Who is looking after the group RRSP?

Enron Corp.’s bankruptcy destroyed employee pensions – don’t make the same mistakes.
By Rick Headrick
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/18/2002

With the collapse of Enron Corp. virtually wiping out the retirement plans of thousands of its American employees, Canadians are wondering if the same thing could happen here? A report by Canadian financial regulators, to be released this spring, is intended to ensure pension savings invested in the market are safe from similar devastations.

In Enron’s case, the employer portion of company savings plan contributions went exclusively to buy Enron stock, and many employees heavily invested their plan contributions in Enron stock as well. When the company filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history — in a scandal that has senior management facing possible criminal charges involving the alleged cover-up of the firm’s dire financial straits — retirement savings were destroyed.

In Canada, it would be unusual for employer contributions to be invested exclusively in the employer’s stock within a group savings plan. However, some employer sponsored savings plans do require employer contributions to be invested in a single mutual fund, often a balanced fund. Employees are allowed to select the investment funds their money can go to but have no say where the employer’s contributions go.