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News Archives - October / November 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Letter Of Credit Amendment In Place

The government of Alberta has amended the Employment Pension Plans Regulation to allow employers to use letters of credit for solvency deficiencies in pension plans. Letters of credit ensure funds are available for a pension plan if they are needed, without requiring employers to actually deposit them into the fund. If the deficit is eliminated, the letter of credit can be cancelled. In the past, employers would contribute money to the plan to eliminate a deficiency. For more information, visit http://www.finance.alberta.ca/

Providers Manage Plan Assets

More than half, 55 per cent, of survey respondents with Defined Contribution pension plans review investment performance quarterly, says Investment Management Services, an International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ survey. The survey also found that more than two-thirds, 69 per cent, of DC plans sponsors use an investment management consultant and a third of them pay service provider fees based on agreed-upon levels of performance or service.

Fraud One Cause Of Subprime Crisis

Poor underwriting and fraud are among the reasons for the deepening crisis in the U.S. subprime mortgage sector, says Fitch Ratings. It observes that residential mortgage-backed securities backed by pools of subprime mortgages continue to substantially under-perform initial expectations, which has resulted in significant ratings downgrades and heightened risk of losses to principal. Its analysis of subprime defaults suggests that lax underwriting and fraud may account for as much as one-quarter of the underperformance of the 2006 vintage of subprime transactions.

Advice Increases 401(k) Returns

Participants using an advice product in 401(k) plans earned an average three per cent higher return than those who did not, says Schwab Corporate & Retirement Services. Participants using its advice services earned an average 14.11 per cent return in 2006, compared to an 11.11 per cent average return by participants not using advice or target date funds. The follows a similar result for 2005 when those using advice programs earned an average 9.2 per cent, compared to 6.6 per cent by those who did not.

Private Equity Still Worth Considering

Despite the credit squeeze and recent volatility in financial markets, private equity still can be a worthwhile investment for pension funds and other investors, says Watson Wyatt Worldwide. However, it is more important than ever for institutional investors to focus on the long term, to pick the right fund managers, and to ensure that their governance matches their investment goals. Although the credit squeeze will negatively affect some private equity funds that have relied heavily on debt to finance their operations, top managers may be able to make significant gains by spotting and purchasing promising, but distressed, businesses more quickly than other managers do.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Plan Exit Strategy Before Investing

Investors putting their money outside of Canada in strategies such as private equity must plan their exit strategy before making the investment, says Jeff Trossman, a partner in the tax practice at Blakes. Speaking at its ‘Legal Issues for Pension Fund Investors in Private Equity’ seminar, he said while Canadian pension plans, for example, may be exempt from Canadian taxation, they may suffer from “tax leakage” in their investments abroad. While most developed countries do not tax capital gains earned by foreigners, they tax these gains if they derive most of their value from real property. Local reporting and withholding requirements in connection with an exit should be investigated fully upfront, he said.

Caisse Has $13.2 Billion In ABCP

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec invested $13.2 billion in asset backed commercial paper (ABCP). Henri-Paul Rousseau, its chief executive, told a Quebec finance committee that Caisse officials were aware of concerns about ABCP by some ratings agencies, but it believed the banks would support the product. He said the Caisse took no undue risks, but underestimated the risk of the product. However, he noted this does happen in the investment business.

Retail Favorite Now Institutional Staple

European institutional investors and banks that long ago embraced the lucrative business of selling structured equity derivatives products into the retail market are now integrating equity derivatives into their own investment strategies as an efficient means of obtaining desired exposures, says Greenwich Associates' ‘2007 European Equity Derivatives Investors Study.’ It shows large increases in the number of European institutions and banks using equity derivatives, the number of derivatives products used by individual institutions and banks, and the volume of trades executed in these products each year.

Italy Raises Retirement Age

Italy has increased the minimum retirement age for most Italians to 58 years from 57 starting from 2008. Originally, it had proposed raising the age to 60 years.

CIGNA Has International Site

CIGNA International Expatriate Benefits (CIEB) has a new information site, dedicated exclusively to the benefits needs of international employers and their consultants. The site provides benefits managers with the opportunity to gain insight into the nuances of international benefits, news, innovations, tools, and trends. The site also offers the opportunity to explore scenarios in greater detail through a personal outreach from a member of the CIEB team.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Workers Not Entitled To Surplus

Public servants, military, and RCMP personnel are not entitled surplus in their pension plans, says an Ontario Superior Court judge. Eighteen unions and pensioner groups have battled for more than 10 years over a $30 billion surplus in pension funds. In the ruling, the judge accepted the government's argument that the $30 billion is not a real ‘surplus’ of cash or assets, but is an accounting device to record or monitor the government's liabilities.

Specialized Products Become Commonplace Tools

Once regarded as specialized tools, equity derivatives today are used by North American institutions as a routine method of obtaining desired exposures and hedging positions, says Greenwich Associates' 2007 North American Equity Derivatives Research Study. It found that for active institutional investors in the United States and Canada it is becoming common practice for cash portfolio managers to work in conjunction with traders and equity derivatives specialists to achieve investment goals.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pensions Need Protection

The Durham Region Labour Council is demanding that the government of Ontario enact a law that enshrines pension protection for workers. In a presentation to the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions, it said with the economic reality of today, it believes that the best interests of workers and government together outweigh the interests of capital investment of wealthy individuals. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com

Monthly Trade Match Report Card Launched

CIBC Mellon Global Securities Services Company has launched a monthly trade match report card to help investment managers comply with new Canadian institutional trade matching guidelines contained within National Instrument (NI) 24-101. Beginning in February 2008, NI 24-101 requires investment managers to report quarterly trade matching performance to the Canadian Securities Administrators if they fail to achieve prescribed guidelines within the instrument. The guidelines are designed to lower settlement risks in the Canadian marketplace by encouraging greater trade matching rates on trade date at the Canadian Depository for Securities.

401(k) Participation Rate Doubles

Large companies had double the participation rates in their 401(k) plans, in large part because of features such as automatic enrollment, says a Diversified Investment Advisors survey. Officials at companies with 1,000 to 4,999 employees reported a 90 per cent or better participation rate in their company’s 401(k) plan for the 2006 plan year.  

Bookstaber Speaks At AIMA

Wall Street personality and author Richard Bookstaber will speak at the next AIMA Canada luncheon. Bookstaber is the author of the Wall Street tell-all book ‘A Demon of Our Own Design’ which is creating controversy and acclaim in the investment industry. The luncheon takes place Wednesday January 9, 2008 at 12:15 p.m. in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.aima-canada.org/

Great-West Sells U.S. Healthcare Business

Great-West Lifeco Inc. is selling its U.S. healthcare business to a subsidiary of CIGNA Corp. The business, Great-West Healthcare, provides medical, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance to about 5,200 employer groups and 2.2 million members in the United States. Great-West Lifeco will now be entirely focused on broadening and expanding its financial services business in the U.S.

Eldercare Challenges Examined

The challenges faced by the ‘sandwich generation’ of employees who are faced with providing care for an aging parent will be the focus of the next Employee Assistance Program Association of Toronto breakfast seminar. With one-third of all absences in workplaces due to care-giving issues,Work and Eldercare’ will examine effective coping strategies for this group. Gillian Joseph, a research associate with the Centre for Families, Work, and Well-being research unit at the University of Guelph, is the guest speaker. It takes place Thursday, January 24, 2008, at 7:30 a.m. in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit www.eapat.org

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Monday, November 26, 2007

ABCP Losses Passed On

Some financial institutions are choosing to pass on ABCP losses to their mutual, pooled, and segregated fund investors, says Morneau Sobeco. Greg Hurst, one of its national DC pension practice leaders, says it learned about this practice recently and is concerned about potential losses in capital accumulation plans. Until this development, it was optimistic that members of these plans would not be affected by the problems associated with ABCPs as many institutions swapped illiquid ABCP holdings into their general accounts, replacing them with cash in the institutional funds they manage.

Better Management Needed

Defined Benefit pension plans and funds in Canada’s private pension system deserve to be governed and managed in a manner that is consistent with their role as special purpose financial institutions that are dedicated solely to the financing and securing of a major portion of the retirement income needs of employees in Ontario’s workplaces, says Gordon Hall, a former partner at William M. Mercer. In a presentation to the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions, he said failing to do so could result in a significant increase in costly litigation within the private pension system in Ontario and add to the pressure to close DB plans to new entrants and to wind-up these plans. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com/ontario_pension_commission.html

Steelworkers Urge Quick Passage Of Reform

The United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario/Atlantic is hoping for quick passage of pension reform legislation by the Nova Scotia government. The current legislation allows companies, solvent or not, to escape pension obligations simply by relocating outside the country. Ian J.F. McSweeney, a partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, says if passed, Bill 4 will amend the Nova Scotia PBA to require an employer, on a full or partial wind-up after July 20, 2007, to fund a deficit where the plan assets are less than the value of the benefits provided under the plan and the grow-in benefits.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Benefit Adequacy Neglected

Benefit adequacy is often a neglected area of Defined Contribution pension plan management, says Susan Nickerson, of Hicks Morley. Speaking at its 2007 Pension and Benefits Law Update, she said that this presents legal issues for plan administrators if their plan members do not understand what they can expect from their DC plan. This risk increases if they were involved in a conversion to a DC plan. One area which they should address is encouraging employees to increase their contribution levels. She said this has a greater impact on benefit adequacy than switching from a conservative to an aggressive asset mix in a portfolio.

 

Canada Emerging As Islamic Finance Destination

Canada is rapidly emerging as a leading investment destination for Middle Eastern and other Muslim investors, says Andrew Fleming, of Ogilvy Renault LLP. Speaking at the KPMG Insurance Issues Conference on Islamic Finance, he said these investors are attracted by its current and forecasted budget and trade surplus, strong dollar, and favourable tax treaties with both Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Islamic Finance is growing rapidly around the world. It involves financial products based on the Koran and covers not only religious practices, but how Muslims should lead their lives and conduct business, said Steven Watts, of KPMG.

