Mock named new Teachers’ CEO

At the start of 2014, Ron Mock, currently senior vice-president, fixed income and alternative investments, will succeed Jim Leech as president and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which has $130 billion in assets.

Mock joined Teachers’ in 2001 as director of alternative investments. He was promoted to vice-president later that year, a position he held until 2008, when he was promoted to senior vice-president, assuming responsibility for all fixed income assets and strategy as well as alternative investments and hedge funds.

In the ’90s, Mock was CEO and co-founder of Phoenix Research and Trading, a hedge fund management company that collapsed in 2000 with losses of more than US$125 million. The collapse was caused by an unapproved trade by an employee. When Mock learned of the trade, he notified the Ontario Securities Commission but was reprimanded for not supervising trading closely enough. In 2003, he accepted a six-year ban from taking a position as a director or officer of a public company.

According to Leech, Mock’s track record at Teachers’ is excellent. The fixed income portfolio totalled $60.0 billion at the end of 2012. “Ron has a reputation for collaboration and team building, balancing current needs with a view to future possibilities,” says Leech. “I have the luxury of inheriting the leader-ship of a thriving and successful organization,” says Mock of his new role.

“I will be working closely with Jim until his retirement to ensure a smooth transition. While this appointment may be somewhat daunting, the prospect of leading this exceptional organization is the most invigorating challenge I have ever faced, and I look forward to doing my best for everyone.”

Work hurts

Almost half (46%) of Canadians say work and their workplace is the most stressful part of their lives, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of Partners for Mental Health.

Work is a frequent or ongoing source of feelings of depression, anxiety or other mental health symptoms for 16% of workers. But these employees don’t confide in their employers and workmates, due to the possibility of stigma and discrimination. Two-thirds of Canadians say they wouldn’t have an open discussion with their boss about their mental illness.

“The detrimental effects of unmanaged mental illness in the workplace confirm the critical need for businesses and individuals to take action when it comes to mental health,” says the charitable organization’s president, Jeff Moat.

Even though 44% of workers say they have or have had mental health issues, mental health is still not being talked about openly in the workplace. Moat says this has to change for the sake of the long-term health of all employees.

Benefits costs to overwhelm most companies

Employee health, drug and disability costs have risen significantly and are expected to increase, yet only 15% of companies are even close to being prepared, according to the 2013 Banking on Productivity: Managing Employee Health Costs study.

The small number of companies that are prepared have begun considering a funding strategy to address the impact of future cost drivers, such as an aging workforce, the expenses related to drug and disability plans, and legislative changes.

Fifty-three percent of respondents say health benefits costs were significantly increasing, and 37% say they’ve increased somewhat over the past two to five years, due to inflation and population changes. Disability benefits costs are also seen as increasing, with 54% saying they have increased somewhat.

Asked to rate the risk of a series of health and pension issues, 64% of respondents identified drug costs as a leading concern.

Help wanted

Sixty-nine percent of plan members feel that their employers should do more to help prevent disease, illness and injury, rather than just pay for treatments, according to the 2013 edition of the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey. Plan sponsors feel even more strongly—a convincing 91% agree that their organizations should take on greater responsibility in the area of prevention for better health.

Both employees and employers look to government to become more involved as well. The survey found that 95% of plan sponsors and 76% of members agree that governments should provide increased tax incentives to employers that offer programs such as on-site immunizations. Currently, 61% of the surveyed plan sponsors indicate that they offer on-site immunizations such as flu shots. Results suggest that this could climb to as high as 91% if there were more government support.

Eighty-seven percent of plan sponsors want their benefits providers to play a larger role, Cornertoo. Currently, 59% say that health and wellness programs are available through their carrier or benefits consultant. Among employers that do not have such programs, 81% agree that they would likely offer them if they could be sourced through their insurer or advisor.

The survey also reveals that more can be done to respond to an organization’s specific health challenges. Only 32% of plan sponsors say they formally work with their carrier or advisor to analyze the drivers of absenteeism and disability claims.

As a result, employers appear to be underestimating the level of chronic disease. They currently put the number at 31% of their workforce; clinical studies, meanwhile, consistently estimate that at least half of Canadian adults have one or more chronic condition.

The complete report of the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey, including data on the utilization of workplace wellness strategies, was mailed with the June issue of Benefits Canada.

The month in numbers

84% – Canadians who believe they would face a major financial hit in the event of disability — BMO Wealth Institute May 2013 report

Product corner

Morneau Shepell has released an online tool to help organizations respond to the new national standard for workplace mental health. The Morneau Shepell Mental Health Pulse Check is a brief online questionnaire to help employers gauge their mental health readiness.

Munich Re is now offering tools to help plan sponsors manage long-term disability claims through Claim Analytics. One tool, disability claim scoring, provides a numeric measurement of the likelihood of a claimant’s return to work within a specified time.

Get a PDF of this article.