How are pension plan sponsors’ fiduciary duties evolving in the time of coronavirus? – Benefits Canada

Julien Ranger

May 19, 2020

One of the issues that pension plan sponsors should consider during the COVID-19 pandemic is benefits security, Osler partner Julien Ranger tells a webinar roundtable hosted by the Association of Canadian Pension Management. In an article in Benefits Canada, author Kelsey Rolfe details the webinar, which discussed how pension plan sponsors’ fiduciary duties are evolving as a result of the pandemic. Julien, a partner in Osler’s Pensions and Benefits Group, explains the importance of considering benefits security.

“Is the security of benefits jeopardized by having an up-cycle evaluation at this time? In many cases the answer will be no and then at least you have documented that you’ve thought about it,” Julien says.

Julien also says that plan sponsors must act in the “best interests of plan members when considering changes to the plan, such as reducing contribution levels, as pension investments have taken a hit from the pandemic-induced market downturn.”

“I think it will be important for administrators to be able to show that they’ve at least turned their minds to the fiduciary consideration,” Julien says. “We’ve been in those meetings and sometimes we just look at the numbers and it makes so much sense from a financial perspective . . . but you want to be able to demonstrate that you’ve turned your minds to the conflict of interest issues.”

For more information on the webinar discussion, read author Kelsey Rolfe’s article “How are pension plan sponsors’ fiduciary duties evolving in the time of coronavirus?” in Benefits Canada on May 19, 2020.