Focus on Leadership: CAAT Pension Plan helps employers win the marathon for talent

February 28, 2023
Leadership Team Calgary Financial Services
CAAT 1920 x 1080

Derek Dobson is the chief executive officer of CAAT Pension Plan.

Brian Hamilton © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Employers seeking to attract top-notch talent in Calgary’s competitive job market need to offer more than just competitive salaries. 

Increasingly, firms that stand out are offering great pension plans, too. But not just any pension plan will do, says Derek Dobson, chief executive officer of CAAT Pension Plan — one of Canada’s most innovative and highest performing pension providers. 

“In the marathon for talent, workers want predictable, lifetime, inflation-protected retirement cash flows — which is the best of what a defined benefit pension offers.”

CAAT’s DBplus has the best characteristics of other workplace retirement plans without the traditional drawbacks, he says. 

Although defined benefit plans (DBs) have long been considered the gold standard among workplace pensions, they have been historically costly for employers. DBs are attractive to workers, though, offering predictable monthly lifetime payments upon retirement based on their earnings, pension contributions and years of service. 

Yet, given the perceived cost for private sector employers, most turn to less valuable alternatives. These are defined contribution (DC) plans and group RRSPs where employees and employers contribute monies, which are invested at the employees’ direction until they retire. Once retired, individuals then must manage these assets largely on their own to provide a sustainable income. 

While more cost certain for employers, “they really do very little to retain talent,” Dobson says. 

CAAT’s DBplus offers the best of DC and DB — fixed costs plus the competitive talent advantage of offering DB benefits to employees. 

“We are a unicorn among providers, bringing the best qualities of DBs and DCs together in one pension,” Dobson says. 

Launched in 2019, DBplus is appealing to employers because it provides cost certainty. They do not have to manage pension investments or administration themselves, and their obligation to employees is only their share of contributions to the plan — like DCs and group RRSPs. 

For employees, DBplus is attractive because it gives them clarity and confidence that at retirement they will have set payments for life — like a DB pension — without the need to make complicated investment decisions, now, and in retirement. 

“Essentially, we can offer a sustainable DB pension whether you have 10 employees or 10,000,” Dobson says. 

DBplus’s growth — “mostly by word of mouth” — speaks to its success, he adds.

Gaining a new employer every three days on average, the CAAT Pension has expanded across Canada to include more than 300 private and non-profit employers across 15 industries with 83,000 active and retired members. Postmedia Network is one of its many members.

Most importantly, CAAT is a sustainable non-profit and 124 per cent funded as of Jan. 1, 2022. 

“With DBplus, employers can offer that gold standard pension at affordable fixed cost,” Dobson says. “And workers don’t have to settle for a substandard pension anymore.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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