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November 14, 2019


Impeachment Really Election Strategy

The campaign to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump is an attempt by the democrats to turn public opinion against him as happened with former President Richard Nixon in the 1970s, says Charles Myers, chairman of Signum Global Advisors. He told the ‘Geopolitical Risks’ session at PMAC’s 2019 National Conference ‒ ‘Opportunities & Insights’ ‒ it is an electoral strategy to turn the public against Trump and pubic sentiment on impeachment has gone from 45 per cent in favour in the weeks since it was announced to 55 per cent, a big swing. In fact, he put the chances of Trump being re-elected at 60 per cent, However, it is likely he will be impeached although it is also likely, as with Nixon and Bill Clinton when they were impeached, he will be exonerated. The big difference between Clinton and Trump, however, is Clinton was impeached for having an affair which is not illegal. Trump and is family are under investigation for a variety of crimes from money laundering to obstruction of justice. And while Clinton was a life-long politician who respected the institutions, Trump is not and he will fight in part to protect his family. While as president he has immunity against criminal prosecution, his family does not and Myers expects some members of his family will end up in jail. This has the makings of an historic moment and could be a constitutional crisis as if the impeachment proceedings had not moved forward, it would have enabled future presidents to ignore congress.

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CLHIA Publishes Provider Guide

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) together with the Extended Healthcare Professionals Coalition (EHPC), a group of healthcare associations, have produced a guide that will help healthcare providers and their patients better understand how private health insurance works. Released during Financial Literacy Month, it will support providers of health services covered through private health insurance plans. It is intended to help healthcare providers understand the private health insurance environment so they can in turn help their patients understand the services they receive through their insurance plan. ‘Supplementary Health Insurance Explained for Healthcare Providers’ describes the kinds of benefit plans patients may present to their healthcare provider and how they work, including healthcare spending accounts, and explains many terms and concepts commonly used by health insurers. Over 26 million Canadians have insurance coverage for extended health services. In 2018, life and health insurers paid out nearly $27 billion in claims for dental and other extended health benefits.

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Manulife, TTC Resolve Healthy Fit Fraud

Manulife and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), in partnership, have resolved the matter related to the Healthy Fit case. Terms of the settlement, which is related to a 2016 TTC statement of claim, were not disclosed. Manulife and the TTC remain united in a commitment to fraud prevention and collaborated on the investigation that brought Healthy Fit to justice. Healthy Fit owner, Adam Smith, was convicted and sentenced in 2017.

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Objective Is To Make Money For Clients

Asset managers are in this to make money for clients. It’s not about relative performance, but absolute performance, says Peter Letko, co-founder, senior vice-president, and senior portfolio manager at Letko Brosseau. In the ‘Industry Leaders Roundtable’ with Richard Rooney, president and chief investment officer at Burgundy Asset Management, and Tony Gage, former president chair of the board of Phillips, Hager North (PH&N) Investment Management, at PMAC’s 2019 National Conference, he said this is why his firm spends a lot of time trying to understand the economies it is in, especially in fixed income. Gage said he takes a completely holistic approach and goes to where the opportunity is. The problem in the industry is in many cases managers have so much in Canada equity, some much in something else. However, fixed income is a “zero sum game” when managers take advantage of regulatory arbitrage and mispricing. Rooney said they are a fanatically bottom up investor. However, they organize by geography, not sectors, and this a good way to keep index thinking out of portfolios.

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Retiring Boomers Want More Advice

Sixty-one per cent of Canadians (47 per cent of Boomers) want to know more about what is involved in making the transition to retirement, says a Mackenzie Investments study. It shows that there is a significant opportunity for Canada’s financial advisors to help Canadians better understand the details involved in making the transition to retirement. It found, however, that less than a quarter are very familiar with how the Canada Pension Plan works, when and how to convert their RRSPs to RRIFs, and how they’ll be taxed in retirement and 53 per cent (67 per cent of Boomers) feel confident that they will be able to manage their investments during their retirement years. Further, 72 per cent of respondents (74 per cent of Boomers) feel that there is opportunity to put more emphasis on helping people better understand all the components of successful retirement planning, beyond simply saving. “Canadians, in general, and Boomers, in particular, are seeking advice on the details involved in making the successful transition to retirement,” says Carol Bezaire, vice-president, tax, estate, and strategic philanthropy, at Mackenzie Investments. “This provides Canada’s financial advisors with a tremendous opportunity. As people approach retirement, it’s clear that there’s more of a premium put on the value of advice as areas like tax and estate planning and optimizing investments during retirement take on added importance.”

