Canadian insurance firm Sun Life Financial has partnered with Calgary-based startup Yr Plans to give select Sun Life clients access to its employer-assisted student loan repayment platform.
Yr Plans’ Smart Benefit offering works with workplace savings plans. It allows employees to allocate a portion of their employers’ retirement savings contributions to student debt repayments.
Through the Sun Life pilot, Yr Plans hopes to validate its product.
With Smart Benefit, Yr Plans aims to help the educated workforce repay their student loans more quickly by leveraging pre-existing financial contributions from their employers. According to the startup, it could also help employers draw in and retain skilled workers. Through the Sun Life pilot, Yr Plans hopes to validate its product.
“Sun Life is Canada’s largest and fastest growing provider of group plans,” Yr Plans founder John Kenny told BetaKit. “More importantly, they are progressive and see the need for innovative strategies to service the changing demographics of the workforce of their clients.”
Yr Plans was founded in 2019 by Kenny, who co-founded Calgary-based software company Solium Capital, which was acquired by Morgan Stanley the same year and has since been rebranded as Shareworks. The FinTech software startup gives users the ability to redirect part of their employer contribution match to their student loan repayment rather than to their retirement savings plan.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2015 over half of Canadian students graduated and entered the workforce with outstanding student debt, at a median of $17,500. As of 2018, Canadian students collectively owed over $28 billion in student loans.
Kenny said the pilot has already commenced, and will conclude during the summer of 2022. Onboarding will occur over the next three months as Yr Plans looks to roll out its offering to about half a dozen Sun Life clients, which serve between 5,000 and 8,000 employees combined.
According to Kenny, the startup has the ability to expand the pilot to 15 clients. He added that the partnership also includes the potential for an expansion following a review by Sun Life.
“We are committed to helping our clients with unique solutions to achieve lifetime financial security and live a healthier life,” said Eric Monteiro, senior VP of group retirement services at Sun Life, who noted that Sun Life is “proud to be one of the first health and wealth companies in Canada participating in the pilot.”
The pilot is one of the latest in a series of partnerships Sun Life has launched with Canadian tech startups and innovation organizations. The insurer has previously partnered with Dialogue, Rise People, and MaRS, and invested in Dialogue and Rise People.
With these agreements, Sun Life has taken a similar approach to health and dental benefits provider Green Shield Canada, which has partnered with, invested in, and acquired a number of Canadian healthtech startups, including, most recently, Tranquility Online.
Sun Life and Green Shield Canada aren’t the only large insurance organizations that have sought to partner with Canadian tech startups in recent months: Willful recently inked a partnership with AllState, following its launch in Québec.
To date, Yr Plans has raised approximately $1 million from angel investors, family, and friends, as well as some funding from Alberta Innovates and the Western Diversification Fund. The startup plans to raise more financing this fall to support its client acquisition, business, and product development efforts.