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Take Pride in making your work culture inclusive

June 28 will mark 55 years since the Stonewall uprising in Manhattan, the rebellion that sparked the LGBTQ rights movement and the establishment of Pride Month.

The years since the riots have featured a broad expansion of LGBTQ+ legal rights – and thank goodness for that. These days, in many countries, including Canada, Pride Month is a celebration of people’s right to be open about their sexual orientation. But an element of protest remains, as it should. Discriminatory attitudes still exist, biases prevail and, for some, keeping their true selves under wraps, especially at work, feels like the best option. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, for example, didn’t come out publicly until 2014, and was the first chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to do so.

Imagine pursuing a demanding career while hiding who you really are. Sounds exhausting, and a one-way ticket to burnout, poor mental health and unhappiness. It’s in plan sponsors’ best interests, therefore, not only to support Pride, but to help all their employees feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work.

Creating a culture of inclusivity means employees will not be afraid to speak out, to

“Imagine pursuing a demanding career while hiding who you really are. Sounds exhausting, and a one-way ticket to burnout, poor mental health and unhappiness”

bring an alternative point of view to the table or challenge the status quo – all tenets of a thriving organization. Supporting movements like Pride helps foster this environment but it’s vital that companies get beyond accusations of “slacktivism” by organizing events, charity drives, guest speakers, or training sessions. This not only lets LGBTQ+ employees know they are valued, but also educates others about Pride’s history and what it stands for.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) can also be invaluable in fostering support, generating ideas, and raising concerns, while more prosaic things like updating your company’s policies to be more inclusive can make a big difference to an employee’s sense of belonging.

You may have a Tim Cook in your ranks who just needs more support and confidence to show their unabashed authentic self. Pride Month is a glorious mark of the social progress made since 1969, but let’s all look more closely at what more our organizations can do to be truly inclusive.

James Burton, managing editor


Managing Editor James Burton

Senior Editor

David Kitai


Josh Welsh

Lead Production Editor

Roslyn Meredith

Production Editor

Kel Pero, Christina Jelinek


Art Director Marla Morelos

Designer Khaye Cortez

Production Coordinators

Kat Guzman, Loiza Razon

Customer Success Executive

Michelle Tamayo

Vice President, Production

Monica Lalisan


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Account Manager

Michael Hughes

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President Tim Duce

Director, People and Culture

Julia Bookallil

Chief Revenue Officer

Dane Taylor

Chief Information Officer

Colin Chan


George Walmsley

CEO Mike Shipley


Celine Chiovitti, OMERS

Katie McNulty, CAAT Pension Plan

Greg Hurst, Greg Hurst & Associates

Robert Weston, Pharos Platform

Kevin Minas, Mawer Investment Management

Mark Newton, Newton HR Law

Jim Helik, James Helik Consulting

Tim Clarke, tc Health Consulting



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The cost of eye exams causes almost half of Canadian seniors to miss necessary vision care appointments, affecting their overall health.


A significant portion of Canadians face challenges in providing care for family members with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The rising demand for caregivers, coupled with inadequate support systems and financial strain, highlights a growing crisis. This situation affects the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of both caregivers and care recipients alike.

Caregivers reporting fair or poor mental health


of seniors have delayed or skipped updating their eyewear prescriptions due to cost


of Canadians have no vision health benefits

Caregivers feeling tired due to responsibilities

Caregivers feeling worried or anxious due to responsibilities

Caregivers feeling overwhelmed due to responsibilities


A recent survey highlights that more than half of Canadians feel informed about data privacy, yet some are still concerned about data security. The skepticism about data usage is prevalent, with a trust deficit in non-emergency situations.



Gen Z employees are more likely to break workplace rules compared to older generations due to differing views on workplace norms, flexibility, and values, leading to a higher incidence of rule violations.



Joe Blomeley, executive vice president and head of health services and enterprise growth at GreenShield, is making it his personal mission to remove the stigma around mental health

AS HE surveys the mental health landscape in Canada and the stubborn stigmas that persist, Joe Blomeley says there’s been a build-up of pressure in the system that requires a relief valve. The executive vice-president and head of health services and enterprise growth at GreenShield believes that relief valve consists of a coherent, thoughtful, and well-funded mental health strategy that includes public and private communities in an integrated fashion. But organizations need to be committed to such strategies.

