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November 19, 2018


Investors Only Understand Passive Fees

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of investors claim to know the difference between active and passive investing, the findings of a survey by Natixis Investment Managers suggest some may be hearing only part of the active-passive dialogue that focuses on fees. Nine out of 10 (94 per cent) investors consider fees an important consideration when they are selecting investments and 53 per cent recognize that passive investments, such as index funds, tend to have lower fees. Meanwhile, 55 per cent of investors also believe that index funds are less risky than other investments and 62 per cent of investors think index funds can help to minimize losses. The findings suggest that a large percentage of investors may be confusing lower fees with greater value. Even while some might praise the virtues of passive investments, respondents’ preferences tend to favour active management. Seven in 10 investors (74 per cent) say they prefer an expert to find the best investment opportunities in the market and 79 per cent say it’s important to beat the benchmark. “Our survey shows that investors are inclined to prefer active investment strategies, but their quest to lower investment costs may be setting unrealistic expectations for what passive investments can actually deliver,” says Abe Goenka, CEO at Natixis Investment Managers Canada. “Investors are caught in conflict and need help understanding a more nuanced argument for each approach.”

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OMERS Plan Changes Rejected

Together with its labour allies, OPSEU says it has made significant progress in efforts to protect the pensions of thousands of its members with four of the six proposed changes to the  OMERS plan rejected. The changes were part of the OMERS Sponsors Corporation Board of Directors Comprehensive Plan Review. Proposals to replace inflation protection with conditional indexation; integrate the pension formula with the year’s additional maximum pensionable earnings (YAMPE); change normal and early retirement; and require mandatory participation for non-full-time employees (optional for low-salary employees). The board voted in favour of removing the 35-year credited service cap and allowing paramedics to negotiate their normal retirement age at 60.

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FSCO Updating Surplus Policies

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is in the process of updating its surplus policies based on changes to the Pension Benefits Act that became effective July 1, 2012, says a Morneau Shepell ‘News & Views.’ The surplus policies set out its expectations respecting applications for the payment of surplus to employers. It outlines the process for applying to the Superintendent of Financial Services for consent for the payment of surplus to an employer on a pension plan wind up. Employer withdrawals from an ongoing pension plan will be the subject of a future FSCO policy. It will replace two pre-existing policies that set out rules for surplus withdrawal on full and partial wind-ups. The draft policy will apply to surplus withdrawal on both full and partial wind-ups. There are three possible bases for the payment of surplus to an employer on a plan wind-up: the pension plan terms authorize payment to the employer; written agreement between the employer, members, and others entitled to payments from the pension plan; and a court order. The new surplus withdrawal rules provide a statement that an employer will not generally file a surplus application until payment of the basic benefits has been approved by the superintendent. Under the current surplus policies, it is stated that the superintendent will not complete his consideration of the surplus application until he has approved payment of the basic benefits. The administrator of the plan must also disclose if buy-out annuities were previously purchased as members who were subject to buy-out annuities retain their rights to surplus pursuant to the new buy-out annuity rules. If the application is made on the basis of the pension plan terms authorizing payment to the employer, a historical analysis of the plan documentation is required.

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Workplace Weight Programs May Be Detrimental

Workplace health promotion programs that encourage employees to take responsibility for their own weight may have detrimental effects for employees with obesity, says a study in ‘Frontiers in Psychology.’ These range from feeling increasingly responsible for their weight, but perceiving they have less control over it, to increased workplace weight stigma and discrimination. Ironically, these effects could even lead to increased obesity and decreased wellbeing. The study finds these pitfalls could be avoided through programs focusing on the employer’s responsibility to maintain employee health. The workplace can have a huge impact on health, including weight. For instance, a canteen where healthy food is scarce or expensive compared with unhealthy food is likely to lead to unhealthy choices. From this perspective, employers bear some responsibility for employee health and weight. In response to the high prevalence of obesity, employers are increasingly implementing workplace health promotion programs. However, many such programs highlight employee responsibility for obesity and ignore employer responsibilities. Previous studies examining the effectiveness of workplace health promotion programs (many of which are employee-focused) have reported negligible or modest effects on employee weight. The study is at Weight Programs

