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September 20, 2021

MORE SHUTDOWNS UNLIKELY

Jean David Tremblay-Frenette, AIMCo’s director of investment strategy research, says there is no need to be worried about a broader, longer economic slowdown. While vaccination rates, improved testing, and greater information about COVID-19 triggered optimism and set up a strong start to 2021, cases beginning to rise for a fourth time along with worries about the new Delta variant make the future look more uncertain again. The Delta variant is more severe and about two times more contagious than previous variants and has also caused breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people. In the case of Canada, declines in exports and flatter than expected consumer spending in April through to June led to a 0.3 per cent contraction in the Canadian economy. There are signs that Delta may be having an effect over the third quarter in the world’s two largest economies, too. In China, a country with a zero-COVID policy, economic growth also hit the brakes in July while in the U.S., early indications for the third quarter of 2021 suggest that economic growth momentum could be waning in the third quarter as well. “We should expect sequential growth to rebound this fall on economic re-opening and government continued stimulus support. In jurisdictions where there is no zero-COVID policy, such as Canada, the U.S., Europe, and some of the major emerging economies, we do not anticipate further total economic lockdowns even if cases continue to rise this fall,” says Tremblay-Frenette.

September 20, 2021

WORK-LIFE BALANCE OUTWEIGHS PAY

While salary and benefits historically top the list of incentives for current and prospective employees, a study by ADP Canada and Maru Public Opinion indicates work-life balance now outweighs pay. It found respondents prioritizing work-life balance as a top factor for remaining in their current workplace and when exploring new opportunities. For example, throughout the pandemic, many industries transitioned to remote work. Now, nine out of 10 remote workers hope to continue working remotely some or all days during the week, citing, work-life balance as the most important factor. When asked to compare their current priorities to those before the pandemic, 31 per cent of working Canadians say that a job that respects their work-life balance is more important to them now, compared to only 20 per cent who felt salary had become more important. This focus on work-life balance was even more apparent when it came to remote workers, with 39 per cent saying work-life balance is more important to them now than pre-pandemic. This prioritization of work-life balance also appears to be influencing how companies recruit new talent. One-in-five (19 per cent) of employed Canadians say they have been approached by a competing employer in the past six months offering better work conditions and this strategy appears to be working. When asked about their next work-life move, 63 per cent of Canadians have started to think about it.

September 20, 2021

OMERS REFUTES CLAIM

A claim by a former managing director that he was wrongfully dismissed is baseless, says the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. The lawsuit claims two employees were dismissed from OMERS in retaliation for not accepting changes to their compensation package. In a statement of defense and counterclaim filed with the Superior Court of Justice, OMERS says the claim one employee was owed C$65 million after being fired, is “grossly exaggerated.” In 2013, OMERS created a long-term incentive plan for employees in its private equity unit, which allowed them to keep 10 per cent of gains above an eight per cent annual hurdle rate. That compares to a 20 per cent sharing rate for workers at independent private equity firms OMERS competes with, says the claim. “At its heart, the plaintiff’s claim is about attempting to increase the size of his already significant ‘bonus’ entitlements and also to obtain additional bonus amounts for the period he is no longer working or contributing to value creation activities within OMERS PE,” it says.

September 20, 2021

ALTERNATIVES RISE IN EUROPE

Europe-based alternative asset fund managers now hold €2.06 trillion in assets under management (AUM) as of December 2020, up from €1.81 trillion a year ago, an increase of over 13 per cent, says the Preqin and Amundi ‘2021 Alternative Assets in Europe Report.’ This puts them on track to make 2021 a record year for fundraising. AUM had grown by 59 per cent over the five years from December 2016 to December 2020 and Europe now accounts for 24 per cent of the global alternative assets industry.

September 20, 2021

CDPQ INVESTS AUSTRALIAN ROADS

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) has invested in WestConnex, Australia’s largest road infrastructure project. It is joins the Sydney