“There’s a greater willingness to talk about mental health now, and people are more open about their mental health challenges,” he said. “The funding, availability of programs, and accessibility of programs still remains fairly low, though, so there’s a long way to go.”

With a greater openness within organizations to talking about mental health, Blomeley says, more organizations should consider putting in place a concrete and fully developed mental health strategy in the workplace. He is quick to point out that far too many organizations don’t have a strategy that identifies employees within the organization’s structure who have lived experiences of mental health

issues or who is measuring the return of investment in mental health services. However, compared to a decade ago, “we’re much farther ahead than we were,” he added.

Blomeley says that there are several ways to address the mental health crisis in Canada.

are actually talking about their experiences of accessing these services and how they’ve improved those employees’ lives.”

One of the resources employers and employees alike should be using is their Employee Assistance Plan (EAP). Another

“If we truly want to ... improve how mental health care is delivered in this country, we need to start having those conversations among the publicly funded system, the community-funded system, and private providers”

For one, organizations should start by looking internally at their current programs to determine which are seeing the best results. “You want to focus on the most efficient and effective offerings,” he said. “You want to make sure that your leadership team is promoting the services you have available, and that employees

strategy organizations should pay special attention to is their return of investment in mental health services. Blomeley points to a Deloitte study from 2022 that found Canadian companies who invested in mental health programs for their employees for at least a year “experienced a median annual

Name: Joe Blomeley

Company: GreenShield

Title: Executive vice president and head of health services & enterprise growth

Years in the industry: 10+

Education: Western University, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, 2003–2007; Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, Master of Arts in International Affairs, 2007–2009

Best advice to give: “Be willing to take calculated risks in your career. Don’t be reckless. But, when a unique window opens up that either a) allows you to further your career or b) do really cool, exciting work –taking advantage of it.”

What inspires you? “Improving the health outcomes of Canadians by offering innovative solutions and the opportunity to improve the Canadian healthcare system.”


return on investment of about $1.62 for every dollar they spent,” Blomeley noted. “If you invest in mental health and provide access to your employees, it will improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and create a more efficient and effective worker.”

Ultimately, aggressive utilization, a willingness to look beyond traditional providers to those who are implementing innovative strategies, and leveraging technology will be important for organizations wanting to improve mental health in the workplace, Blomeley added.

Since joining GreenShield in 2019, Blomeley has helped lead the company through significant growth. At the end of the pandemic, they acquired Inkblot Therapy, a mental health

technology, Blomeley says.

That’s because “we’re able to reach right into our clinical network and access physicians’ calendars,” he says. “Organizations that have our services and make them available to their employees tend to get access to these services in a much quicker and more efficient manner than if you went through the publicly funded system.”

Through GreenShield’s regional mental health solution, employees can access a therapist in one to four days. According to Blomeley, the national average wait time for a private counsellor in Canada is 31 days. Through the publicly funded system, wait times can be anywhere between six to 12 months, “depending on which urban area or

“If you invest in mental health and provide access to your employees, it will improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and create a more efficient and effective worker”

digital platform, leveraging their services across GreenShield’s health offerings. Since then, GreenShield has doubled revenue every year. “When you look at our mental health services, we’re about the fourth-largest provider of private mental health services in the country. That includes EAP and I-CBT as well as a variety of preventative care solutions,” Blomeley said.

GreenShield is seeing this growth through their utilization data around mental health services and the EAP they offer employers. In the past, utilization indicated that between three and five percent of employees were using mental health services, according to Blomeley; that number is now much higher, sitting at ten to fifteen percent. What makes GreenShield’s mental health offerings attractive to organizations is their leverage of

province you’re currently living in,” he said. “We’re improving accessibility and affordability; we’re seeing more people use these services, but there’s still a ways to go in better integrating these services into what’s being offered to the vast majority of Canadians.”