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Pensions Want To Tick Off ESG Box

Pension plans and pools of capital just want to tick the ESG box off, says Gord Lewis, senior vice-president of Proteus Performance Management. Speaking at PMAC’s 2019 National Conference ‘Opportunities & Insights’ on ‘Developing the Consultant Distribution Channel ‒ Best Practices to Grow and Retain Institutional Business’ with Mark Chow, a partner and Canadian head of manager research at Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, he said ESG (environment, social, and governance) is a conversation that starts and then quickly stops in the pension world. This may be due in part because the definition of ESG for consultants and fund managers may be different from that of the plan and its beneficiaries. Chow said they have a team focused on ESG and socially responsible investing. Its research team rates each manager for ESG factors but this rating is kept outside the strategy rating because there is no consensus on the importance of each factor. However, he could see it included in the strategy rating for a manager in the future. The level of integration of ESG does become apparent in discussions with managers. And he is seeing climate change getting more attention as it is quantifiable and can be measured. Managers are not pushing it, he said, but it seems to be an area of focus. The E and S, he said, are more nebulous and harder to quantify although managers can talk at length about governance.

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Allocations To Alternatives Rise

Institutional investors raised allocations to alternative investment strategies to an average of 25 per cent in 2019 versus 24 per cent the previous year, says Ernst & Young’s ‘2019 Global Alternative Fund Survey.’ However, it also found that asset owners increasingly are redeploying assets from hedge funds to private equity, real estate, and other non-traditional strategies. The average allocation to hedge funds by asset allocators (excluding funds of funds) surveyed was 33 per cent, compared with 40 per cent the previous year. In contrast, the average allocation to private equity rose to 25 per cent in 2019 from 18 per cent, while the allocation to real estate strategies rose to 23 per cent from 20 per cent. The average allocation to other alternative funds, including private credit and infrastructure funds, decreased to 19 per cent from 22 per cent.

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CDPQ Adds To Azure Placement

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) intents to invest an additional US$75 million through a private placement in Azure Power Global Limited, a leading independent solar power developer in India. Following completion of the transaction, its equity interest in Azure Power will increase from 41.4 per cent to 49.4 per cent.

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Bissada Has New Role

Jonathan Bissada is associate vice-president and relationship manager, institutional investments, at Invesco Ltd. He has been with the firm since 2005, most recently as product management director.

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Investment Management Examined

l’ICRA Québec will provide a better understanding of the different aspects of investment management. Topics covered include financial risk, the risk-return compromise, why to trigger a manager search, and approaches that can be used to undertake a manager. It takes place December 5 and 6 in Montreal, QC. For information, visit Investment Management

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November 13, 2019


Health System Needs To Meet Changed Needs

While there is some discussion about how to pay for extending medicare’s first-dollar coverage beyond in-hospital and physicians’ care to prescription drugs, contemporary needs demand the system’s expansion to encompass two additional imperatives, says a C.D. Howe ‘Intelligence Memo, It needs to meet the changed needs of people, many of them aging, who suffer from multiple, chronic conditions that are amenable to wellness-enhancing treatments provided in their own homes and communities by multi-professional teams of care givers; and, more fundamentally, motivate and educate people in ways to maintain life-long good health. Such expansion requires change in the very culture of healthcare, it says. One stimulus for this change is the fast-growing use of the technologies. As more and more people acquire wearable devices that monitor an ever-wider array of physiological parameters, they will look to physicians, nurses, and other providers for advice on what observed changes may mean and what to do about ominous ones. Technologies also already exist to consolidate every person’s health and care record in a single file under the control of the person to whom it applies, a record shareable with every institution, team, or other provider in the system from whom she or he may seek service. These will both enable and force effective communication and connectedness among the whole range of health service providers and drive workable protocols to make smooth and easy the transfer of patients among institutional and other providers that the current ‘systems’ don’t facilitate. Another stimulus of culture change yet on the horizon is the development of more effective measures of health and well-being. Those in use, infant mortality, life expectancy, quality of life years, and the like, are highly aggregated and reflective of change only over relatively long periods of time. Research is needed on both personally and professionally applied measures of health and wellness and their application to sub-populations ‒ those provided healthcare services by a given team, for example, or those living in a specific region. Those same measures should also be linked to accountability-based funding strategies to foster competition, especially among primary care teams, to provide ever better ways to optimize population health.

