DC Sponsors Strengthen Plans
Defined contribution plan sponsors are beginning to understand the importance of running their plans in a robust manner to get people prepared to retire with adequate income, says a J.P. Morgan report. ‘Progress Never Stops: How plan sponsors are sharpening their focus to strengthen plans and improve outcomes’ says plan sponsors increasingly feel responsible for getting their workers retirement ready. It shows 85 per cent of large plans and 65 per cent of plans overall automatically enroll their workers. As well, 77 per cent of large plans automatically escalate deferral rates and 80 per cent offer target-date funds (TDFs) on their investment menus. It also reveals 82 per cent of sponsors today say they feel a ‘very high’ or ‘somewhat high’ sense of responsibility for their employees’ financial wellness, up from 59 per cent in 2013.
IMCO Invest In Gamer PC Products
IMCO (the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario) and the Honeywell pension are co-investing alongside EagleTree Capital in CORSAIR, a world leader in high-performance PC components, gaming peripherals, and enthusiast memory. EagleTree will acquire a majority stake in CORSAIR from Francisco Partners and several minority shareholders.
Contribution Rate Ruled Sufficient
An arbitrator has ruled a seven per cent contribution to a defined contribution plan is sufficient, says a Blakes ‘Pensions Newsletter.’ Facts presented show the town of Kentville, NS, and its police association had agreed to the seven per cent contribution rate in a collective agreement covering April 2008 to March 2014. For a new collective agreement covering April 2014 to March 2019, the union had called for increases in contribution rates of 0.5 per cent per year, starting in 2015. This arrangement would bring the parties to a contribution rate of nine per cent by 2019. The town argued that the pension contribution rate should remain at seven per cent. Since it was the only municipality with a DC plan, there were no comparators. As well, there were no other interest arbitrations where contested contribution rates resulted in an order to increase the rates. The arbitrator ruled that no evidence was presented to suggest that the current pension contribution rate of seven per cent was so inappropriate that the union would object to its continued application. As well, since the rate would be calculated on newly increased wages, the net contribution amount was effectively increased. Further, the arbitrator noted that another union had agreed to seven per cent.
Canada Can Meet Infrastructure Needs
Canada is expected to see a 61 per cent rise in GDP by 2040 and if it maintains current trends in investment, it is forecast to meet 98 per cent of the investment needed for its infrastructure to keep pace, says the G20’s Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub). The report, ‘Global Infrastructure Outlook,’ reveals the cost of providing infrastructure to support global economic growth and to start to close infrastructure gaps forecast to reach US$94 trillion by 2040, with a further $3.5 trillion needed to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for universal household access to drinking water and electricity by 2030, bringing the total to $97 trillion. In Canada, the sectors with the largest funding shortfalls are rail (17.3 per cent or $7.1 billion), telecommunications (8.1 per cent or $5.7 billion), and airports (7.8 per cent or $4.6 billion). The smallest funding shortfalls in Canada will be the road and water sectors, which will each meet more than 99 per cent of expected infrastructure funding needs by 2040. Globally, $3.8 trillion will need to be invested in infrastructure every year to meet demands, the equivalent of the total annual GDP of Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy, it says. The United States will have the largest gap in infrastructure spending, at $3.8 trillion, while China will have the greatest demand, at $28 trillion, representing 30 per cent of global infrastructure investment needs.
ETF/ETP Assets Reach New Record
Assets invested in ETFs/ETPs listed globally reached a new record of US$4.168 trillion at the end of first half of 2017, says ETFGI’s June 2017 global ETF and ETP industry insights report. ETFs and ETPs listed globally gathered a record amount of US$63.57 billion in net inflows in June and a record level of US$347.7 billion in year-to-date net inflows. At this point last year, there were net inflows of just US$123.55 billion. Equity ETFs/ETPs gathered a record level of US$41.15 billion in net inflows in June, bringing year-to-date net inflows to a level of US$242.69 billion, which is much greater than the net inflows of US$15.81 billion over the same period last year. Fixed income ETFs and ETPs have gathered a record level of US$17.17 billion in net inflows in June, growing year-to-date net inflows to a record level of US$80.96 billion, which is greater than the same period last year which saw net inflows of US$67.98 billion. The global ETF/ETP industry had 6,965 ETFs/ETPs, with 13,125 listings, assets of US$4.168 trillion, from 328 providers listed on 70 exchanges in 56 countries, it says.
