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November 23, 2018


Consultations Planned On Retirement Security

The federal government has announced the next steps in national consultations on enhancing Canadians’ retirement security. The next steps in consultations are being launched following recent events in which pensioners have faced difficult circumstances, including reduced benefits as a result of their employer’s insolvency and an underfunded workplace pension plan. At the same time, bankruptcies and insolvencies have also presented challenges for small businesses, lenders, and other creditors that are owed money, it says. The potential actions span a number of areas including pension regulations, corporate laws, and insolvency and bankruptcy laws, and allow for the exploration of all available avenues to improve retirement security for Canadians. This could include measures to help ensure that employers maintain well-funded pension plans; better align corporate decision-making with pensioner and employee interests; and more transparency and fairness in insolvency proceedings. Canadians are invited to provide feedback through the consultations on enhancing retirement security page between now and December 21. For more information, see Retirement Security

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Cyberattack Threat Increasing

The threat of cyberattacks is increasing in the financial markets industry because there are so many participants and so many points of entry, says ‘The Evolving Advanced Cyber Threat to Financial Markets,’ a report from SWIFT and BAE Systems. This makes maintaining cybersecurity the responsibility of multiple participants in the financial sector. It says market systems and participants are vulnerable to attacks across the securities, trading, foreign exchange, and banking and payments market segments. The securities market is particularly vulnerable due to the large number of participants and systems as well as the complex interactions involved. Traders, brokers, and investors can unwittingly expose the industry to vulnerabilities through multiple entry points. The report proposes that participants communicate with others and use checks and data to support pre- and post-trade activities to stave off cyberthreats. Also, securities market systems need to work with participants to identify risks in common practices to jointly defend market operations.

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Gilt Rise Threatens Pension Schemes

There is a real danger now that – Brexit uncertainty aside – pension scheme models are not configured suitably for a world which sees yields climb on fixed income assets and equities fall, says Dan Banks, director at River and Mercantile Solutions. Brexit deal ructions this week prompted a sharp rally in gilts, with yields correspondingly plunging back to levels around 1.4 per cent for the 10-year benchmark bonds. However, there remains a distinct possibility that they resume their upwards trajectory, if the latest episode in the long saga is resolved in a manner that is seen as positive by the markets. It was already happening prior to this latest uncertainty, with the 10-year gilt yield above 1.7 per cent in October. Nonetheless, it is a scenario that schemes have not had to deal with for more than a decade, as gilt yields have fallen consistently for the last 20 years. It would be hard to deny that markets are at a turning point with inflation and interest rate expectations creeping higher (albeit more slowly than expected). The implications for schemes in such a scenario could be very negative, with schemes that are fully hedged potentially seeing both losses on equities, but also failing to lower liability values by capturing rising yields.

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Appetite For Real Estate Increasing

Activity levels and consumer appetite for quality Canadian real estate assets steadily increased in 2018, with strong indications for a positive outlook for 2019, says Morguard Corporation’s ‘2019 Canadian Economic Outlook and Market Fundamentals Report.’ The 21st annual edition states that the multi-suite residential asset class posted a record-high flow of capital in 2018, a trend that is expected to carry over into 2019. The national vacancy rate is expected to hold at or near the cycle low, resulting in modest upward pressure on monthly rent averages. Demographic shifts, housing conditions, and migration patterns will continue to boost rental demand, while low levels of new construction activity will provide little relief from the shortage of vacant units available for prospective renters. For the office asset class, the mature phase of the cycle was extended, resulting in a record high pace of investment during much of 2018. The 2019 outlook for the office and industrial asset classes is positive with demand outstripping supply in most of Canada’s urban centres. Retail investment property sales also hit a record-high in 2018, despite heightened risk in the broader industry and fairly mixed leasing performance. While retail sales growth continues to moderate, properties with development or repositioning potential are expected to generate strong interest among the investment community looking ahead to 2019.

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Managers Insulated Against Headwinds

Strong markets in 2017 and the first three quarters of 2018 have insulated asset managers from intensifying headwinds, says a study by Casey Quirk, a practice of Deloitte Consulting, and compensation consultant McLagan.Industrial Evolution: Securing Profitable Growth in Tomorrow’s Asset Management Industry’ says organic growth is shrinking while costs grow and fee pressure accelerates. Following 2017’s organic growth expansion of 2.6 per cent within the asset management industry, organic growth outside China is likely to shrink to one per cent in 2018. The bulk of last year’s organic growth was driven by high-net-worth and retail investors. Future growth will also be reliant on these segments as institutional asset owners might not be reliable sources of new growth as they become focused on income provision.

