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Canadian funds delve into performance drivers

Four of Canada’s pension funds have established a professorship in pension management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto with initial research to focus on a better understanding of the drivers of pension fund performance using the global databases of CEM Benchmarking.

Keith Ambachtsheer, director of Rotman International Centre for Pension Management (ICPM) and Adjunct Professor, said the research partners have agreed the primary focus is to improve pension fund management practices, and organisation performance.

Research interests are further categorised into pension design and organisational factors such as agency issues, governance, investment beliefs, and risk management.

He said the school had been funding research projects in these areas for five years, engaging academic talent from around the world.

“The funding of a Professorship is a next logical step. This allows ICPM’s research partners to engage the academic community more directly, both inside and outside the School. Also, it now becomes easier to develop more pension-related course content and pensions-related case studies.”

Another goal will be to include pension-related content in the MBA, executive MBA and Master of Finance programs at the Rotman School.

Professor Alexander Dyck, a specialist in corporate governance and corporate finance will be the inaugural

He is currently the national academic director of the directors education program for corporate directors, jointly developed by the Institute of Corporate Directors and the Rotman School, and was a former professor at Harvard Business School.

The four funds are The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Hospitals of Ontario Penion Plan, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System.

John Crocker, chief executive of HOOPP, said there has been some cooperation between academia and practice when it comes to pension management, but such a professorship gives a focus to it.

He said there will be some consultation between the funds and the school as to the areas of focus, and pointed to sustainability as an important topic.

“If you are making 40 to 60 year commitments to people it is important to ensure the pension promise made
is the pension promise kept,” he said.

Twice a year ICPM holds discussion forums in order to translate the latest academic findings into practice.

“The precise purpose of these forums is to send the participants home with new ideas, and the motivation and enthusiasm to implement them,” he said.

The next one will be held in Melbourne in October.

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