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What is a Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) in Canada?

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The landscape of retirement planning in Canada has been evolving, accommodating the diverse needs of the working population.  Among the various instruments available to investors, there is the Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP).  A relatively new retirement savings plan, the PRPP is designed to enhance employees' retirement security.  Especially for small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed individuals, PRPPs offer a unique approach to pension planning.

Below, we take a brief look at the core concept of PRPPs, comparing them with the more traditional Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), and showing how contributions within PRPPs can be effectively utilized.

Understanding Pooled Registered Pension Plans

Pooled Registered Pension Plans are collective retirement savings vehicles that are typically low-cost.  Governed by federal legislation, PRPPs are structured to pool together contributions from various members, thereby reducing management costs associated with individual retirement plans.  This structure not only makes PRPPs an attractive option for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that may not have the resources to offer traditional pension plans, but also for self-employed individuals seeking efficient retirement savings methods.  PRPPs are managed by licensed financial institutions, ensuring professional management of the funds.  The key features of PRPPs include,

  • Voluntary participation
  • Automatic enrolment for employees of participating employers
  • Portability

Portability is a significant advantage, as it allows members to transfer their PRPP assets to another PRPP or a different retirement savings plan, offering flexibility in case of job changes.  Additionally, PRPPs entail simplified administrative responsibilities for employers, as the managing institution handles most of the administrative tasks.

Comparing a PRPP and RRSP

While both PRPPs and RRSPs are designed to facilitate retirement savings, there are distinct differences between the two.  RRSPs are individual savings plans where the contribution limits are based on the individual's earned income and offer significant flexibility in terms of investment options and withdrawals.  In contrast, PRPPs are collective plans offering lower management fees due to the pooling of resources, but they might have more limited investment options compared to RRSPs.

Another notable difference lies in the enrolment process.  For PRPPs, employees of participating companies are automatically enrolled but can opt-out, promoting greater participation in retirement savings.  RRSPs, on the other hand, require individuals to open and contribute to their accounts actively.

Putting Contributions to Work

Investing within a PRPP involves a diverse range of options, typically curated by the managing financial institution.  These options are often designed to balance risk and return, suitable for long-term retirement savings.  Members can choose from various investment portfolios, ranging from conservative to more aggressive strategies, depending on their individual risk tolerance and retirement goals.

Moreover, the pooled nature of PRPPs can potentially lead to higher investment returns due to lower management fees and the benefit of large-scale investing.  The investment choices within a PRPP are overseen by professional fund managers, which can be an advantage for members who may not have the expertise or time to manage their retirement investments actively.

Making The Right Choice:

Pooled Registered Pension Plans in Canada represent a significant development in retirement planning, particularly beneficial for employees and self-employed individuals who do not have access to large corporate pension plans.  By offering lower management fees, automatic enrolment, and professional fund management, PRPPs simplify the process of saving for retirement while potentially enhancing investment returns.

They are an ideal choice for individuals seeking a hands-off, cost-effective approach to retirement savings, complementing other retirement instruments like RRSPs.  As the Canadian workforce diversifies, PRPPs stand as a robust option, ensuring a more inclusive and secure retirement planning landscape.

One of the best options for Canadian investors interested in kick-starting their solo retirement savings journey is Questrade – Canada's largest online brokerage platform.

For a deeper dive into investment options, including RRSPs, and a comparison with other retirement saving instruments, visit to explore a wealth of resources available to Canadian investors.

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