© Copyright 2006 Rogers Publishing Ltd. The following article first appeared in the January 2005 edition of BENEFITS CANADA magazine.
Here are a few suggestions for getting a good start in 2005.

An informal “2005 resolution list” emerged during the editorial process of creating this first issue of the year. The New Year is a time of renewal for many, and resolutions can be big projects or carefree. Consider this issue an idea list to start 2005.

Our cover story, “What lies below,” deals with the growing industry of business process outsourcing for plan sponsors in Canada. Pension and benefits plans are growing in complexity, and many plan sponsors need someone to assist them in administering and delivering them as efficiently and effectively as possible. A resolution that can be drawn from this story is to seek to better manage the complexity of benefit plans.

Our featured benefits article, “The financial reality of healthcare,” says governments in Canada are pursuing a deliberate strategy to shift more of the cost of healthcare on to the private sector, without sparking a confrontation with Canadians. Will plan sponsors and plan members become more active partners in shaping the future of healthcare? The 2005 resolution is obvious: Strengthen the private-sector voice in the debate about healthcare funding.

In “Benefits Trends,” associate editor Anna Sharratt writes about the rising level of stress among older employees and what this could mean for employers in the not-too-distant future. Last month, stress in the workplace was cited as one of the top stories of 2004 in BENEFITS CANADA, against a backdrop of some pretty grim research. For example, Health Canada found that work-life conflict adds at least an extra $6 billion to Canada’s healthcare costs per year. Heavy workloads were fingered as the main source of the costly, unhealthy stress.

A resolution that can be drawn from “Benefits Trends” is that employers, employees and benefits service providers, among others, need to find strategies to manage stress better, for the sake of our personal, organizational and economic health.

The search for alpha is the subject of our featured investment article, “Elusive alpha,” and it’s a timely piece, given the challenges pension funds face in generating the yields needed to meet liabilities. The resolution here is to take a fresh look at portfolio construction and risk measurement toward the goal of improving investment performance.

The article on alpha nicely complements the “Pension Planning” column, in which Keith Ambachtsheer looks at investment beliefs of pension fiduciaries, or, rather, what can be inferred about their beliefs from their investment actions. Ambachtsheer asks an important question to start the year: Are your investment beliefs believable?

Hopefully, the ideas presented in this issue will resonate with plan sponsors, unlike the fleeting nature of many New Year’s resolutions. We wish all of our readers a prosperous and healthy (and low stress)2005.

Jim MacDonald