Brown Offers OECP Updates

Robert L. Brown, of the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions (OECP), will give an update on the commission’s activities at the Association of Canadian Pension Management’s impACT 2007. The theme of the session is ‘The Ontario Pension System – Will 2008 be a Watershed Year?’ It will also feature a presentation on The Influence of Quebec' by Michel St. Germain, of Mercer. It takes place Wednesday, December 5, in Toronto ON. For more information, visit http://www.acpm.com/default.asp

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Non-resident Trust Rules Impact Registered Plans

The federal government has introduced changes to the Income Tax Act which will restrict tax leakage from Canadian taxpayers who are avoiding tax by holding foreign portfolio investments, says a Mercer Communiqué. Under Bill C-10, tax is not payable with respect to foreign investment entities by tax-exempt entities. However, the exemption from the non-resident trust rules is not based on the status of the investor, but on the nature of the trust investment. Sponsors of Canadian registered pension plans, foundation funds, or endowment funds are encouraged to conduct a due diligence review to examine the impact the proposed provisions may have on any foreign trust investments that they may have.

Retirement Low On Tax Saving List

Canadians are as likely to spend their savings from the recently introduced federal tax cuts on paying down debt (38 per cent) as on miscellaneous spending (37 per cent), says a poll sponsored by Edward Jones. Retirement savings (13 per cent) ranked far down the list, tied with saving for a vacation/travel and investing (11 per cent).

Tickets On Sale For CPBI Ball

Tickets are now on sale for the CPBI 2008 Benefit Ball. The event, set for February 7 in Toronto, ON, raises money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada. This year’s theme is Aloha Luau – evoking the Hawaiian experience with hula dancers and traditional Hawaiian music. For more information, visit http://www.cpbi-icra.ca

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dollar Could Impact Economy

The rising Canadian dollar could have an impact on the Canadian economy and may even result in a slowdown, says Blake Goldring, chairman and CEO of AGF Management Limited. The featured speaker at a Canadian Club of Toronto luncheon, he said the rise of the dollar is putting pressure on the Canadian market. However, a slowdown is not necessarily a bad thing as they are only temporary and the economy would recover, stronger than ever. As well, the rise in the dollar is an opportunity for Canadians to invest aboard. Goldring believes Canadians should be investing more outside the country.

Ambachtsheer Wins International Pension Award

Keith Ambachtsheer, a world-renowned expert in pensions who is the director of the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management (ICPM) at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, has been recognized with the top Outstanding Industry Contribution Award at the 7th annual IPE European Pension Fund Awards. “I think of this as a longevity award because I got into this industry in the late 1960s. At the beginning, there were only pension bits and pieces. There was no coherence compared to where we are today,” says Ambachtsheer. Based in Toronto, Ambachtsheer has been a key figure in the global pensions arena for more than 30 years. In 2005, he helped establish the ICPM which aims to be a leading exchange of best practices in global pension management as well as a source of best ideas in pension fund legislation and regulation.

Retiring To Something

‘Retiring to Something ... Not from Something’ will be the topic at a Kitchener-Waterloo Chapter of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists educational event. Av Lieberman, president of The Retirement Education Centre, will be the featured speaker. It takes place Tuesday, November 27, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.iscebs.org/chapters/lcregon.asp

Investor Confidence Falls In October

Global investor confidence fell by 7.7 points to a level of 74.3 from September’s reading of 82, says the State Street Investor Confidence Index for November 2007. North American investors were the key drivers of this decline, as their confidence fell from 90.4 to its second lowest reading ever of 78.9. In other regions, risk appetite remained broadly unchanged, with European investors recording a small decline of 0.9 points to 84 and Asian investors recording a small increase of 0.8 points to 86.9. This month’s decline in investor confidence took place against a backdrop of deteriorating fundamentals including a diminished outlook for consumer spending and global growth, and some acute credit pressures on the financial sector.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

OLRB Can Hear Claim

The Ontario Labour Relations Board is best able to deal with a claim against Genfast Manufacturing Company, says the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario. The United Steelworkers Union claims the company has more than $8 million in outstanding obligations, plus unpaid pension and benefit contributions, owed to its members. The court has lifted a stay against the OLRB hearing the case. John Varley, of Pallett Valo, says this is a very significant decision which will have a major impact on how unionized employees can claim pension and other benefit shortfalls when an employer becomes bankrupt or otherwise insolvent, leaving a plan wind-up deficiency.

Phased Retirement Rules Set Out

Proposed phased retirement rules offer an avenue for employers to keep older workers who possess expertise, knowledge, and skills that are in high demand, says a Watson Wyatt InfoFlash. The federal government draft legislation will enable Defined Benefit registered pension plans to provide qualifying employees with bridging benefits or up to 60 per cent of their accrued pension while they continue to accrue additional pension benefits on a current service basis. While there are already organizations informally accommodating phased retirement for individuals, the system is flawed. Individuals are unable to accrue any further pension benefits. By permitting the continued accrual of a DB pension while allowing for receipt of a portion of the unreduced pension, the proposed measures will reduce the likelihood of this loss of income.

Meet The Plan Sponsor Returns

John Formusa, of Hydro One; John Poos, of Nortel; and Terri Troy, of the Halifax Regional Municipality; will be among the plan sponsors on hand at the AIMSE 15th Annual Canadian Conference. Once again, it will feature the ‘Meet the Plan Sponsor’ roundtable giving attendees a chance to hear their issue first hand. It takes place January 18, 2008, in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://magnetmail.net/

The New World Of Treasury Examined

Adam Wagstaffe, vice-president and director, TD Asset Management Inc., will discuss the impact of the summer of 2007 on investors at an FEI Canada Session. The summer months provided everything but downtime for investors with capital market upheaval, a changing credit environment, and volatility in the money and fixed income markets related to liquidity issues. ‘The New World of Treasury – Lessons from the Summer of 2007’ takes place December 6 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.feicanada.org/

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Employees Ill-prepared For Future

Employees globally are not properly planning for their financial futures, says the MetLife Study of International Employee Benefits Trends. The study found 62 per cent of employees surveyed in Mexico, 58 per cent in Australia, 40 per cent in the U.S., 22 per cent in the U.K., and seven per cent in India have not taken steps to determine their household's life insurance needs. Employees in these countries also seem to be putting retirement and aging related issues on the back-burner. Fewer than half of employees in say they have taken retirement planning steps.

Report Provides Insights Into Changing Nature Of Insurance Industry

State Street Corporation has released The State Street Vision Report on the insurance industry as part of its series of proprietary reports designed to help financial services professionals enhance their knowledge of key themes and trends affecting their industry. The report analyzes how these changes are driving the growth of third-party outsourcing in the industry and discusses new opportunities across all segments of the insurance business.

Islamic Finance Discussed

Islamic finance and sovereign funds is one topic to be covered at the 10th Anniversary Alternative Investment Roundup. Adnan Hassan, chief financial officer at The World Bank, will examine the issue. The conference takes place January 27 to 30 in Scottsdale, AR. For more information, contact Judy Kelly at 212-967-0095 ext 241 or jkelly@srinstitute.com

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Waive Waiting Period When Recruiting

Offering a benefits program with automatic sign-in and no waiting period can be an effective strategy to attract new talent to an organization, says Steven Osiel, vice-president, total rewards, Pal Benefits Inc. Speaking at its 2007 Conference, ‘Total Rewards and Compensation – What You Need to Know,’ he said since most organizations offer benefits, effective recruiters need to consider creating programs where the new employees feel like they are in a partnership with their employer. As well, companies need to know the characteristics of the group where they are recruiting to determine the most appropriate benefits package.

Stakeholders Must Make Concessions

Improvements to Ontario’s pension system will require concessions by all stakeholders, says Watson Wyatt in its submission to the Ontario Expert Pension Commission. While it recognizes that an effective solution will be one which enhances the pension system for all stakeholders – pensioners, employees, and plan sponsors. However, it also said that the government of Ontario is concerned with the financial risks associated with the PBGF, the operational effectiveness of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, and the role of the private pension system in ensuring income security for Ontario seniors. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com/ontario_pension_commission.html

Life Cycle Publication Furthers Discussion

The Research Foundation of CFA Institute has released a collection of speeches, papers, and discussions on life cycle finance theory and practice, consumers’ need to make rational investment and savings choices, employers’ and governments’ roles in supporting rational decision-making, and future life cycle products and services. ‘The Future of Life Cycle Savings and Investing’ is the result of an inaugural conference co-sponsored by Boston University School of Management, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Research Center for Behavioral Economics and Decisions-Making, and the Research Foundation of CFA Institute.

AARP To Present Study

AARP will present its global study of the business case for Workers 50+ and Alberta Minister Iris Evans will speak on a report from Alberta and B.C. on ‘Understanding the Issues and Opportunities, Laying the Groundwork for a Mature Workforce Strategy’ at the 3rd Annual Summit on the Mature Workforce. It takes place November 21 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.workplaceinstitute.org/

Pension Class Actions Examined

How to avoid being outclassed in pension class actions and protecting an organization when communicating pension benefits will be among the topics covered at ‘Pension Law and Litigation.’ The Federated Press event takes place December 11 and 12. For more information, visit http://www.federatedpress.com/PDF/PLLT0712-E.pdf

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Auto Enrollment Problematic

Canadian plan sponsors will find it harder to withdraw pension contributions for their employees automatically than their counterparts in the U.S., says Diana Woodhead, of Blakes. Speaking at its ‘Recent Developments in Pension & Employee Benefits’ seminar, she said in order to do so, they must get employee authorization in every province except Quebec. Employee authorization is not required in Quebec if membership in a plan is mandatory. She suggests that employers consider revising enrollment forms for future plan members and consider the best method to obtain authorizations from existing members.

Portable Alpha ‘Voodoo Science’

For most pension plan sponsors, concepts such as hedge funds and portable alpha are “voodoo science,” says John Davies, of the Carpentry Workers’ Pension and Benefit Plans of B.C. Speaking at AIMA Canada’s luncheon on portable alpha, he said providers need to spend time educating their clients on these topics. People will not buy what they do not understand, he said, and plan sponsors do not understand these products.

Second-tier DB Plan Needed

The Municipal Retirees Organization of Ontario (MROO) supports the idea of ‘a lean, second-tier, universal, portable, Defined Benefit plan for all Ontario (and indeed Canadian) workers.’ In a submission to the Ontario Expert Pension Committee, it says there is growing need for new options for encouraging DB plans, particularly for mobile workers and for employees of smaller, more volatile, employers who are least able to manage a pension fund. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com/ontario_pension_commission.html

Unlocking Scheme Warning Issued

Alberta’s superintendent of pensions has issued a warning about a potentially illegal unlocking scheme. It has been advised of a scheme in which locked-in accounts (LIRAs or LIFs) are split and amounts are transferred from one financial institution to one or more institutions for the purpose of unlocking. The newly established locked-in account(s) and, possibly, the original locked-in account, each fall below the small amounts prescribed by the Employment Pension Plans Act. There are two techniques being used, a complete transfer and a partial transfer. However, legislation prohibits these sorts of schemes.