Carrier Joins Aviva
Derisking Frees Employer To Focus On Business
Pension issues are looked at in a silo and as a necessary evil, says Max Bazile, Toronto pension leader at Deloitte. Speaking at the Deloitte and Fasken Martineau ‘Mind your own business! Pension de-risking’ session, he said pension derisking can free an employer to focus on managing their business. Drivers of pension risk include asset risk that pension assets will suffer losses or grow at a slow rate than anticipated reducing a plan’s funded status; longevity risk that members will live beyond a plan’s life expectancy assumptions and increasing a plan’s total obligation; and interest rate risk where the future is unclear in this low interest rate environment. Pension derisking can help employers focus of their core business to increase shareholder value, divert capital to grow the business; improve their credit rating and spread; and make the organization more attractive for acquisition or merger. Markets reward derisking as share prices go up when pension plans are derisked, he said. This is more evident in U.S. as Canada is still in early stages. However, Loblaws saw its share price increase when it derisked a substantial portion of its plan’s liabilities.
Older Canadians Less Likely To Use Technology
Canada is bracing for a ‘Silver Tsunami’ as the number of seniors now exceeds that of children in the country for the first time ever. Healthcare, more than any other service, is expected to feel the biggest impact of the population wave and digital healthcare technology holds the promise to empower Canadians to be more engaged in their ongoing care and proactively manage their health, particularly, Canada’s aging population. However, a study commissioned by TELUS Health reveals that those who would most benefit from healthcare innovation are the least likely to adopt it. Canadians in the baby boomer (aged 52+) and greatest generation (aged 71+) categories reported they were the most likely to access a healthcare provider (78 per cent). However, while 58 per cent in this demographic agreed that digital health tools would help them connect with their healthcare provider, this group ranked the lowest to use them (20 per cent). Further, Canadians aged 52+ were 10 per cent less likely than younger generations to agree that digital technology empowers them to take control of their health. “The silver tsunami we’re seeing in Canada tells us that not only is it increasingly important to educate Canadians about the impact technology can have on health outcomes, but also to ensure we are maximizing the opportunity to put these digital health tools in place so all patients and their care providers can stay better connected,” says Dr. Susan Lea-Makenny, director and senior medical advisor at the INLIV Clinic. Join Tim Clarke, owner of tc Health Consulting, and Paul Clark, chief technology officer from WorldCare International Inc., at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meetings & Events ‘Technology and Healthcare Plan Innovation’ September 14 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit Technology And Healthcare
Annuity Purchases Rising
Approximately $1.8 to 1.9 billion of annuity purchases were placed during the first half of 2017, triple the amount that was recorded during the same period last year, says Willis Towers Watson’s ‘Group Annuity Pulse’. Annuity purchases for ongoing plans represented the vast majority of transactions year-to-date, showing the continued trend for opportunistic purchases. In the first six months of the year, close to $2 billion of annuities have been purchased, putting the market on track to set a new annual record of $4 to $5 billion. The firm also advised on two large annuity purchases in the first half of the year. Buy-in annuities worth over $900 million were purchased for several thousand plan members across the country. The annuity purchase was part of a larger strategy that successfully reduced an organization’s pension plan liabilities by well over a $1 billion. A second ground-breaking transaction occurred during the second quarter included the purchase of not only buy-out annuities for inactive members, but also buy-in annuities worth $45 million for active members covering both past and future benefit accruals. This enabled the plan sponsor to transfer risk related to both past and future accruals.