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Non-beta Exposure Behind Underperformance

Recent underperformance is not the result of a deterioration in factor strategies performance, says a white paper from Scientific Beta. ‘What Really Explains the Poor Performance of Factor Strategies over the Last 3 Years?’ says since it has been possible to offset negative performance for some factors through the good performance of other factors, the issues relate more to the factor exposure implementation choices than to the factors themselves. For instance, in the last three years, the non-control of market beta exposure in a bull market context has prevented the vast majority of multi-factor indices on the market from benefitting fully from the important market risk premium. It is this poor market conditionality rather than the variations in factor returns that explains the disappointing performance of long-only factor offerings over this period.

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Interest Rate Hedging Increases

Hedging of UK interest rates and against inflation increased during the third quarter the year to a record high, says a survey by BMO Global Asset Management. Inflation-hedging activity grew by 95 per cent to around £37.9 billion, while interest-rate liability hedging rose to approximately £40.9 billion, up 75 per cent from the previous quarter. Government bonds remained the most popular hedged asset throughout the period, as concerns over Brexit continued to dominate the market. However, despite the record-breaking hedging in the third quarter, some counterparties are still expecting the usual end of year LDI demand to be strong, once Brexit has been resolved.

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Hub Expands Solutions

Hub International Limited continues to expand its Canadian employee benefits and retirement solution with six strategic services to provide end-to-end benefits that address the challenges Canadian employers are facing in their benefits offerings to achieve their recruiting, retention, and cost management goals. With the open-ended cost for pharmacy drugs unsustainable, it looks to assist clients with support and resources, including research and insights on drug efficacy; access to complex drugs; and a knowledge database. Taking a holistic approach to wellness, it has created a total member health strategy to support all aspects of health: physical, mental, organizational, and financial. Its support and resources include providing plan sponsors resources to identify problems and offer solutions. In terms of retirement, it is increasing retirement preparedness by building its Canadian retirement practice, including offering proprietary tools for plan sponsors to offer their members. It is also providing a Canadian communication and design service offering to deliver communication tools to clients in all market segments; creating a digital benefits platform that delivers proprietary administration solutions; and leveraging its geographic footprint to provide easy access to support and an efficient path to complete coverage solutions that many U.S. and Canadian businesses desire on either side of the border.

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Canadian Equities Lead Way

With nearly 97 per cent of the investment managers tracked by the GMR Database having reported their third quarter performance data, its ‘Institutional Performance Report’ indicates that the Canadian equities universe leads all asset groups with a year-to-date (YTD) median return of 18.03 per cent. This is a huge upswing from the same 162 fund group that posted a -8.77 per cent return in 2018. Not surprisingly, the U.S. equities universe median is also very strong, posting a 16.7 per cent YTD return (243 funds reporting) through the first nine months of 2019. Not far behind is the global equities universe with a median return of 13.78 per cent YTD (266 funds reporting). For more information about the report, click here

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Sabia Stepping Down

Michael Sabia, the chief executive of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, is stepping down to become head of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. He is leaving at the beginning of February. Sabia has served as president and chief executive at CDPQ since March 2009. Prior to that, he was chief executive of BCE Inc.