CanDeal Trading Up

CanDeal had a 218 per cent increase in the number of trades executed on its Canadian Money Market (CAMM) trading platform in the second half of its fiscal year, ended October 31, 2007.  “This rapid growth of trades is consistent with the U.S. and European experience and the widespread adoption of online trading in money markets, globally,” says Shirley Gallant, managing director. CAMM allows domestic and international institutional investors and treasury managers to sort, filter, and view multiple dealer offerings of Canadian money market instruments in a single commingled display. 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mark-to-market An Illusion

The beauty, precision, and discipline of mark-to-market accounting has been shown to be an illusion when the assets being valued are opaque, non-standard, and illiquid, says Christopher T. Mahoney, vice-chairman, Moody's Investors Service. Speaking on ‘The Credit Crisis: A Status Report’ at a CIBC Mellon luncheon session, he said the current crisis resulted from leveraged holders of leveraged products creating a dangerous mix in which prices were bid up to unnatural levels during the levering up phase and then driven unnaturally down during the delivering phase. However, he said the industry will get through the current crisis and, while it may have an impact on earnings, it is unlikely to create any systemic instability.

Active Measures Can Reduce Claims

Today’s companies are facing issues in absenteeism, reduced productivity, and more Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims. In Ontario alone, there were more than 260,000 WSIB claims in 2006, a challenge being taken on by a leading pain treatment and prevention clinic. MMTR Health Inc. has found a simple and cost-effective way for businesses to effectively reduce the number of these claims. Its proprietary approach combines deep relaxation with specific muscle exercises on-site so employees quickly learn how to identify the root of a problem with no travel or lost time from work.

Venture Capital Investment Up

Investment activity in Canada's venture capital industry increased on both a year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter basis in the third quarter of 2007, says the CVCA's quarterly statistical report. In total, $512 million was disbursed across the country, up 17 per cent from the total of $438 million invested in the prior quarter, and up 47 per cent from the $347 million disbursed in the same period in 2006. "The growth in venture capital investment is being driven by an increasing focus on Canadian transactions by U.S. venture firms," says Rick Nathan, CVCA president and managing director of Kensington Capital Partners.

SEAMARK Opts For RBC Dexia

RBC Dexia Investor Services has been selected by SEAMARK Asset Management Ltd. to provide a full range of investor services including custody, fund administration, recordkeeping, foreign exchange, and securities lending for that company's newly-launched family of mutual funds.

NAFE Held In Las Vegas

The National Institute Of Pension Administrators will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the 2008 NIPA Annual Forum & Expo May 5 to 7 in Las Vegas, NV. Designed by retirement plan professionals, sessions will examine cash balance plans, Defined Contribution plan design, and valuation of alternative investments. For more information, visit http://www.nipa.org/

Desjardins Launches Helios

Desjardins Financial Security has launched Helios, a guaranteed investment fund contract. Helios offers an a la carte approach to retirement planning that allows investors to design their own guarantees based on events in their lives, and to protect their capital.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Teachers' Invests In Railpower

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board has subscribed for a convertible debenture in the principal amount of $35 million to be offered by way of a private placement by Railpower Technologies Corp. The private placement is expected to close in early January 2008. Railpower Technologies Corp. sells specialized energy technology systems for transportation and power generation. 

DC/Hybrid Most Common

Market volatility, increasing costs, and stricter accounting guidelines have helped make Defined Contribution and hybrid pension plans the most common retirement plans for employers around the world, says a Mercer report. The trend is particularly marked in newer pension markets, such as Australia, where 90 per cent of all pension fund sponsors offered DC plans. Similarly, Brazil, China, Russia, New Zealand, and South Africa also are dominated by DC. Defined Benefit plans still dominate in Japan and the Netherlands.

FTSE Creating Screened Indexes

FTSE Group and Conflict Securities Advisory Group, a research provider specializing in terror-free investment screening and certification services, have signed an agreement to create a series of screened indexes. The FTSE CSAG Terror-Free Index Series, scheduled to be released in 2008, has been devised in response to U.S. regulatory requirements on divestment from Iran , Sudan , Syria , and North Korea . It will assist U.S. pension plans to meet their fiduciary duty in complying with the new legislation.  

Toronto Hosts First FORUM

CPBI FORUM 2008 will take place May 12 to 14 in Toronto, ON. FORUM 2008 has been developed to provide the very best content and networking opportunities. It offers advanced-level national and global industry-related content. For more information, visit http://www.cpbi-icra.ca/

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Monday, November 12, 2007

CPP Passes $121 Billion

The Canada Pension Plan Fund grew to $121.3 billion at the end of the July-September quarter, gaining $800 million over the prior quarter. The increase came from inflows of contributions not needed to pay current pension benefits, while investments posted a loss of $56 million on the recent volatility in financial markets generally and the negative impact of the strengthening Canadian dollar on foreign investment returns. The CPP fund has grown $4.7 billion for the first six months of the fiscal year.

ETFs Close In On $2 Trillion

ETF assets are on track worldwide to reach $2 trillion by 2011, says Morgan Stanley. Assets invested in ETFs grew by 31.8 per cent to $745.4 billion globally in the nine months ended September 30, with more than 2,200 institutional investors having used one or more of the funds.

Carbon Emissions Opportunities Discussed

Local and international strategies to manage risk and maximize profit will be examined at The Canadian Institute’s ‘Seizing The Investment & Compliance Opportunities of Carbon Emissions’ session. Attendees can get clarity on Canada’s regulatory framework for greenhouse gas emissions and strategize to develop and profit from green mutual funds. It takes place January 15 and 16 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.canadianinstitute.com/

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Industrial Alliance Assisted Enrollment Program Earns Award

‘The All about you!’ assisted enrollment program, developed by Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services, has won an award of excellence in the Integrated Campaigns category of the 2007 Insurance & Financial Communicators Association contest. Through the program, participants in group retirement plans can plan their retirement in three easy steps – either online through a secure website or in writing using an education kit. "This award recognizes our constant concern to provide participants in our retirement plans with clear, easy to use documentation for all our products," says Lucie Lachance, director, actuarial and marketing services, group pensions.

Letter Of Credit Regulations Coming

Alberta could have its regulations for letter of credit funding ready by the end of November, says Christopher Brown, of the Calgary office of Osler. Speaking at its Pensions & Benefits Update 2007, he said it could have two key differences from the letter of credit regulations in Quebec and for the federal government. Alberta would make it a permanent funding option and there would no limit on the portion of pension solvency deficiency that could be secured by letter of credit.

RRSP Contributions Rise Again

The number of tax filers making contributions to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), and the amount contributed both increased for the third consecutive year in 2006, says Statistics Canada. Just under 6.2 million tax filers contributed to an RRSP in 2006, an increase of 60,000 or one per cent from 2005. Contributions rose 5.8 per cent from 2005 to $32.4 billion, the highest amount ever reported. 

Wellness Demystified

Demystifying Wellness, a CPBI Ontario region seminar, examined how a “culture of health” can significantly improve employee productivity, especially when considering the long-term objectives of a business. Allan Smofsky outlined the Towers Perrin’s 2007 Global Workforce Study which shows how healthier, more engaged employees can boost performance. He also noted the importance of moving beyond issues of cost management in order to create a healthier workplace.

Legal Guide To Breakdown Entitlements

Osgoode Professional Development’s ‘Pension and Benefit Entitlements Upon Marriage Breakdown: The Legal Guide’ will take place January 15 in Toronto, ON. Topics include steps to take to get your pension division right the first time and what to look for in pension valuators and what to do with their reports. For more information, visit http://www.osgoodepd.ca/

GIPS Committee Against Mandatory Verification

The GIPS Executive Committee, the decision-making body for the Global Investment Performance Standards, will not recommend mandatory verification for GIPS-compliant firms. It has decided to propose a change in the current GIPS compliance statement to include an explicit disclosure of whether or not the firm has been verified. This proposal will be included as part of the GIPS 2010 Exposure Draft. The committee continues to strongly encourage firms to be verified, but does not consider it appropriate to require verification.

Investment Outlook Comes To Waterloo

‘The Road Ahead – Investment Outlook 2008’ takes place November 22 in Waterloo, ON. The 2008 outlook will cover topics including U.S. politics and influence on the market and expected sector performance and possible rotations among sectors. Robert (Bob) Gorman, chief portfolio strategist, TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., is the guest speaker. For more information, visit www.torontocfa.ca

U.S. Plan Participation Drops

Participation in employment-based U.S. retirement plans fell about two percentage points in 2006 among workers with the strongest connection to the work force, says a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In 2006, participation in employment-based retirement plans fell to 53 per cent among full-time, full-year wage and salary workers – those considered to have the closest connection with the work force. This was down from 55 per cent in 2005

Environmental Economy Examined

Andrew Heintzman, president, Investeco Capital Corp., and Greg Payne, portfolio manager, Investeco Global Environmental Sectors Fund, will make a presentation entitled ‘Mobilizing Capital for the Environmental Economy’ in the next session of the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Business of Green Speaker Series @ Rotman. The focus of the series is strategy lessons learned from corporations who have implemented green initiatives. Investeco is a private equity investment firm which invests in private companies specializing in alternative power, water technologies, organic and natural foods, and environmental technologies. It takes place November 21 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit www.rotman.utoronto.ca/events

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Canadian Sponsors Committed To DB

Not only are Canadian plan sponsors committed to offering DB plans, they are actively seeking new ways to generate returns for their plan members including moving out of Canadian equities and embracing alternative investment strategies including long/short products such as 130/30, says research from Pyramis Global Advisors. ‘Exploring New Ground: Key Global Pension Strategies for Today's Investment Landscape’ shows that Canadian DB pension funds are well-funded, solvent, and maintaining the retirement benefits for their members. A clear majority (87 per cent) of open plans indicate that they are likely to continue to offer a DB plan in the next five to 10 years. 

RIM Settles With Pension Fund

Blackberry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) has reached a settlement with a pension fund suit regarding stock options practices at the firm. As part of the settlement with the Ironworkers Ontario Pension Fund, RIM's co-chief executive officers Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis will each pay $2.5-million to RIM to help with its legal costs. As well, it has also agreed to beef up its corporate governance procedures, including not giving stock options to independent directors.