Fiduciary Duty Must Be Supported
In all derisking scenarios, plan sponsors need to ensure there is support for the exercise of fiduciary duty, says Ross Gascho, a partner at Fasken Martineau in the pensions and benefits area. He told the Deloitte and Fasken Martineau ‘Mind your own business! Pension de-risking’ session that they need to ensure plan terms should permit it or can be amended to permit the derisking. As well, its statement of investment policies and procedures (SIPP) and trust agreements should also permit the use of derisking products like annuities. They also need to ensure the process in the decision making was appropriate. Problems can arise in the private sector pension funds where employers can wear two hats. As an employer, it can act in its own interests. However, as plan administrator, the employer is subject to the fiduciary standard of care under pension standards legislation and common law. In Ontario, the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) permits annuity buy-outs. And the province is currently looking at amending the PBA to discharge the sponsor from fiduciary duty if an annuity is purchased. For annuity buy-ins, FSCO and OSFI have no objections, but they must be considered as an investment of the plan and, therefore, must be prudent, he said.
Kitchen Joins Russell
IMF Upgrades Canada
The International Monetary Forum (IMF) has upgraded its growth forecast for Canada this year, but downgraded it slightly for 2018. Its ‘World Economic Outlook Update for July’ upgraded Canada’s growth for 2017 by 0.6 percentage points to 2.5 per cent; but revised the 2018 forecast downward by 0.1 percentage points to 1.9 per cent. Global growth is set for 3.5 per cent this year and 3.6 per cent in 2018, but the outlooks for the U.S. and UK were both downgraded amid concerns over fiscal policy and economic activity. The IMF projected U.S. growth for 2017 to be 2.1 per cent, down from 2.3 per cent; and said 2018 would see 2.1 per cent growth, down from the 2.5 per cent forecast in April as it says near-term U.S. fiscal policy looks less likely to be expansionary now than it believed would be the case in the spring. However, the 2.1 per cent growth pace is still well above the lacklustre 2016 U.S. outcome, which was 1.6 per cent.
IMO Has First Clients
The Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO) is now managing the assets of its first two clients ‒ the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) and the Ontario Pension Board (OPB). Together the funds under management have a value of approximately $60 billion and are invested across a broad range of asset classes, including public equities, public debt, private equity, real estate, and infrastructure. This makes IMCO one of the largest public sector asset managers in Canada. Modelled after similar such as AIMCo and bcIMC, it was IMCO was established in 2016. Its mandate is to provide broader public sector clients in Ontario with investment management services.
‘Pension Mélange’ Unique Blend
The ‘Pension Mélange’ is a unique blend of many different areas, including governing legislation, plan provisions, common law, and interpretive guidelines, say Greg Harding and Taylor Woolsey, of Field Law. Speaking on ‘Fiduciary Duty as an Ingredient of the Pension Mélange’ at the CPBI Southern Alberta Region session. Harding acknowledged that there is much “hat wearing” in the pension field as individuals act in roles ranging from sponsor to plan member. The law seeks to determine where the authority and responsibility rests. Fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care known at law. A fiduciary must act in a manner consistent with the best interests of the beneficiary and while there are the traditional categories of fiduciary relationships ‒ such as trustee, agent, and principal ‒ but there are also ad-hoc fiduciary relationships which are established on a case-by-case basis. The key elements of a fiduciary relationship and duties of a fiduciary were outlined, such as the ability of the fiduciary to unilaterally make decisions that impact the beneficiary. However, it was also noted that fiduciary duty is about the process and not driven by the results. Harding said Spiderman said it best ‒ “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Diversified Managers Post Positive Return
Diversified pooled fund managers in the Morneau Shepell ‘Performance Universe of Pension Managers’ Pooled Funds’ posted a median return of 0.7 per cent before management fees for the second quarter. In the second quarter, the Canadian stock market underperformed by 1.6 per cent, while global stock markets posted positive returns. The rise in the Canadian dollar versus several foreign currencies had a negative impact on Canadian investors. For the second quarter in a row, emerging market equities dominated with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index returning 3.6 per cent. U.S. equities in the S&P 500 Index rose 0.6 per cent and the international equities in the MSCI EAFE Index returned 3.3 per cent. Following the decrease in bond yields for the first two months of the quarter, Canadian bonds ended the quarter with positive returns. The median bond manager achieved a return of 1.1 per cent for the quarter. Jean Bergeron, partner responsible for Morneau Shepell’s asset and risk management consulting team, says “On a solvency basis, pension fund financial positions declined in the second quarter, largely due to lower interest rates in the first two months. The solvency liability for an average pension plan rose 6.2 per cent, while the median return was only 0.7 per cent.”