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Session Looks At Biologics

Biologics will be the focus of a Benefits Breakfast Club session. ‘What They Mean To You and Your Clients: Preferred Listing Agreements, Biologic and Biosimilar Policies including the Biologics Savings Partnership’ will be examined. Allison Wills, a partner at 20Sense, will discuss the past, present, and future of biologics and biosimilars. Suzanne Nagy, a consultant, will speak on how product listing agreements (PLAs) are evolving, including point-of-sale savings and the link between PLAs, insurer drug formulary management, and patient access programs. Christopher Fearman, field director, private insurance government affairs and market access at Janssen Inc., will explain the objectives of the Biologics Savings Partnership, address the rationale for its development, and what it means to patients, advisors and insurers. It takes place November 28 in Oakville, ON. For information, visit Benefits Breakfast Club

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November 12, 2019


ESG View Eroding

The view that ESG (environment, social, and governance) is only about the long-term and risk mitigation is eroding, says Randy Bauslaugh, a partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. In a keynote presentation, ‘ESG and Your Portfolio,’ to New York City Public Funds at the pension trustee symposium ‘Putting Beneficiaries First,’ hosted by the CFA Society of New York City, he said “a proper perspective on ESG for pension fiduciaries is one that sees it as financial insight.” As ESG moves into the mainstream, it is also affecting short- and medium-term analysis with many short-term strategies embracing ESG integration to generate opportunity. He encouraged pension fiduciaries “to employ a wide spectrum of engagement tools with investee companies and managers on ESG issues” and, as investors, “to demand better and more consistent ESG disclosure.” He will be participating in a panel discussion on public company ESG disclosure entitled ‘New CSA Guidance on Climate Change Disclosure: Dos and Don’ts’ at McCarthy Tétrault’s ‘17th Annual Disclosure and Governance Seminar,’ in Toronto, ON, and Montreal, QC, on November 19. For information, visit ESG Governance.

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Green Banking Fails To Change Practices

Green banking initiatives have not changed lending and investment practices, says a report from Boston Common Asset Management. It finds that, despite an explosion of risk assessment tools and green banking industry initiatives in recent years, practical change in the financial sector remains elusive. In partnership with a number of regional partners, including its Canadian partner SHARE – Shareholder Association for Research & Education, it says despite the creation of financial industry initiatives on sustainability, including the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Principles for Responsible Banking, and the Platform for Carbon Accounting Financials, financing for fossil fuels continues to rise each year, totalling $1.9 trillion from 2016 to 2018; only 60 per cent of banks have developed exclusion or restriction policies for high-carbon sectors and just 16 per cent of banks exclude clients involved in deforestation; and just 50 per cent of banks engage high-carbon clients on transition strategies and only 12 per cent ask high-carbon sector to adopt TCFD guidelines. While the research identifies some progress in terms of governance, with a majority of banks endorsing the TCFD guidelines (69 per cent), disclosing TCFD governance reforms (71 per cent), and carrying out climate risk assessments (78 per cent), these tools are not impacting on decision-making, with 40 per cent of banks failing to develop any new financing or investing exclusions/restrictions as a result of their climate risk assessments. The result is superficial progress, where over 80 per cent of banks have announced low carbon products and services, but financing for fossil fuels continues to increase each year. The report calls for “a cultural shift within banks from the board all the way down to the front-line manager bringing in new business. This must include a willingness to walk away from clients or to no longer issue new financing once existing obligations are paid off.”

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Members Gamble On Medical Tourism

Benefit plan members have a lot riding on their decision to pursue medical care elsewhere, says ‘The Inside Story’ for GSC. In fact, these medical tourists are gambling with their health. The inability to effectively assess medical tourism options has led Canadian health professionals to raise concerns about whether or not medical tourists can provide informed consent to medical procedures abroad. This is because most information sources consulted during the decision-making process are marketing-focused and do not provide adequate insight into risks.” And although in some instances, medical tourists may hit the jackpot with good health outcomes, it’s the luck of the draw. Fortunately, provincial plans and private plans have all the scientific evidence, rigour, and oversight that goes into coverage decisions to protect plan member health. Multiple layers of oversight also help deter fraud because if the provincial or private plan can’t even find out whether a foreign provider exists ‒ let alone whether or not it’s a legit provider ‒ it opens up the plan to increased fraud. Only a few countries produce reliable data on the incidence of medical tourism. However, it says from the limited data available, the Conference Board of Canada has been able to pull together some estimates. In 2012, approximately 80,000 Canadians travelled to other countries for procedures that cost more than $1,000. As well, Statistics Canada estimates that in 2017, Canadians spent $1.9 million per day on healthcare trips to other countries, up from $1.2 million per day in 2013.