Employees Endorse Automatic Enrollment

Employees are nearly unanimous in their support of being automatically enrolled in their companies' 401(k) plans, says a study on behalf of Retirement Made Simpler (RMS), a coalition formed by AARP, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and the Retirement Security Project (RSP) to improve the way Americans save for retirement. The found that 98 per cent of U.S. adults currently enrolled in an automatic 401(k) plan agree they are glad their companies offer this savings vehicle. Of those who were automatically enrolled, only seven per cent opted-out of the plan.

Ark Chooses RBC Dexia

RBC Dexia Investor Services has been selected by Ark Fund Management Limited to provide a full range of investor services including custody, investment finance, valuations, and unitholder recordkeeping for the company's entire family of hedge and mutual funds. Ark Fund Management is one of the newest companies on the Canadian asset management landscape, having acquired the assets of SciVest Alternative Strategies Inc. in August 2007.

Employers Offer Incentives For Healthy Behaviour

With continuing pressure to control healthcare costs, more U.S. companies plan to offer financial incentives to reward workers who adopt healthy lifestyles, says a survey by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health. Nearly half (46 per cent) of employers surveyed currently offer financial incentives to encourage workers to monitor and improve their health or plan to offer incentives next year. By 2009, that number is expected to surpass 70 per cent. The survey found that companies with effective health and productivity programs demonstrate superior performance. They achieve 20 per cent more revenue per employee, have 16.1 per cent higher market value, and deliver 57 per cent higher shareholder returns.

Hillsdale Launches Equity Strategy

Hillsdale Investment Management has launched a Canadian Completion Equity strategy benchmarked to the recently introduced S&P/TSX completion index. This active long-only strategy was developed specifically for institutional investors seeking an additional source of alpha in the Canadian small-mid cap universe to complement their large cap exposure.

Utilizing Diversity Examined

HRPAO Professional Development first annual Career & Diversity Forum is set for November 22 in Toronto, ON. Diversity leaders including KPMG’s Mary-Lou Maher, the Catalyst Group’s Deborah Gillis, OHRC chief commissioner Barbara Hall, and Ryerson Associate Dean Wendy Cukier will share their views on the issue. For more information, visit http://www.hrpao.org

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Boomers Changing Face Of Retirement

The current habits, lifestyles, and attitudes among baby boomers have put the traditional ‘all play and no work’ retirement mentality on the verge of extinction, says a study by Desjardins Financial Security. It found one in 10 of today’s retirees continue to work and 54 per cent of workers aged 40 and older are planning a gradual retirement. When asked about their ideal retirement age, university-educated workers are more likely to envision working past age 65 – at least five years longer than the ‘ideal’ retirement age of other actively employed respondents.

Assets Keep Pace

Asset values at U.S. Defined Benefit pension plans kept pace with rising liabilities in October, says BNY Mellon Asset Management’s Pension Liability Indexes. It shows the assets of a moderate risk pension portfolio increased 1.7 per cent in October, a result of rising equity markets in the U.S. and around the world. This matches a similar increase in plan liabilities.

Portable Alpha Subject Of Discussion

A panel discussion on one of the most misunderstood and timely topics in investment management – Portable Alpha – will be the feature of an AIMA Canada fall luncheon, November 14 in Toronto, ON. The panel will consist of Angelo Calvello, of Man Investments Inc.; Brian Erickson, of Morgan Stanley Investment Management; Paul Robson, of Northwater Capital Management; and John Davies, of the Carpentry Workers’ Pension and Benefit Plans of B.C. For more information, visit http://www.aima-canada.org/

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

bfinance Expands Canadian Operations

bfinance, an international investment consultant specializing in investment manager search and review, is opening a Toronto, ON, office. It currently has an office in Montreal, QC, which opened in the fall of 2005. In the last year, it conducted 80 searches representing assets under management of $18 billion of which $3 billion was for Canadian clients.

Maple Bond Market Booming

While the Maple bond market benefits both the investor and the issuer, the market still has some regulatory and cost impediments to overcome, says the Investment Industry Association of Canada’s ‘Made in Canada: The Maple Bond Market.’ It says the expected value of Maple bonds to be issued in 2007 exceeds $40 billion – about 50 per cent of all non-government issuance. As the selection of Maples increases, the IIAC says it expects to see added holdings in pension plans, which will share the diversification and other benefits with their plan participants.

Advisors Must Address Probability Of Survival

While Defined Benefit pension plans provide the best hedge against longevity risk, investment advisors may have to get used to helping clients deal with this risk in other ways, says Dr. Moshe Milevsky. The associate professor of finance at the Schulich School of Business, York University, told the Mindpath Financial Conferences’ 'The Coming Retirement Income Crisis – The New Retirement Income Paradigm: What Every Advisor Needs to Know To Protect Their Clients Future and Avoid the Hidden Risks' event that with the life span of Canadians increasing, they need to stop talking to their clients about life expectancy and instead focus on the probability of survival. Statistics show that the older one gets, the greater the likelihood that they will live longer and potentially outlive their retirement assets.

Health Survey Discussed

The sanofi-aventis Healthcare Survey 2007 will be examined November 22 at a Manitoba CPBI Council breakfast seminar. Chris Bonnett, of H3 Consulting, will be the featured speaker. He is on the advisory board of the sanofi-aventis Healthcare Survey and has been the principal author of the report for the last three years. It takes place in Winnipeg, MB. For more information, eMail daled@mts.net

CIBC Mellon Awarded Mandate

CIBC Mellon Global Securities Services has been appointed by McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd. to act as the company's asset servicing provider for three new private global pooled funds, which were recently launched in Canada. Brent McLean, president and chief executive officer of McLean & Partners, says "With our new products, it was important for us to work with a partner who shares our emphasis on client service and has global scale, size, and reach."

Accessing Effective Drug Therapies

How employers can access effective drug therapies for their employees during a pandemic will be the focus of the next Connex Health seminar. The presenters for the morning will address the importance of preparing for a pandemic, which experts predict is overdue based on historic trends. It takes place November 23 in Burlington, ON. For more information, visit www.connexhc.com

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Governance Focus Of Day

The expansive issue of pension plan, benefits, and investment governance will be the focus of a CPBI Atlantic Region session November 22. ‘Governance Day’ will bring together speakers such as John Ilkiw, senior vice-president, portfolio design and risk management, for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board; and Len Racioppo, president of Jarislowsky Fraser. It is taking place in Halifax, NS. For more information, call (902) 835-0391 or eMail cpbiatlantic@eastlink.ca

More Than One Way To Implement LDI

Liability driven investment (LDI) does not necessarily imply a major overhaul of a portfolio and it can be implemented in more than one way, says an ABN AMRO Asset Management – Canada Institutional Newsletter. It describes LDI as a risk management framework for implementing asset/liability management. Beyond interest rate hedging, LDI also incorporates strategic asset allocation and risk budgeting, portfolio construction, and ongoing risk monitoring and reporting. In addition, it can provide a framework for incorporating appropriate active management into a portfolio.

BMO Purchasing Pyrford

In response to increasing interest from institutional and retail investors for international investment opportunities, BMO Financial Group has signed an agreement to purchase Pyrford International plc, a London, UK-based institutional asset manager. Pyrford has been providing international asset management services for pension funds, charities, endowments, foundations, and high net worth individuals since 1987. It had approximately $3 billion assets under management as of September 30 and client relationships in Canada, the United States, UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

CIBC Sells Part Of World Markets

CIBC will sell its U.S. domestic investment banking, equities, leveraged finance, and related debt capital markets businesses to Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. The transaction also includes CIBC's Israeli investment banking and equities business, and certain parts of other U.S. capital markets-related businesses located in the UK and Asia. CIBC will retain its other U.S. wholesale businesses which include real estate finance, equity and commodity structured products, merchant banking, and oil and gas advisory, as well as the balance of its U.S. debt capital markets, Asia, and U.K businesses.

Monthly Update Of Pension Plan Commuted Value Interest Rate Assumptions

The interest assumptions required to calculate commuted values for an event which occurs in any month up to and including December 2007 are now available at www.an-actual-actuary.com. An Excel spreadsheet on the website contains six worksheets

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Friday, November 2, 2007

CIA Suggests Pension Security Trust

The Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) would permit the use of a Pension Security Trust that would be separate from, but complementary to, regular Defined Benefit pension plan funds. In a submission to the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions, it said plan sponsors could use the trust to increase funding levels and enhance benefit security for plan members. But if contributions were subsequently found not to be needed to fund benefits, they could be released back to the plan sponsor. The institute also called for adjustments in pension plan designs and workplace policies to adapt to the realities that plan members and retirees are working past age 65 and living longer. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com/ontario_pension_commission.html

National Perspective Taken On Mental Health In Workplace

A session on mental health in the workplace will be held December 6 in Toronto, ON.  The Group Insurance and Pharmaceutical Committee (GIPC) session will look at mental health from the top down, beginning with the national perspective and the newly-formed Canadian Mental Health Commission. Speakers will share perspectives on issues and opportunities relating to mental health including best practices to improve employee outcomes and manage costs. Keynote speaker is Dr. David Goldbloom, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. For more information, visit www.gipc.ca

Top Employers Walk the Talk

Cisco Canada has the most family friendly workplace and Flight Centre Canada offers the best recognition practices, says Market Yourself Smarter’s second annual Walk the Talk survey. Employees also selected Export Development Canada as most committed to employee development; Brain Injury Services of Hamilton, Haldimand-Norfolk, Niagara for best employee engagement; Rocky Mountaineer Vacations as having the best workplace culture; and the University College of the Fraser Valley as the most open and transparent workplace.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Benefits For A Changing Demographic Discussed

The Canadian Pension & Benefits Institute Ontario region held a breakfast seminar, ‘The Role of Benefits in the Attraction and Retention of the Changing Demographic.’ Jennifer Hubbard, of The Economical Insurance Group; and John Tompkins, of Hewitt Associates; lead the session and discussed how to retain an aging workforce, develop benefit plans for an evolving demographic, and how to appropriately train staff with high rates of turnover.

Russell Launches Core Plus Fixed Income Pool

Russell Investments Canada has launched the Russell Core Plus Fixed Income Pool. Designed to give investors greater diversification in their portfolios, it also seeks to provide higher return potential than a typical fixed income fund. Features include increased diversification as a result of a wider opportunity set, lower associated correlations relative to traditional fixed income strategies, and less reliance on duration.

