Meet Your CEBS Instructor: Jeff Billard, CEBS

Meet Your CEBS Instructor

Getting started on something as important as earning a credential can be challenging. You are inspired to begin, and it takes perseverance to continue to make progress as you confront unfamiliar content. 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 Cases to stimulate engagement and enhance learning about employee benefits
  • Sharing his/her real world experience about being a benefits professional
  • Answering questions that students submit via the discussion forum, email and private message.

A Chat With Jeff Billard, CEBS

Jeff Billard, CEBS
Policy Advisor, CAAT Pension Plan
Instructor for RPA 1—Managing Retirement Plans Part 1

How has earning the CEBS designation enhanced your career?

“I’ve worked in the pension industry for a number of years, and understanding the overall context of how various types of retirement schemes relate to and differ from one another has been very convenient. CEBS has provided context for me in conversations with other pension professionals and given me a broader perspective on the plan options available to research and understand further.”

What will benefits professionals learn from taking RPA 1?

“RPA 1 is a great foundation for informed knowledge in the world of retirement; it covers a lot of information, but it’s not so in-depth that it’s inaccessible to someone new to this area of learning.

Even when we’re not new to this world, we often work in a fairly narrow scope of pensions and benefits. For example, I worked at a defined benefit (DB) pension plan that only dealt with members who worked in Ontario. If you asked me questions about a DB plan and what Ontario rules and guidelines applied, I could answer quite well. Before CEBS, if you asked me a question about regulatory requirements for group RRSPs, or the differences in how defined contribution (DC) plans are administered in Quebec vs. Manitoba, I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start!

So RPA 1 benefits not only ‘new-to-the-industry’ students, but it also benefits students who already have worked within the pension industry by sharing some information on areas they may not be as familiar with.”

What has been a recent interesting update to your course?

“I like to try to incorporate any new happenings into my online study group when I can, and pandemic aside, something I find interesting is a recent research paper by Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing and the FP Canada Research Foundation.

They found that the average Canadian taking Canada/Quebec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) benefits at age 60 instead of deferring payments until age 70 can expect to lose more than $100,000 of secure lifetime income. Obviously, some people cannot afford to wait until 70 to take their CPP/QPP for various income or health-related reasons, but for anyone approaching retirement and not absolutely needing to incept their CPP/QPP immediately, they are significantly better off (statistically speaking) deferring these payments as long as possible. The link to this paper is available here.”

What are your best study tips for CEBS students?


In all seriousness, though, the Study Guide is incredibly helpful.  It distills a lot of the Assigned Reading into summaries of important points, and provides keywords that can help trigger concepts. Reading the Assigned Reading is a must, but to help solidify some of these concepts, the Study Guide questions are a great way to test your knowledge.

All the Study Tools in the online study group really help, as well.  Whether in RPA 1 or any of the other CEBS online study groups, the interactive games and quizzes can cement more of this information for you.  Never discount asking your instructor for clarification; that’s what we’re here for! I personally honestly enjoy answering questions because it’s a great way for me to think of different ways of explaining concepts to students that are not always the simplest to break down.”

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

“I’ve heard from a few students, who, after finishing the RPA 1 online study group, have reached out to let me know they passed their exams and were very happy about it. If you’re keeping up with the Assigned Reading and study towards the exam, it is achievable. The students who reached out were excited and encouraged to continue their studies for the CEBS certification.

Stronger knowledge of pensions and benefits means that we’re all able to convey how important these things are, not to just the people who have them now, but to family, friends and acquaintances who may be considering positions with varying types of pension and/or benefits or may be considering offering these benefits to their employees. We’re all advocates of different things in our lives, and the more of us advocating for retirement security and job satisfaction due to increased knowledge through CEBS, the better!”

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