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March 17, 2021

ORIENTATION POLICY ISSUED FOR NEW MEPP TRUSTEES

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) has issued a comprehensive orientation policy to on-board new trustees to defined benefit multi-employer pension plans (DB MEPPS). With 21 of these plans registered in Ontario, ‘Defined Benefit Multi-Employer Pension Plans – Leading Practices information guidance’ sets out leading practices including reviews of organizational and board structure plan design and trust agreement. It also calls for pre-meeting with consultants to review plan documents, skill assessment that connects to educational support; and completion of educational programs within a reasonable period of a trustee’s appointment. It says trustee education policies should support trustees in fulfilling their role as plan fiduciaries and establishing an education policy as part of a plan’s governance structure helps ensure that boards build a consistent knowledge base and shared competency in pension plan management. There should also be a trustee succession policy which establishes, among other things, a framework for identifying and recruiting future trustees. Leading practices in terms of trustee succession planning include articulating a process to efficiently identify and recruit a new trustee; understanding of any term limits or retirements that might result in a change in the board composition; ensuring continuity between trustees and the sharing of institutional knowledge; and describing the situations where a board may consider a non-affiliated trustee to complement a particular skill, expertise, or knowledge.

March 17, 2021

CPPIB ISRAELI OCCUPATION INVESTMENTS CHALLENGED

Over 70 organizations along with dozens of individuals have expressed concern over Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) investment in funds related to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights, says Just Peace Advocates, a Canadian-based human rights organization. It says the CPPIB’s March 31, 2020, annual listing of equity holdings showed it invested in at least eight companies that are listed in the United Nations database as in violation of human rights. Companies listed in the UN Database of business enterprises in violation of international law where the CPPIB has holdings include Bezeq, the Israel Telecommunication Corp Ltd.; Expedia Group Inc.; and General Mills Inc. Its investments in these companies made up $97 million of $101,255 million of CPPIB foreign publicly-traded Equity Holdings as of March 31, 2020. Given the aggregate investments are a very small proportion of the foreign traded portfolio, it seems it is an easy move for the pension fund to divest from companies that have been named as complicit in acts contributing to the maintenance of illegal settlements, says the organization.

March 17, 2021

CRYPTOCURRENCY INTEREST GROWS

Interest in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum soared in 2020, says data from Invezz.com. Launched in 2008, cryptocurrency saw a 203 per cent Google trends increase over the last year alone, with almost 700,000 each month. The United States is the country most interested in cryptocurrency, with 2.6 million searches during the year – the equivalent of 7,000 online searches per day. Ranking second is India, where there are 804,000 annual online searches about cryptocurrency. This is, however, 69 per cent lower than the United States. Canada ranks fifth with 300,000 searches. At the other end of the scale, Singapore, with 61,200 online searches relating to cryptocurrency, ranked last of the 20 countries surveyed.

March 17, 2021

BLUERUSH SIGNS LATIN AMERICAN FUND

BlueRush Inc., through its Chilean partner Percus, has signed a major pension fund in Latin America for its personalized video Software as a Service (SaaS). Its IndiVideo platform will be used to support ongoing communications for pension fund customers in order to help them easily understand their savings, projections, and goals. This awareness encourages contributions to the fund to drive assets under management and deliver a superior customer experience.

March 17, 2021

INOVIA CLOSES SECOND FUND

Inovia Capital has closed its second growth fund with US$450 million in committed capital. The fund, which saw strong support from existing investors such as the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) as well as some new ones, will invest in tech-focused growth-stage companies in industries such as financial services, healthcare, commerce, the future of work, and travel. The fund is built on the track record of the first growth fund since its launch in February of 2019. It will continue investing in innovative, globally-minded companies primarily in Canada, but also in the U.S. and EU networks.

March 17, 2021

PERSONALIZED ADVICE HELPS MEMBERS

Some defined contribution (DC) participants, particularly those nearing or living in retirement, stand to benefit from the professional, personalized investment management and advice offered through a managed account program, says Cerulli Associates. Managed accounts, though comprising only a small portion of total U.S. DC assets (roughly three to four per cent as of year-end 2019), continue to gain traction within the DC market. In a managed account program, an advisor, assuming fiduciary responsibility under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), constructs or recommends a customized portfolio for an individual DC participant tailored to the participant’s age, financial circumstances (e.g., account balance, income, deferral rate), and other information unique to the individual. The customized, professional advice and investment management offered through a managed account can be instrumental to improving retirement readiness. While personalized investment management remains the core offering for managed account providers, guiding participants through non-investment-related financial complications related to budgeting, debt management, short-term saving objectives, and other more immediate financial considerations allows managed account providers to aid and engage a broader swath of the participant population and put participants in a better position to focus on their long-term saving and investment objectives.

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