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Repo Market Turmoil Raised Questions

The turmoil in repo markets in September raised questions from investors and policymakers about the stability and resiliency of funding markets, says Barclays. The causes of the recent disruption, including both special factors behind a temporary mismatch between the supply and demand for funds and the structural issues that these factors exposed, has two sources, it says. First, the demand for financing has risen, driven by increases in deficits and relative value trading activity. Second, banks have a much reduced willingness and/or ability to use their own balance sheets to mitigate mismatches in the financing markets. That such well-telegraphed issues were disruptive indicates that financing markets are suffering from structural fragility. It believes the mix of policy actions that best addresses funding market constraints while limiting moral hazard and risks to safety and soundness are creation of a standing repo facility available to banks, making explicit the preference of banks and regulators for excess reserves to add transparency so that leveraged investors can better understand their risks, move the GSIB surcharge score to a daily average rather than point in time at year-end, and follow the Basel proposal on SLR buffers. Steps to limit the volatility in the financing markets could have implications for safety and soundness gains achieved by new regulations, have spill-over effects on monetary policy, or create new moral hazard by backstopping access to short-term funding. Policymakers should be clear-eyed as they consider these choices, it says.

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ESG Interfaces Between Hedge Funds And Machine Learning

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing is one of the most exciting emerging interfaces between hedge funds and machine learning, says Cerulli Associates. It says hedge funds are finding new ways to use machine learning and ultimately artificial intelligence (AI) in the investment process to further capitalize on the ever-growing quantities of data. “One area of potential growth for hedge funds is applying quant techniques to ESG integration. Traditionally, hedge funds have focused on generating alpha and providing decorrelated returns, but our recent survey showed that 46 per cent of investors believe integrating responsible investments into hedge funds will be ‘very important’ in two years’ time,” says Justina Deveikyte, associate director, European institutional research, at Cerulli Associates. For example, long/short ESG funds can now allow investors to profit from companies going in the wrong direction on climate change or governance, increasing the cost of capital for polluters or companies with excessive executive renumeration. However, despite the vast capabilities of machine learning, quant hedge fund managers have yet to determine exactly how to integrate ESG factors into their investment processes and algorithms.

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CPPIB Forms Joint Venture With Cyrela

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Cyrela Brazil Realty have formed a joint venture to develop a portfolio of residential real estate across select neighbourhoods in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. CPPIB will own an 80 per cent interest in the joint venture and Cyrela will own the remaining 20 per cent interest. The partnership will target the middle-to-high-income segments of the multifamily market. This partnership creates one of the first institutionally owned and operated multifamily real estate investment platforms in Brazil. The combination of structurally lower interest rates, favourable demographics, new customer behaviours, people wishing to live closer to work, and the secular trend of increasing housing prices in major cities, will foster the development of this business in Brazil in the coming years.

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Pension Management Explained

l’ICRA Québec is offering training for people who wish to learn general knowledge about all aspects of pension management and administration. This include pension committee responsibilities, management of the plan in its legal environment, and administrative aspects. It takes place November 14 and 15 in Montreal, QC. For information, visit Pension Committees

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November 11, 2019


CPPIB Gets Rid Of Prisons

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has decided to get rid of its small stakes in two U.S. prison companies because they presented a reputational risk. It held shares in CoreCivic Inc. and Geo Group Inc., which had facilities that held people suspected of illegally entering the U.S. under a policy imposed this year in the U.S. Earlier it said it would keep the stocks under its passive investing portfolio. However, after an investment review it decided to sell them due to the reputation risk.

