In 2011, economic conditions stunted the growth of retirement savings plan assets. Meanwhile, the number of participants rose sharply. The stampede toward defined contribution plans may partly explain this growth.
Assets in group capital accumulation plans in the accumulation phase edged 1.2% higher in 2011 versus 2010 (see top table, page 29). This is modest growth compared with the 12.3% posted in 2010 versus 2009. Fraser group president Ken Fraser attributes these results to the current economic environment.
In contrast, plan participants grew by 4.2%, Mr. Fraser says. Part of this growth comes from nonregistered vehicles such as tax-free savings account group plans. These small accounts are quietly permeating employers’ retirement savings plans. “Group TFSAs account for just under $100 million,” Mr. Fraser points out.
For the six insurers ranked, Fraser Group’s results represent 4.4 million plan members divided among 33,000 clients (employers).
Manulife skims past Standard Life
Only one change since the 2010 ranking of the six players that participated in the Fraser Group survey: Manulife Financial has edged past Standard Life Canada. The other insurers clung to last year’s positions, but Sun Life Financial and Great-West each shed 1% of their market share relative to the group of six, compared with 2010.
Defined contribution plans account for $43.8 billion of the $95.9 billion total compiled for the ranking of the six lifecos in 2011. Group RRSPs represent $39.5 billion. In addition, deferred profit sharing plans garnered assets of $6.3 billion, on a par with “Other” plans, which include sabbatical leave programs and individual pension plans. Overall, plan assets are concentrated in Ontario, which boasts 55% of the total.