Investing

Sunlife Group Retirement Investment Fees

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 5th, 2020 6:57 pm
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 27, 2019
30 posts
21 upvotes

Sunlife Group Retirement Investment Fees

Hello!

I just finished reading Millionaire Teacher and it got me thinking about my work investments. I am with Sunlife financial and I called and asked if the posted fees that I see in the account are the total fees paid for each fund. They confirmed and I just want to verify that these group investment plans can negotiate lower fees? The reason for the doubt is after searching for all the funds I was previously in, the MER I found online were higher than what Sunlife posted within my account. Here are the fees that are displayed for available funds:

Fund Annualized Percentage
Fidelity True North Fd MF 0.58 %
Mawer New Canada Fund MF 0.51 %
Mawer Intl Equity MF 0.54 %
BLK Global Equity Index 0.38 %
MFS Intl Equity 0.58 %
Fidelity ClearPath Income 0.51 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2015 0.53 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2020 0.54 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2025 0.53 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2030 0.53 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2035 0.54 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2040 0.54 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2045 0.55 %
SL MFS U.S. Growth 0.45 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2050 0.55 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2055 0.55 %
PH&N Core Plus Bond Fund 0.38 %
Fidelity ClearPath 2060 0.54 %
B.G. Canadian Equity 0.44 %
BLK Bond Index Fund 0.19 %
BLK S&P/TSX Comp Index 0.18 %
CC&L Grp Balanced Plus 0.56 %
SLF Money Market 0.16 %
BLK US Equity Index Reg 0.19 %

I just want to ensure that the fees above would be the fees paid, not in addition to the MER fees attached to the fund.
14 replies
Deal Addict
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May 11, 2014
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Those are the exact MER fees you pay. The ones on the Sunlife website are ones you would pay if you were to go on your own to Sunlife. When an employer or company does it, they often get cheaper plans with decent management fees for their employees as they attract a larger number of accounts and money.

For simplicity, ease and the likely fact that you get matching or employer contributions, it is perfectly fine to go with these funds longer term. If you do want more control, buy your own funds etc., you can consider transferring out from Sunlife to your own accounts. Keep in mind though the transfer fees, and any vesting periods (for example, an employer match may only be eligible if you keep the money in the funds for one year, you need to find your plan's specifics). It has to be worth the effort
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[OP]
Newbie
Jul 27, 2019
30 posts
21 upvotes
xgbsSS wrote: Those are the exact MER fees you pay. The ones on the Sunlife website are ones you would pay if you were to go on your own to Sunlife. When an employer or company does it, they often get cheaper plans with decent management fees for their employees as they attract a larger number of accounts and money.

For simplicity, ease and the likely fact that you get matching or employer contributions, it is perfectly fine to go with these funds longer term. If you do want more control, buy your own funds etc., you can consider transferring out from Sunlife to your own accounts. Keep in mind though the transfer fees, and any vesting periods (for example, an employer match may only be eligible if you keep the money in the funds for one year, you need to find your plan's specifics). It has to be worth the effort
Awesome! Thank you very much for the reply! I am pretty happy that I wasn't entirely paying too much for MER for what I was in before I re-allocated but now I should be fee efficient and actually balanced according to my goals. Can't say enough good things about "Millionaire Teacher", it completely filled in the blanks that I had when it comes to investing and portfolio mixes.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 27, 2019
30 posts
21 upvotes
Also for anyone curious or have any pointers I am in the following:
30% BLK Bond Index Fund - 0.19%
20% BLK Global Equity Index - 0.38%
25% BLK S&P/TSX Comp Index - 0.18%
25% BLK US Equity Index Reg - 0.19%
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May 11, 2014
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GerryFolds wrote: Also for anyone curious or have any pointers I am in the following:
30% BLK Bond Index Fund - 0.19%
20% BLK Global Equity Index - 0.38%
25% BLK S&P/TSX Comp Index - 0.18%
25% BLK US Equity Index Reg - 0.19%
Not much to say. Don't know your series numbers on the funds. What I can say is that when your costs are low like that, sometimes managed funds can be really good. Take for example those Mawer funds listed. Yes, the MER is higher, but their performance is really good and tends to outperform their index. https://www.mawer.com/funds/performance/
This is not guaranteed, however when your costs are already low, there is nothing wrong with looking at non-index funds as well.

morningstar.ca is a decent resource to look at the fund and look at their equivalent index.

In general, as long as you have a diversified portfolio and maximizing your employer match as much as you can, you are fine.
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GerryFolds wrote: Also for anyone curious or have any pointers I am in the following:
30% BLK Bond Index Fund - 0.19%
20% BLK Global Equity Index - 0.38%
25% BLK S&P/TSX Comp Index - 0.18%
25% BLK US Equity Index Reg - 0.19%
What’s in the Global Equity Index? If it’s a truly Global fund you would have duplication of US equities. To properly complete the other 3 low cost funds, you’d need an EAFE fund or preferably EAFE + EM. Alternatively, lose the US fund and go with a 3 fund portfolio with 45% in the Global fund.
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S5 wrote: What’s in the Global Equity Index? If it’s a truly Global fund you would have duplication of US equities. To properly complete the other 3 low cost funds, you’d need an EAFE fund or preferably EAFE + EM. Alternatively, lose the US fund and go with a 3 fund portfolio with 45% in the Global fund.
+1.

