Terri Troy was the recipient of the Leading Pension Plan Sponsor Award for Benefits Canada’s 2011 Pension & Investment Awards.

Terri Troy has more than 20 years of experi-ence in the financial services and pension industries, but it’s for her role as CEO/CIO of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) Pension Plan that she’s being recognized with this award.

The HRM plan, with around 10,000 members and $1.1 billion in assets, is a multi-employer plan with a joint governance structure. Like many plans, the HRM plan has faced obstacles in the past few years, including economic uncertainty and high volatility in equity markets.

“I am glad that the pension committee and I spent a considerable amount of time focusing on a suitable governance framework when I was hired in 2006, because this helped to pave the way for timely decision-making,” Troy remarks. “For example, on the investment side, this helps us to make tactical decisions in a very timely manner without waiting for the next quarterly pension committee meeting.” And Troy is no stranger to challenging decisions.

Throughout her career, she has served on industry committees such as the C.D. Howe Institute’s Pension Advisory Group, the CAPSA working group on investment and funding guidelines, and the Advisory Committee for Canadian Investment Review. She’s also extremely active in the Pension Investment Association of Canada (PIAC): Troy served as a board director from 2004 to 2009, has chaired the board and various committees, and has also chaired PIAC conferences, including the upcoming May 2012 conference.

Through her work with PIAC and HRM, Troy is a strong advocate for pension reform. “In 2006, [the HRM plan] obtained partial relief for funding solvency deficits until 2016. This has helped with contribution stability for both our plan members and taxpayers, especially considering the weak equity market and lower bond yield environment in 2008 and today,” she explains.

“However, our goal is to have permanent exemption from funding solvency deficits—along the same lines as what jointly sponsored pension plans (JSPPs) received in Ontario. This is an extremely important priority for us, because we consider it an unnecessary use of plan member and taxpayer dollars to go into the pension plan at a time when solvency deficits are abnormally high.”

In the interim, the pension committee continues to seek out opportunities to increase investment returns and improve the plan’s funding status. Troy is particularly proud of two recent infrastructure deals, in which the HRM Pension Plan invested alongside the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. “While a plan of our size wouldn’t be able to invest in these types of deals on our own, I was able to contact other CIOs at other pension plans to see whether they wanted to participate as a consortium,” she says. “The benefits are enormous.”

Troy’s vision for the HRM Pension Plan revolves around three key priorities: work with the Nova Scotia government to recognize JSPPs in the province and adopt pension reforms similar to those in Ontario; improve risk-adjusted returns net of fees; and enhance member service through an improved website with real-time customized information. But whatever changes may come, Troy will always bear in mind the best interests of the police officers, firefighters, transit employees and other municipal workers that the plan serves.

“It is incredibly rewarding to see how the impact of decisions made by myself and supported by the pension committee make such a difference for plan members. Every day, I don’t lose sight of the fact that we are working on behalf of plan members, to help them
retire in dignity.”

Alyssa Hodder is editor of Benefits Canada. alyssa.hodder@rci.rogers.com

Get a PDF of this article and other coverage from the awards gala.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

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