Chairperson's Corner

Pension Section News–Number 64 | May 2007

Chairperson's Corner

By Martine Sohier, FSA, FCIA

With the aging of the North American population, there will be more competition for workers as labour shortages gradually increase. Employers will need to focus on attraction and retention strategies. New means to retain older workers will be required. In this context, how will retirement promises make a difference in the chase and retention of talent?

In our global economy, many companies are now looking to attract qualified workers from around the world. What kind of retirement benefits, if any, should companies commit to remain competitive internationally? To best answer this question in a global market, we need to keep ourselves abreast of what is happening in other countries. Has the optimal solution been found somewhere else to address retirement savings accumulation and decumulation issues? What can we learn from others that can help us find the best ways to address the challenges we face in our retirement system? We need to keep an international perspective in mind as we continue to advance in our Retirement 20/20 initiative.

Retirement 20/20

On April 16th, we published our report on the first Retirement 20/20 conference, “Building the Foundations for New Retirement Systems”, which was held on September 28–29 of last year in Washington, D.C.  You can read both the full report and the "headlines" at A summary of the headlines from the conference was also provided to you in January in our first electronic Pension Section News.

We are now embarking on our second phase of Retirement 20/20. At this stage, we are focusing on the alignment of stakeholders’ roles within a retirement system with their skills. Fundamental questions will be addressed through this second phase, such as what responsibilities and risks employers should bear when sponsoring a pension plan. Should we rely on individuals to make the best decisions when it comes to retirement income planning? Should the markets play an increased role in putting forward solutions to enhance the delivery of retirement promises? Our second conference discussing the alignment of roles with skills will be held on September 24–25, 2007.    We are also starting research projects to look at some issues more deeply, including how we can use the markets more effectively in pooling and hedging of retirement risks, and what other possibilities there are for self–adjustment mechanisms in retirement systems.  Results of this research will be published in 2008.

We continuously strive to improve the quality and delivery of the information we provide you. This is why we asked you in the January Pension Section News to participate in a brief survey on your preferences for the Pension Section News format.

The results of the survey received so far are summarized by Mike Price in this issue.

We have adjusted the format of this edition in accordance with your preferences. We want to thank you for your responses and comments as this brings of a lot of value to the delivery of our Pension Section News.

Please contact Emily Kessler, SOA retirement systems staff fellow, at , or myself at to provide us with your comments or to let us know if you are interested in getting involved with any of the Pension Section Council projects.

Martine Sohier, Chair of the Pension Section Council, works for Watson Wyatt Worldwide in Toronto, Ontario. She can be reached at