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Hedge Fund Benchmark Drops

The Preqin All-Strategies Hedge Fund benchmark was down 2.35 per cent in October as the industry faced a particularly volatile month on equities markets. This was the lowest monthly performance recorded by the benchmark since January 2016. Equity strategies funds were particularly affected as their returns were down 3.13 per cent for the month. Macro strategies funds were the only approach to make gains, returning 0.21 per cent. It takes the overall performance in 2018 year to date into negative territory, down 0.78 per cent, with two months of the year remaining.

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Most Powerful Women Named

Sandy Sharman, senior executive vice-president and chief human resources and communications officer, at CIBC; Selena Ng, director and human resources business partner at Sun Life Financial Inc.; and Grace Palombo, executive vice-president and chief human resources officer at Great-West Lifeco; are recipients of this year’s WXN Canada’s ‘Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award.’ Sharman brings 30 years of financial services experience and business acumen to her mandate. She drives CIBC’s human capital strategy. Ng joined Sun Life in 2012 as part of the company’s ‘Business Leaders Rotational Leadership Development Program (RLDP),’ which gives select new grads three roles in three years to fast-track leadership development. After excelling through the program, she saw an opportunity to implement enhancements that led to a significant improvement in employee engagement and retention. Throughout her career, Palombo has held various executive positions with organizations in North America. She specializes in human resources, legal, and corporate services. Since joining Great-West Lifeco in 2014, she has been instrumental in positioning the organization to respond to transformative changes that impact the business.

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Pension Benefits Examined

‘Pension Benefits 101’ will be the focus of a CPBI Pacific Continuing Education Session. Greg Petretta, an associate at Mercer, will guide a discussion of the retirement environment in Canada, how pension plans work in general, the differences between defined benefit and defined contribution plans, and the roles of the regulators. It takes place February 14 in Vancouver, BC. For information, visit Pensions 101

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November 22, 2018


CPPIB Embraces Disruption

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is embracing a whole range of disruptions and is becoming a disruptor itself, says Mark Machin, its CEO. Speaking to the Canadian Club, he said, “Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, the explosion in automation, vast amounts of data, the internet of things, the rise of fintech, the move to autonomous vehicles … the list goes on! At CPPIB, we have an obligation to analyze how these technologies are disrupting specific industries that may affect our investments not only today but decades ahead.” Because it places enormous bets, sometimes in the billions of dollars, “we need to be expert at what I call the implications business …” However, whether it is embracing disruption or becoming a disruptor, its first obligation is to deliver solid financial returns, year-in, year-out, he said.

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Demographic Shift Coming To Workplace

A demographic shift is underway in the workplace which will see 75 per cent of the workforce made up of Millennials and Gen Zs by 2025, says Todd Mathers, partner, North America culture and engagement, at Aon Canada. Speaking at its ‘2019 ‘Best Employers in Canada Awards Ceremony,’ he said these generations prefer agile working environments, flexibility, responsibility distribution, fast response times, autonomy, and limited formalities so employers will need to deliver these to be considered a best employer. Being a best employer translates into engaged workers and rewards these companies. Companies with the highest employee engagement, for example, have 86 per higher sales growth that those that do not. And employers need to embrace the characteristics of best employers engaged workforces, compelling employer brands, performance cultures, and leadership if they want to handle some of the changes coming to the workplace. New competitors are emerging for many businesses and long standing ones are changing the way they operate. Organizations need to respond to these changes quickly, he said. Organizations are also investing more heavily in technology to become efficient and cost effective. In doing so, this is changing the way many employees work and how business engages with customers. Finally, workplace roles are changing making agility a core competency. Skill sets required yesterday, may not be required today and skill sets required today may not be needed tomorrow, said Mather.