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Canada Lags With Acute Beds

Canada is ahead of only countries like Mexico when it comes to have acute beds per thousand of people. Dr. Howard Ovens, chief medical strategy officer of the Sinai Health System and medical health advisor to the Mount Sinai Foundation, told the ‘Ending Hallway Medicine: Achievable Mission or Mirage?’ at its ‘Professional Advisors Luncheon’ that the situation is worse in Ontario where there are only 2.4 acute beds per thousand compared to 3.4 in the rest of the country. As well, Ontario spends just $1,400 per person on healthcare funding with only Quebec spending as little. However, as a percentage of the economy, healthcare funding while declining is doing quite well and the money is being spent very efficiently. And despite gains made starting in 2008 when the first financial incentives to improve access/flow were introduced, that situation is starting to deteriorate. That approach to deal with hospital overcrowding saw hospitals that reduced patient crowding get extra funds. This prevented hospitals from reducing spending by cutting back on services. Hospitals have made large gains in eliminating overcrowding by adding scheduled surgical capacity on weekends and evenings and carefully matching schedules to emergency workloads. They are also building in seasonal emergency patterns. However, hospital crowding is an international problem. Improvement would need significant process improvements and substantial investment. In the meantime, prohibiting putting patients in hallways would just make things worse.

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Equitable Simplifies Onboarding

Equitable Life of Canada has introduced a secure, fully online plan member enrolment experience, simplifying the onboarding process for both plan administrators and plan members. Available for both traditional and myFlex Benefits groups, the tool offers a more secure and efficient alternative to traditional paper enrolment. Employees will be able to enroll in their benefits plan in just minutes from their computer or mobile device. The online enrolment tool also lessens the effort for plan administrators to complete a group’s enrolment. It reduces errors and rework that can occur due to spelling mistakes or missing information on paper forms. The new tool also reminds users before the enrolment period expires, resulting in fewer late applicants.

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Owens Gets New Role

Paul Owens is acting assistant deputy minister of financial sector regulation and policy (FSRP) and superintendent of pensions, insurance, and financial institutions for Alberta. He has been with FSRP since January 2012 as the deputy superintendent of pensions and brings over 30 years of executive leadership experience to the role. Haripaul Pannu is acting deputy superintendent of pensions. He had been with FSRP for the past five years as the senior manager, risk management, and most recently as senior manager, pension policy.

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Communicating Total Rewards Examined

Communicating Total Reward programs to employees is not new, however, the modalities of communication are continually changing. In ‘Diligence & Dazzle: Total Rewards Communication,’ the CPBI Southern Alberta Region will examine combining the due diligence of communicating benefits, retirement, and compensation with innovation and creativity. Speakers are Brent Perdue, manager, compensation, at Encana Corporation; and Dylan Snowdon and Lauren Barteluk, lawyers and associates at Carbert Waite LLP. It takes place December 13 in Calgary, AB. For information, visit Total Rewards Communication

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November 16, 2018


Ontario Amends PBA

Amendments to the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) in the Ontario government’s ‘Bill 57, the Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018will permit a transfer of defined contribution pension plan if the transfer is authorized under section 80.4. Currently, section 80.4 governs a conversion that is implemented through a transfer of assets and liabilities from a single employer pension plan to another pension plan that is a jointly sponsored pension plan. Subsection 80.4 (3) clarifies that the transfer of assets in respect of DC benefits must comply with such requirements as may be prescribed. Bill 57 also allows for the electronic designation of beneficiaries and for the withdrawal of up to 50 per cent of the amount in a variable benefit accounts. The provisions under which the administrator of a single employer pension plan is discharged after the purchase of a pension, deferred pension, or ancillary benefit have been clarified. As well, the amendments provide that the administrator is deemed not to have been discharged if it is discovered that the purchase did not meet the requirements. A new section of the act is added to permit a pension plan to pay the commuted value of a deferred pension to a former member who is a non-resident of Canada. If the former member has a spouse, the spouse must have waived any rights they have in the pension fund.