Performance Of Economy Surprising
Perhaps the most surprising thing so far in 2017 has been the strong performance of the Canadian economy and, as a result, the Canadian dollar, says a Leon Frazer ‘Quarterly Review.’ The Canadian economy has grown at roughly twice the rate of the U.S. and has added jobs in a similarly impressive fashion over the last six months. It sees far more positives than negatives when looking at the current state of the Canadian economy. “While it’s true that elevated Canadian consumer leverage has fueled some of the growth in both the housing market and the general economy, it is not enough to create the kind of statistics we have seen so far this year. Employment is the key to keeping credit issues in check and recent job growth has been broad when measured both by industry and geography,” says the Review. Interestingly, the Canadian equity market has yet to react to the increasingly positive fundamental backdrop this year. The Canadian equity market has lagged both the U.S. and most international equity markets after a standout year in 2016. Barring some form of economic shock, longer-term interest rates should resume their upward movement from last summer, benefitting commodity prices and financial institutions.
Sprott Sells Diversified Fund Business
Sprott Asset Management LP (SAM) is selling its Canadian diversified fund business to a management-led group. John Wilson, CEO and co-CIO of SAM, and James Fox, president of SAM, will be co-managing partners of the new firm. The new group will have more than $3 billion in assets under management and a suite of investment offerings that includes alternative core solutions, alternative income solutions, and real asset solutions.
Venture Financing Declines
Venture financing in Canada declined by 14 per cent year-over-year in the first half of 2017, says a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) and CB Insights. It says venture-backed investments declined to $885 million in the first half this year from $1.03 billion in the first half last year. In addition, the number of deals declined, dropping by 25 per cent to 127 in the first six months of 2017 from 170 in the corresponding period in 2016. Financing activity was also down, the second consecutive quarterly drop. There was $400 million in venture financing in the quarter, spread across 58 deals. In the same quarter last year, there were also 58 deals, but the overall value was $600 million.
OMERS Sells Civica
OMERS Private Equity, the private equity arm of OMERS, will sell Civica to funds managed and/or advised by Partners Group, a global private markets investment manager. Civica is a provider of business-critical software, digital solutions, and technology-based outsourcing services to both public sector and commercial organizations in highly regulated sectors in the UK and around the world. It has capabilities and presence across local and central government, social housing, healthcare, education, and public safety.
Desjardins Implements Eagle
Desjardins Group has implemented Eagle Investment Systems LLC investment fund accounting solution. Desjardins has previously deployed Eagle Accounting for Desjardins Asset Management in 2011. The new implementation on behalf of Desjardins allows the larger organization to benefit from new efficiencies that stem from managing and maintaining fewer systems across the two businesses. Eagle is a BNY Mellon company and provider of financial services technology.
RPP Membership Grew In 2015
Membership in registered pension plans (RPPs) in Canada totaled 6.3 million in 2015, up 4,900 members compared with 2014. Membership in public sector pension plans increased by 16,500 to 3.2 million. Meanwhile, the number of members in private sector plans fell by 11,600 to three million. The public sector accounted for 51.6 per cent of total RPP membership in 2015. RPP membership moved closer to gender equality in 2015. The number of men with an RPP rose 3,500 to 3.5 million, representing 50.2 per cent of the total, while the number of women with an RPP rose 8,400 to 3.1 million, a second consecutive record high. The pension coverage rate edged down from 38.1 per cent in 2014 to 37.8 per cent in 2015. In 2015, 4.2 million employees were members of defined benefit pension plans, down four per cent from 2014. Defined benefit plans accounted for 67.1 per cent of employees with an RPP in 2015, down from 70 per cent in 2014 and down from a rate of over 90 per cent in the 1980s. Membership in defined contribution plans increased 2.8 per cent to 1.1million in 2015, accounting for 18 per cent of all RPP membership. Most members in defined contribution plans (87.1 per cent) worked in the private sector.
