On April 12-14, a group of defined benefit pension plan sponsors, asset managers and academics gathered at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in British Columbia for the 2023 Global Investment Conference.
Over the course of three days, presenters discussed whether the Canadian pension model remains fit for purpose in a period defined by central bank intervention, supply chain disruption, rising interest rates and the transition away from fossil fuels.
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MFS Investment Management
T. Rowe Price
“There’s a new market regime in 2023,” said Justin Thomson, chief investment officer and head of international equity at T. Rowe Price.
“Let me start by pointing out the obvious: the last few years have been exhausting,” said Mina Krishnan, multi-asset portfolio manager at Schroders, during a session on regime shifts.
Simon Fraser University
In December 2021, Simon Fraser University announced the global equity portfolios for its non-pension related funds — valued at $450 million — would divest from fossil fuel producers.
Four months later, the three members of its treasury team, which is led by Jackie Shen, treasurer and director of investment at the university, announced it had reached that target.
“Investing in private markets comes with its fair share of challenges,” said Rémi Tétreault, director of client solutions at Trans-Canada Capital.
While China’s presence on emerging market indexes may be shrinking, the case for investing in it remains compelling, said Vivian Lin Thurston, a partner and portfolio manager for emerging markets growth at William Blair Investment Management.
CAAT Pension Plan
In his session at the 2023 Global Investment Conference, Derek Dobson, the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology pension plan’s chief executive officer, called back last year’s conference, noting Sebastien Betermeier, associate professor of finance at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, “talked about the benefits of the Canadian pension model, which is sometimes called the maple model.
University of British Columbia
The commercial office real estate doom loop that was expected from the growth in remote working hasn’t really caught on, according to Victor Couture, assistant professor of economics at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics.
Housing affordability will be a challenge, particularly for newcomers to Canada — pushing more of that demographic into the rental market, said Aaron Pittman.
Newton Investment Management Group
When key stakeholders are examining sustainability solutions, they aren’t spending enough time on whether these solutions are actually capital efficient from energy return on investment and productivity perspectives, said Patrick Kent, portfolio manager and head of the small-cap equities team at Newton Investment Management Group
Institutional investors are entering a golden period rife with opportunities in current global and emerging markets, said Karl Dasher, president of Polen Capital.
There's a distinct window of opportunity for institutional investors to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns through refurbishing brown buildings in Europe to make them operationally carbon neutral, said Lucy Swinton, investment director at Fidelity International.
UBC Sauder School of Business
Proxy voting is playing a bigger role in institutional investors' environmental, social and governance strategies, according to Christie Stephenson, executive director of the Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business.
When investing in external asset managers, pension funds are really investing in teams of people, according to Brandon Gill New, director and head of multi-strategy investing and digital assets at the OPSEU Pension Trust.