Blomeley’s journey into the mental health sector stems from a personal mission to prevent others from facing the struggles he experienced in early adulthood. He envisions a future in which mental health care in Canada is seamlessly integrated across public, non-profit, and private sectors. “If we truly want to crack the nut and improve how mental health care is delivered in this country, we need to start having those conversations among the publicly funded system, the community-funded system, and private providers. There needs to be an opportunity to


BILLION in gross revenue in 2023

$47 MILLION invested in social impact initiatives

integrate these services,” he asserts.

As an example, he emphasizes the need for provincial governments to collaborate with organizations like GreenShield to extend effective employer-funded mental health services to a broader population. “There are innovative programs and a lot of research showing what works, but nobody’s talking to anyone else,” said Blomeley. “Having those initial conversations about how to build a system in this country and better integrate what’s offered, with a focus on the patient and health outcomes, would be a dream of mine.”



Fixed-income alternatives for higher inflation

The risk of structurally higher inflation should prompt DC plans to consider liquid alternative credit strategies

INVESTORS EXPERIENCED two straight years of losses in their traditional bond portfolios in 2021 and 2022 – the first back-toback negative returns since 1997/1998. This was triggered by central banks responding to persistently elevated inflation with an aggressive rate-hiking cycle.

In 2024, market consensus has been – and continues to be – that interest rates will eventually head lower, thanks in large part to moderating inflation. However, recent economic data has prompted market participants to push back expectations for when the initial policy action will start. Central banks have made good headway chipping away at inflation levels, but their job’s not yet done.

The debate over whether the so-called four Ds (debt, demographics, deglobalization, and decarbonization) have elevated the long-term structural level of inflation rages on. Worse still would be permanently higher inflation and slowing growth, a toxic combination called stagflation. In Canada’s case, productivity gains have been mediocre for decades with little evidence of a pickup. Volatility and uncertainties abound.

What should investors make of these risks? Is there a strategy that can potentially cope in a world where these scenarios play out but also thrive if they do not come to pass?

Amid this uncertainty – and fresh off a multi-year drawdown in traditional fixed income – we think investors should consider alternative approaches to managing their fixed-income allocations, particularly strategies that aren’t predicated on sacrificing liquidity to generate attractive returns where possible.

One potential solution is a strategic allocation to an unconstrained global credit strategy.

These types of strategies offer the potential for attractive risk-adjusted returns through dynamic management of credit and interest rate risks throughout the investment cycle, including inflationary periods.

There are many different flavours of unconstrained credit strategies, but the common ingredients include a broad corporate investment universe, a dynamic investment approach, an absolute return focus, and an enhanced awareness of risk.

A sample of the breadth of credit securities includes investment-grade corporates, high yield, loans, securitizations, and emerging market bonds.

Active managers know that credit spreads can stay tight, and yields can stay low, for long periods. Shifting to higher credit quality and shorter duration mitigates risk in expensive markets. When markets are cheap or distressed, a dynamic approach calls for taking advantage of the opportunity by rapidly and decisively shifting into lower credit quality positions.

Arguably, credit exposure must be actively managed as there are times when spreads rapidly increase (e.g., the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 and COVID-19 in March 2020). These periods lead to substantial short-term volatility but offer the potential to reap significant long-term profits, rewarding investors who dynamically increase exposure and risk after credit sell-offs and patiently hold on during the recovery phase of the cycle.

Absolute return focus is defined as the goal of generating positive returns regardless of market environment, independent of a benchmark return. Free from the typical constraints of a benchmark-relative

mandate, an unconstrained strategy has the license to capitalize on market dislocations whenever and wherever they occur.

Traditional funds “constrain” risk by mandating adherence to a benchmark. These constraints target tight tracking error but often increase risk with poor outcomes. It is not always an effective way to manage downside risk. Unconstrained credit strategies can be selective about when and how much risk to take on and can avoid certain risks entirely if the compensation is deemed insufficient. Many traditional fixed-income strategies do not have this flexibility.

Unconstrained credit offers a suite of attractive characteristics for DC plans. Their flexible duration mandates allow the manager to sidestep drawdowns from sharply rising bond yields. Their higher return targets can help plan members without a meaningful change in total risk. They offer a liquid investment profile and a well-diversified mix of credit sector exposure that a lot of DC plan members tend to have less exposure to.