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CLHIA Proposes Changes To Guideline

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) has proposed a number of changes to key elements of its Guideline G19 on compensation disclosure in group benefits and group retirement services following consultations with group benefit and group retirement services advisors across the country. The CLHIA developed the guideline in response to an industry identified need to become more customer focused and transparent in its disclosure of compensation for group products. Further to this round of consultations, changes have been made to the implementation timelines as well as the disclosure requirements for direct, indirect, and in-kind compensation. It now calls for disclosure by percent and dollar value all direct compensation, including the dollar value for lump sum payments such as stay or transfer bonuses. There will be disclosure about an advisor’s participation in, or eligibility for, indirect compensation, but a dollar or percentage value will not be provided. The total dollar value of any in-kind compensation will be disclosed when it exceeds $5,000 per advisor each year, along with contextual information. Changes in the timelines will see direct compensation for new group retirement sales disclosed to contract holders beginning July 1, 2019, and annual compensation disclosure to contract holders begins in 2020. Direct compensation for new group benefit sales will be disclosed to contract holders beginning January 1, 2020, and renewal compensation disclosure to contract holders will begin in 2021. In the coming weeks, the CLHIA will revise the guideline and then further engage the advisor community through its G19 advisory group on the implementation.

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Bond Duration Increasing

FTSE Canada expects an increase of approximately 0.076 years in the overall duration of the FTSE Canada Universe Bond Index. It also anticipates a shift in term weights for the index, increasing by 0.259 per cent in the mid- (five to 10 year) term and decreasing by 0.181 per cent and 0.079 per cent on the short- (one to five year) and long- (10+ years) term, respectively. In addition, the weight will increase for the federal (0.248 per cent) and corporate (0.256 per cent) sectors while the weight will decrease for both the provincial (0.445 per cent) and municipal (0.058 per cent) sectors. Marina Mets, index research director at FTSE Russell Canada, says, “With interest rates on the rise globally, it is very important for Canadian investors to understand where the Canada bond market duration may be heading across various sectors so they can position their portfolios accordingly.” The index tracks the Canada investable bond market and is widely followed by Canadian fixed income investors.

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Joint Governance Model Tabled

The government of Alberta has tabled Bill 27, the Joint Governance of Public Sector Pension Plans Act, outlining the terms of a joint sponsorship model of pension governance for the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP), Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP), and Special Forces Pension Plan (SFPP). On behalf of its clients, AIMCo has been actively engaged in ongoing discussions to ensure that the final form of legislation not only met the governance reforms sought by certain of its pension plan clients, but did so in a manner that preserved the benefits of scale and efficiency that have been achieved through the aggregation of its clients’ assets. Bill 27 achieves both objectives, shifting accountability for the health and viability of each of the plans from the government to employee and employer stakeholders. The new governance structure provides the plans with equal say in making decisions about how their pension plans are managed, while ensuring all AIMCo clients can continue to benefit from the ability to pool their assets. AIMCo’s mandate is not changed by the introduction of this legislation and it will continue to serve as the investment manager for each of the pension plans.

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Brady Has New Role

Heather Brady is manager of policy at the CAAT Pension Plan. She joined the plan in 2014 as a policy analyst and was, most recently, senior policy analyst.

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CFA Forum Dives Into Expectations

The CFA Society Toronto’s ‘Institutional Investment Practitioners’ Forum’ will dive deep into both capital market expectations as well as practical implementation of asset allocation for both large and small plans. Attendees will better understand current market conditions in the context of the asset allocation framework and receive implementable ideas from leading Canadian and U.S. experts regarding their strategies and insights. Speakers include Caroline Grandoit, assistant vice-president, LDI and multi asset, and senior analyst, liability driven investment, at Fiera Capital; Kevin Zhu, managing director and head of portfolio construction at OPTrust; and Frances Donald, head of macroeconomic strategy within the asset allocation team at Manulife Asset Management. It takes place November 29 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit Practitioners’ Forum

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November 21, 2018


Impact Of Passive Debated

For every research paper which argues passive investment has a negative impact on competitiveness, there is one that says there is no impact, says Mike Simutin, associate professor of finance and associate director of the International Centre for Pension Management, Rotman School of Management. Speaking on ‘Is Common Ownership a Genuine Issue in Asset Management?’ at the Capital Markets Institute at the Rotman School of Management’s ‘The Promise and Perils of Passive Investing’ event, he said global equity ownership is under control of the largest managers in the U.S. and they have non-trivial positions in every stock out there. The issue is whether the simultaneous ownership of stock in competing companies where none of the stock holdings is large enough to give the owner control of any of those companies results in non-competitive behaviour. He said some legal experts argue that common ownership by funds violates antitrust law and could result in price fixing and lessening of competition. However, investment management is not ownership, he said, and asset managers are investing on behalf of their fund members. Funds may not have voting rights to all the stocks they hold and may not even vote all their shares the same way, said Simutin.

