Meet Your Canadian CEBS Instructor: Patricia Noble, CEBS

Meet the CEBS Instructor

Would you like to feel prepared to write your next CEBS® exam by the end of summer? Get started and stay on track with CEBS Online Study Groups! Many CEBS candidates rely on CEBS Online Study Groups With Instructor Support for extra help on their learning journeys.

CEBS​​ Online Study Groups are an optional educational resource designed to complement the self-study approach. Offered over a 12-week session, Online Study Groups provide structure to your study efforts and are facilitated by established and experienced CEBS professionals.

What does an online instructor do? Your online instructor has many roles, including:

  • Designing all content and activities in your class to help you retain knowledge and study for your CEBS exam
  • Facilitating live review sessions
  • Monitoring the discussion forum to provide clarification and guidance to learners
  • Creating discussion questions for each module and Benefits in Action Mini Case to stimulate engagement and enhance learning about employee benefits
  • Sharing their real-world experience as a benefits professional
  • Answering questions that students submit via the discussion forum, email and private messages.

A Chat With Patricia Noble, CEBS


Patricia Noble, CEBS
Director of Policy, Research and Labour Market Analysis
Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, New Brunswick
Instructor: GBA/RPA 3—Navigating the Plan Environment

What will benefits professionals learn from GBA/RPA 3?

This course covers a wide range of issues relevant for benefits professionals. Understanding the fundamentals of our country’s social security framework and health care system is critical for both retirement and group benefits professionals. Also, understanding how reward systems can impact the success of an organization and how they fit into the ‘big picture’ facing an organization positions a benefits professional to provide value-added advice and recommendations. Choice theory and behavioural economics discussions help benefits professionals appreciate how they can influence decisions of clients, employees and beneficiaries. That is only the tip of the iceberg!

Are there any interesting current events, regulatory updates or industry trends related to concepts or issues your course explores?

Certainly, the changes to the Canada Pension Plan are current and important. These modifications impact not only employers from a budget perspective but also employees from a retirement planning perspective. In some industries, retirement programs are linked or influenced by CPP, and fully understanding the changes being implemented over time is critical. Additionally, with COVID-19 and the changes to the Employment Insurance program, although initially temporary, there is much to discuss regarding impacts on benefit plans.

What are your best study tips for CEBS students?

Read through the Study Materials more than once. The first time through, highlight or jot down questions or elements you might find difficult. The second time, take your own notes. Review the Instructor Notes in your Online Study Group, which provide an overview of the topics as well as cover key concepts. Do the interactive games and quizzes in your Online Study Group, including both the Midterm and Final quizzes prepared by the instructor as well as the 100-question interactive Practice Exam included with the course Study Materials. Take the Practice Exam more than once! Make time to attend review sessions or watch recordings of them. Finally, participate on the discussion forum. If you have a question, no doubt your fellow students have similar thoughts. Everyone brings a different experience, has a different frame of reference and provides different perspectives. These are all key components to a robust discussion and enhanced learning.

Learn more about CEBS and the CEBS Online Study Groups With Instructor Support.

Do you need guidance on your CEBS journey? Whether you’re about to take your first step or you’re getting close to reaching your designation, we’re here to help!  Give us a call at (833) 886-3749 or email cancebs@ifebp.org.

Meet Your US CEBS Instructor: Elizabeth Allen, CEBS

Meet the CEBS Instructor

Would you like to feel prepared to take your next CEBS® exam by the end of summer? Get started and stay on track with CEBS Online Study Groups! Many CEBS candidates rely on CEBS Online Study Groups With Instructor Support for extra help on their learning journeys.

CEBS​​ Online Study Groups are an optional educational resource designed to complement the self-study approach. Offered over a 12-week session, Online Study Groups provide structure to your study efforts and are facilitated by established and experienced CEBS professionals.