Minimum Solvency Rules Need Revision

Providing plan members with better protection against benefit loss on insolvent plan termination by revising the minimum solvency funding standards, and rebalancing the financial risks and rewards of plan sponsorship by providing sponsoring employers with access to funding surplus could help make the Defined Benefit single-employer pension system stronger and sustainable, says Mercer. In its submission to the Ontario Expert Pension Commission, it says these two measures must be implemented together as this is the only way that the recommended changes will be effective. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com/

Physicians Ignore Generics 

Canadian physicians are generally oblivious to drug prices and often prescribe an expensive brand-name medicine even if a generic version is available, says Eckler Group News October 2007. It says drug sales data collected monthly by the IMS Health Consulting Inc., a provider of business intelligence and strategic consulting services for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, concludes that drug costs in Canada could be significantly decreased if doctors made a concerted effort to pay more attention to the cost of the medications they prescribe.

MedCan Offers Pharmacogenomic Testing

The MedCan clinic in Toronto, ON, will become the first clinic in Ontario providing pharmacogenomic testing to its clients. Pharmacogenomics is the study of the genetic factors that determine how an individual person will respond to a drug. Based on the results, the drug therapy can be optimized to correspond to the patients' genotype and to ensure maximum efficacy with minimal adverse effects. Tests will cost $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the number of genetic factors analyzed.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cost Rising Once More

The trend factors used by insurers for programs renewing in 2008 have not changed from the factors of a year ago, says Eckler Group News October 2007. The annual trend factors depend on plan design and its survey suggests that the range is currently 13 per cent to 17 per cent per annum for healthcare and five per cent to nine per cent per annum for dental care. If an organization has a demonstrated lower credible annual trend, this could be taken into account in setting renewal rates.

Compensation Outlook Featured Forecasts

The Conference Board of Canada’s ‘2007 Compensation Outlook: Alignment, Communication, and Engagement’ featured in-depth research and case studies on Canadian HR strategies. Sponsored by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, the conference outlined how to align benefits with business strategies and presented the latest compensation trends and practices.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Half Offer DC Plan

About 51.4 per cent of Canadian respondents now offer Defined Contribution pension plans, says the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ ‘Employee Benefits Survey: U.S. and Canada 2007.’ The most popular DC plans are registered DC or money purchase plans, offered by 70.3 per cent of respondents. The second most common is the group registered retirement savings plan, offered by 54.1 per cent. “More than half of all Canadian respondents offer at least one capital accumulation plan. This is quite common in corporations and professional service firms, with more than 60 per cent of employers in these sectors offering them,” says Julie Stich, senior information/research specialist at the International Foundation. “While CAPs are offered by public employers and multi-employer funds, they’re more likely to offer some type of Defined Benefit pension plan.”

CPP On Financially Sustainable Footing

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is on a financially sustainable footing for at least the next 75 years, says the 23rd Actuarial Report on the plan. The report will offer an important point of reference for federal and provincial finance ministers as they begin their statutory three-year review of the plan in 2008. The report will also be examined by a panel of three independent actuaries, who will report publicly on their findings in advance of the federal-provincial review process. To see the report, visit http://www.osfi-bsif.gc.ca/

Single Sign-On CIPA Finalist

Sun Life Financial’s Single Sign-On offering has been shortlisted as a finalist in this year’s Canadian Information Productivity Awards (CIPA) program. Single Sign-On provides group plan members with secure access to their benefit and retirement plans directly from their employee portal. While on their employer’s site, members can simply click on a link to access their benefits and pension plan Personal Portfolio Home Page without having to enter their access ID or password.

CFA Looks At Clean Energy

Which alternative energy technologies are currently being commercialized, what is the market potential and limitations, how commodities are being impacted, and how you can participate in the growth of these private and public companies are some of the areas which will be examined at the Toronto CFA Society ‘Clean Energy Conference 2007 – Investment Perspectives in Clean Energy.’ Designed for equity analysts, portfolio managers, investors, and investment bankers, it takes place at 8 a.m., November 14, in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.torontocfa.ca/

Hedge Funds Battle Child Abuse

More than 250 of Canada's top hedge fund industry professionals will be gathering in support of Hedge Funds Care Canada, the only philanthropy exclusively dedicated to the treatment and prevention of child abuse. The gourmet-gala evening of top-tier foods prepared by the award-winning chefs of the Sutton Place takes place November 8 in Toronto. For more information, visit http://www.hedgefundscare.org/

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Pension Leaders Share Views

The agenda for pension plan investment committees for 2008 and the evolving issues for Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution pension plans will be among the topics covered at the CPBI Ontario Region’s ‘3rd Annual Pension Investment Forecast.’ Leaders from among the country’s most influential pension plans – including Philip Falls, president and chief executive officer, UBCIMANT; and Lucy Paglione, senior vice-president, pension and benefits, George Weston Limited/Loblaw Companies Limited; will share their views and ideas on the challenges and issues facing them in the months to come. It takes place January 15, 2008, in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.cpbi-icra.ca/

Tool Transforms HR

Mercer has released an upgraded version of its measurement and diagnostic tool Operations Scanner. First released more than nine years ago as an activity-based survey collecting quantitative data on more than 300 HR activities, it evaluated the time and resources spent by HR in order to identify areas of cost savings. The new Web version provides data indicating, among other things, how an HR organization allocates both its labour and non-labour resources.

PIAC Offers Comments

Expert and professional bodies should have a means to be regularly consulted on legislative and regulatory change, says the Pension Investment Association of Canada (PIAC). In a submission to the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions, PIAC said this would be an appropriate regulatory role for expert and professional bodies in the Ontario pension system. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com

CPPIB In Puget Consortium

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has joined a consortium of long-term infrastructure investors in Puget Energy, a regulated utility providing electric and natural gas service in Washington state. The consortium also includes Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, and Alberta Investment Management.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Pension Asset Growth To Slow

While pension assets in Canada will grow to $1.4 trillion from the current $994 billion by 2016, their growth will be only to four per cent compared to the 11.2 per cent growth rate for individual assets during the same period, says Earl Bederman, president of Investor Economics. Speaking at the ICAC 2007 Conference & Annual General Meeting, ‘Future Trends of the Canadian Asset Management Industry Within A Global Environment,’ he said money is already coming out of the pension side, but this is obscured by the markets. However, demographics indicate that this will continue and the pension sector will grow much slower than it has in the past.

Report Debunks Responsible Investing Myths

A UN report is debunking the myth that investors acting responsibly have to sacrifice investment performance in the process, says John M. Clancy, managing director at Guardian Ethical Management Inc. He says the report, ‘Demystifying Responsible Investment Performance,’ was developed by the United Nations and a group of leading asset managers from around the world. It explores links between different approaches to responsible investment and investment performance. To read the report, visit http://www.unepfi.org

Growth Dominates Value

Only nine per cent of value managers beat the S&P/TSX Composite return in the third quarter. In contrast, 75 per cent of growth managers outperformed the benchmark, says the Russell Active Manager Report. This is the poorest performance by value managers since the first quarter of 2000. What made it tough for value managers was that, on average, they were more than one per cent underweight the top-performing Information Technology sector. In contrast, growth managers were roughly three per cent overweight.  In addition, value managers had notably larger underweights to the strong performing Materials sector.

IFRS Deadline Concerns FEI

Financial Executives International Canada (FEI) has some significant concerns regarding the 2011 International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) implementation deadline.
In an appearance before the Accounting Standards Oversight Council (AcSOC), it noted that several competing and concurrent regulatory implementations, the slow start to educational and awareness initiatives, and the ongoing shortage of resources in the accounting profession have the potential to impede the constructive and cost-efficient implementation of IFRS. The move toward global reporting standards is designed to replace the current Canadian GAAP reporting standards as part of the effort to standardize and provide consistency in global financial reporting.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Funded Status Improving

Better-than-expected asset returns, low liability growth rates, and increased contributions helped to close the gap between plan assets and liabilities, improving the pension funding status of S&P TSX Composite Index companies in 2006, says a report from Mercer. For 2006, the median actual return was 11 per cent, compared to the median expected return of seven per cent. “With interest rates picking up between 25 and 50 basis points midway through 2007, plan sponsors may soon reach the point where legacy costs are fully funded,” says Paul Forestell, leader, retirement professional group at Mercer.

ITG Expands Cross-Border Trading

Investment Technology Group, Inc., a provider of technology-based trading services and transaction research, has added pan-Atlantic electronic trading capabilities to its Triton execution management system, enabling clients in North America and Europe to trade U.S., Canadian, and European stocks from one platform. The pan-Atlantic enhancements improve workflow efficiencies by allowing desks located in New York and London, for example, to share, manage, and trade the same lists in real time.

Investors Optimistic About New Rules

A majority of European institutional investors believe that new financial market rules scheduled to take effect next month have a good chance of achieving regulators' stated goals of increasing market transparency and further integrating Europe's capital markets, says research from Greenwich Associates. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), which will take effect on November 1, 2007, will introduce significant changes to Europe's regulatory framework with the goal of integrating Europe's national markets. Included in the directives are new pre- and post-trade transparency requirements and reporting requirements for equity markets, new capital requirements, and other provisions intended to facilitate cross-border business.

Low Back Pain Alleviated By Naturopathic Medicine

The treatment of low back pain with naturopathic medicine can mitigate workplace absenteeism, low productivity, and other health-related costs, says a study by the Canada Post Corporation, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. The study demonstrated that a group receiving naturopathic care had clinically and statistically significant positive results including improved physical functioning, decreased disability, significant pain reduction, improved spine flexibility, dramatic reduction in the use of over-the-counter medications/painkillers, and improved quality of life including increased energy and vitality.