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Return Of Surplus Requires Action

Surplus is coming back and defined benefit pension plans need to avoid trapped surplus, says Randy Bauslaugh, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault. Speaking on ‘Trends: The View from Our Offices’ at its ‘8th Annual Pension Seminar: Diary of Pension Fiduciary,’ he said with the possibility of interest rates going up which will reduce plan liabilities, more surplus situations may arise. The easiest time to fix surplus problems is now while plans are not yet in surplus. Using surplus strategies can keep surplus from being exposed to confiscation or sharing. To start, they need to fix the surplus ownership language in their plan documentation, if possible. Another approach is to merge the plan in surplus with another plan. Conversion is another option. Converting a DB plan to a defined contribution plan, rather than setting up a new plan, avoids surplus problems as does converting the plan design to a flat benefit or target benefit or other shared risk design that it is less volatile. For future contributions, they can set up a new trust or funding structure. Withdrawal from an ongoing plan is another solution while winding the plan can give the plan sponsor access to the surplus as long as there is no successor plan to defeat the wind-up.

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Canadians Save At Higher Rate

The retirement savings rate for workers in Canada is only slightly higher than the rate for their U.S. counterparts, says Fidelity Investments. Its international retirement savings guidelines for multi-national companies and their employees in the UK, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, and Canada says the suggested savings rate for Canadian workers is 16 per cent with a target of saving 10 times their final salary. This will replace 45 per cent of their pre-retirement income. The suggested withdrawal rate of 4.5 per cent is in line with the U.S. The guideline is designed to engage workers with clear, simple ‘rules of thumb’ to help keep their retirement savings on track. Kevin Barry, president of workplace investing at Fidelity, says, “Importantly, these guidelines can be part of an innovative international benefits program and can help employers monitor and encourage good retirement savings habits in a consistent manner across their regional workforces.”

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Rule-making Means FSRA ‘Nimble’

Giving the soon-to-be launched Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) rule-making authority will make it nimble and adaptable, says Bryan Davies, chair of the new organization. Set to launch in the spring of 2019, he told the ‘McCarthy Tétrault 8th Annual Pension Seminar: Diary of Pension Fiduciary’ session ‘FSRA: What and When’ that it will replace the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). The change was the result of the blurring of FSCO’s function over time. As well, as a government funded entity, FSCO was limited by government financial constraints so it was starved for funding and unable to keep up with the rapidly changing world. FSRA will be self-funded. Davies said a key aspect of FSRA is that it will have rule-making authority so it will be able to adjust to changes in the industry much faster than having to wait for regulations to be enacted. In fact, he hopes that for the most part its rules will reduce the need for regulation. One benefit of being rules based is that they can be changed as necessary. His hope, he said, is that FSRA’s management team will make rules proposals which will migrate up to the ministry of finance for ultimate approval. He also said this rule-making approach will help it satisfy one of its mandates to, especially in the pension sector, innovate and develop programs to improve pension coverage especially for non-unionized private workers in Ontario. It will also be organized differently than FSCO with four groups, including one looking after pensions, which will be able to focus on the needs of their respective financial sectors. A fifth group, a regulatory core support group, will be charged with dealing with Queen’s Park.

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Branded Content Reaches Finals

Benefits and Pensions Monitor is honoured to have been selected as one of the five finalists in the ‘Branded Content’ B2B category at the 2018 Canadian Online Publishing Association (COPA) annual awards. We also extend our congratulations to IT World Canada which earned the gold medal in the category.

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Investors Prepared For Downturn

Six in 10 Canadian investors are prepared for a market downturn such as the steep declines seen in recent weeks, says a survey by Natixis Investment Managers. Yet while 77 per cent claim to understand the risks of investing in the current market, 59 per cent think market volatility could undermine their financial goals. In fact, 46 per cent believe they are exposed to even greater market risks today than they were before the 2008 financial crisis, a sense of unease that seems to conflict with investor behaviour and high return expectations. What investors do next will depend on how they reconcile views on risk, return, and financial security with market realities. “A decade of rising markets, low interest rates, and subdued volatility may have given investors unreasonable expectations and a false sense of security,” says David Giunta, CEO for the U.S. and Canada at Natixis Investment Managers.