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Prescription Drug Cost Grows

Canada is expected to spend $33.7 billion on prescribed drugs in 2018, says the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). This marks an estimated annual increase of 4.2 per cent for drugs, compared with four per cent and 3.1 per cent for hospitals and doctors, respectively. In 2018, $14.4 billion (42.7 per cent) of prescribed drug spending is expected to be financed by the public sector, while the remainder will be financed by private insurance and individuals paying out of pocket. Drug spending is just part of the expected $253.5 billion in total health spending in Canada this year. Biologics used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease will account for the highest proportion of public drug spending (8.2 per cent) for the sixth consecutive year, while antiviral drugs to treat hepatitis C will account for the second-highest proportion (five per cent). People with high drug costs ($10,000 or more) represented only 2.3 per cent of beneficiaries but accounted for over one-third (36.6 per cent) of public drug spending last year.

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Performance Driving Growth Of Passive

Just because a fund declares itself active doesn’t mean it is, says Pedro Matos, John G. Macfarlane family chair, professor of business administration, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. In a session on ‘The Growth of Passive Investing Worldwide ‒ The Implications for Canada’ at the Capital Markets Institute at the Rotman School of Management’s ‘The Promise and Perils of Passive Investing’ event, he said investors, particularly in the U.S., are flocking to index funds in part due to performance. He cited statistics that 76 per cent of large cap funds underperform and the situation is worse in Canada where only one in 10 managers beat their benchmarks. This is compounded by the higher fees associated with active management which means even fewer managers outperform their benchmark. Even if a manager is doing well this year, doesn’t mean they will do well next year or the years following. He said the movement to passive is growing and currently about 40 per cent of U.S. domiciled funds are passive. Canada has not grown as fast as only one out of six dollars are passively invested. Investors do need to determine if their active manager really is. A manager is active if more than 60 per cent of its assets are actively managed. However, investors run the risk of paying for active management and getting passive funds if indexation is hidden in active products. And there is a lot of hidden indexation in Canada, he said.

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Ontario Endorses JSPPs

Ontario’s ‘2018 Fall Economic Outlook’ contains a strong endorsement of recent efforts to merge and convert single employer pension plans in the broader public sector into jointly sponsored pension plans (JSPPs) as a means to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, says a ‘BMKP Law Sidebar.’ The outlook highlighted the significant efforts of several universities that are working to merge their pension plans into a new JSPP that will be open to the entire university sector. It acknowledges that a sector-wide plan would achieve efficiencies of scale, improved investment opportunities, and savings in plan administration. It also announced that the university sector JSPP, once established, is expected to be treated similarly to other broader public-sector, solvency-exempt JSPPs. Amendments to the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) will facilitate the merger of all types of pension plans into public sector JSPPs, including hybrid plans (those with both defined benefit and defined contribution provisions). 

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‘Trading Against Wind’ Drags On Passive Performance

Because of price impact, there is a drag on index fund returns when assets are bought after inclusion and sold after deletion, says Susan Christoffersen, vice-dean, undergraduate and specialized programs, William A. Downe BMO chair of finance, Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto. This “trading against the wind” drags performance by 50 bps, she said at the Capital Markets Institute at the Rotman School of Management’s ‘The Promise and Perils of Passive Investing’ event. Despite this, index funds still beat active managers. ETFs and passive funds now account for 14 per cent of S&P 500 in aggregate up from four per cent in 2007. Despite this growing popularity, their impact in a number of areas is still open to question. While it could be argued they are providing liquidity because more people are purchasing them, the question is does this improve or decrease price efficiency. In fact, everyone moving in the same direction could create price anomalies which active managers can take advantage of. Volatility is another areas where there are two sides with no clear answers. This depends crucially on funds flows as passive flows reduce volatility while volatile flows increase volatility. Still it appears that classic index investors are much more stable through volatile markets so these investors can stabilize markets. However, passive investing may create market instability due to feedback loops. People want an index so it has to buy the underlying assets and drives prices up. Index and passive investing may also be helping to expand the bond market due to increased demand and improved liquidity. This, in turn, may encourage issuers to take on more debt and leverage in good times.