Plans May Fail To Pay Full Benefits
One in three UK defined benefit pension plans could fail to pay the full level of benefits promised to their members, says an analysis by Punter Southall. ‘Risk of Ruin’ also claims only one in five companies had a “high chance” of paying benefits in full. For schemes with a sponsor rated as weak – about 20 per cent of total UK DB schemes – the ‘risk of ruin’ is estimated to be 66 per cent. As well, where sponsors shorten their schemes’ deficit recovery periods, including through paying lump sums, this has a “limited impact” on funding levels “as they are just a small acceleration of monies the scheme would expect to receive in any event.”
Managers Pessimistic On Credit Conditions
Credit portfolio managers are more pessimistic on credit conditions in North America over the next 12 months, says a survey from the International Association of Credit Portfolio Managers. Its ‘Credit Default Outlook’ index for North America for the next 12 months is -41.2, down from 20 in the previous quarter’s 12-month survey. A negative number indicates credit conditions are expected to worsen, while positive numbers mean conditions are expected to improve. In North America, the drop in sentiment looks ominous, but defaults are currently at a low level and North America is in a different situation than Europe. Europe is still in the quantitative-easing part of the cycle which has ended in North America. It found 53 per cent of respondents think defaults will remain at the same level in North America, while 44 per cent expect them to rise and just three per cent think defaults will decrease. Commercial real estate is one sector that worries survey respondents in North America, with almost two-thirds of respondents predicting that defaults will increase over the next 12 months due to structural changes in the retail sector.
Green Bond Market Enjoys Growth
The green bond market continues to enjoy strong global growth among investors and issuers, says J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Green bond issuance was$87.7 billion in 2016, up from $500 million in 2012, when the first green bond came to market. So far this year, green bond sales are approaching $50 billion. Green bonds are aimed at attracting investors who are not only looking for returns, but also protecting the environment. However, investor interest is extending into other socially prominent areas with bonds aimed at financing low income housing and educational opportunities for youth and women-owned business.
Teachers’ Purchases Funeral Services Firm
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has purchased Mémora, the leading Iberian funeral services company, from the 3i Group plc. Mémora was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain. It has 115 parlours, 24 crematoriums, 13 cemeteries, and 91 retail outlets in the Iberian Peninsula. It has a leading position in Barcelona as well as in other regional markets in Spain and Portugal, and a strong foothold across its remaining markets. It offers a range of funeral services such as ceremonies, documentation support, and dedicated family consultants. 3i invested in Mémora in 2008 and since then, the company has expanded through both acquisitions and organic growth.
Integrated Closes Loan
Integrated Asset Management Corp. and its private corporate debt group, IAM Private Debt Group, have closed a senior loan to Shaman Power Corporation. The capital raised by Shaman Power Corporation will assist in the construction of a one megawatt hydro-electric generation facility located on the Grand River in downtown Elora, ON.
Elliott Joins Equitable
BEP Looks At Strategic Areas
The ‘Rotman-ICPM Board Effectiveness Program (BEP)’ for pension and other long-horizon investment organizations features leading pension practitioners and academics discussing key strategic areas such as fiduciary duties, investment beliefs, risk management, and member communications. It is scheduled to run from November 27 to December 1 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit BEP
Pension Age Could Rise Faster
The UK state pension age could rise to 68 at a faster pace than expected under new proposals by the Department for Work and Pensions. Its final review into the state pension age proposed a new timetable for the increase to 68 to maintain fairness between generations in line with continuing increases in life expectancy, it says. The latest projections from the Office for National Statistics show the number of people over the state pension age in the UK is expected to grow by a third to 16.9 million from 2017 to 2042. The new proposal would see the state pension age increase to 68 from 2037 to 2039. Current legislation sees the increase taking place from 2044 to 2046.