Communications On Agenda

Are your employees getting the right information they need in order to appreciate the unique features of your total compensation package? The 7th Annual Communicating Compensation and Benefits will discuss the best practices in communicating with employees about compensation, pension, and benefit plans, including the proper way to communicate the introduction of a flexible benefits plan. The Federated Press event takes place December 17 to 19 in Toronto, ON. For more information, eMail info@federatedpress.com

Nairne Speaks At Conference

Michael Nairne, president, Tacita Capital, will discuss financial independence planning and retirement at Mindpath Financial Conferences’ 'The Coming Retirement Income Crisis – The New Retirement Income Paradigm: What Every Advisor Needs to Know To Protect Their Clients Future and Avoid the Hidden Risks.’ It takes place November 5 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.mindpath.ca

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DB Becoming Unsustainable

Pension legislation reform is urgently needed in Ontario to enable employers to improve their competitiveness, while giving employees a predictable retirement income, says the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. However, in a submission to the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions, the chamber said that Defined Benefit pension plans are quickly becoming unsustainable because current funding rules as unduly burdensome on employers. It has recommended that the Ontario government amend the pension legislation to relax solvency funding requirements by establishing a normalized interest rate of 6.5 per cent and extending the amortization period to 15 years as well as allow businesses running DB plans access to funding excesses. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com/

Funded Ratios At Five Year High

Despite recent volatility in capital markets, pension funded ratios have reached their highest levels in more than five years, says an analysis by Watson Wyatt Worldwide. The funded ratio (the ratio of plan assets to plan liabilities) of the typical pension plan climbed to 105 per cent at the end of September 2007, on a Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis. The funded ratio of the typical plan is up from 89 per cent at the end of September 2006. Whereas the improvement in 2006 was driven by a combination of strong investment returns and rising interest rates, the improvement in 2007 has been driven primarily by higher interest rates.

Canadians Replace 50 Per Cent Of Income

Canadian households are on track to replace only 50 per cent of their pre-retirement income in retirement, says Fidelity Investments Canada ULC’s Retirement Index which measures how financially prepared working Canadian households are for retirement. Earlier this year, Fidelity released research that concluded that individuals who want to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement should aim to replace about 80 per cent of their pre-retirement income.

Ontario Pension System Reviewed

‘The Ontario Pension System – Will 2008 be a Watershed Year?’ will be the focus of the ACPM’s impACT 2007. Featured speakers include Robert L. Brown, director of research, Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions; and Cameron McNeill, CEO, Buck Consultants. It takes place December 5 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit www.acpm-acarr.com.

Asset Allocation Focus Of Session

Canada’s top institutional investors and leading investments will discuss topics such as implementing a liability-driven investment framework and creating a strategic asset allocation policy at the Federated Press ‘Asset Allocation Summit.’ It takes place February 4 and 5 in Toronto, ON. For more information, eMail: info@federatedpress.com.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ACPM Pleased With Pension Review

The Association of Canadian Pension Management (ACPM) is pleased with the Alberta and British Columbia governments' decision to appoint a Joint Expert Panel on Pension Standards, which will collaborate to review the two provinces' pension legislation. The expert panel will consult with stakeholder groups to examine the legislation that governs Alberta and BC's pension plans in an effort to create greater harmonization of pension standards between the two provinces. Specific areas of focus include encouraging the establishment and maintenance of employee pension plans while ensuring fairness for both employers and employees.

Submissions To OEPC Now Online

The Ontario Expert Pension Commission (OEPC) is now holding public hearings across the province to hear from stakeholders in the pension system including plan sponsors, plan members and pensioners, unions and other representative organizations, plan administrators, pension professionals, academic, community and other groups, and employers, workers, retirees, and other interested Ontarians. To see submissions already presented to the commission, click on http://www.bpmmagazine.com/

America Unprepared For Boomer Brain Drain

Many employers in the United States remain unprepared for the looming brain drain stemming from the aging of the ‘baby boomer’ generation, leaving themselves open to economic and productivity challenges if strategic plans are not put in place over the next five years, says a report by Ernst & Young LLP. The ‘2007 Aging U.S. Workforce Survey: Challenges and Responses – An Ongoing Review’ study confirms that a gap in strategy exists across organizations when preparing for and developing programs to meet the demands of this population as it nears retirement. Survey findings suggest employers may be experiencing a disconnect with this demographic in areas such as employee benefits programs. For example, more than half of companies either have not, or do not, know if their company has analyzed their benefit plans and conducted a compliance review to gauge whether employees are receiving accurate benefit amounts.

Standards Developed For Recordkeepers 

Acknowledging the need to support plan sponsors, investment advisors, and investment managers in fulfilling their fiduciary obligations, the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) is developing standards of practice certification for recordkeepers. By forming an industry task force, the ASPPA has established the qualification standards by which recordkeepers will be reviewed and evaluated for this new certification. The standards of practice for the recordkeepers’ certification will be similar in structure to those published in 2006 by Fiduciary 360 for fiduciary advisors, managers, and plan sponsors.

Committee Skills Examined

What it takes to establish a successful pension committee will be one of the topics covered at the 2nd Annual Essential Skills for Pension Committee Members. The Federated Press event takes place December 10 to 12 in Toronto, ON. For more information, eMail info@federatedpress.com.

Tax Treaty Provides Relief

Amendments to the Canada-U.S. Tax Treaty could introduce considerable relief as early as 2008 for cross-border employees who participate in qualifying retirement plans (QRPs) and their employers, says a Mercer Communiqué. The existing treaty provisions provided little or no protection for Canadians transferred to the U.S. who continued active participation in Canadian QRPs. Canadian residents working in the U.S. could not participate, without adverse tax consequence, in U.S. 401(k) and similar plans. U.S. citizens participating in Canadian QRPs had to face U.S. tax consequences associated with that participation. These problems, amongst others, have now been addressed by the treaty. These changes will facilitate the transfer of employees across the border.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Remove Investment Rules From PBA

Investment rules for pension funds should be removed from Ontario’s Pension Benefits Act (PBA), says OMERS. In a presentation to the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions, it says the rules that restrict how much pension funds can invest in certain assets cost it billions of dollars of lost investment income. Instead, pension regulations should move to principles and a co-operative regulatory model based on constructive industry consultation. The federal investment rules included in the Pension Benefits Act limit pension funds to owning no more than 30 per cent of a company’s shares eligible to elect a board of directors. Of book value assets, they can invest only five per cent in a single parcel of real estate or Canadian resource property, 15 per cent in all Canadian resource properties, 25 per cent in all real estate and Canadian resource properties, and 10 per cent in any one entity.

Dollar Hurts Fund Return

The rising Canadian dollar hurt pension funds in the third quarter, says a survey by RBC Dexia Investor Services. Canadian pensions lost 0.7 per cent in the quarter ended September 30, trimming year-to-date results to just 1.8 per cent. Currency losses continued to eclipse global equity returns. Year-to-date, the MSCI World index climbed eight per cent in local currency terms, but this translates into a 4.1 per cent drop in value when converted into Canadian dollars. Canadian equities returned only 0.6 per cent to pension funds in the latest quarter, trailing the S&P TSX Composite index by 1.4 per cent.

PAICR Holds Networking Session

The Professional Association for Investment Communication Resources (PAICR) Canada will hold a networking session November 8 in Toronto, ON. The event provides an opportunity to learn about PAICR and meet other professionals in the field. It starts at 5:30 p.m. For more information, eMail paicr@cmasolutions.com.

AIMA Luncheon Cancelled

The AIMA Canada luncheon scheduled for October 24 in Toronto, ON, has been cancelled. Nicolas Papageorgiou, associate professor at HEC Montreal and director of research, Desjardins Global Asset Management, was to discuss what hedge fund replication is.

Society Posts Upcoming Events

The Toronto CFA Society has planned a number of events for the coming months. Events range from David Warsh, author of ‘Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations,’ speaking on ‘The Quiet Revolution in Economics’ to a conference on ‘Investment Perspectives on Clean Energy.’ For complete event information, visit www.torontocfa.ca.

Manulife Wins Communications Awards

Manulife Financial's Canadian Division has won five best-of-show awards in the annual Insurance & Financial Communicators Association (IFCA) competitions. Manulife Group Savings and Retirement Services received a best-in-show award for a total rewards kit that explained benefits for a corporate client. In addition, it took home seven other mentions for its marketing communications to individual and group clients and advisors across Canada.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

FEI Wants Change In Windup Solvency Rules

Financial Executives International Canada (FEI Canada), the professional membership association for senior financial executives, is calling for an immediate increase in the funding period of solvency deficits noting that activities under the current solvency rules could negatively impact the Canadian economy. In a presentation to the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions, Peter Donovan, chair of its pensions task force, said “Under the current windup solvency rules, financially strong companies would be forced to divert significant cash flows in the short term from their successful capital investments. This could negatively impact our economy as far as limiting corporate growth and development, liquidity, and shareholder benefits.” It is recommending that the pension solvency funding period be increased from five years to the lesser of the remaining active service life and the long-term funding period of 15 years.

Halifax Appoints Thomas Murray

Thomas Murray, the custodian risk rating and advisory specialist, has been appointed by the Halifax Regional Municipality Pension Plan to manage the provider review for global custody services, benefit payments, investment accounting, securities lending, performance measurement, and compliance monitoring services. “It is important for us to select a custodian that can meet our evolving investment needs and service our active and retired plan members,” says Terri Troy, chief executive officer, Halifax Regional Municipality Pension Plan. It will use Thomas Murray to evaluate various providers’ products and services, ensure that the fees are reasonable, and to take steps to minimize the risks associated with the safekeeping of its pension investments and pension payments.

Rethinking Retirement Planning

'Rethinking Retirement Planning: The Social Studies of Retirement' will be one of the sessions at Mindpath Financial Conferences’ ‘The Coming Retirement Income Crisis.’ Doug Towill, senior vice-president, strategic business development, at CI Investments, will examine rethinking retirement planning. It takes place November 5 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.mindpath.ca

Watson Wyatt Spins Off MEPP Business 

Watson Wyatt Worldwide will spin off its North America multi-employer retirement business to two new companies. The specific plans affected are Taft Hartley plans in the United States and private sector, negotiated costs, trusteed plans in Canada. In Canada, PBI Actuarial Consultants will be owned and operated by current Watson Wyatt associates. These associates, who focus on multi-employer retirement plans, will move to the new company over the next several months.  Watson Wyatt will have no ownership stake in either company, but will receive a percentage of the new companies’ revenues for the next five years.

Spinks Earns Pioneer Award

Nora Spinks, president, CEO, and founder of Work-Life Harmony Enterprises, is the recipient of the 2007 Canadian Workplace Wellness Pioneer Awards. Presented at theHealth, Work & Wellness Conference, winners are chosen for their outstanding contribution to the field of organizational health. With more than 20 years experience, Spinks has become an icon on work/life consulting in Canada, talking to corporations, governments, community organizations, and conference delegates. She has also contributed to numerous publications including Benefits and Pensions Monitor.

