Things I’ve Learned In 100 Issues Of Benefits And Pensions Monitor
Now in its 16th year, Benefits and Pensions Monitor is also celebrating ‘Issue 100’ this month. We have been privileged to have served the information needs of the ‘benefits and pensions industry’ since our humble beginnings back in 1991.
Survive we did and today our circulation is more than 22,000 across Canada. And as readers know, having launched our www.bpmmagazine.com in 2003, our daily morning ‘News Alerts’ service has become the recognized source of ‘industry news’ with thousands of plan sponsors and other stakeholders across Canada, and beyond.
We didn’t stop there. In 2005, we launched special focus industry supplements to further educate plan sponsors on the changing environment in Canada’s pension and investment business: Defined Benefit Monitor and Defined Contribution Monitor are now a regular part of our publishing calendar, providing truly unique perspectives.
Media sponsorship has also been an important part of Benefits and Pensions Monitor’s growth. Several years ago, we were asked to be the first media sponsor of the first annual CPBI/ICRA Atlantic Conference and, today, this conference is one of the fastest growing in attendance and provides a forum to address the specific interests of Eastern Canadian plan sponsors. We continue to lend media support and attend conferences in the pension and investment; HR management; and health and benefits areas across Canada throughout the year. We love this industry, its people, and its environment.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to all those individuals who have helped Benefits and Pensions Monitor achieve the success it enjoys today – plan sponsors and HR professionals, money managers, consultants, custodians, lawyers, and many more.
And I would be remiss if I did not also thank the members of the editorial advisory board and my dedicated team of editors, circulation and administration managers, magazine and web designers, and sales staff. It is truly an honour to work every day with such a great group of professionals.
John L. McLaine Publisher & Editorial Director
Since its first issue, Benefits and Pensions Monitor has set raising the knowledge of its plan sponsor readers as one of its main aspirations. The highest compliment we can be paid is when a reader tells us that they found a certain article to be very informative and substantive.
It seemed only natural then, to mark our 100th issue by asking industry experts, readers, and friends of the magazine ‘What I’ve Learned In 100 Issues Of Benefits and Pensions Monitor.’ What has been learned, follows:
Trustee, OPSEU Pension Trust Over my many years in the pension business, if there is one thing I have learned, it is to be careful and prudent with the resources entrusted to those of us who look after pension plans. Time and time again, I have seen people react foolishly to the illusion of wealth. It comes from market bubbles (stocks, real estate, likely alternative investments, and hedge funds), the effects of inflation, and the distortions it causes (such as eras of high real returns). Too often have I heard pundits propound that the ‘future is different,’ only to have economic realities reassert themselves. We need to be careful to husband our resources and not carelessly spend them on future commitments based on false premises.
President, Buffett & Company Workplace Wellness Ltd. It never ceases to amaze me that many employers seem to have underestimated the very important role that prevention can play in managing healthcare costs. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.
Executive Vice-president & Chief People Officer, Ceridian Canada I believe the most important lesson for me is the need for flexibility and to structure and design programs around generational and individual differences. Our workforce has become quite diverse in terms of lifestyles, family structures, and differing cultural backgrounds. As an example, many Boomers will want to work beyond age 65 while Generation Xers and Yers will have entirely different needs. Pensions and benefits need to meet the needs of all employee groups so as to maintain high levels of employee engagement and productivity!
David J. Grace
Principal, Eckler Ltd. The profound affect that accounting changes related to benefits and pensions have had on the prevalence of these plans. It has encouraged employers to eliminate post-retirement benefit plans and to switch from DB to DC pension plans. I always understood the impact that tax policy has, but was surprised at the profound affect the accountants had once they jumped on the band wagon.
Priscilla H. Healy
Head of Pension Group, Pallett Valo LLP The most important thing that I have learned from my nearly 20 years of experience in the pension industry is that DB pension plans are hugely important to most ordinary people as they enable an orderly, dignified retirement. Old age is scary, and old age in money strapped circumstances, a living nightmare. Accordingly, all stakeholders – governments, regulators, and employers – should be doing everything they can to encourage pension coverage, if not by way of DB plans, then through well designed and effective money purchase arrangements.
H.W. (Harry) Matheis
President & CEO, Matheis Associates Benefits Consultants Inc. The pension industry in Canada is continually challenged as evidenced by a changing workforce and its’ future threatened with the inability of all stakeholders, including our politicians and the courts, to all get on the same page. The benefits industry is in motion and must continue the path of change from a cautious follower to innovator and leader for its value proposition to have a positive influence on employee benefit programs for the future.
Partner, HealthSource Plus What I’ve learned is that it’s very important to tell your client and your partners what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. The realities of cost escalations and cost control are sometimes not the easiest message to convey to clients (especially in a competitive market). By ensuring full disclosure to all parties involved, you are positioning your practice for retention and solid client relationships.
Vice-president, The Financial Institute Of Canada Things change and every problem holds the seeds of its solution: tomorrow won’t be a clone of today... if today’s inflation is low, it will rise; if today’s interest rates are high, they will fall; if there’s a bull market, a bear will follow; if there’s a surplus in the pension fund, there will soon be a deficit; today’s loser is tomorrow’s winner... I think Frank Sinatra summed it all up when he sang, ‘That’s Life.’
Harry S. Marmer
Senior Vice-president, Institutional Investment Services, Franklin Templeton Institutional Services
Top 10 Things I have Learned As It Relates to the Pension Industry
10. Pension funds are like roach motels – dollars go in but do not go out
9. For each and every expert there is an equal and equivalent expert
8. To perfect your governance, eliminate all your fellow committee members
6 The average manager is the market
5. Chances are that the CPPIB will own all of Canada by 2020
4 Stock markets fluctuate
2. The death of Canadian fixed income management has arrived
1 Institutional changes occur glacially, but ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’
Head of Investments, SSgA It was confirmed to me that the Canadian pension industry is at the forefront of global investing, by the leadership shown in the recent bidding for BCE Inc. Pension funds heading LBO consortiums has not been seen anywhere else in the world.
President, Longhurst & Jack Inc. From 1974 to 1977, I was very fortunate to be mentored by Barrie Sprawson. Among the things that Barrie taught me, one stands out: if the pension and benefits programs of an organization are not aligned with its overall business strategy, the funds allocated to them are ‘dead dollars.’ When these dollars are reassigned to programs that support the business strategy and are valued by the employees, the impact is electrifying. I believe this is the foundation of good pension and benefits consulting.
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