What does an online instructor do? Your online instructor has many roles, including:

  • Designing all content and activities in your class to help you retain knowledge and study for your CEBS exam
  • Facilitating live review sessions
  • Monitoring the discussion forum to provide clarification and guidance to learners
  • Creating discussion questions for each module and Benefits in Action Mini Case to stimulate engagement and enhance learning about employee benefits
  • Sharing their real-world experience as a benefits professional
  • Answering questions that students submit via the discussion forum, email and private messages.

A Chat With Elizabeth Allen, CEBS


Elizabeth Allen, J.D., CEBS
Vice President, Benefits Compliance and Counsel
NFP
Instructor: RPA 1—Directing Retirement Plans Part 1

How has earning the CEBS designation enhanced your career?

Earning my CEBS designation has allowed me to bring a more comprehensive context to discussions with plan sponsors and their service providers. Learning the ins and outs of plan design and administration on both the retirement and health sides has proven valuable in helping employers understand how their benefit strategy and compliance obligations allow them to be the best plan sponsors they can be.

What will benefits professionals learn from RPA 1?

Benefits professionals taking RPA 1 will come away with an understanding of how retirement plans began in this country, the laws that were passed to encourage corporate-sponsored retirement savings, the different types of retirement plan vehicles that are available and the requirements employers must meet to sponsor qualified plans.

Are there any interesting current events, regulatory updates or industry trends related to concepts or issues your course explores?

There are so many interesting things going on. Chief among them on the retirement side is the passage and now the implementation of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. It’s interesting because the changes made had and continues to have true bipartisan support, in fact, so much so that we can expect a SECURE Act 2.0 in the near future. The fact that everyone, including federal and local players, can agree that we need to do things to bolster our citizens’ retirement savings is inspiring and gives me hope that we can help people improve their retirement.

What are your best study tips for CEBS students?

My best study tips are to utilize the Study Tools offered through the Online Study Group to learn the content. I also recommend that students be able to speak to the ‘bigger picture’ of the concepts—in other words, know how a particular subject fits into the larger benefits picture. This may help to ensure that you understand the information. Obviously, going through the Practice Exam is also a must. At the same time, don’t be too married to the specifics of the Practice Exam. Come away from the practice with an idea of the areas you need to dive into deeper.

What sort of success stories have you heard from your students? Why would you encourage people to earn their CEBS designation?

Students have reached out to me to mention that their CEBS designation has allowed them to advance in their careers or even just helped them bring greater knowledge to the table in their current jobs. I would encourage people to earn their CEBS because it remains one of the most well-rounded ways to learn about employee benefits offerings.

Learn more about CEBS and the CEBS Online Study Groups With Instructor Support.

Do you need guidance on your CEBS journey?  Whether you’re about to take your first step or you’re getting close to reaching your designation, we’re here to help!  Give us a call at (800) 449-2327, option 3 or e-mail cebs@ifebp.org.

Planning Ahead: Key Details for Your Exam

You’ve been working through your course materials and are narrowing down the day you plan to take your CEBS® exam. Great job! All your hard work will soon pay off.

When you purchased the exam, you received an email with exam access instructions for your selected testing window. Before you sit down to take the exam, let’s review a few key points to ensure you are off to a smooth start:

Make Sure Your Computer Is Good to Go

In order to take an exam, you must have a device that is a non-mac platform with internet access, the Chrome browser, a webcam and a microphone. Once in the exam environment and prior to launching the timed exam, you will be required to download a Chrome extension provided by Proctorio for added security.

Plan to allow approximately 15 minutes prior to the start of your exam for the extension to download and the diagnostics requirements to be verified.

If you will be using a work-issued device, please confirm that you will be able to download the Proctorio extension to your computer through your IT department. If not, you will need to take the exam on a personal computer, as the extension is required. If you have issues with the download process, there is a Live Chat button available at https://proctorio.com/support, or you may email support@proctorio.com.

Your ID Is Essential

You must have your valid, government-issued photo ID with you when you are ready to take the exam, as it is required to access the exam. You will present your ID using your webcam prior to the launch of the exam.