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CAPSA Updates Electronic Communication Guideline

The Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA) has released a draft guideline for electronic communication in the pension industry for consultation. It is part of its strategic initiative to promote a common regulatory approach and consistent standards for plan administration in specific areas. Released in 2002, the original guideline was intended to help pension plan administrators and plan members apply the provisions of newly introduced electronic commerce legislation to communications required under pension benefits legislation. Stakeholders now indicate that the impact on communication processes, products, and strategies due to technological changes have also influenced plan administrator communications and the guideline should reflect this. The revised guideline sets out principles-based guidance and best practices to provide a framework for such communications. The Guideline is open for submission to the CAPSA Secretariat, 5160 Yonge St., 16th Floor, Toronto, ON M2N 6L9 or capsa-acor@fsco.gov.on.ca until December 13.

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Selecting Committee Part Of Governance

Proper governance includes a formal process for committee members as a good governance structure will not be effective unless it involves the right people with the right tools and attitudes, says Deron Waldock, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault. In the ‘Day 1 as a committee member ‒ Are You Ready?’ Session at its ‘8th Annual Pension Seminar: Diary of Pension Fiduciary,’ he said research has shown that a concurrent group where most or all of the members are the same age and gender and share the same beliefs is less effective. As well, with a properly diverse group, there is less likelihood of decisions being made in a “follow the leader” mindset. With a defined process in place, committees can ensure that they not only consider the proper candidates, he said, but that the candidates are evaluated on consistent and relevant criteria. The development and use of a skills and experience matrix is good way to assemble an effective pension committee and while no individual is going to have all the skills listed in the matrix, this allows participants in the plan’s governance structure to readily see where there are gaps. Skills on the matrix can include time availability, financial literacy, pension experience, and diversity.

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Currency Tumbles After Brexit Deal

The UK’s currency tumbled amid the unveiling of the country’s agreement for its exit from the European Union. The government has reached an agreement in principle with the EU over negotiating terms for Brexit. The terms for the departure on March 29, 2019, provide for a smooth exit and orderly transition to the future relationship for people, businesses, and organizations across the country. It includes a transition period until December 2020, when nothing will change for businesses. The document makes no mention of a passporting regime, under which firms in EU member states can provide financial services across the EU under a common set of rules. The pound fell 1.9 per cent versus the dollar over the UK trading day, dropping to $1.2745. The pound also fell against the euro over the day, by two per cent to €1.1259.

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Substance Abuse Costs Provinces

In just Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, the cost of substance use in 2014 surpassed $1 billion dollars, says the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), in collaboration with the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR). Estimates span four broad areas ‒ healthcare, lost productivity, criminal justice, and other direct costs ‒ and cover a range of substances including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, opioids, and other substances. Lost productivity due to premature death and disability related to substance use accounted for the greatest costs in all the provinces and territories. Alcohol or tobacco was responsible for the largest proportion of costs and harms in all provinces and territories assessed. “The release of these provincial and territorial estimates clearly describe the costs and harms associated with substance use in each province and territory,” says Dr. Matthew Young, senior research and policy analyst at CCSA and a principal investigator on the study. “The data clearly point to where governments and other organizations should target interventions and policies designed to reduce harms related to substance use.” For example, in British Columbia, substance use contributed to 49,000 hospital admissions and over 8,500 deaths. It is estimated that substance use in Canada cost $38.4 billion in 2014. 

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Two Have New Roles

Peter O’Hara is vice-president, operations, and Rian Sharpe is vice-president, finance and business development, at the PBAS Group ‒ Prudent Benefits Administration Services Inc., Benchmark Decisions Ltd., and Student Benefits Administrators Inc. Combined, they bring over 45 years of industry experience to their new roles.

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What’s Next For LIBOR

The CFA Society Toronto will examine ‘What’s Next for LIBOR.’ Alex Anderson, head of the U.S. fixed income syndicate, debt capital markets, at TD Securities, will look at the current environment, changes to date, and where things are ultimately heading. It takes place November 28 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit LIBOR

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November 15, 2018


Ability To Repay Creditors Improves

Canadian pension managers have improved their ability to repay creditors despite increasing their exposure to less-liquid asset classes such as infrastructure, real estate, and private equity, says Moody’s Investors Service. Holding larger shares of highly liquid securities, increasing recurring investment income, and reducing reliance on short-term debt programs is improving pension manager liquidity and, as a result, Canadian pension managers have improved their ability to repay creditors. Overall, its estimates of pension manager liquidity coverage for creditor obligations rose to 335 per cent from 266 per cent in 2015. These exposures are a credit positive from a creditor perspective because they can be easily sold should a pension manager need cash which is especially important during times of market turbulence.

