Are you saying no to “free money” at work?

Sun Life Financial survey finds one in five working Canadians who have access to employer-matched savings programs do not take full advantage of benefit

TORONTO, Feb. 27 2008 – A recent survey by Sun Life Financial found that nearly 40 per cent of employed Canadians have access to employer-matched savings programs, but one in five are leaving this “free money” on the table.

Data from Sun Life’s Group Retirement Services business, the leading provider of defined contribution, group RRSP and Deferred Profit Sharing Plans in Canada, shows that depending on what type of match the employer offers, employees who don’t take advantage of these programs are foregoing anywhere from a 25 to a 150 per cent return on their investment.

When asked why they don’t take advantage of these types of matching programs, the top reasons include:

  • they did not have the desire to do so (21 per cent);
  • they did not have the money to spare (14 per cent); and
  • they preferred to invest on their own (6 per cent).

“What this shows is that the industry as a whole needs to do a better job of educating working Canadians about the huge benefits of participating in retirement programs offered to them by their employer,” said Dean Connor, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Other than these employer-sponsored matching programs, there aren’t savings or investment vehicles that offer a guaranteed return of at least 25 per cent. It’s free money and Canadians should be taking advantage of this benefit.”

The survey found that women (73 per cent) are far more likely than men (65 per cent) to always take advantage of these employer-matching programs. Across the country, working Canadians living in the Atlantic provinces (78 per cent) are most likely to take advantage of employer matches, while Quebecers (59 per cent) are least likely to do so.

In addition to the matching benefit that comes with many of these savings vehicles, there are some basic benefits that come with saving through your employer, including:

  • Contributions to employer-sponsored programs are made pre-tax.
  • Fees can be significantly lower than retail mutual fund rates because employers often receive a volume discount through group savings programs.
  • Through their employer, employees gain access to a broad set of funds, many of which are usually only available to the high net worth market.

“With retirement savings so top of mind right now, it’s surprising to see that so many Canadians are leaving millions of dollars on the table,” added Connor. “At Sun Life, we urge Canadians to take a good look at not only their personal savings but also at what their employers offer in terms of a match.”

The national telephone survey by Omnitel, a division of Maritz Research, was conducted between January 8 and January 19, 2008. A total of 1,530 working Canadians (working full time, part time or self employed) were interviewed. Survey findings are accurate, plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. More information about the survey can be found on

About Sun Life Financial

Serving one in every five Canadians, Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies. As of December 31, 2007, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $425 billion.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF.