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August 4, 2022

BCI EXPANDS ESG ACTIVITIES

Expanding ESG (environmental, social, and governance) activities from a predominantly risk-mitigation approach to one that includes ESG as a source of long-term value creation remains a corporate priority of the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI). Its ‘2021 ESG Annual Report’ shows its progress and work under the four components of its corporate-wide ESG strategy: integrate; influence; invest; and insight. ESG highlights from 2021 include the continuation and expansion of the application of its ESG risk and opportunity framework, which evaluates climate-related impacts to the total portfolio over time. It also conducted ESG reviews of all private equity general partners using its ESG evaluation framework for external managers. It says 98 per cent now have an official ESG policy and evidence of ESG integration. It also engaged 299 companies in public markets, including through four collaborative engagement initiatives focused on climate change, human capital management, and gender diversity. “Addressing climate change and ESG issues is not only a source of potential investment opportunities, it also allows us to manage long-term financial risks,” says Gordon J. Fyfe, CEO/CIO of BCI.

August 4, 2022

PENSION FUNDS BETTER AT PROXY DISCLOSURE

Canada’s top five pension fund managers perform better than Canadian asset managers in terms of pre-annual general meeting proxy voting disclosure and in the publication of proxy vote rationales, says research from the Canadian Capital Stewardship Network (CCSN). The research demonstrates that Canadian asset managers are beginning to understand the importance of using proxy votes as an accountability tool for social issues. It also indicates that Canadian pension funds are increasingly sensitive to social issues, as evidenced by their voting rationale in support of key resolutions. While Canadian investors supported votes on Indigenous issues and reconciliation, racial equity, human capital disclosure and board accountability, they were less inclined to support issues linked to stakeholder capitalism, such as the inclusion of workers on boards.

August 4, 2022

SUN LIFE UK SOLD

Sun Life Financial Inc. is selling SLF of Canada UK Limited to Phoenix Group Holdings plc. Headquartered in London, Phoenix is the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business with more than 13 million customers and £310 billion of assets under administration. Sun Life UK manages life and pension policies and annuity blocks for UK clients. The company is closed to new sales and has been operating as a run-off business in the life and pension policies segment since 2001. As part of the sale, Sun Life will form a long-term partnership to become a strategic asset management partner to Phoenix Group. Sun Life’s asset management companies, MFS and SLC Management, will continue to manage approximately C$9 billion of Sun Life UK’s general account upon the close of the sale.

August 4, 2022

MEDIAN RETURN DROPS IN SECOND QUARTER

The median return of the BNY Mellon Canadian Master Trust Universe, a BNY Mellon Global Risk Solutions fund-level tracking service, was -7.33 per cent for the second quarter of 2022 amid a challenging economic environment. The one-year median return as of June 30 was -8.25 per cent, while the median 10-year annualized return was +7.45 per cent. “Canadian pension plan sponsor returns were negative for the second consecutive quarter in 2022, amid sustained headwinds including rising inflation and decelerating economic growth as the risks of recession rise globally,” says Catherine Thrasher, head of strategic client solutions and global risk solutions at CIBC Mellon and BNY Mellon. Among traditional asset classes, fixed income posted the highest – albeit negative – performance, with a quarterly median return of -6.46 per cent. U.S. equity returns were the lowest, posting a negative quarterly return of -12.51 per cent. Real estate delivered the highest performance, with a quarterly median return of +4.37 per cent.

August 4, 2022

BUSINESS LEADERS GET WAKE-UP CALL FROM PANDEMIC

The COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a wake-up call to Canadian business leaders that employee mental well-being is now a top priority for those looking for jobs, says a study by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Canada (CPHR Canada). More than four out of five respondents (85 per cent) think employers should be focused on implementing mental health programs in the workplace as future employees will likely seek out businesses who have put mental health at the forefront of their HR plans. The importance of having a proper HR strategy in place managed by trained human resources professionals was also a clear message from the poll. Out of those who responded, the majority said they would rather speak with a human resources professional if they had a crisis or challenge in the workplace than go to the owner or a senior manager or a colleague.

August 4, 2022

INFLATION DOMINANT THEME FOR MARKETS

Inflation, and its impact on consumers, businesses and interest rates has been the dominant feature of