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GSC Creates Pharmacy Ratings

Green Shield Canada (GSC) is introducing quality rating scores for Canadian pharmacies. Its plan members can now search online for a nearby pharmacy, but in doing so, have access to a five-star rating tool that measures the health outcomes achieved by that particular location. The criteria for measurement of the health outcomes focus on the promotion of good adherence to drug therapy, care for chronic disease, and the safe dispensing of drugs to seniors. Zahid Salman, GSC’s president and CEO, says, “While any feedback to health providers, including online plan member feedback, is a positive in the system, we believe our focus on generating and sharing true evidence of health outcomes is the most valuable contribution we can make to move the provision of quality healthcare forward.” Plan members can access the rating scores through GSC’s Google-powered health provider search tool on its online services and mobile app, ‘GSC on the Go.’

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Intact Joins TCFD Pilot

To better protect communities and economies, and aligned with its core value of being socially responsible, Intact Financial Corporation will be part of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) pilot. The pilot brings together 16 of the world’s largest insurers to better understand the impacts of climate change on their business ‒ integral for the insurance industry in their role as risk managers. In addition, Intact signed on to the UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI). The PSI is a global best-practice sustainability framework for the insurance industry to address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks.

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Board Effectiveness Linked To Long-term Value

An effective board directly links to positive long-term company value and that’s “the driving factor behind all of our ESG (environment, social, and governance) work,” says Adriana Morrison, senior associate on the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) sustainable investing team. This was the basis for including board effectiveness as a formal focus area for 2018 and beyond. She says formalizing board effectiveness as a focus area allows it to be more proactive and create a top-down strategy on how it will be overseeing the issues related to it. Board effectiveness has two aspects: attributes and processes. Evaluating attributes means looking at things like director independence, skill sets, diversity, and other characteristics of a company’s existing board. On the process side, it examines a range of board processes such as the board’s evaluation processes and how feedback is used to determine its future needs.

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Investments In Technology Reaching Record Levels

Private equity buyout firms are on course to make more investments in the technology sector in 2018 than in any year prior, says Preqin. As at November, there have been 1,079 buyout-backed tech-focused deals announced globally, approaching the record of 1,096 set the previous year. In fact, the number of buyout-backed deals in tech has increased year-on-year since 2009, although the value of these deals peaked at $177 billion in 2015, driven in part by the $67 billion merger of Dell and EMC. Technology-focused private equity funds now hold more than half a trillion dollars in assets under management as of the end of March. This is twice as large as the sector was just five years ago. This momentum seems unlikely to slow in the near future as fund managers focused on tech currently hold a record $190 billion in dry powder ready to be deployed.

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Bearish Investors Signal Short-term Uptick In Risk Assets

Although investors have become the most bearish on global growth since 2008, they haven’t become bearish enough to signal anything but a short-term uptick in risk assets, says the Bank of America Merrill Lynch‘s monthly fund manager survey. This month, the average cash balance of managers remained steady at 5.1 per cent, above the 10-year average of 4.5 per cent. In addition, a record 85 per cent of managers surveyed said they believe the global economy is in the late cycle, 11 percentage points above previous highs in December 2007. When asked how the global economy will develop over the next year, a net 38 per cent of respondents said they expect deceleration, representing the worst outlook on global growth since November 2008. For the fifth consecutive month, a possible trade war remains the biggest tail risk for managers, with 35 per cent of respondents putting it at the top of their list of concerns. However, that concern continues to recede. Last month, 43 per cent of respondents considered a trade war the biggest tail risk.

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Caisse Acquires Power Solutions

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) will acquire 100 per cent of Johnson Controls’ power solutions from Brookfield Business Partners L.P. and its institutional partners. The business produces batteries for global automakers and aftermarket distributors and retailers for use in nearly all types of vehicles, including hybrid and electrical models.

