Investment Innovation Conference

November 3-5, 2021 | Pillar and Post Inn & Spa, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario



Wednesday, November 3, 2021

7:00 – 10:00 AM: Breakfast (The Cannery)

11:45 AM: Transportation from hotel to Trius Winery (meet in lobby at 11:30 AM sharp)

12:00 – 4:00 PM: Trius Winery Black Glass Tasting and Dining Experience

4:00 – 4:15 PM: Transportation from Trius Winery back to Pillar and Post Hotel

6:00 – 10:00 PM: Opening cocktails and dinner (The Barn; Dress: Casual)


Thursday, November 4, 2021

7:00 – 8:20 AM: Breakfast (The Cannery)

8:20 – 8:30 AM: Opening remarks (Upper Canada Hall)

8:30 – 9:30 AM: Disruptions ahead: The post-pandemic political climate (Opening Keynote)

Despite its head start, the U.S. now lags most of the developed world in vaccinations, slowing economic growth and driving-up prices on consumer goods. In turn, this is depressing President Biden’s approval numbers with only a year left before Americans vote for a new Congress. What should observers and institutional investors expect next?


David Frum, staff writer, the Atlantic

9:30 – 10:00 AM: The impact of climate change on investing 

Climate change is one of the most critical issues facing both society and investors today. This session will discuss how climate change is impacting investments today – both cash flows and valuation are evolving. It will also cover how asset managers can incorporate climate change in their analysis. While many asset owners and asset managers are focused on “net zero commitments”, investors – portfolio managers and analysts – need to understand and assess the financial impact. This session will cover the difficulties investors face in their financial evaluations and present a few simple techniques to advance their thinking.


Michelle Dunstan, chief responsibility officer, portfolio manager, global ESG improvers strategy, AllianceBernstein 

10:00 – 10:20 AM: Networking break (Upper Canada Hall foyer)

10:20 – 10:50 AM: Maximizing the certainty of an outcome: It’s not just “death and taxes” 

Canadian pension plans typically demonstrate a strong ‘funded status’ in the evaluation of assets versus liabilities for meeting the proverbial ‘pension promise’ on behalf of their constituents. The recent recovery in financial risk assets following the Covid-19 pandemic has bolstered the ‘asset side’ of the balance sheet, while continued low interest rates in developed markets have keep the ‘liability side’ generally stable, thereby preserving (or modestly improving) the ‘funded status surplus’. This profile may provide a sense of temporary respite among institutional investors amid the continued ‘recovery trade’ in risk assets, but it is in fact the perfect time to refocus on maximizing the certainty of meeting your pension benefit outcome. Does your plan have a mechanism to meet short-term cash flows without compromising long-term growth in assets? Is the plan adequately protected from ‘forced selling’ risk in case of increased market volatility or sell-off? Is there adequate risk management in place for large allocations to ‘growth’ assets with ‘downside protection’ strategies to protect previous portfolio gains?

Join Shivin Kwatra as he attempts to answer these and other pertinent questions for institutional investors as he explores the development of innovative financial solutions that seek to maximize the certainty of meeting the proverbial ‘pension promise’.


Shivin Kwatra, head of U.S. LDI portfolio management, Insight Investment 

10:50 – 11:20 AM: Innovating ESG: My responsible investing journey   

Join director of research for responsible investing, Maria Elena Drew, as she shares insight into her journey of developing a fully integrated ESG strategy for a global asset management firm. Drew will discuss the rationale for building a proprietary research platform and how she aims to solve for the challenges of incomplete ESG data sets and also the limitations of third-party rating agencies. She is an active participant in regulatory efforts around the world that seek to develop useful ESG disclosure guidance for the industry. She will also touch on how she’s urging corporations to improve data integrity against a backdrop of rising demand for ESG adoption.


Maria Elena Drew, director of research, responsible investing, T.Rowe Price 

11:20 – 11:50 AM: Impact investing: Turning theory into action 

There is an ongoing paradigm shift: profit-seeking capital can directly address some of the world’s biggest problems.  Beyond ESG investors, impact investment strategies heed the call to do well by doing good.  This requires a dual return strategy: achieving an attractive financial return and meaningful positive impact.  It is a challenge and responsibility not to be taken lightly.  Join John Levy as he examines how impact investing starts with a commitment to authenticity and transparency to clearly lay out what impact investors aspire to and how they plan to achieve it. Integrating impact into each stage of the investment process enables a holistic approach that aligns investment and impact considerations from end-to-end.  Through this lens the presentation will bring together a theory of change, the UN’s 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals and impact-focused business plans – ensuring that theory and actions are linked to meaningful outcomes and investors receive a “win-win” investment opportunity; an impact return in addition to a market-level financial return.


John G. Levy, director of impact, Franklin Real Asset Advisors, Franklin Advisers Inc.

