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February 24, 2021

FOCUS ON DEI ACCELERATES

Protests against racial violence and injustice around the world have put a spotlight on inequality, accelerating the demand for far-reaching social, political, and corporate transformation. As a result, organizations are becoming more focused on the need to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), says a Mercer white paper. ‘The Power of Change: The what, why and how of creating a diverse private market portfolio’ says as institutional investors turn to private markets, they are seeking to address systemic imbalances by increasing diversity within their organizations and boosting DEI with their investment portfolios. This includes implementing DEI manager programs and expanding due diligence frameworks to include diversity metrics. And evidence supporting the positive impact DEI has on private market performance is mounting with incorporating DEI into private market portfolios resulting in performance that outperforms benchmarks. “The pandemic and growing demand for social change, coupled with market volatility, have made investors realize that change is here. There are many benefits to embracing DEI, as well as risk mitigation considerations. By creating a private markets DEI investment program, institutional investors can send a strong signal to asset managers that diversity is a priority,” says Raelan Lambert, global alternatives leader at Mercer.

February 24, 2021

ALTERNATIVES CAN BE ALMOST ANYTHING

Alternatives are funny because they’re defined as what they aren’t versus what they are, says Gene Podkaminer, head of research at Franklin Templeton Investment Solutions. He told the Franklin Templeton ‘Moving Toward a Vaccinated Economy’ they can be almost anything that an investor imagines, depending on what they can hold. As an example, he considers inflation sensitive assets like real estate commodity futures and even TIPs as viable alternatives against nominal fixed income and equities. As fixed income allocations are reduced, some of this is being redistributed into alternatives. The hard part talking about alternatives is that “you can’t have return enhancement, risk reduction, and greater diversification in a single investment. It’s not possible.” This means investors have to pick one or two out of those three. He called alternatives a “personal choice” as every investor holds them slightly differently. However, their importance in a portfolio is to try to give the investor something different than what they are already getting from the equity or the fixed income markets.

February 24, 2021

DIGITAL CHANNELS PRIMARY CONNECTION

As Canadians cope with continued lockdown measures and rising cases of variant virus strains, many employers continue to limit in-person workplace interactions. As a result, digital channels have become the primary, if not only, way for many employees to stay connected to one another and to their employers, says Gallagher’s 2021 ‘State of the Sector Survey.’ Its data reveals, however, that Canadian employers can do better at assessing and adjusting their employee experience strategies in 2021 and for years to come as remote working is here to stay. The global survey shows changes to organizational culture tops the list of priorities, with 43 per cent of employers indicating they will revamp their values and behaviours in the coming year. In addition, 40 per cent expect to implement a new way of working, followed by 37 per cent that plan to leverage new information and collaboration tools.

February 24, 2021

CANADA LIFE OFFERS HEALTH COACHING

With diabetes, heart disease, and obesity on the rise, Canada Life has introduced a health coaching program, led by the Health Solutions by Shoppers team, to help Canadians prevent and manage chronic conditions. The health coaching program is delivered remotely by pharmacists, nurses, and dietitians to make the program accessible from anywhere. This ease of access is especially important so employers can continue to support their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ryan Weiss, vice-president, product and experience for group customer, at Canada Life, says, “The health coaching program evolved from a successful diabetes management coaching and medication counselling program that we launched together with Shoppers Drug Mart in 2013. By expanding that early program, we aim to build on that earlier success by tackling some known care gaps and empowering plan members to better manage their health.”

February 24, 2021

MANAGERS USE PERSONA CLIENT SEGMENTATION

Asset managers are discovering a new tool in the fight for increased profitability in an increasingly competitive institutional market: persona client segmentation. A white paper from Greenwich Associates, ‘Client Segmentation in Asset Management: Cracking the Implementation Conundrum,’ says like companies in many other fields, asset managers have always divided their client base by size, geography, and sales channel. But as investment markets become more complex and the competition for institutional assets more intense, managers need new and more sophisticated methods to engage institutional investors. “Client segmentation based on needs and behaviours has the potential to separate best-in-class managers from the pack,” says Mark Buckley, Greenwich Associates relationship director and author of the report. “However, without a blueprint, implementation can be daunting because complexity increases dramatically as managers move away from a one-size-fits-all approach.” Due to the increased complexity and the firmwide changes associated with a switch to a persona segmentation strategy, asset managers need a detailed plan spanning multiple functions across the organization.