The Pension Investment Association of Canada is raising concerns about the impact of the impending merger between Aon and Willis Towers Watson on pension plans and funds in Canada.
In a letter to the Competition Bureau, Simon Fréchet, the association’s chair, said the PIAC’s members use actuarial consulting services to support the effective fiduciary management of pension plan assets and benefits. “The availability of impartial, high quality and cost-effective services in these areas is imperative to the sustainability of our members’ plans affecting thousand of Canadians.”
The merger, announced in March, raises concerns that the competitive market for actuarial services will be dramatically reduced, stated the letter, since both consultancies are currently major players in the area of actuarial consulting professional services across Canada, including pension fund asset management, design, funding and administrative services.
Referring to Aon, Eckler Ltd., Mercer, Morneau Shepell and Willis Towers Watson, Fréchet noted these five firms represent significant barriers for competition in the section. “Actuarial services require the ability of handling large volumes of sensitive personal data, as well as deployment of sophisticated software, resulting in very material upfront fixed investment in advanced [information technology] infrastructure. These capabilities cannot be easily developed, replicated or purchased from foreign suppliers.”
The PIAC closed the letter by encouraging the Competition Bureau to carefully consider the impact of the merger on pension plan and fund clients and the degree of competition across Canada.