11:50 AM – 12:50 PM: Lunch (The Cannery)

12:50 – 1:20 PM: OPTrust on designing and implementing an effective ESG strategy

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to environmental, social and governance investing. Pension funds and asset managers vary in size and structure and these factors must inform the design and implementation of an effective ESG strategy. In this session, Alison Loat, managing director of sustainable investing and innovation, will share OPTrust’s journey as a mid-size fund in developing an actionable ESG strategy that considers both internal and externally managed investments. In particular, she will offer a glimpse into the development of new responsible investing partner evaluation framework for working with external managers, provide an update on the renewal of OPTrust’s climate change strategy and outline the fund’s approach to the challenges and opportunities of investing at the intersection of sustainability and innovation.


Alison Loat, managing director of sustainable investing and innovation, OPTrust

1:20 – 1:50 PM: Is inflation here to stay?

With inflation rising, plan sponsors are facing a potential increase in costs. But the key is to determine whether the inflation we’re seeing is transitory or structural and how much of an adjustment plan sponsors should really make. This session will cover which variables you should pay attention to when considering the impact of inflation on your plan and whether there are “better” or best in class inflation hedges that plans should be allocating towards.


Ilan Kolet, institutional portfolio manager, Fidelity Investments 

1:50 – 2:20 PM: Networking break (Upper Canada Hall foyer)

2:20 – 2:50 PM: Overlooked opportunities: Unlocking innovation in Canada’s indigenous communities

Since 2018, the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association and the Shareholder Association for Research and Education have collaborated on the Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative, which connects the innovators in Canada’s Indigenous communities with institutional investors seeking high returns-on-investment. Join Kevin Thomas and Mark Sevestre as they discuss how pension sponsors can make the most of these often-overlooked opportunities.


Mark Sevestre, senior advisor and founding member, National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA)

Kevin Thomas, chief executive officer, Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE)

2:50 – 3:00 PM: Closing remarks

5:45 PM: Transportation to Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery (meet in lobby at 5:30 PM sharp)

6:00 – 9:00 PM: Dinner at Ravine Vineyard (Dress: Formal)

9:00 – 9:15 PM: Transportation from Ravine Vineyard back to Pillar and Post Hotel


Friday, November 5, 2021

7:30 – 9:00 AM: Breakfast (The Cannery)

9:00 – 9:30 AM: Opening remarks/ice-breaker activity: innovation game (Upper Canada Hall)

9:30 – 10:30 AM: Reversing the tide: Could a work-from-home world save rural Canada from demographic doom? (Opening Keynote)

In Canada, the bright lights of large urban centres have long pulled ambitious young people away from its more rural areas. But has this trend survived the social isolation era?

For the country, this phenomenon has exacerbated some of the greatest challenges facing the nation. It has drained entire regions of the best-educated minds and driven-up metropolitan property prices. For years, it was seen as an insurmountable structural issue hardwired into the country’s DNA. And then the world faced a pandemic — and brought with it the possibility of change.

Most working Canadian will know of at least one young person who, rather than putting up with the downtown rents in the country’s metropolises, chose to weather the storm in their hometowns. What is uncertain is whether this reverse flow of working-aged people could continue as the world begins to move beyond the pandemic.  If it does, what investment opportunities could emerge if the most motivated Canadians begin to resettle the regions of the country most starved for their brainpower? What will become of the bastions of power – and to the investors who continue to pour money into downtown commercial office spaces?


Darrell Bricker, chief executive officer, Ipsos Public Affairs, senior fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and senior fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation

10:30 – 11:00 AM: Networking break/check-out of hotel (Upper Canada Hall foyer)

11:00 – 11:30 AM: Case Study: Liability-driven investing at the CBC Pension Plan

In 2005, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Pension Plan was in a difficult position. Its beneficiaries drew far more than its contributors paid in. To meet the obligations of the exceptionally mature pension, its leadership adopted a liability-driven investment strategy. Join Duncan Burrill, the plan’s CEO, as he discusses the core tenets of the strategy and explains why the pension has stuck with it through the economic turmoil of the past decade-and-a-half.


Duncan Burrill, managing director, chief executive officer, CBC Pension Plan

11:30 – 11:50 AM: Panel discussion: Rethinking the role of the downtown office in the work-from-home era

As more and more businesses announce plans to adopt work-from-home and hybrid business models, the future of downtown office towers looks uncertain. Join a panel of pension plan sponsors as they discuss the risks and opportunities in the post-pandemic commercial real estate sector.


Tom Keenleyside, associate director of investments, Western University

Les Marton, managing director of client consulting, bfinance Canada

Gary Timlick, chair of the investment committee, Winnipeg Civic Employee Benefits Program

11:50 AM – 1:00 PM: Closing remarks & lunch (The Cannery)







Please email Hillary Muller