Employees Now Asset

Employees have moved from being a cost centre to an asset that needs to be cultivated, says Nora Spinks. The president of Work-Life Harmony told a Market Yourself Smarter session that attitudes to work have also changed. Where once everything was work-centric, today employers who can enable their employees to focus equally on both work and their family/personal life are achieving maximum productivity and are able to attract and retain top employees.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pension Reform Overdue

Ontario needs to encourage pension plan coverage, resolve funding issues, and clarify several regulatory matters, says Scott Perkin, president of the Association of Canadian Pension Management (ACPM). In a presentation to the Ontario Expert Pension Commission which is reviewing the province's Pension Benefits Act, he called for increased coverage levels, flexibility in plan design and funding, a balanced regulatory environment, and leadership from Ontario with respect to efforts to harmonize pension regulation across Canada. The commission has started the public hearing part of its process and heard from groups including the Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan, the Pension Investment Association of Canada, and the Canadian Autoworkers Union. Hearings continue across the province until November 15.

Assess Markets Individually

Investors should look at markets individually and determine if, on their own merits, they belong in a global portfolio, says Andrew Barker, a member of the international team at Julius Bär Investment Management. Speaking at a luncheon seminar on ‘The Changing Nature of Emerging Markets,’ he said the line between emerging and developed markets is the “fuzziest” of any asset class. However, he warned that while five years ago investors could own anything, today they need to be more selective.

OSFI Monitoring Pension Plans

Given the current pension environment and the impact of potential future adverse changes in economic conditions or financial markets, OSFI will continue to carefully monitor both the condition of private pension plans and, to the extent possible, that of their sponsors, and will intervene when necessary, says its 2006 - 2007 Annual Report, ‘Charting a Course.’ It shows that private pension plans under federal jurisdiction recorded an average return of 12 per cent on their investments, slightly under the 13 per cent average recorded in the previous fiscal year. The average estimated solvency ratio for all Defined Benefit plans rose to 1.06 over the past year compared to 0.90 the previous year. Estimated solvency ratios calculated by OSFI using year-end 2006 data showed that approximately 51 per cent of all DB plans supervised by OSFI were under-funded, with 36 per cent of these under-funded plans having liabilities that exceeded their assets by more than 10 per cent.

Alternatives Not Ready For Mainstreet

Can alternatives go mainstreet? The consensus answer is “not yet,” says an AIMA Canada luncheon panel of senior investment advisors. Amanda Lang, of Business News Network; moderated for panelists Mike Hayhoe, of IPC Securities; Christopher Kruczynski, of the Marchand-Kruczynski Group; and Gordon Kim, of Aon Consulting.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

U.S. Decoupling From Global Economy

The emerging consensus is that a downturn in the U.S. economy will be offset by a strong growth elsewhere in the global economy, says Jonathan Passmore, senior vice-president and portfolio manager, global equities, for GE Asset Management. Speaking at a GE Asset Management Canada luncheon, he said this is one of the arguments in favour of arguments that the global economy is decoupling from the U.S. However, he said the U.S. would still continue to be a major supplier of liquidity with much of it going offshore.

‘Second Wave’ Of Freezes On Horizon

The current trend away from traditional Defined Benefit plans in the U.S. could soon slow down, but a “second wave” of plan freezes may be on the horizon, says a Vanguard Center for Retirement Research report. ‘Recent Changes to Defined Benefit Plan Design’ suggests the slowing in the current plan design trend may come about only because so many DB sponsors have already taken the plunge by moving to an account-based plan – either a cash balance program or a Defined Contribution offering. However, future legislative or regulatory changes affecting pension accounting and funding regulations could potentially spark a whole new round of DB changes.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Torstar Selects CIBC Mellon

CIBC Mellon Global Securities Services Company will act as trustee and asset servicing provider for the Torstar Corporation pension and master trust. The Torstar businesses also include digital properties thestar.com, toronto.com, LiveDeal.ca, Workopolis and Olive Canada Network; Metroland Media Group, publishers of community and daily newspapers in Ontario; and Harlequin Enterprises, a leading global publisher of women’s fiction. 

Floaters Should Be Checked

Ontario’s new February statutory holiday, commencing in 2008, could replace an existing floater holiday at some businesses, says Fasken Martineau labour, employment, and human rights group. For many employers, the new holiday will simply be an added expense. For others, human resource professionals would be wise to check their employment policies and collective agreements to determine if they can eliminate or reduce floaters, as a result of the new statutory holiday. Since employees will begin scheduling their 2008 floaters soon so employer will want to alert employees before the scheduling process begins, if possible.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Literacy Improves 401(k) Behaviour

Financial literacy does play a critical role in improving 401(k) savings behaviour, says a report by the Vanguard Center for Retirement Research. The study also suggests that trust is critical in reducing the ‘opt-out’ rate in automatic enrollment plans and that both financial literacy and trust appear to have more sizeable marginal effects on that behavior than does income. Plan sponsors who are experiencing high opt-out rates should consider ways to reduce employee mistrust of financial institutions – particularly among lower-paid workers. 

Mature Workforce Summit Set For November 21

The ‘KAA-Boom! Summit on the Mature Workforce’ takes place November 21 in Toronto, ON. Sessions will examine what organizations are doing to match their KAA-Boomer workforce with their organizational goals for big results. The Best Employers for 50 Plus Canadians will also be honoured and attendees will receive a copy of the book ‘KAA-Boom! How to Engage the 50 Plus Worker and Beat the Workforce Crisis.’ For more information, visit www.workplaceinstitute.org.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Wellness Used To Attract And Retain

Canadian employers use workplace health and wellness programs as employee attraction and retention tools, says a survey by Buck Consultants. The survey looked at usage of these program from region to region. It found U.S. employers focus their objectives for workplace health and wellness programs at reducing healthcare costs while European employers say they most want to reduce employee absences due to sickness or disability. Workplace morale and improving productivity were also cited reasons for these programs.

SSgA Expands Presence In Canada

State Street Global Advisors (SSgA), the investment management arm of State Street Corporation, has expanded presence in Canada with new office space at one of Toronto's signature office buildings, TD Canada Trust Tower. Otello Sturino, chief operating officer for SSgA, said "The growth of our office in Toronto emphasizes our commitment to having a strong presence in Canada, the eighth largest economy in the world, and an important part of SSgA's global strategy.” SSgA serves more than 120 institutional clients throughout Canada including corporations, pension funds, endowments, insurance companies, and government agencies

Wellness Conference Opens Next Week

The Health, Work & Wellness Conference 2007 runs in Toronto, ON, October 17 to 20. This year's theme, Conquering the CHAOS, looks at how to cope with the pace of modern communications. Heather Menzies will open the conference with a presentation based on her latest book, ‘No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life.’ For more information, visit www.healthworkandwellness.com

Benefits Strategies Examined

A conference examining compensation and benefits strategies for recruitment and retention will be held in Toronto, ON, January 14 and 15. The Federated Press session will look at topics including current benefits trends in attraction and retention programs. For more information, visit http://www.federatedpress.com/

Motivating Healthy Lifestyles

The various elements that an organization can put forward to motivate its employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle and the benefits it can derive from that investment will be the focus of a Toronto Chapter of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) November 22 event in Toronto, ON. ‘Recipes For A Healthier Workplace’ will feature Pierre-Yves Julien, president and CEO of Medavie Blue Cross. For more information, visit: http://www.iscebs.org

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Growth Of DC Tops Out

The growth of Defined Contribution plans in the U.S. has topped out, says the October 2007 issue of Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) Notes. It says there was a sharp increase in the number of DC plans and the number of participants in those plans during the 1990s, but the numbers had leveled off by 2004. The number of DC plans hit almost 687,000 in 2000 and was down to less than 636,000 in 2004. The number of DC participants reached 52.9 million in 2002 and was down to 52.2 million in 2004.

Retirement Income Crisis Examined

‘The Coming Retirement Income Crisis’ will be the focus of a Mindpath Financial conference November 5 in Toronto. The session, designed for financial advisors, planners and brokers, will feature retirement income experts such as Dr. Moshe Milevsky, an associate professor of finance at the Schulich School of Business, York University, who will present new material under the topic 'The Changing Models of Retirement Income Economics: An Advanced Discussion.' For more information, visit http://www.mindpath.ca

Investors Can Meet Managers

The ‘2nd Investors Meet Canadian Hedge Fund Managers Forum’ takes place October 25 in Toronto, ON. It will feature presentations by 16 Canadian hedge fund managers, ranging from start-ups to established fund groups. For more information, contact Karen Azlen at k.azlen@introcap.com or call 416-849-1927.

Ideal Workplace Discussed

‘The Ideal Workplace of the Future: The 2007 Employee’s Perspective’ will take place October 18 in Toronto, ON, and November 1 in Vancouver, BC. A panel will examine the ideal workplace in terms of people, productivity, performance, and the planet. For more information, visit www.worklifeharmony.ca.

DC Costs Will Increase

Employers seeking to avoid high costs and government intervention by switching from Defined Benefit schemes to DC schemes will face similar problems in the future, says a UK Pensions Policy Institute paper on DB schemes. It says that increased reliance on DC provision will also make more apparent the risks employees face in having to rely on financial markets. Managing these risks while complying with more regulatory intervention will increase the cost of DC provision so that its attraction for employers, relative to DB design, should decrease. The increased regulatory burden on DC schemes will be fuelled by the decreasing level of state-provided retirement income and the set-up of Personal Accounts from 2012.

Duty To Accommodate Studied

‘An Employer’s Duty to Accommodate’ will take place January 21 and 22 in Toronto, ON. The Federated Press session will look at legal developments in the field, accommodating older workers, and return-to-work programs. For more information, visit http://www.federatedpress.com/

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dollar Hurts Pension Plans

The financial health of Canadian pension plans stumbled in the third quarter of 2007, says the Mercer Pension Health Index, falling from the three-year highs seen in July. “Slight positive Canadian equity returns were eclipsed by negative foreign equity returns caused by a strong Canadian dollar over the last quarter,” says Peter Muldowney, business leader for its investment consulting business in Canada. “This meant that on the asset side of the pension plan balance sheet, Canadian pension plans were no better off than at the start of the quarter and witnessed only modest growth year to date.” However, the index is still up three per cent for the year, a result of long-term interest rates holding steady over the quarter at higher levels than at the end of 2006 and pension fund assets producing modest positive growth during the first nine months of the year.

Climate Contracts Hot

Climate and carbon contracts are hot, new alternative investment plays, say Léon Bitton, vice-president, research and development, for the Montreal Exchange and André de Vries, of ABN AMRO’s insurance and weather derivatives group. Speaking at an AIMA Canada luncheon, they said the global market for carbon contracts has reached US$100 billion, while the market for weather derivatives is valued at €45 billion.