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Incorporating AI Focuses Data Strategies

Incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into back and middle office operations can focus data optimization strategies with the potential to increase productivity, drive revenue, improve security, and manage risk for asset managers and asset owners, says a Northern Trust white paper. ‘Harnessing the Power of Data with AI’ outlines the many innovative ways AI is in use today, ranging from the ability to predict price movements to roboadvisor systems that use AI to support investors in determining their asset allocation. Companies are also using AI to both analyze structured data, (asset flows, performance) and extract information from unstructured/alternative data (images, documents, social media posts) through image recognition and natural language understanding capabilities, in order to enhance business results. “Certainly we see the significant ways AI can help financial services providers optimize the data they access on a daily basis,” says Penelope Biggs, chief strategy officer for corporate and institutional services at Northern Trust. “It is important to think strategically about how incorporating AI and automation into business processes can benefit the end user, whether that is by reducing risk, increasing operational efficiency, or enhancing overall performance.”

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Canadians Won’t Trade Conveniences For Insurance

The majority of Canadians aged 25 to 50 are losing sleep over their finances and as many as three-quarters (74 per cent) are kept awake at night worrying about their financial situation, says an RBC Insurance poll. However, despite these concerns, relatively few Canadians are willing to forego specific luxuries or conveniences when given the option of increased financial security gained through life insurance. In fact, of those without coverage, as many as 21 per cent are unwilling to forfeit any of life’s little pleasures in exchange for life insurance. Of those that are willing, just over one-third would sacrifice one dinner out (35 per cent) a month, a trendy clothing item (34 per cent), buying lunch at work one less time per week (28 per cent), a bottle of wine/case of beer (35 per cent), or a daily coffee (25 per cent). “It only takes small lifestyle changes, such as making coffee or lunches at home, or even buying one less item to afford coverage that can help Canadians sleep at night,” says Maria Winslow, senior director, life and health, RBC Insurance.

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Oxford Buys First Paris Asset

Oxford Properties has expanded its luxury retail property portfolio with the acquisition of its first Paris, France, asset. The global real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) has bought the 273 rue Saint-Honoré building. The 1,430 square metre flagship store is fully leased to the Italian luxury brand Valentino. Oxford says the acquisition provides the company with a strategic entry point into the growing luxury retail market in the French capital and complements its global luxury retail portfolio with assets located in London, UK; New York, NY; and Toronto, ON.

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Cappelletti Advises CEO

John Cappelletti is special advisor assisting the CEO at the CAAT Pension Plan. He joined the plan in 2011 and has served as manager of stakeholder relations since then. He has also held communications positions with OMERS, TEIBAS, the CPP Investment Board, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

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BEP Focuses On Needs Of Board Members

The 12th offering of the Rotman-ICPM Board Effectiveness Program (BEP) focuses specifically on the needs of board members of pension and other long-horizon investment organizations. Leading pension practitioners and academics help participants understand their board role in strategic areas like fiduciary duties, investment beliefs, and risk management. It takes place November 26 to 30 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit BEP

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November 20, 2018


Largest Firms Attract Inflows

Overall assets under management (AUM) for North American money managers rose 11 per cent to $88.5 trillion in 2017, says a report from McKinsey & Co. However, firms with more than $1 trillion saw 88 per cent of net flows for North American managers. ‘North American Asset Management in 2018: The New Great Game’ shows the percentage of positive net flows was lower for all other managers: 45 per cent for those with $300 billion to $1 trillion in AUM; 55 per cent for managers with $150 billion to $300 billion; 53 per cent for firms with $50 billion to $150 billion; and 65 per cent for managers with less than $50 billion under management. The vast majority of net inflows ‒ $540 billion ‒ came from retail clients, up 2.9 per cent from 2016. Defined contribution net inflows totaled $63 billion, up 0.9 per cent; and net inflows from endowments and foundations were a combined $53 billion, up 3.6 per cent. However, flows from defined benefit plan clients were down $136 billion. While the average operating margin in 2017 for all managers was 33 per cent of revenue, up three percentage points from 2016, top-quartile firms had operating margins of 52 per cent versus 51 per cent in 2016 and bottom-quartile managers had operating margins of 11 per cent, up two percentage points from the previous year.