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Health-related Apps Just Starting

Health-related apps number in the hundreds of thousands today, yet when it comes to their utility for employers, the market is really just getting started, says a Telus ‘Health Benefits Hub.’ While apps can play an important part in all stages of the health continuum, from simple engagement to prevention and chronic disease management, the vast majority of apps today belong at the start of that continuum, engaging users with simple challenges or gamified learnings that boost general awareness of healthy behaviours. It is unclear whether these apps lead to long-term health gains, in part because users tend to be generally healthy to begin with or, conversely, because users in poor health need more targeted, personalized digital tools that sit at the other end of the continuum and these apps are relatively few in number at this point in time. Cost may also be a factor: people tend to prefer free apps, yet the more evidence-based, clinically driven apps may have a fee attached. It cites a 2017 survey funded by Canada Health Infoway that indicated that 78 per cent of Canadian adults owned a smartphone. Among them, 38 per cent used one or more apps to monitor aspects of their health in the last three months. Nine out of 10 of these users described their health as good, very good or excellent, while 28 per cent reported having a chronic illness/condition or rated their health as fair/poor.

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Managers Block Climate Proposals

U.S. asset managers are “overwhelmingly” blocking pro-climate proposals, says ShareAction which claims U.S. managers make up the top 10 overall worst performers in terms of proxy voting on climate matters, whilst European firms emerged as the best. It says this is highly concerning as the 20 largest U.S. fund managers control about 35 per cent of global assets under management, more than double the 14 per cent run by the top 20 European players. Despite having joined at least one investor engagement initiative on climate change, six out of 10 of the worst proxy voter performers in the research fail to vote in favour of resolutions on climate-related disclosures, it claims.

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Hub Acquires W.R. Carey

Hub International Limited has acquired the assets of W.R. Carey Corporation (Carey Corp). Located in Winnipeg, MB, Carey is an independent employee benefits consulting firm providing a broad array of benefits programs, including benefits plan consulting and group retirement services.

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Teachers’ Makes Minority Investment

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, a limited partner of Butterfly, will be a minority investor in Orgain. Butterfly, a U.S. private equity firm specializing in the food sector, is acquiring a majority stake in Orgain, Inc., a producer of organic and clean nutrition products. Orgain was founded in 2009. It offers a portfolio of products spanning protein powders, shakes, and bars.

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Russell Heads Equifax

Carrie Russell is president and general manager of Equifax Canada. Previously, she was a senior executive at Canadian and global financial institutions and technology companies.

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Lord Shares Vision

Bernard Lord, chief executive officer at Medavie, will share its vision of reshaping healthcare management and deliver to create capacity, create efficiencies, and improve the well-being of Canadians at an Economic Club of Canada session. It takes place November 13 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit Medavie Vision

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November 8, 2019


Alberta Considers CPPIB Exit

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says there’s a “compelling case” to be made for his province to exit the Canada Pension Plan. He has revealed that a deeper analysis is on the way to consider Alberta’s potential withdrawal from the national pension plan. The proposed departure will be examined by a panel his government intends to create as a way to assess “fairness” for Alberta within the federation. About $40 billion worth of Albertans’ premiums are managed by the CPPIB. The funds, if pulled from the CPPIB, would be transferred to the Alberta Investment Management Corporation.

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Outsourcing Trend Moves Upmarket

Only the smallest and most under-resourced endowments, foundations, and retirement plans used to opt for an outsourced chief investment officer. Now, the outsourcing trend is moving upmarket, fueling further growth for the ballooning industry, says research from Cerulli Associates. It indicates an increasing reliance by asset managers’ institutional clients on third-party intermediaries like OCIOs and investment consultants. It says just under half of U.S. client assets were distributed via a third party in 2018, an increase of 5.6 per cent from the year before. The OCIO space continues to grow at a faster rate than the industry overall due in part to outsourced CIOs ‒ once used by only “very small plans” ‒ finding more clients among larger endowments and foundations, corporate defined benefit plans, and public pensions.