Taking the Exam

Each exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. The two-hour exam timer starts when you click Start Attempt, and it cannot be paused. You will have one attempt to complete the exam. You are able to mark questions that you want to return to. During the exam process, to see which questions are flagged, you may click on the “Review Attempt” button. It will show a quick summary of all questions indicating the question number, a flag if it has been flagged, and the question status (such as Not Yet Answered or Answered).  To go back to any specific question from the Review Attempt screen, simply click on the question number, and it will take you there.  When you are finished with all the questions, you will submit the exam and receive your Pass or Fail notification on the screen.

Continuing Education Credit for a Virtual Exam

Some state/province/territorial insurance boards require that self-study exams be taken in a proctored (monitored) environment in order to qualify for continuing education (CE) credit.  It is your responsibility to confirm the CE rules that apply to you before completing an application for a virtual exam. If your state/province/territorial insurance board requires a monitored exam, you MUST complete the Continuing Education Monitor Affidavit and return it per the instructions on the form.  Failure to return this required form will result in no credit being reported. The Proctorio extension is not a proctored environment for CE purposes.

I hope these key tips are helpful as you prepare for your virtual exam. If you have additional questions, please reach out to the CEBS Customer Service team Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. CT at (800) 449-2327, option 3 or cebs@ifebp.org.

Keep up the great work as you prepare to take your exam! Best wishes on your CEBS journey.

What To Do When You Don’t Pass Your CEBS Exam

Attempting something challenging and worthwhile takes a lot of courage. From the onset, you’re taking a risk. There’s a chance you might fail but, even if that happens, you know that you’ll grow on your journey. You’re dedicated and determined. You set out to achieve a goal, carefully plan a process to reach it, and diligently practice and monitor your progress.

Sometimes despite making a great effort, you don’t succeed on your first attempt. If you didn’t pass your Certified Employee Benefit Specialist® (CEBS®) exam, it can be upsetting and disheartening, but it doesn’t mean your goal is out of reach. Here are some tips to help you get prepared for a retake.

  1. Don’t miss a page!

If it’s Assigned Reading, it could be on your CEBS exam! Revisit each module and make sure that you’ve read any required reading from both your Study Guide and textbook, as it’s all testable content. Skipping pages creates gaps in your knowledge and makes you less likely to pass. Bonus Tip: Take in-depth notes as you read. Pay attention to fine details as well as the big picture.

2. Let the Key Terms and Outline of Knowledge in each module guide your studies.

Be sure you can clearly define Key Terms in your own words and give examples. Review the Outline of Knowledge to ensure that you have mastered fine details related to important concepts and understand them in the context of the big picture.

3. Triple up on your review efforts.

Do three separate in-depth reviews of the modules that you need to master, spaced out over time. Insight from neuroscience shows that retrieving new knowledge multiple times over days or weeks leads to better learning and retention.

Also, make sure you access the 100-question online Practice Exam. Read each question slowly and carefully, and retake the Practice Exam as many times as you would like! Practice makes permanent!

4. Seek out a community of learners for support.

Discussing new content and ideas with others and asking questions helps you effectively apply what you’re learning. Consider forming a study group with colleagues pursuing their CEBS designation or signing up for a CEBS Online Study Group. We’re better together!

You have already learned a lot and, with a little more practice, you’ll master the content. We’re here to help, and we hope you keep trying. Take a deep breath and remember why you decided to begin your CEBS designation in the first place. Good luck with your exam retake! We look forward to welcoming you as a new CEBS graduate in the near future!

Questions? We’re here to help. Call (800) 449-2327, option 3, or email cebs@ifebp.org.

Three Tips to Study Smarter

Create Good Habits for CEBS Success

You’ve probably noticed the Benefits in Action sections in your CEBS® course Study Guide. Here are some questions that you can reflect on to help you use the application case studies to deepen your learning.

1. Have I experienced this situation as a plan member or as a plan sponsor? What was my experience like?

2. Could my plan experience a similar situation? If not, what types of organizations could experience this scenario? What are important takeaways and ideas from this case that I can use?

3. Did I bring enough knowledge to the plan design conversation to complete this case study, or do I need to further review Key Terms to prepare for my CEBS exam?