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Dealing With Disruption Discussed

‘Thriving in the Era of Disruptive Innovation’ is the topic of a CPBI Atlantic Spotlight with Jim Harris, a disruptive innovation and organizational change expert. The author of ‘Blindsided!’ and ‘The Learning Paradox’ will look at the forces that are disrupting companies and industries and presents strategies for preventing it in a world where technology is changing faster than ever before. It takes place March 7, 2019, in Halifax, NS. For information, visit CPBI Spotlight

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November 14, 2018


Good Governance Worth 15 BPS

Companies with social characteristics are earning investors on average 15 basis points (bps) more each month than those with poor or deteriorating social characteristics, says research by Hermes Investment Management. Its ‘ESG investing: A social uprising’ report says this is the first time a statistical link between social factors and returns had been made in its research, which has been carried out three times in total. The research looks at the impact of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors on equity returns from the MSCI World Index. It reaffirmed the benefit of good or improving corporate governance. Although the average monthly return had fallen from 30 bps in a previous study, it was still positive at 24 bps. While well-governed companies have tended to outperform poorly governed companies since the start of 2009, the governance factor was “particularly ineffective” in the past 12 months when poorly governed companies tended to outperform well-governed companies. As for the environmental element, there was “no evidence” of underperformance by companies showing attractive environmental characteristics. Social factors such as employee turnover rates and workplace accidents, as well as policies on human rights, have been harder to quantify for investors due to their “intangible nature.”

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Demographic Problems Will Get Worse

The demographic changes being experienced worldwide today are unprecedented and are going to continue to accelerate in the near future, says Wilfred Hahn, founder and global strategic advisor at Forstrong Global Asset Management Inc. Speaking on the ‘Demographic Challenges Create Epic Implications for Investment Policy’ session at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meeting & Events ‘Pension Investment Trends’ session, he said that these changes will impact the cost of longevity as well as retirement lifestyles. “We have to look at all the realistic scenarios and the possible future impact of demographic changes,” he said. “There are going to be some real implications and we need to consider this when we put together investment policies.” Currently, there is both a depopulation and population explosion at the same time. The result is a global income crisis ‒ a mismatch between future income demand and supply. And, the problems will continue to worsen, said Hahn. Global aging continues to accelerate with the biggest gain from 1997 to 2017 in the 50- to 54-year age group. From 2017 to 2037, the biggest gain will be in the 70- to 74-year-old age group. Fertility rates are decreasing, with the average number of children per women roughly half of what it was in 1960. Post-familialism, a negative growth in 15- to 45-year-olds, and an increasing aging population will contribute to the global demographic problems going forward. Added to this is inflation resulting in an increasing cost for a retirement lifestyle. Hahn said investors need to anticipate these changes in order to take advantage of strategies that can still offer some mitigation. Among his recommendations are seeking assets that produce real underlying income, anticipating lower lows on long-term rates at some point, pursuing global strategies, and paying attention to what central banks are buying and selling.

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Managers Waiting On Treasury Yields

Money managers are waiting on 10-year Treasury yields to reach 3.7 per cent before rotating into bonds from stocks, says Bank of America Merrill Lynch‘s monthly fund manager survey. Only 11 per cent of respondents said they expect a global recession next year. However, when asked how the global economy will develop over the next year, a net 44 per cent of respondents expect global growth to decelerate in the next 12 months, the worst outlook on the global economy since November 2008. A net 54 per cent expect a slowdown in Chinese growth in the next year, the most bearish outlook in more than two years. Nearly half (45 per cent) of respondents expect international equities to be the best-performing assets, while 25 per cent expect corporate bonds to be the worst and 24 per cent believe government bonds will be the worst. Managers believe the S&P 500 will peak at 3,056, up 12 per cent from its current level. For the sixth consecutive month, a possible trade war remains the biggest tail risk for managers, with 35 per cent of respondents putting it at the top of their list of concerns.

