© Copyright 2006 Rogers Publishing Ltd. The following article first appeared in the April 2005 edition of BENEFITS CANADA magazine.
It’s spring. Canadians can finally see above the snow banks. It’s a season of change—time to paint the living room, time to plan that special summer trip.
By Paul Williams

Change has also come to the Canadian pension industry—big time change. Last month’s announcement abolishing the 30% Foreign Property Rule caught the pension industry by surprise. For most, it was a pleasant surprise which is why—tongue held firmly-in-cheek—we named Finance Minister Ralph Goodale man of the year.

It’s an understatement to say that the foreign rule change has dominated discussion in the pension community. The consensus view is that change will come, but it will come slowly. (Are we surprised? Has this industry ever done anything in a hurry?)

I’ve heard a number of interesting views. There’s the stand pat view. This view contends that nothing will change. After all, most pension portfolios are not even at the 30% limit and liabilities are measured in Canadian dollars, so portfolios may nudge up in terms of their non-domestic exposures— but that’s about it. There’s the doom-and-gloom scenario which predicts the hollowing out of Canadian capital markets. “What’s the point of listing in Canada now?” say its proponents.

Maybe these viewpoints are correct. And depending on the size of a given pension fund, outcomes may differ. Can there be any doubt that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board—at $77.2 billion— will pursue a global portfolio? Among the Top 100 Pension Funds, one in three of externally managed dollars already flows to nondomestic portfolios. And will smaller funds, that rely on money managers as asset allocators, expect a balanced portfolio to include foreign?

However events play out, one thing is certain—the Canadian money management industry will change. Simply put, managers lacking foreign capability will be hard-pressed to maintain their assets under management. Will we see the entry of more U.S. firms into the Canadian market? Already, the provision of non-domestic specialist mandates is dominated by U.S. firms. And how will the domestic capital accumulation plan(CAP)market be affected? Will foreign entrants now view the Canadian market more favorably? We’ll see.

Change has come to BENEFITS CANADA as well. Don Bisch is the new editor. He replaces Jim MacDonald who has moved to the Ontario Securities Commission. Jim was a great steward of both BENEFITS CANADA and Canadian Investment Review. We’ll miss Jim’s intellect, hard work and high editorial standards. We wish him well.

Many of you know Don. He’s been an outstanding Editor and Associate Publisher at our sister publication Canadian Healthcare Manager. Under his direction, Canadian Healthcare Manager enjoyed tremendous growth. With publisher Alison Webb, who returns from maternity leave later this spring, Don started the annual Who’s Who Awards, the Healthy Outcomes Conference and the eHealth Summit. And he managed to find time to write a lively editorial column, one that resulted in a prestigious K.R. Wilson Award.

Don’s a lucky guy. He inherits an experienced and dedicated editorial team, including Anna Sharratt, Joel Kranc, Chandra Price and Elaine Fenech at BENEFITS CANADA, James Lewis at Canadian Investment Review. And, of course, Angela Bobotsis, the conference editor.

I urge you to give Don a call.(He can be reached at 416-764-3867 or Don.Bisch@rci.rogers.com. Welcome him to your magazine. Tell him what you’d like to see in the pages of BENEFITS CANADA. Remember, a good magazine is written to meet the needs of its readers. We like to think we do that at BENEFITS CANADA. But we can’t do that without your input. And Don’s a really good listener.

Paul Williams, publisher

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