Get more details on CEBS Study Materials.

Consider signing up for an Online Study Group with Instructor Support.

Questions? We’re here to help. Call (800) 449-2327, option 3, or email cebs@ifebp.org.

Course Corner: Canadian CEBS Course Revisions

CEBS Course Updates

As the employee benefits industry evolves, the CEBS® designation’s curriculum is updated to reflect this reality. The Canadian RPA 1 and RPA 2 courses have been fully revised to meet the changing retirement plans landscape. These new CEBS courses will help you gain valuable skills that you can put into practice on the job today as well as provide the emergent, cutting-edge knowledge that will prepare you for future roles.

Study Materials for RPA 1 and RPA 2, including new Study Guides and textbooks are available for purchase.

Below are outlines of the new Canadian courses:

RPA 1—Managing Retirement Plans Part 1

  • Module 1: Designing Registered Pension Plans
  • Module 2: Designing Non-Pension Registered Retirement Plans
    • Benefits in Action #1: Should we implement a registered pension plan?
  • Module 3: Leveraging the Tax Regime in Plan Design
  • Module 4: Complying with Pension Standards Legislation
  • Module 5: Establishing Effective Governance
    • Benefits in Action #2: What should you know about governance before introducing a workplace pension plan?
  • Module 6: Administering Retirement Arrangements
  • Module 7: Optimizing Plan Funding and Financial Reporting
    • Benefits in Action #3: What do financial statements reveal about pension costs and obligations?
  • Module 8: Managing Retirement Plan Assets
  • Module 9: Addressing Special Provisions: Multi-Employer Pension Plans
  • Module 10: Managing Special Situations—Plan Terminations, Surplus in Ongoing Plans and Business Reorganizations
  • Module 11: Other Employer-Sponsored Plans
    • Benefits in Action #4: What type of executive pension arrangement do we need to attract and retain senior-level talent?
  • Module 12: Capstone Case:  Managing Retirement Plans in Accordance with Organizational Goals

RPA 2—Managing Retirement Plans Part 2

  • Module 1: Navigating the Investment Environment of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans
  • Module 2: Inventorying the Major Asset Classes
    • Benefits in Action #1: What should you know about your DC plan investment options before enrolling?
  • Module 3: Managing Investment Risk and Return
  • Module 4: Constructing an Investment Portfolio—Part 1
  • Module 5: Constructing an Investment Portfolio—Part 2
    • Benefits in Action #2: How do we decide on the assets to include in our pension fund?
  • Module 6: Assessing the Impact of Investor Behaviour and Market Anomalies on Active Management
    • Benefits in Action #3: “How does behavioural finance impact DB plan investment policy setting?
  • Module 7: Evaluating Active Management Performance
  • Module 8: Leveraging Managed Funds to Achieve Investment Objectives
    • Benefits in Action #4: How can we use managed funds to meet tests of investment prudency?
  • Module 9: Complying With Legislative and Best Practices in Plan Asset Investment
  • Module 10: Developing the Statement of Investment Policy
  • Module 11: Implementing the Defined Benefit Pension Plan Investment Policy
  • Module 12: Implementing the Capital Accumulation Plan Investment Policy
  • Module 13: Capstone Case:  Managing Pension Plan Investments in Accordance With Governance and Regulatory Requirements

Questions?

If you have any questions about Study Materials or the new Canadian RPA 1 or RPA 2 courses, please reach out to our CEBS Customer Service team at cancebs@ifebp.org.

Course Corner: US CEBS Course Revisions

CEBS Course Updates

As the employee benefits industry evolves, the CEBS® designation’s curriculum is updated to reflect this reality. The US GBA 1 and GBA/RPA 3 courses have been fully revised to meet the changing group benefit plans landscape. These new CEBS courses will help you gain valuable skills you can put into practice on the job today and provide the emergent, cutting-edge knowledge to prepare you for future roles.

Study Materials for GBA 1 and GBA/RPA 3, including new Study Guides and textbooks, are available for purchase. Online Study Groups With Instructor Support for the new courses will be offered for the first time during the summer 2022 session.