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Cyber Risk Program Should Look At Technology, People, Vendors

There are three pillars to a cyber risk program – technology, people, and vendors, says Kelly Hastings, chief risk officer, CIBC Mellon. She told the Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meeting & Events ‘Pension Investment Trends’ session, ‘Governance Issues Impacting the Industry,’ that all institutions must monitor their environments for vulnerabilities and threats. A breach could cause systems to shut down, manipulate fund positions, impact investment valuations, and risk member privacy, to name a few. For technology there are three considerations – ransomware, personal devices, and secure movement of information. Organizations need to monitor for potential liabilities and threats. Systems must be in place for companies of all sizes and they must not just rely on technology. For people, companies must look at data classification, phishing programs, and employee training. People can be the first line of defense but companies need to work with individuals to raise awareness of vulnerabilities and teach them steps to take if they identify something suspicious. “Employees need to understand the criticality of data,” said Hastings. Vendor management is also crucial in a cyber risk strategy because any weakness a supplier has, the company that hires it also has. Any function that is outsourced has risk. “They may not adhere to the same standards.” Hastings said organizations should have an active and ongoing business continuity process. They should also have a recovery process in place.

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CDC Arrangements Proposed

The UK government is seeking input from plan sponsors, trustees, and employers on a proposal that will allow workplace retirement plans to take the form of collective defined contribution (CDC) arrangements. The Department for Work and Pensions intends to consult the industry on a CDC model, which provides for contributions to be pooled in an effort to deliver a target benefit, rather than a guaranteed one. Under the current legislation framework, only defined benefit funds or individual DC workplace arrangements are allowed. CDC plans, if introduced, could give plan sponsors the ability to provide a savings option and an income-in-retirement option within the same arrangement. This would give participants in CDC plans a better chance to be cushioned from volatility as investment risk is adjusted for over time. These plans also enable longevity risk protection through risk sharing without participants bearing the cost of accessing insurance products on their own.

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CAAT Strategic Risk Management Looks At Prime Risks

When considering risk management, the prime risks for CAAT Pension Plan include the funded status, managing plan maturity risk, and protecting the plan from key operational risks, says Julie Cays, chief investment officer of the CAAT Pension Plan. Speaking at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meeting & Events ‘Pension Investment Trends’ session, ‘The Evolving Nature of Pension Investment Risk Management,’ she said, “our funded status is a key metric of risk, so we’re very careful about building reserves.” Plan maturity risk is looking at asset liability modeling. “We stress our demographics and our liabilities almost as much as we stress the economic potential outcomes on the asset side. We have determined that plan maturity risk actually dwarfs investment risk over the long term.” Finally, key operational risks include cyber risk ‒ which concerns the privacy of member information. CAAT spends a lot of time and resources in keeping this information safe. Liquidity risk is a lesson learned from the Great Recession in 2008-2009, “when we went through a time where the only thing we could sell was government bonds to come up with pension payments. You have to maintain a cash balance,” said Cays. As part of its strategy to manage a number of risks, CAAT has put in place a secondary plan design called DB Plus. It is a plan design that is more attractive to part-timers and easy to administer for employers. It has fixed contributions and may appeal to organizations that are at this point defined contribution, but might be interested in shifting to another form of defined benefit with fixed contributions. It is open to all sectors of the pension sphere ‒ not-for-profit, private and public sectors, and all types of plan designs ‒ DB, group RRSPs, or exiting DB plans.

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Melton Joins Medcan

Tiffany Melton is director of communications at Medcan. Most recently, she was manager of communications and change management at TD. Prior to that, she was strategic communications manager at Scotiabank.

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DC Greatness Examined

‘Making DC Great Again’ is the focus of a Toronto Area Chapter of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists professional education opportunity. Joe Nunes, executive chairman of Actuarial Solutions, Inc., will discuss retirement readiness and the role of defined contribution pension plans in helping their members to be financially prepared for retirement. It takes place December 6 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit DC Greatness

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November 13, 2018


Mawer Investigates Options

Mawer Investment Management Ltd. has reportedly hired the Bank of Nova Scotia to explore options such as a sale, following a wave of transactions involving Canadian money managers. While it says no decision has been made to change firm ownership, given recent activity in the industry, it has engaged an advisor to obtain more information on the options available to the firm as part of its strategic planning process. Earlier this month, Toronto-Dominion Bank completed the purchase of Greystone Capital Management as part of its push to become the largest Canadian money manager. Scotiabank recently acquired Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd. Founded in 1974, Mawer oversees more than C$50 billion for individual and institutional investors across all major asset classes.