Since this is a group plan BLK global, I know the composition is this...
http://cobrands.morningstar.ca/ProfileS ... FOUSA06OXA
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Deal Fanatic
Jul 1, 2007
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xgbsSS wrote: +1.

Since this is a group plan BLK global, I know the composition is this...
http://cobrands.morningstar.ca/ProfileS ... FOUSA06OXA
So, the global fund is actually majority U.S.. The OP can probably just omit the U.S. index fund.

Nothing wrong with the selection, but as Dr. Krieger says, you don't need to go purely by lowest fee. They're all good deals, thanks to your employer probably having pretty good economies of scale. If this is something you're regularly dollar-cost-averaging into, why not omit the bond fund (or are you 10 years away from retirement)?
Money Smarts Blog wrote: I agree with the previous posters, especially Thalo. {And} Thalo's advice is spot on.
[OP]
Newbie
Jul 27, 2019
30 posts
21 upvotes
Thalo wrote: So, the global fund is actually majority U.S.. The OP can probably just omit the U.S. index fund.

Nothing wrong with the selection, but as Dr. Krieger says, you don't need to go purely by lowest fee. They're all good deals, thanks to your employer probably having pretty good economies of scale. If this is something you're regularly dollar-cost-averaging into, why not omit the bond fund (or are you 10 years away from retirement)?
I put the bond fund in there to have a similar percentage of bonds as my age, and I also believe this momentum can’t stay up forever and when it turns and markets correct I’ll buy more equities and even sell off my bonds to keep the ratio intact. Hopefully my thought works out, I’d prefer to be balanced this way for peace of mind as well.
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GerryFolds wrote: I put the bond fund in there to have a similar percentage of bonds as my age, and I also believe this momentum can’t stay up forever and when it turns and markets correct I’ll buy more equities and even sell off my bonds to keep the ratio intact. Hopefully my thought works out, I’d prefer to be balanced this way for peace of mind as well.
The bonds to equal your age thing is a very old and obsolete "rule of thumb" from back in the day when bonds actually had positive forward return potential. Bonds in your portfolio make some sense when you're retired, but if you're more than 10 years away from retirement all you're doing is sacrificing long-term return (will amount to a lot of $ over the long-term, much worse than investment fees) in order to mitigate risk that doesn't affect your long term goal in the slightest.
Money Smarts Blog wrote: I agree with the previous posters, especially Thalo. {And} Thalo's advice is spot on.
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Jan 21, 2014
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GerryFolds wrote: Also for anyone curious or have any pointers I am in the following:
30% BLK Bond Index Fund - 0.19%
20% BLK Global Equity Index - 0.38%
25% BLK S&P/TSX Comp Index - 0.18%
25% BLK US Equity Index Reg - 0.19%
I have similar setup for my work RRSP/DPSP. To my surprise, they did quite well, better than I am doing it myself for non-register/RRSP. Maybe I should look into switching them all to Sunlife
Sunlife.jpg
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Feb 1, 2012
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How are you investing yourself, and what did you hold that did worse than your Sunlife group RSP?

You probably could not get such low fees yourself going direct to Sunlife. Assuming BLK means they are getting funds from Blackrock, you could get the same (or very similar) Blackrock iShares ETFs with even lower fees through a discount broker.

https://www.blackrock.com/ca/individual ... &fst=50567
BLK Bond Index Fund = XBB
BLK Global Equity Index = XEF
BLK S&P/TSX Comp Index = XIC
BLK US Equity Index Reg = XUU
I solemnly swear, to never assume I have an inkling at which direction the market will head, and to never make any investments based on a timing strategy.
Jr. Member
Dec 31, 2018
135 posts
155 upvotes
My wife's work RSP is also through Sunlife. For the US and international allocation they offer   BLK US Equity Index Reg and BLK EAFE Equity Index at 0.23 and 0.3 MER, respectively.

However, for Canada, they only offer the Beutel Goodman Canadian Equity (0.43 MER) which has traditionally outperformed but has horribly underperformed last year...
Sr. Member
Jul 13, 2007
867 posts
410 upvotes
Toronto
Deepwater wrote: How are you investing yourself, and what did you hold that did worse than your Sunlife group RSP?

You probably could not get such low fees yourself going direct to Sunlife. Assuming BLK means they are getting funds from Blackrock, you could get the same (or very similar) Blackrock iShares ETFs with even lower fees through a discount broker.

https://www.blackrock.com/ca/individual ... &fst=50567
BLK Bond Index Fund = XBB
BLK Global Equity Index = XEF
BLK S&P/TSX Comp Index = XIC
BLK US Equity Index Reg = XUU
No, even better. BLK US Equity Index Reg is = VTI. Because OP's fund is RRSP only, there's no US withholding taxes.
Are you sure you wish to carry out this operation? You betcha.
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TrickleDownEconomics wrote: My wife's work RSP is also through Sunlife. For the US and international allocation they offer   BLK US Equity Index Reg and BLK EAFE Equity Index at 0.23 and 0.3 MER, respectively.

However, for Canada, they only offer the Beutel Goodman Canadian Equity (0.43 MER) which has traditionally outperformed but has horribly underperformed last year...
Firstly if you or your wife is in a low cost fund such as this, it is going to be as good as it gets. Secondly, one randon year of underperformance doesn't say much. Especially If the index goes up tremendously, it is difficult for management to follow through as diversification, weighting rules etc. of funds make it that certain funds can contain only so much weight in certain shares. I wouldn't overread into underperformance in a sIngle year.
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