Monetary Policy ‘Too Stimulative’
Almost half (48 per cent) of money managers believe global monetary policy is ‘too stimulative,’ says the Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s monthly fund manager survey. This is the highest reading since April 2011 and up from a net 47 per cent in June. On global growth and profit expectations, only a net 38 per cent of investors predicted a stronger economy over the next 12 months, down from a net 39 per cent in June and a net 62 per cent in January. Additionally, only a net 41 per cent of investors predicted global profits will improve over the next year, the lowest reading since the U.S. election and down from a net 43 per cent in June. The July survey also found that a crash in global bond markets and a policy mistake by the Federal Reserve or European Central Bank are viewed as the biggest tail risks to the market. A net 80 per cent of investors believe the U.S. is the most overvalued region for equities, down from a record net 84 per cent in June. Meanwhile, a net 19 per cent and 43 per cent of managers, respectively, believe eurozone equities and emerging markets equities are undervalued, compared to a net 18 per cent and 48 per cent last month.
Mutual Funds Register Strong Growth
Mutual funds worldwide registered strong growth in 2016, says Cerulli Associates. Its ‘Global Markets 2017: How to Succeed Internationally’ report shows mutual funds’ assets under management increased from $60.3 trillion in 2012 to $79.3 trillion at the end of 2016. Its forecast suggests that mutual fund assets will pass $100 trillion in 2020 and reach US$106.3 trillion in 2021, with non-U.S. assets representing more than 50 per cent of the overall volume. The increased demand for mutual funds will be supported in developing markets by rising incomes, growth in the middle class, and improved financial literacy. In developed markets, access to defined contribution pension schemes and an increased focus on retirement savings will underpin the growth.
HRPA Members Support Some Reforms
Members of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) strongly support a number of proposed reforms in Ontario’s Bill 148. However, an HRPA survey also shows there are concerns with the draft legislation. There is broad support for changes being made to the equal pay for equal work section and changes being made to the vacation section. Respondents, however, expressed concern that members’ employers will need to cut back on employee benefits being offered, cut employee hours, or lay off employees completely in order to comply with the minimum wage increase. As well, 74.5 per cent of respondents do not support the changes being made to the union certification section of the Labour Standards Act and 48 per cent would most likely decrease the use of casual, part-time, and seasonal employees as a result of having to pay equal wages.
Plans Sell Stake In Rail Line
Borealis Infrastructure, the infrastructure investment manager of OMERS, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan will sell High Speed 1 to a consortium comprising funds advised and managed by InfraRed Capital Partners Limited and Equitix Investment Management Limited. HS1 operates the 109 kilometre high-speed rail line connecting London St Pancras International station in the UK with the Channel Tunnel, under a 30-year concession agreement with the UK Secretary of State, signed in 2010. HS1 is responsible for the operations, maintenance, and renewal of the track and associated infrastructure, as well as the four stations served by the route.
Two Get New Roles
Patrick McGrath (CPA, CGA, CFA) is head of fixed income and private placements and Scott Pountney (CFA) is director, investments, at Empire Life Investments Inc. Since joining the firm in 2010, McGrath has been responsible for executing the company’s private debt investment mandate in support of its general assets and been involved with its private equity real estate investments. In his new role, he will be responsible for providing strategic oversight and leadership to the fixed income portfolio managers and mortgage administration teams. Pountney joined the product and marketing team in 2011 and in his new role will be a key liaison between advisors and the portfolio management team.
Berty Discusses How Pooling Works
Dan Berty, executive director from the Canadian Drug Insurance Pooling Corporation (CDIPC), will discuss how the Canadian Drug Insurance Pooling Corporation is helping maintain the viability of drug plans at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meetings & Events ‘Drug Pooling and Supplemental Drugs’ half-day session. He will explain how pooling works, what it is and isn’t, and, using historical data, gaze into a crystal ball to look into the future. He joins Anjila Arora, director, pharmaceutical benefits, from Sun Life Financial, to explain how this initiative is working for both plan sponsors and insurers. It takes place October 17 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit Drug Pooling