Regardless how the inflation debate plays out, unconstrained global credit is likely an under-allocated but useful component of a well-structured portfolio.


Thispublicationanditscontentsareforinformationalpurposesonly.Anyviewsexpressed inthispublicationwerepreparedbasedupontheinformationavailableatthetimeandare subjecttochangeandpossiblecorrection.InnoeventshallMawerInvestmentManagement Ltd.(“Mawer”)beliableforanydamagesarisingoutof,orinanywayconnectedwith,theuse orinabilitytousethispublicationappropriately.

is an

Kevin Minas
institutional portfolio manager at Mawer Investment Management, one of Canada’s largest independent asset managers.

Addressing obesity stigma in the workplace


To provide employees with appropriate resources and support, consider these perspectives:

People living with obesity face social challenges and discrimination in the workplace. This is coupled with feelings of inadequacy, and not being worthy of care or recognition. Self-esteem affects a person’s ability to work at their capacity and be productive in the workplace setting, which results in an increase in presenteeism and absenteeism.


“The person living with obesity may be the brightest mind in the room, but discrimination based on physical appearance and size holds them back.”

“If an employee is appropriately valued, they will likely be more productive, have greater selfworth, reduce absenteeism and achieve more.”


It’s not just managing weight and eating, it’s managing all areas that unravel and spill into family relationships, mental health and well being.

For me, size inclusivity wasn’t fairly represented in the workplace. Those in my professional setting believed elevated weight was a lifestyle choice I made. What they didn’t know was that those with a higher BMI can still be healthy and contribute. As my weight increased, I was pushed back professionally. I had less courage and wisdom to fight, and zero self-advocation. I became less client-facing with an in-office presence. I felt invisible. I lost out on a promotion.

Weight stigma and bias exist in the workplace. Research shows people in bigger bodies find it harder to get jobs and feel appreciated in the workplace. Through benefits coverage, employers can show employees that they are worthy of treatment options. We need to stop making assumptions that those living with obesity are not disciplined, driven or smart simply because of their size.

“Chronic depression is driven by living with elevated weight – they go hand in hand.”

“Elevated weight dramatically affected my confidence, work presence and the ability to perform my job. I didn’t want to be seen.”

“Being in a bigger body is not a lifestyle choice. Employers need to understand this and recognize that obesity is a medical condition.”

“Where we are now with weight stigma in the workplace is where we were years ago with stigma surrounding mental health issues. We now need to follow that same framework with obesity.”


To support those living with obesity, employers should:

• Recognize employees’ value at any size, and offer assistance, when appropriate, as with any other illness or disability

• Offer training programs for all staff that are rooted in science

• Recognize employees’ value at any size, and offer assistance, when appropriate, as with any other illness or disability

• Offer training programs for all staff that are rooted in science

• Ensure health benefit plans offer coverage, then announce and normalize it to staff

• Ensure health benefit plans offer coverage, then announce and normalize it to staff

• Remove team building activities, and health and dietary competitions that would require size as a factor to participate

• Allow individuals to choose health and wellness that fits them – healthy weight does not always mean a smaller size

• Remove team building activities, and health and dietary competitions that would require size as a factor to participate

• Review office equipment to ensure accessibility needs are met

• Allow individuals to choose health and wellness that fits them – healthy weight does not always mean a smaller size

• Review office equipment to ensure accessibility needs are met

To support those living with obesity, health benefit plans should:

• Provide access to treatment for obesity management as a chronic disease and not a “lifestyle” category

• Provide access to treatment for obesity management as a chronic disease and not a “lifestyle” category

• Ensure employees have evidenced-based resources that align with the Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines:1 To support those living with obesity, employers should:

• Ensure employees have evidenced-based resources that align with the Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines:1



Personalized counselling by a registered dietitian with a focus on healthy food choices and evidence-based nutrition therapy

Personalized counselling by a registered dietitian with a focus on healthy food choices and evidence-based nutrition therapy



30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week

30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week



Cognitive approach to behavioural change; psychotherapy if appropriate

Cognitive approach to behavioural change; psychotherapy if appropriate


For weight loss and to help maintain weight loss

Coverage of dietitian/nutritionist

Coverage of dietitian/nutritionist

Coverage of exercise health support professional (i.e. kinesiologist)