Below are outlines of the new U.S. courses:

GBA 1—Directing Benefits Programs Part 1

Module 1: Employee Benefits: The Environment
Benefits in Action #1: Atlas Industries Case Study

Module 2: Managing Employee Benefits Risks

Module 3: Group Health Plan Structures
Benefits in Action #2: Explaining Benefit Differences

Module 4: Consumer-Directed Health Plans

Module 5: Dental, Vision and Hearing Care Benefits

Module 6: Prescription Drug Plans

Module 7: Behavioral Health Care Benefits

Module 8: Workplace Wellness Programs
Benefits in Action #3: Developing a Wellness Program

Module 9: Section 125 Plans—Part I
Benefits in Action #4: Flex Plans

Module 10: Health Care Regulation

Module 11: Integrated Case Study: Diagnosing and Remedying Prescription Drug Cost Increases Can Be Complicated

GBA/RPA 3—Strategic Benefits Management

Module 1: ERISA Regulatory Framework

Module 2: Benefits Industry

Module 3: Plan Documentation Requirements

Module 4: Cybersecurity and Privacy Concerns

Module 5: Overseeing and Managing Plan Audits
Benefits in Action #1: Auditing the Auditor

Module 6: Issues in Vendor Management—Retirement

Module 7: Analytics and Vendor Management—Health

Module 8: Impact of Financial Product Innovation on Retirement Plans
Benefits in Action #2: Adding Innovative Investment Products to the DC Plan Menu

Module 9: ERISA in Practice—Key Issues

Benefits in Action #3: Drafting a Severance Agreement? Remember ERISA!

Module 10: Social Insurance

Module 11: Health Care Coverage in Retirement
Benefits in Action #4: Explaining Retiree Health Coverage

Module 12: Global Employee Benefits

Module 13: Integrated Case Study: Preparing for and Surviving an Employee Benefits Plan Data Breach

Questions?

If you have any questions about Study Materials or the new GBA 1 or GBA/RPA 3 courses, please reach out to our CEBS Customer Service team at cebs@ifebp.org.

Congratulations to the Newest CEBS® Graduates!

New CEBS Graduates

Do you recognize anyone? Below are the most recent CEBS graduates. Be sure to celebrate your peers with a personal note or shout-out on social media, tagging #CEBSgoals. Earning the CEBS is a major career and personal achievement, and having peers recognize the work and demonstrated knowledge only sweetens the accomplishment.

Congrats to the newest CEBS grads!

John Boukouris, CEBS
Patrick Rodrigues, CEBS
Roni DeBock, CEBS
Tom Chipman, CEBS

Now picture yourself on this list! Continue on your journey to earning your CEBS designation.

Do you need guidance on your CEBS journey? Whether you’re about to take your first step or getting close to earning your designation, we’re here to help! Give us a call at (844) 809-2698 or email cancebs@ifebp.org.

Congratulations to the Newest CEBS® Graduates!

New CEBS Graduates

Do you recognize anyone? Below are the most recent CEBS graduates. Be sure to celebrate your peers with a personal note or shout-out on social media, tagging #CEBSgoals. Earning the CEBS is a major career and personal achievement, and having peers recognize the work and demonstrated knowledge only sweetens the accomplishment.

Congrats to the newest CEBS grads!

