Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
About us
Who we are
Who we are Plan history
Plan history Governance
Governance Management
Management News
News Contact us
Contact us
About us Members Members Employers
Remit contributions
Remit contributions Employer procedures
Employer procedures Bulletins and updates
Bulletins and updates Employer FAQ
Employer FAQ
Employers Investing
Investment funds
Investment funds Making investment decisions
Making investment decisions Changing your investments
Changing your investments Historical unit prices
Historical unit prices Rates of return
Rates of return Pensions Fund
Pensions Fund Investor stories
Investor stories
Investing Forms and resources Forms and resources Election
Election COVID-19

Built to last: Shifting to digital

​The theme of CSS’ most recent annual report to our members was “built to last”. From a short-term perspective, the theme was fitting given how well CSS has been able to adapt to the impacts of the COVID -19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, keeping our team and our members safe while also maintaining the high level of service excellence our members have come to expect.

From a long-term perspective (CSS has been in operation for over 80 years), it speaks to how CSS has successfully and continually renewed itself and adapted to changing regulatory requirements and member needs over the long haul. A singleminded focus on what is best for our members is at the core of the foundation of CSS.

In this vein, CSS’ strategic priorities in recent years have included a significant digitalization theme. “Digital transformation”, “digitization”, and “digitalization” are terms we’re hearing more frequently and it’s something that is forcing organizations, including CSS, to rethink and change their business models to adapt to a new digital reality.

Digitalize versus digitize (tomāto / tomăto) – what’s the difference? Although the two words sound very similar, there is a key difference between digitization and digitalization.

Digitization refers to the process of converting something into digital format (for example, turning a paper form into a digital PDF form). CSS has made use of digitization for many years, as it has allowed us to distribute forms to you electronically rather than through postal mail. In 2020, CSS digitized its annual statements and tax slips allowing you to efficiently and conveniently access those items through the myCSSPEN portal rather than wait for them to arrive in paper format.

Digitalization, on the other hand, means to convert a business process using digital technologies. Online investment instructions is a good example of where CSS took advantage of digitalization in 2020. Prior to the introduction of online investment instructions, you had to download, print and complete a paper form and then fax or mail it to CSS to make changes to your fund holdings with CSS. Once received, CSS staff had to enter your instructions into our pension administration system which included a number of manual steps.

In 2020, CSS introduced online investment instructions which eliminates the need for you to download, print and complete forms, and eliminates the need to fax, mail or email the forms to CSS. Once you enter your instructions online, they are automatically entered into our pension administration system with no manual CSS staff intervention. In addition to the automation benefits, we’ve also been able to build some “smarts” into the process, allowing you to complete a 

​risk tolerance estimator if you choose to, as well as propose suggested portfolios of CSS funds that align with your risk tolerance (i.e. your level of comfort with investment risk). Key benefits of this change include a significant reduction in the cost of processing investment instructions, as well as a very significant improvement in the convenience and overall experience interacting with CSS. Online investment instructions is a great example of digitalization.

So, digitization is about changing information from paper (analog) to digital whereas digitalization is about changing how the work gets done. Okay, we understand the differences between digitization and digitalization; but, we also mentioned digital transformation above – what the heck is that?

From our perspective, digital transformation means a strategic, prioritized transformation of our business processes and competencies to take full advantage of the opportunities made available through digital technologies, for the benefit of our members. In other words, it means rethinking and significantly changing how we do our work to increase productivity, creativity and position CSS to continue to generate significant value for our members. It’s about continuing our tradition of being “built to last”.

How do we know that digitalizing our business is something that members like you value? We’re glad you asked – your actions speak volumes (volumes of data that is). Recent member survey results and the analytical data we collect tells us that the CSS membership highly values interacting with CSS digitally. For example, when our online investment instructions feature was launched in 2020, almost immediately we saw about 80% of investment instructions being completed online. Over 6,500 members have already opted to receive their annual statements and tax slips in digital format, not only helping us keep our costs down but saving a few trees in the process. (To set your delivery preference for your account statements, log in or register for myCSSPEN at, then select Account Menu > Communications Preferences to make changes.)

We plan to continue using data and feedback from members like you to create new and improved digital services to help make planning for retirement easier – and more fun! Our efforts in using this approach were previously recognized by Benefits Canada magazine in 2020 when they awarded us the Workplace Benefit Award for Pension Plan Communications.

According to Benefits Canada, their judges were impressed with our attention to detail and use of data analytics in formulating our strategies. It is our goal at CSS to help you achieve optimum retirement outcomes, and we believe technology is a key tool we can use to help accomplish this mission.