these two as separate. In fact, this link has never been more important to Canadian businesses than now. Our research shows that a workforce’s financial security is a strong driver in mental health and total wellbeing.
Total wellbeing has a tremendous impact on employees’ ability to be fully present at work and drive innovation in what they do to enhance customer experience. Plans that provide higher value outcomes for dollars contributed—so other financial priorities can be addressed—will change the way we think about what truly makes a program competitive and what contributes to positive wellbeing.

More and more employers understand and agree that benefits and pensions are important to employees' decisions to join or stay with an organization. This is not just true for the older generations anymore: it is becoming increasingly important to corporate workers ages 18 to 35. With increasing competition for talent, companies with integrated total wellbeing strategies are positioning themselves to attract and retain a better workforce.
Seek consultants who offer holistic solutions for employers and employees, understanding that mental, physical and financial health are intrinsically linked. Select consultants who are experienced experts in Canadian business needs and can tailor services to meet your organization’s specific needs.

Your retirement consultants are waiting

For expert assistance in retirement planning, consider TELUS Health. We have been in the business of helping organizations and their employees make better decisions around their pensions for over 50 years. Today, we support more than $600 billion in pension savings with more than 11 million plan participants.
From consulting to administration services, everything we do is to assist organizations and their people toward retirement and financial well-being. Contact us today to learn more.