Murray To Manage Edmonton’s Global Custodian Search

Thomas Murray, the custodian risk rating and advisory specialist, has been appointed by the city of Edmonton to manage its search for a custodian and trustee for its endowment, Defined Benefit pension plans, and other investment portfolios. Its preferred custodian must be able to demonstrate product and service excellence against all criteria, improve operational efficiencies, and maximize securities lending opportunities.

Demographics Challenge Employers

With an aging workforce, legislation changes, government cost shifting, and current employee expectations, employers are being impacted today and into the future. The next Ontario region CPBI breakfast seminar, Benefits for the Changing Demographics,’ will address some of the challenges faced by employers including meeting the healthcare needs for both retired and active employees and managing the costs. It takes place October 31 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.cpbi-icra.ca/

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Teachers' Buys Investment Research Firm

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has purchased Glass Lewis & Co. Glass Lewis advises institutional investors such as mutual funds, hedge funds, and pension funds on proxy voting regarding corporate governance matters such as takeover provisions and executive pay. Teachers’ is a subscriber to its services.

Dealing With Cancer In The Workplace

The Kitchener-Waterloo Chapter of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) is holding a breakfast seminar to address issues dealing with cancer in the workplace. Dr. William Hryniuk will share beneficial and practical ways to intercept the cancer continuum and a cancer survivor, Linda Ydreos, will share her perspective on managing the cancer diagnosis while continuing to work. It takes place October 23 at 8 a.m. For more information, eMail susan_cranston@manulife.com or visit http://www.iscebs.org/

Legislative Changes Examined

‘Recent Legislative Changes Affecting Pensions’ will be examined at a Manitoba CPBI Council Breakfast Seminar. James Ralko, a retirement counsellor and Defined Contribution pension specialist with the retirement business of Mercer, will be the featured speaker. Topics will include changes to the federal income tax rules surrounding pension income splitting and the ability to defer the receipt of taxable retirement income to age 71 under RRSPs and Registered Pension Plans. It takes place October 18 in Winnipeg, MB. For more information, visit www.cpbi-icra.ca.

Outlook Is Bullish

A Horizons BetaPro Funds Quarterly Advisor Sentiment Survey, reports bullish optimism among financial advisors for the final quarter of the year. Of the 500 advisors polled, managing more than $25 billion in assets and representing a significant cross section of the industry, more than half indicated a bullish forecast for the gold sector including the commodity, Canadian equities, and technology stocks. This is a swing from bear-like perspective they had on equities in the third quarter.

Lifestyle Balances Higher

Participants investing in a single lifestyle fund had ending account balances that were 11 per cent higher than those not using the funds over a 10-year period, says a study by John Hancock. This is the fifth consecutive year that lifestyle fund participants came out better than those 401(k) participants who picked their own investments. Broken down in terms of risk scores, lifestyle participant accounts outdid non-lifestyle accounts in every risk category (conservative, moderate, balanced, growth, and aggressive).

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Events Could Determine U.S. Future

Whether or not the U.S. starts to take an isolationist position in the world may depend on events that take place before the next presidential election, says Ian Bremmer, president
of Eurasia Group. Speaking at the Toronto CFA Society’s 50th Annual Forecast Dinner, he said a downturn in the U.S. economy or a terrorist attack against the U.S. could prompt it to withdraw from the world stage.

Jarislowsky Honoured

Stephen Jarislowsky is the Toronto CFA Society’s first Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Over the past 50 years, he has guided Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd. to become one of Canada’s most successful investment management firms. As well, he is a champion of corporate governance in Canada. This year he co-founded the Institute for Governance of Private & Public Organizations, a research and training centre in Montreal.

Desjardins Acquires Real Estate

Desjardins Financial Security has acquired a real estate complex in Lévis, QC, belonging to the Soeurs de la Charité de Québec. This property is home to eight buildings including the Centre d'accueil Saint-Joseph de Lévis, an 'under agreement' long-term care facility with 157 beds. The transaction is in line with the company's investment asset category and geographical diversification objectives.

Fiera Now YMG

Fiera YMG Capital Inc. is now Fiera Capital. However, its address and phone number remain the same. Its contact information is Fiera Capital Inc., 1501 McGill College Ave., Ste. 800, Montreal, QC H3A 3M8 T: 514-954-3300/800-361-3499, F: 514-395-8752

Forum Examines Pension Law

Top legal and industry experts will offer tools and practical guidelines to minimize the possibility of costly pension litigation at the Canadian Institute’s 9th Annual National Forum on Pension Law, Litigation & Governance. It takes place January 30 and 31, 2008, in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit https://www.canadianinstitute.com

Lang Leads Panel

Amanda Lang, co-anchor of SqueezePlay, BNN's nightly talk show featuring guests and discussions about business and politics, will lead a panel of investment advisors debating why they do or do not allocate their client’s assets to alternative assets at the AIMA Canada luncheon set for October 13. Panelists will each provide their unique views on alternative investments including due diligence, suitability, risks, and obstacles. It takes place in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.aima-canada.org

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bankruptcy Legislation Dies

While bankruptcy legislation to protect the interests of pension plan members is important, a second attempt to bring such legislation to Canada has died, says Mark Zigler, of Koskie Minsky LLP. Speaking at the International Foundation’s special educational program and recognition luncheon for new CEBS (Certified Employee Benefit Specialist) graduates, Zigler said both a 2005 and a 2007 federal bill provided for super priority for unpaid pension deductions and contributions. He said it would be good to have this kind of protection in place before another recession takes place.

Chaoulli Comes To Ontario

A second Ontario resident has challenged the constitutionality of Ontario laws restricting access to private healthcare and private health insurance. Shona Holmes, of Waterdown , ON, joins Lindsey McCreith, of Newmarket , ON, in a case being dubbed the 'Ontario Chaoulli' challenge, named after the 2005 Supreme Court of Canada decision in Chaoulli v. Quebec . October 11, Holmes joins John Carpay, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, and Avril Allen, a litigator with Boghosian and Associates, to discuss the case against the Ontario government. It takes place in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://guest.cvent.com/

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Retirement Market Faces Massive Changes

Massive changes are about to take place in the retirement market, says Earl Bederman, president of Investor Economics. Speaking at the 2007 IFIC Annual Leadership Conference, ‘Influencing the Future,’ he said as the baby boomers retire we will move from a wealth accumulation phase to a pay-out of wealth accumulation. This means they will be looking for solutions to help them manage their assets as they come off their tax deferment status. As well, since they will live longer, they need to make sure these assets create more wealth to pay for their longer retirement.

Carbon Contracts Discussed

‘New Alternatives: Climate and Carbon Contracts’ will be the focus of the next AIMA Canada luncheon. Set for October 9 in Toronto, ON, it will feature presentations by Leon Bitton, vice-president, research and development with the Montreal Exchange and the Canadian Derivative Exchange; and Andre de Vries, a senior official with ABN AMRO’s insurance and weather derivatives group. For more information, visit http://www.aima-canada.org.

Fund Open For Investment

GPM, the real estate division of Integrated Asset Management, has opened its 11th fund. The GPM series of closed-end, discretionary real estate funds has a 25-year history of added value across many market cycles. For the 25 years ending June 30, 2007, the composite rate of return on all funds, net of all fees and expenses, was 13.7 per cent.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Use Of Automatic Enrollment Rises

Almost two-thirds of employers are using automatic enrollment in their 401(k) plans or plan to implement it in the next 18 months, says a survey from Wells Fargo & Company. The survey showed a near 70 per cent increase over the last year in the percentage of plans that automatically enroll new employees in 401(k) or other Defined Contribution plans to 44 per cent from 26 per cent in 2006. About 20 per cent of these plans also automatically increase the employee's contribution rate over time. In terms of the types of funds plans are choosing for automatic enrollment, the number using stable value or money market funds fell from 61 per cent to 39 per cent, while target-date or target-risk funds gained popularity to 39 per cent from 14 per cent in 2006.

Pension Governance Discussed

Best practices for pension governance, funding, and investment and handling pension surpluses and deficits will be among the topics covered at the ‘3rd Annual Essential Course in Pensions.’ Speakers include B. Bethune A. Whiston, a principal in the pension practice at Morneau Sobeco; Gregory Winfield, of McCarthy Tétrault LLP; and James A. (Jack) Roks, vice-president, legal and acting general counsel for OMERS. It takes place October 22 and 23 in Toronto. For more information, visit www.osgoodepd.ca.

Substance Abuse Impacts Workplace

The Rotman School’s annual World Mental Health Month Forum @ Rotman will present ‘A Manager’s Guide to Substance Use and Abuse and its Impact on the Workplace.’ Speakers include Dr. Brian Shaw, co-director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association program for substance abuse and behavioral health. It takes place October 9 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit www.rotman.utoronto.ca/events

Technology Impacts Finance Function

FEI Canada will present a session on ‘The High Tech Future of Finance – Managing Complexity.’ Tony Dimnik, a professor at the Queen's School of Business, will trace the impact of rapid technological change on the finance function and reveal his views on some of the emerging technologies that will drive strategic financial management in organizations over the next 20 years. It takes place October 12 in Toronto, ON. For more information, visit http://www.feicanada.org/

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Money Managers Face Profound Changes

Institutional money managers and consultants that work with corporate pension plans will face increased competition, says a survey by Chatham Partners. Structural, regulatory, and accounting changes created by the Pension Protection Act and the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Statement 158 are creating “profound changes” to the $2.3 trillion private sector Defined Benefit plan market, and managers and consultants expect that “search activity will increase, given perceived high levels of interest in new products, tools, and approaches for managing plans,” says the survey. The “near-term complexity” of the regulatory changes should “spur usage of consultants by plan sponsors.” Managers also reported increased use of actuarial and consulting resources “to provide a more holistic approach to client service.”

Ontario Changes LIF Rules

Ontario has changed the rules governing life income funds (LIFs) and other locked-in accounts, says a Borden Ladner Gervais Pension Alert. Some of the changes are effective immediately and other changes will be effective January 1, 2008. The new rules provide for partial unlocking and remove the requirement on owners of LIFs to purchase an annuity on reaching age 80. Other changes mean owners of LIFs are no longer required to purchase an annuity by the end of the year in which they reach age 80 and owners of a locked-in retirement account can keep monies in their LIRA until the end of the year in which he/she reaches age 71.

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