It has been just over seven months since I announced my partnership with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.(AJG) and I'm just as thrilled about it as I was back in late August 2013.
A few weeks ago, my team and I were featured on page 17 of the May 2014 issue of the Ottawa Business Journal. The article highlights some of the many reasons this partnership makes great sense for our clients, our team and our community.
While this change allows us to provide a more robust service platform with a new international offering, we continue to steadfastly honour our client-centric model where providing superior service and innovative solutions for our clients' insurance and benefits consulting needs is a top priority.
The merger with AJG allows us to expand our service offering in new and important ways. With more than 100 branches around the world, we're well supported by a national platform while we still maintain a local Ottawa presence.
With an increased range of services including group insurance, executive and personal benefits, retirement services, international benefits, human resource consulting, and optional benefits, our team is well positioned to access the information and services our clients request. Although our name has changed, our entire staff remains in place. We've just moved to a different suite no. 510, within the same building we've occupied for years at 220 Laurier Avenue West in Ottawa.
We're excited to share our full range of services with you and we'd love to hear from you if you have any questions about how we can support your needs. As always, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Please feel free to drop by and visit us.
The World Health Organization reported that chronic disease is expected to account for 89% of all deaths in Canada. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that there are more than 133 million Americans living with at least one chronic disease.
Whether you live north or south of the border, the statistics are staggering. Chronic conditions are becoming increasingly commonplace. The Almanac of Chronic Disease reported that at least 80% of the U.S. workforce lives with a chronic illness. The challenge for employers is to establish and maintain ways to keep employees healthy and engaged.
Living and working with a chronic disease means additional challenges for the employee and for the employer. Once it is determined that the individual can continue to be a productive employee, one of the next considerations for an employer involves accommodation. Some chronic conditions are unpredictable with frequent flare ups and invisible symptoms. Working with Human Resources, the employee's leader and attending physician, workplace accommodation can help ensure the individual is able to stay on the job and continue to be a valuable, contributing employee.
Information about the employee's condition and duty to accommodate must remain strictly confidential. On a need to know basis and where there could be health and safety issues, the chronically ill employee should ensure that his leader and colleagues know enough to respond quickly and accurately if an emergency occurs (e.g. seizure).
Increasingly, there is greater workplace flexibility and work from home arrangements for many employees. This environment creates a more flexibility for those living and working with chronic disease.
Key steps for an employee who has been diagnosed with a chronic disease to consider include -
Employers can help employees living and working with a chronic disease by being open, having clear policies to facilitate accommodation and foremost, but offering wellness programs that centre on illness and disease prevention.
Many employers don't have a fulsome picture of productivity loss due to absenteeism and disability costs. Measuring downtime on human capital hasn't been easy to figure out or track. To find out more about ways to develop wellness and prevention programs as well as track direct and indirect costs due to productivity loss, contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
There is so much discussion about retirement planning both north and south of the border as governments address concerns regarding statistics that cannot be avoided -- people aren't saving enough for retirement.
While there has been much written about retirement planning as one of the most important financial goals a person can undertake, not enough people are taking the steps to ensure their future freedom from poverty or penny pinching.
In a recent PBS Frontline interview, over 900 people in any given 1000 person retirement plan in the U.S. will retire in poverty or run out of money before death. This statistic actualizes a major fear that retirees face.
How does a misstep like this occur? According to the Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, 60% of workers have not accurately assessed the amount of money they will need to save for retirement. Fortune magazine published a study demonstrating that people with written plans had an average of five times the amount of money at retirement as those with no formal plans.
Another prevalent misstep is simply that people don't save enough. It doesn't come down to a decision regarding whether or not to consume but rather WHEN to consume. The simple premise remains that when people consume more now, less money has the opportunity to compound and grow. It comes down to the 'start saving today' principle, which has been said so much that the importance of it gets easily tuned out.
Jack Vanderhei of Employee Benefit Research recommends that a male who retires at age 65 after working 30 years and relies entirely on government sponsored pension plans and his own retirement plan needs to save 13.3% of his total income. Similarly, a female needs to save 14.1% because of her longer life expectancy.
The third major misstep in retirement planning is that people just don't start saving early enough. It can be an easy trap to fall into when there are so many competing priorities such as buying a home or putting the kids through university. Many in their twenties simply aren't thinking about saving for retirement when it seems that there is so much time to address planning later. Savings statistics show that the longer the delay before getting started, the harder it is to catch up and enjoy more financial freedom later in life.
For every 6 years a person waits to start saving, it doubles the required monthly savings to reach the same level of retirement income. The magic in this equation is that money is multiplied by time, which provides the power to compound wealth accumulation. In this scenario, procrastination and believing that there will be lots of time later becomes a costly mistake.
There certainly are other missteps that surprise people who don't plan or anticipate what may come down the road for them in their later years. From believing they will want to work forever to investing too aggressively or not enough, it is important to pay attention to retirement planning on a regular basis. It isn't something that should be a once and done exercise.
For more information about tips and considerations for avoiding retirement savings missteps, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Last Thursday, the provincial budget was unveiled and with it the introduction of the changes to the provincial government including first of its kind in Canada changes that will affect more than three million working Ontarians, many who rely on Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and their own savings for retirement income.
Finance Minster Charles Sousa promises that the proposed ORPP would provide a maximum of $25,275 annually to future retirees who are young workers now with a goal of replacing at least 15 percent of their pre-retirement income.
The recommendation for ORPP gained momentum due to the federal government’s rejection of enhancements to CPP as well as the growing concern of Canadians lack of retirement savings.
ORPP targets middle-income earning Ontarians who are most at risk of undersaving and those who don’t have group pension plans through their employer. This cohort represents approximately two-thirds of workers in the province.
The new ORPP plan would be designed with features that mirror elements of the CPP and with the hopes that Canadian workers will be willing to pay now for more income later in life. For existing plan members of a group pension plan, they will not be required to enroll in ORPP.
ORPP is intended to be introduced in 2017 and just in time for expected reductions in Employment Insurance premiums with a two year phase in period.
Under the new ORPP model, contributions for a worker earning $45,000 annually would be $788 and would result in a maximum annual payout of $6,410. For a worker earning $70,000 annually, their ORPP contribution would be $1,263 for a maximum annual payout of $9,970. It is intended that annual contributions would be matched by employers, which would raise approximately $3.5 billion a year for the pension pool. With this contribution matching, there are concerns about the recommendations regarding ORPP including the cost of premiums as employers consider what the additional costs may do to their business and how that may impact jobs.
There are a number of details yet to be ironed out with the pending legislation to create the ORPP, which is intended to be introduced later in 2014.
Please feel free to contact us to learn more about ORPP and other retirement savings vehicles that may suit your goals. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.