In 2022, the University Pension Plan implemented a growth plan, investment strategy, climate action plan and administration system.

In a note to the jointly sponsored defined benefit pension plan’s 37,000 members, Barbara Zvan, its president and chief executive officer, touted the achievements during the UPP’s first full calendar year as well as the plans for its second.

“The past 12 months have been filled with important and transformative milestones, further strengthening the financial foundation that UPP members can count on in their retirement.”

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Among these milestones, Trent University became the fourth academic institution to join the UPP. In January, its faculty and staff were automatically enrolled alongside those of Queen’s University, the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto.

The UPP will continue its efforts to attract more academic institutions through its ongoing growth plan, she added. “We now have member participation from a wide range of employers across the university sector including unions, faculty members, faculty association staff and others such as academic publishers and research groups.”

During the year, the UPP also took control of the assets of its members’ pre-existing pension plans, combining them into an $11.8 billion pool. It also implemented a dynamic total fund strategy to leverage the strength of its combined assets. “At our size, we gain access to new asset classes and unique private markets opportunities with inflation-protected assets — allowing for further diversification,” wrote Zvan.

She also hinted that the UPP may seek to flesh out its own investment team during the coming years. “[The dynamic total fund strategy] also opens the opportunity to internally manage aspects of our strategy, which saves costs and enhances control.”

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This year, the UPP also made a formal commitment to achieving net-zero portfolio emissions by 2040 or sooner. Alongside this commitment, it unveiled an action plan that emphasized the decarbonization of the real economy.

Zvan also noted the UPP will implement its climate transition investment framework next year, undertaking its first systematic scenario analysis to review possible economic and financial impacts of climate change.

She also provided an update on the UPP’s work to develop a centralized pension administration system to provide employers and plan members with secure access to tools and information. This year, it conducted surveys to understand the priorities of its members and, using the resulting information, contracted Vitech Inc., a pension administration software provider, to develop and launch the platform.

Read: UPP climate action plan establishes 2040 net-zero portfolio target