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Global Credit Conditions To Weaken

Global credit conditions will weaken in 2019 amid slowing growth and rising risks, says Moody’s Investors Service. It forecasts global credit conditions deteriorating in 2019, as “growth decelerates, funding costs increase, liquidity tightens, and market volatility returns.” Geopolitical and domestic political tensions will dominate the risk landscape for global credit conditions and credit quality in 2019 as tensions between the U.S. and China spread far beyond trade disputes. As well, there is a risk of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union without a trade agreement in place and domestic political risks will continue to weigh on the credit outlooks for Italy, Brazil, Turkey, and Argentina. It expects that the impact of slower growth will increasingly push debates about globalization and inequality to the political forefront.

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Fixed Income ESG Demand Outstrips Supply

As environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing becomes more prevalent in the fixed income space, demand is starting to outstrip supply, says Cerulli Associates. ESG criteria are most commonly applied to equities, but fixed income investors are increasingly interested in sustainability, it says. The key difference between the ESG needs of a fixed income investor and those of an equity investor is that the former is focused on managing downside default risk, whereas the latter’s priority is upside appreciation. However, the incorporation of ESG criteria into fixed income has been hampered by factors such as the role of ESG in credit ratings, the shortage of sustainability indices against which to benchmark performance, the scarcity of ESG-focused products, and the challenges of engaging with issuers, particularly sovereigns. It expects to see the launch of a variety of new ESG products over the coming years, including in areas less suited to ESG, such as high yield.

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Co-operators Continues MSO Research With Worldcare

The Co-operators has partnered with WorldCare International, Inc. to research medical second opinions (MSOs) for mental health. The first phase of the partnership’s study explored the service with participants who were on disability leave for mental health conditions and showed very promising results as 90 per cent of the participants received a new treatment recommendation, 30 per cent fully returned to work or are gradually returning to work, and 50 per cent experienced improvements in their daily lives. The results of the first phase suggest that MSOs offer improved treatment options and help people shift to a better quality of life and eventually return to work. Now, they will study volunteer plan members with diagnosed mental health conditions. The research will help define long-term viability and identify patterns in service needs.

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AIMCo Acquires Spanish Power Producer

The Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Eolia Renovables de Inversiones, S.C.R., S.A, an independent power producer in the Spanish renewable energy sector, from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. and other shareholders. Its investment in Eolia Renovables provides its clients exposure to a company that owns a large portfolio of renewable energy assets with long-term revenues contracted under the Spanish regulatory regime, as well as, a pipeline of potential development opportunities in Spain. Eolia Renovables will complement its existing portfolio of global investments in utilities, power generation, and transportation.

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Finkbeiner Has New Role

Paul Finkbeiner is executive vice-president, global head of real estate, for Great-West Lifeco. He was previously president of GWL Realty Advisors Inc. (GWLRA). In this role, he will work to establish a global real estate platform leveraging its existing regional capabilities to continue to accelerate its growth and maximize access to investments across the regions. He has over 30 years of real estate experience and joined the organization over 20 years ago.

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Public-Private Balance Examined

‘Public-Private in the Balance: The Impact on Plan Design and Costs’ will be examined at a Benefits Breakfast Club event. Aimee Sulliman, senior vice-president, public affairs, at the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association; will provide an update on the progress and timelines of the National Council on the Implementation of Pharmacare and review the models that have been proposed and the challenges of provincial buy-in to a national model. Pinay Kainth, medical advisor, neuroscience, at Novartis; will discuss ‘New Therapies and Their Impact on Benefits: Migraine and Diabetes.’ He will address the burden of illness of migraine as a disease and the impact in the workplace, episodic versus chronic migraines, current treatments, and new solutions. Harpreet Singh Bajaj, an endocrinologist and epidemiologist, will address new developments in diabetes, the burden of illness, and the challenge of managing what is now one of the leading driver of costs in employee benefit plans. It takes place November 29 in Mississauga, ON. For information, visit BBC

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