Global Leaders Can Save Carbon

Global leaders in carbon reporting have the potential to save the equivalent of Japan’s annual CO2 emissions by achieving standard levels of carbon-efficiency for their sector, says ET Index Research. It found nearly half of the world’s 800 largest listed companies have disclosed their emissions and have improved their carbon efficiency by 15 per cent in the last year, but there are huge variations in performance. If the dirtiest 50 per cent of disclosers achieved just mid-range carbon intensity for their sector, they could save 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2, as much as Japan emits in a year. The report demonstrates that investors can help drive decarbonisation of the economy and make money by switching investment to favour companies with above-average levels of carbon efficiency. It reveals that out of the world’s 2,000 biggest companies, the 1,000 least carbon-intensive have outperformed the 1,000 most carbon-intensive over the last five years.

Bond Selloff Helps DB Plans

The sharp selloff in bonds and buoyant stock markets in the wake of Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election victory have significantly improved the financial health of Canadian defined benefit pension plans, says Aon Hewitt’s ‘Pension Plan Solvency Survey.’ It shows as of December 1, median solvency stood at 91 per cent, up by five percentage points from November 1 (86.1 per cent). Of surveyed plans, 26.5 per cent were more than fully funded as of December 1, up from 17.2 per cent at November 1. As well, pension asset returns ended the month down marginally, by -0.6 per cent, as strong gains in U.S. (four per cent), domestic (2.2 per cent), and global market (1.8 per cent) equities were offset by price declines in long-term bonds (4.2 per cent), FTSE TMX universe bonds (2.1 per cent), and emerging market equities (4.3 per cent). Global real estate and infrastructure declined by 2.4 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.

U.S. Equity Performed Best

Twenty of the 44 fund Morningstar Research Inc. indices increased during November, including all indices that track Canadian or U.S. equity categories. U.S. equity and U.S. Small/Mid Cap equity were the top-performing regionally based equity categories for the month, with their fund indices increasing 3.9 per cent and 5.1 per cent, respectively. The S&P 500 Index had fallen approximately two per cent in the days leading up to the U.S. election on November 8, but following the victory by Republican candidate Donald Trump, the U.S. stock index rebounded to reach record highs by the end of November, producing a total return of 3.7 per cent. All five Canadian stock categories had positive results in the month.

Program Helps With Workplace Mental Health

Employers have an easier path to workplace mental health with the launch of CivicAction’s ‘MindsMatter’ program. It includes a free online assessment tool that gives employers customized steps to take and relate resources to better support their people’s mental health. Through the tool, employers are given a tailored report that provides three actions and a sampling of resources suggested by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The assessment tool is confidential and takes under three minutes to complete. Employers can join the program at The program is a direct response to research by CivicAction in partnership with Morneau Shepell and Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA). The research estimates that half of the Greater Toronto, ON, Area’s labour force has experienced a mental health issue and, over the next decade, current mental health issues could cost the region $17 billion in lost productivity.

Insurers Invading Pension Turf

Insurers in Europe, under growing pressure from unaffordable historical guarantees on life policies, are invading the home turf of pension companies, says Cerulli Associates. “The pensions business offers insurers recurring income for generally less onerous capital implications than those that come with traditional insurance products. There is also the attraction of diversification. For some insurers in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, the temptation is proving too great,” says Justina Deveikyte, a senior analyst at Cerulli. However, it says it is too early in some cases to tell whether insurers’ expansionist tendencies will broaden or narrow opportunities for independent managers to run pension assets. It notes, however, that the largest insurers ‒ companies that tend to own in-house asset managers ‒ are generally better placed to expand into pensions provision. “That said, governance standards and the stipulations of pensions themselves should ensure not all asset management is brought in-house,” says Deveikyte.

Benefits Plan Offers Pet Meals

Tom&Sawyer, in partnership with the League, is now offering pet meals as part of a benefits plan. Members of plans offered by the League can use their benefits to purchase meals for their pets and have them delivered to their door. “For many families, dogs and cats are our children, so it only made sense for us to offer our fresh pet meal service to an equally creative business in the benefits space, finally bringing health and wellness to the entire family,” says Kristin Matthews, co-founder of Tom&Sawyer.

Northleaf Acquires Parkway Interest

Northleaf Capital Partners has reached an agreement to acquire a 33.3 per cent equity interest in Northwest Parkway, a toll road located in the Denver, CO, metropolitan area. Northleaf is part of a consortium alongside DIF Infrastructure IV and HICL Infrastructure Company Limited which has conditionally acquired a 100 per cent equity interest in Northwest Parkway from Brisa, a Portuguese toll road operator. Northwest Parkway has 90 years left on its 99-year concession to operate and maintain a 14 kilometre section of the beltway system extending around Denver. The road opened in 2003 and connects with several toll and non-toll highways providing access to residential and commercial centres in the region.

Couture Co-owner At UC

Renee Couture is co-owner of UC Consulting. Most recently, she was a senior account executive at Great-West Life. Her background includes pension positions with the National Hockey League and Canada Post.

Eisman Provides Forecast

Steve Eisman, managing director of the Eisman Group at Neuberger Berman, is the guest speaker at the CFA Society Ottawa’s ‘2017 Annual Forecast Dinner.’ Steve Eisman, who was played by Steve Carell in the movie ‘The Big Short’ and is featured in the Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, is an investment manager who foresaw the collapse of the subprime mortgage security market in the United States. It takes place April 18 in Ottawa, ON. For information, visit Forecast Dinner