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Access To Retirement Plans Greater Than In Past

Americans have greater access to workplace retirement plans than in the past, are saving proportionately more, will have more money in retirement, and have better protections in place to help guard their savings, says the Empower Institute in “The Over-Stated Retirement Crisis.’ While some claim that employees were better off when defined benefit plans were the dominant retirement savings vehicle, the report says that on a systemic level, DB plan coverage was not portable and DB plans covered relatively few people. In 1950, 10 million Americans, or about 25 per cent of private sector workforces, had a DB plan. As well, between 72 per cent and 90 per cent of pension participants did not qualify for DB plans because of strict vesting schedules. Now, approximately $7.5 trillion in assets are held in defined contribution plans and access to workplace plans has increased over time. Access at the household level has expanded, as well. Modern plans are also more available to employees of small businesses, the report says. In 1981, there were only about four million participants in pension plans at companies with fewer than 100 people. In 2015, by contrast, DB and DC plans covered nearly 11 million participants at businesses of that size. And while headlines say there is a retirement crisis in the U.S., in reality it is an impending retirement crisis that sources say policymakers and retirement plan sponsors can take measures to avoid. One factor sources say could lead to a crisis is a coverage gap. The Empower Institute agrees that moving forward, coverage could increase if legislation approving open multiple employer plans passes.

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Curriculum Changing With Industry

For the past couple of months, Ann O’Neill, academic director of the CEBS program at Dalhousie University has been meeting with insurers, consultants, aggregators, companies bought by aggregators brokers, and other industry associations to better understand the implications of what’s going on in this environment to develop curriculum. She told the ‘CEBS Graduate Recognition’ event that this 30,000 foot glimpse into the changing face of the benefits field, the emerging business models, the cultures, the strategies, left “my head spinning” about what this means for the next few years. However, during her career developing credentials for specialized fields, she said the benefits industry has so many people who are in essence competitors, but are still willing to work together to move the industry forward to make a difference.

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Allstate Offers Group Accident Insurance

To help protect Canadians from financial hardship after an injury due to an accident, Allstate Benefits now offers group accident insurance. The coverage picks up where provincial health Insurance and a group benefits plan leave off, providing cash benefits directly to the insured, regardless of any other insurance they may have. The new product is available now for employers and their employees throughout Canada. It offers a range of financial protections for routine and catastrophic accidents. The plan pays cash benefits for home healthcare or long-term care services, home or vehicle modification, dislocation or fracture, burns, rehabilitation, and more. It also helps pay bills, daily living expenses, and travel related to the accident, protecting families’ savings and retirement funds from being depleted. This voluntary coverage is also portable if an insured leaves their job.

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CDPQ Invests In Amplitude

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) has invested in Amplitude, a Québec life sciences fund that finances and supports biotech, medical device, and health information technology start-ups. It joins BDC Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Teralys, and Investissement Québec in participating in this first closing. Amplitude has now obtained over 50 per cent of its financing target for its new $200 million fund. CDPQ Amplitude Venture Capital will continue its investment strategy of building globally competitive Canadian healthcare companies. Its focus is on precision medicine where Canadian innovators are driving the future of healthcare. The fund’s first investment is in Repare Therapeutics which is developing new, precision oncology drugs that target specific vulnerabilities of tumor cells.

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Meunier Heads HR

Nathalie Meunier is vice-president, human resources, at Mediagrif Interactive Technologies Inc. She will be responsible for reinforcing the company’s talent management and acquisition efforts and fostering growth in the context of its strategic shift to focus on B2B activities. She has more than 25 years of experience in human resources, notably as president of her own consultancy practice, Talent Stratégie.

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Finance And Stress Examined

An ACPM national session hosted by the Atlantic Regional Council will discuss ‘Finance and Stress: Can Plan Sponsors and Administrators ease the pain?’ With 48 per cent of Canadian workers saying they’ve lost sleep because of financial worries, the lack of financial literacy contributes to financial stress which can affect workplace performance, personal relationships, and individual opportunities for an adequate and sustainable retirement. Bill VanGorder, past chair of CARP; Nikki Keating, director of finance at Bell; and Gary Rabbior, president, of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education; will examine the challenges of financial literacy and wellness. It takes place November 12 in Halifax, NS. For information, visit Finance And Stress

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