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Manulife Offers Behaviour Change

Manulife is giving group benefits employees access to a behavioural change platform starting this spring. The Vitality platform already has eight million members globally and has been proven to help prevent chronic diseases, which account for about 88 per cent of all deaths in Canada. “We believe this program will help to revolutionize the way employees experience benefits in Canada,” says Donna Carbell, senior vice-president, group benefits. “We also know that having healthy employees matters to employers. It drives higher engagement, productivity, and better overall organizational health.” It is a technology-based platform, which integrates with almost every wearable device –smartwatches or fitness bracelets – to inspire and motivate people to make healthy choices. Through meaningful actions, personal goals and science-based motivation techniques, the healthiest choices are made and people are rewarded with discounts and gift cards. Currently, it’s estimated that preventable health conditions account for as much as 86 per cent of all national health costs and worker absenteeism costs the Canadian economy more than $16 billion a year. The drivers for chronic diseases (respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease) include four key lifestyle factors: physical inactivity, smoking, unhealthy eating, and excessive alcohol consumption.

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TFSA Contribution Limit Rises

The annual contribution limit for tax-free savings account (TFSAs) will rise to $6,000 for 2019, up from $5,500 this year. The TFSA’s annual contribution limit amount is indexed to inflation, and rounded to the nearest $500, using Statistics Canada’s consumer price index. With the TFSA contribution limit rising, the cumulative TFSA contribution limit in 2019 will be $63,500 for a Canadian who has never contributed to a TFSA and who was 18 years old or older in 2009, the year in which the program was launched. The TFSA limit for the years 2013 to 2014 and for 2016 to 2018 was $5,500. The limit for 2015 was $10,000. The limit for 2009 to 2012 was $5,000.

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Online Shopping Comes To Benefits

Online shopping may be coming soon to a workstation near you. Willis Towers Watson has launched its ‘Benefits Marketplace Canada’ offering, a fully outsourced benefit plan administration delivery solution for the multi-generational workforce. It gives employees the ability to shop for their benefits online in an easy-to-use format ‒ mobile and web-based ‒ with support for making coverage decisions. “For employers, Benefits Marketplace moves us toward a truly personalized approach,” says Dawn Noordam, director, health and benefits consulting, and leader of Benefits Marketplace Canada. “The employer can choose the benefits offered and the amount to contribute toward them, while employees get to select how to spend their money in a simplified manner ‒ much like an online shopping experience ‒ through their enrolment period and beyond.”

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Market Data Spending Grows

Market participants are spending more than ever on market data as they balance the relative merits of consolidated versus proprietary market data by weighing the importance of the speed, depth, and accuracy of the information provided, says a Greenwich Associates report. It finds that market participants (including broker-dealers, hedge funds, market makers, and data distributors) are increasingly reliant on exchange data and are largely satisfied with the quality and reliability they receive. Only 26 per cent disagree with the idea that exchanges do a good job of managing their technology. Market participants were also asked to differentiate between consolidated data feeds and the proprietary data feeds that come directly from exchanges. Forty-eight per cent identified speed as their primary reason for taking direct exchange feeds, finding direct data to be faster than consolidated data. Other reasons given for purchasing proprietary information include lower cost (14 per cent), greater reliability (10 per cent), and greater accuracy (seven per cent).

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Actuaries Want System Simplified

UK actuaries want the country’s pension system to be “radically simplified” to cut costs and make transfers and consolidation simpler. A report from the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) and Royal London proposes the introduction of a “pensions pound” – a way of standardizing various forms of accrued defined benefit rights into one format. If the complexity of individual pension rights could be turned into a set of standardized rights of equivalent value, it would mean less money being spent on running schemes and explaining complexity. This could pave the way for greater understanding and better value for money. The report outlines how benefits could be converted to a common standard “on an equivalent actuarial basis … using a set of suitable forward-looking assumptions.” It includes moving benefits to a single standard for indexation.

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CPPIB Partners With GLP

GLP, a global provider of modern logistics facilities and technology-led solutions, will partner with QuadReal Property Group and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), through its wholly owned subsidiary, CPP Investment Board Europe S.a.r.l., to establish GLP Continental Europe Development Partners I. The partners will focus on developing modern logistics facilities in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

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Morin Has New Role

Jonathan Morin is a director within Willis Towers Watson’s retirement risk solutions group in the UK and Canada. He joined the firm in 2009 and was, most recently, a director in the retirement Canada line of business.

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Financial Literacy Examined

The Economic Club of Canada will present its ‘7th Annual Financial Literacy Panel.’ Gary Rabbior, president of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education; Richard Piticco, vice-president, student services, at CPA Ontario; and Rina Degrazia, vice-president, financial education, at TD Bank; will discuss the role of financial literacy in closing the skills gap, what’s worked and what hasn’t, and the biggest challenges now and over the next five years. It takes place November 28 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit Financial Literacy

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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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