Financial Well-Being and Economic Prosperity
Financial services, the mainstay of our business, make a positive contribution to society by providing financial security to virtually millions of people. In short, we protect and improve the long-term financial position of individuals, and offer programs to help them manage their healthcare needs. By the very nature of our group companies, our activities are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and create social and economic prosperity.
A 2014 study released by the Conference Board of Canada, Boosting Retirement Readiness and the Economy Through Financial Advice, found that investors who work with a financial advisor have a higher savings rate on average than those who do not. For example, over a 15-year period, households working with an advisor had 2.7 times the assets of a household without a financial advisor. The study highlights the value advisors add by encouraging more disciplined saving and investment behaviour.
With more than 30 million customer relationships in Canada, the United States and Europe, our financial services companies represent a positive force in society by enabling financial security through life and health insurance, retirement savings programs, and a suite of investment products.
Highlights from our Group Companies
Financial Security and Retirement
In 2016 alone, Great-West Lifeco’s Canadian operations helped more than 44,000 families cope with loss, paying out more than $2.4 billion in life insurance claims, provided income for over 76,000 people who became disabled and could no longer work, and paid over 56 million claims representing more than $4.6 billion in health and dental benefits for plan members. They made over $800 million of annuity payments, helping Canadians fund their retirement with a secure income stream. Also in 2016, Great-West Life held $100 billion in retirement and other investment holdings for Canadians and paid $9.1 billion in benefits.
As investment managers, IGM Financial’s group companies contribute to the economy through the efficient allocation and professional management of investment funds – across countries, industries and asset classes. Their largest impact comes from responsibly managing their business and generating long-term value and profitability, which enables them to distribute economic value to their many shareholders and other stakeholders in Canada. Through its advisors, IGM Financial helps Canadians build an integrated financial plan to meet their short- and long-term goals. Financial advisors are trained to recommend products that are suitable for each client’s individual situation.
IGM Financial is making a difference for Canadians in all age groups and income levels – including those in lower income ranges who were not financially secure when they sought help from an advisor. IGM Financial also provides mutual funds at very low investment minimums, making it possible to provide much-needed access to financial products and services to all households, regardless of income or wealth levels.
In 2016, Great-West Life continued to embrace technology and social media to reach Canadians with educational tools that can help them understand the benefits of retirement savings plans. Great-West continues to leverage its smartpathnow.com website to offer free online learning for all stages of savings and retirement planning through games, calculators, videos and text-based learning about personal financial planning.
In 2016, it also launched How much is enough?, a three-part education series of presentations developed to help people determine exactly what to save for their retirement. These information tools were made available for free to the public through their SmartPATH website.
Great-West Lifeco also offers product solutions to meet the needs of workers who do not have registered retirement savings plans.
Our group companies’ commitment to improving financial literacy also represents a means to further expand their positive impact on the financial security of their clients.
Since 2014, Great-West Lifeco is the national sponsor of CPA Canada’s innovative and award-winning financial literacy program and, in 2016, pursued its commitment through several new initiatives. The objective is to further contributing to help empower all Canadians to make the best financial decisions, with an ultimate goal of the long-term financial well-being of Canadian families. Through this support, it helps meet the financial literacy needs of community organizations, underserved groups like new Canadians and Indigenous Peoples, post-secondary students and individuals of all ages.
Investors Group’s ongoing collaboration with the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE) continued to make a real contribution in 2016 to improving financial literacy of youth and their parents. The company still supports CFEE’s Building Futures program, which helps provinces integrate financial education into the core curriculum for grades 4 to 10. It also supported new courses as they were developed for the high school level, including lesson plans and workshops for teacher professional development. Building Futures leverages the popular guidebook Money and Youth: A Guide to Financial Literacy for high school students produced by CFEE with funding from Investors Group. Money and Youth was also made available as an e-book for increased accessibility. With support from Investors Group, more than 450,000 copies are in circulation to schools and households, helping to improve the financial literacy of Canadian youth.
In 2016, Investors Group received the CFEE Financial Literacy Award for its years of leadership and continued commitment to improving the financial literacy of youth across Canada.
Investments to Spur Growth
Through its investment activities, Great-West Lifeco provides long-term capital, contributing to economic growth, and helping Canadians reach their financial goals. The company’s commercial mortgages, public bond and private placement investments provide opportunities for businesses and governments to help create employment, fund research and development, and support infrastructure, healthcare and renewable energy projects.
In 2016, Great-West Lifeco’s Canadian public bond and private debt groups invested more than $1.6 billion in infrastructure, including investments in green energy projects, airports, port terminals, hospitals, transit, highways, utilities, schools and universities. These green energy projects included investments in solar, wind and hydro energy projects. The company also invested more than $100 million in independent finance companies that act as alternative funding sources for small to medium-sized Canadian businesses. In 2016, they also funded more than $2.4 billion in new private debt and commercial mortgages across Canada.
Through its subsidiary GLC Asset Management, Great-West Lifeco also provides a suite of investment offerings, including socially responsible investing mandates, giving clients a meaningful way to help ensure their investments promote a higher level of environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and corporate governance.