Alison Clearwater, CEBS
Anthony Armas, CEBS
Anthony D. Cellucci Jr., CEBS
Benjamin J. Letson, CEBS
Cara N. Seidlich, CEBS
Carla Campbell, CEBS
Carla R. Ross, CEBS
Carol A. Lewis, CEBS
Caroline Weis, CEBS
Carrie L. Starbuck, CEBS
Chanel Watkins, CEBS
Christina Reece, CEBS
Colin C. Orr, CEBS
Courtney Santeliz, CEBS
Daniel J. Conway, CEBS
Daniela Janceski, CEBS
Frances Jasmin, CEBS
Heather McQuillen, CEBS
Hilary F. Vatter, CEBS
Jennefir Pentangelo, CEBS
Jodi Stephens, CEBS
John R. Curran, CEBS
Katie Advent, CEBS
Kelly DiNardo, CEBS
Kristyn Lewis, CEBS
Leslie Brown, CEBS
Linda Piatek, CEBS
Lori Champion Brittain, CEBS
Margaret (Peggy) McHugh, CEBS
Maria Kim, CEBS
Matthew Butera, CEBS
Michael Fogleman, CEBS
Phil Borgman, CEBS
Scott A. Davis, CEBS
Shellie Peters, CEBS
Suzanne Bahary, CEBS
Tania Barfield, CEBS
Tanya T. Peterson, CEBS
Tara Donnelly, CEBS

Now picture yourself on this list! Continue on your journey to earning your CEBS designation.

Do you need guidance on your CEBS journey? Whether you’re about to take your first step or getting close to earning your designation, we’re here to help! Give us a call at (800) 449-2327, option 3, or email cebs@ifebp.org.

What’s Your CEBS Story? Nicholas Landry, CEBS

Earning your Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) designation is a learning journey. Along the way, you acquire valuable employee benefits knowledge and relevant new skills. As you apply what you’ve learned to your work, you can forge a unique career pathway that is truly your own. Here’s a designee’s CEBS story.

A Chat with Nicholas Landry, CEBS

Nicholas Landry, CEBS
Senior Benefits Consultant
BFL CANADA

Nicholas Landry, CEBS
How Nicholas studied for his CEBS exam and applied what he learned to his work:

“Today’s curriculum is modern, with online study groups and study tools, such as live review sessions narrated by experienced benefits professionals. Having access to instructors has allowed me more opportunities for success. I appreciate that the new curriculum has become more accessible and streamlined for benefits professionals.”

Nicholas on professional growth with the CEBS designation:

“If your reason for attaining the CEBS designation is for a promotion, bonus or raise, I would humbly suggest that you are pursing this for the wrong reasons. 

My first experience with CEBS was when I was in my first role as a wholesaler for a major national insurer. Most of us neophytes were fresh-faced and straight out of university, all vying for head office management’s love and attention. Our corporate culture really promoted continuing education and pursuit of designations. We may have received a token amount of compensation for completing a course but earning a designation did separate oneself from the pack. Every year, the peer conversations would eventually lead to which designations you were pursuing. Management appreciated that you pursued a deeper understanding of concepts of insurance or government benefits, allowing you to be better in the field while trying to achieve more within your career. The real catalyst for me with CEBS was when one of our leading brokers successfully completed the CEBS program. Most of us had started or completed smaller designations or others specific to life insurance. The next logical step was CEBS or one of its specialty designations (GBA or RPA). Paraphrasing what our regional director told me, the CEBS designation was ‘The Big One.’ Together, we celebrated his accomplishment as his partner, but I was hooked!

The good news was just beginning for me. The quality of the content provided in the courses took me from being a competent broker to being the one you do not want to be up against in a competitive situation. I emerged from the courses speaking an entirely different language in relation to employee benefits, total compensation and total rewards. 

With more knowledge and experience, my problem-solving ability had grown immensely by applying the fundamental academic knowledge to real-life scenarios. I’ve been fortunate enough to apply the content by working with more challenging situations for plan sponsors. Often, being airdropped into unique scenarios where another broker with limited working knowledge has not satisfied the needs of the plan sponsor, anyone in the benefits practice can see challenges from another perspective thanks to the CEBS program. A colleague just recently passed his final exam to earn the CEBS designation, and I couldn’t have been happier for him. He’s chosen a path to be better than his competitors.

Although this ideology may be polarizing, the current employee benefits marketplace, for the most part, presents no inequality of opportunities. There is, however, an inequality of outcomes. The CEBS program has assured me that we are not equal in situation compared with non–designation holders. I would challenge the individuals reading this that if you are a passionate professional who adheres to a strong code of ethics, with the CEBS designation you, too, will separate yourself from the pack.”