CAPSA publishes final version of guideline on searching for un-locatable members
On February 7, 2019, the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA) published the final version of Guideline No. 9 – Searching for Un-locatable Members of a Pension Plan (Guideline No. 9).
CAPSA’s Guideline No. 9 was released in response to numerous inquiries from pension plan members and administrators regarding un-locatable members. Guideline No. 9 was published in draft form on June 21, 2018 and was summarized in the August 2018 News & Views.
The final version of Guideline No. 9 emphasizes that retaining and maintaining plan records is ultimately the administrator’s responsibility, although it states that pension plan beneficiaries have a role to play in keeping administrators informed of changes to their contact information.
CAPSA has included a new suggestion in the final version of Guideline No. 9 that information could be shared and co-ordinated among various entities, such as custodians, service providers, bargaining agents and plan sponsors, as a way of ensuring member and beneficiary information remains current.
If a member cannot be located, Guideline No. 9 recommends using all “reasonable” methods to locate plan members, a departure from the draft guideline, which suggested using all “possible” methods. The guideline recommends a variety of possible search tools, ranging from inexpensive to relatively costly options. CAPSA has added the use of last known e-mail addresses, newspaper advertisements and the custodian/fund holder associated with the plan as possible search tools in its final version of Guideline No. 9. CAPSA states that administrators should consider privacy concerns when conducting searches.
Consistent with the draft version of Guideline No. 9, CAPSA discusses the Canada Revenue Agency letter forwarding service, unclaimed property legislation, and suggests a searchable database or registry of missing members on the employer’s website.
Guideline No. 9 includes helpful information for plan administrators to consider when searching for un-locatable members and beneficiaries. It states that it is the responsibility of plan administrators to conduct periodic searches and to maintain current contact information for members and responsibilities, although members and beneficiaries have a role to play.
Guideline No. 9 recommends administrators develop a fulsome policy for dealing with all components of a search process, including how frequently to conduct a search. It also emphasizes the need to develop and implement a comprehensive records management and retention policy.
As noted by Guideline No. 9, plan administrators must consider privacy concerns when sharing or publicizing member information, even when they are acting with the intention of finding missing members.