I’ve spent most of the past four months learning how public-sector pension administration is affected by WESA (the Wills, Estates and Succession Act that goes into effect in British Columbia on March 31).
That’s because my assignment was to design WESA-related training for the people in my organization who deal with members of the different plans we administer at BC Pension Corporation.
In the training / learning networks that I connect to, I frequently see discussion (and occasional grousing) about “compliance,” which often seems to mean “having to comply with some picayune requirement.” At the moment there’s a video clip making the rounds of Twitter and Facebook, with a flight attendant joking through the standard safety announcement.
I thought it was funny (though it wouldn’t be if I had to hear it five times a month), but the mandatory pre-flight announcement is also near the bottom rung of the compliance ladder. Where I work, compliance can mean “make sure we meet the legal and fiduciary requirements established to protect the interests of the individual members of pension plans and of their public-sector employers.”
Putting that in terms of accomplishments, we want to be able to:
- Accurately describe the options you have for nominating (designating) who will receive:
- Any benefit available if you die before retirement
- Any benefit available if you die after retirement
- Correctly explain options for allocating benefits among multiple beneficiaries
- Review nominations submitted by members for completeness and accuracy
- Correctly enter that information into our system
- Update information based on changes from the member or the employer
…and a number of other changes to how we’ve done things prior to this legislation.
So one part of this post is to say “yes, compliance can matter,” and the other is just to talk a bit about how fortunate I’ve been in this new job. I was assigned to the WESA my first week on the job, because my acting manager believed it was good for people to have a project that’s their own.
I worked with the person writing our procedures related to nominations; he guided me through the initial thickets of terminology, acronyms, and workflow. My colleague Chris, the senior member of our instructional designer group, helped me plan my project and gave invaluable ideas from a course he’d developed on a similarly complicated topic. I also got to work with several subject-matter experts who “work in the plans,” as we say — their day jobs involve dealing the members of one or another of the BC public-sector plans, so they know this stuff.
Best of all, the experts who were the instructors were eager to avoid information dumps and talk shops. Ultimately we created three versions of our course, tailored to three different job categories. Lots of practice cases — including simple ones they walked the participants through, so people could see the relevant part of the system and update a (fictional) member’s records instead of just having someone tell them how they’d do it back on the job.
I’m thinking of writing a bit more about this. I need to find the right balance between describing what I think is worth talking about, safeguarding specifics about our members and our systems, and putting people to sleep with more information about nominating beneficiaries than they might want to know.
I’ll figure that out, and I’ll try to get my posting frequency up a bit. I’ve been missing the thinking-out-loud for quite some time.