Coverage of exercise health support professional (i.e. kinesiologist)

Coverage of psychologist/ cognitive behavioural therapy, including iCBT*

of psychologist/ cognitive behavioural therapy, including iCBT*

Coverage of obesity medications, with reasonable limits


Surgeon-patient discussion


Global investing and the AI opportunity

Sponsored by

Featuring Capital Group equity portfolio manager Jeremy Burge and equity investment specialist Kathrin Forrest on critical investment opportunities in AI

AS ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) takes the investment world by storm, a growing number of investors are wondering how to take advantage of it beyond poster child Nvidia and other tech superstars in the Magnificent Seven.

“AI is creating opportunities for companies well beyond the big, early winners,” such as Nvidia, says Jeremy Burge, portfolio manager of Capital Group Global Equity FundTM (Canada).

Fundamentally, AI has the potential to help workers become more efficient and businesses more productive across all sectors of the market, across all industries, and across all regions of the world. What’s more, the implementation and economic impact of AI may occur faster than technological innovations in the past because AI is software-based and can be rolled out quickly on the internet.

As it matures, a deep, growing set of investment opportunities is emerging up and down the value chain.

“The key as fundamental investors is to get into the nuance and ask the right questions: Which parts of the value chain are poised to benefit, and in what order? Which geographies are going to be farther ahead or behind

on adoption? Which companies are poised to lead as critical suppliers or makers of the necessary tools and equipment?” says Burge.


The most immediate investible opportunity has been concentrated in the compute segment related to the AI build-out. Constituents are semiconductor chip designers, equipment manufacturers, foundries, and other highly specialized companies. Not surprisingly, many of these companies are already big stock market winners: Nvidia is a prime example, designing GPUs that have seen a surge in demand from companies that look to build and train AI models. Capacity for compute businesses is difficult to scale quickly given capital intensity and specialization within highly connected global supply chains. Going beyond this first layer, we anticipate investment opportunities across a broader set of “picks-and-shovels” equipment providers. This may include complements, such as semiconductor equipment makers (Applied Materials), chip foundries (TSMC), suppliers of memory chips (SK Hynix), and server-makers able to meet artificial-use


cases (Dell). We may also see chip alternatives emerge – “x”PUs with distinctive features such as higher specialization, lower cost, or higher electricity efficiency (Broadcom).

“Other opportunities may be in the ecosystem of companies that provide specialty chemical solutions,” adds equity investment specialist Kathrin Forrest.


The rapidly growing infrastructure segment also offers potential. It’s primarily made up of cloud companies, data centres, and networking firms – all necessary enablers making AI possible. Due to the explosive growth in AI, global spending on data centre construction is expected to reach US$49 billion by 2030, according to McKinsey & Company. This may benefit equipment suppliers beyond compute. Further, the centres have enormous power needs, which is favourably affecting electricity providers, both traditional and renewable. In January US construction-equipment maker Caterpillar, which already has a 60 percent share of the backup power generation market for data centres, announced a successful test of its hydrogen fuel cell technology at a centre. This, says the company, opens the door to possibly using large-format hydrogen fuel cells to supply backup power for data centres.


AI models are programs trained on a set of data to recognize certain patterns or make certain decisions without further human intervention. They require large data sets, lots of computing power, and specialized engineers. Microsoft-backed Open AI’s model is called GPT4, Meta’s is Llama, and Alphabet’s


As AI permeates every facet of our lives, global research depth will become even more critical




• Chip designers & providers

• Foundries

• Manufacturing equipment

• Cloud hyperscalers

• Datacentres

• Networking

• Foundational models

• Platforms

• Big Data owners


• Software

• IT Services

• Physical applications


• Health care

• Financial services

• Many others

• Most immediate investable opportunity

• ‘Picks and shovels’ providers are often attractive investments

• Highly consolidated industry with significant barriers to entry

• Requires rapidly expanding infrastructure

• Cloud likely to see growth uplift

• Data ecosystem equipment providers can become very entrenched

• Oligopolistic structure; best models ‘owned’ by a handful of firms

• High barriers to entry

• Be wary of difficulties in commercialization and potential commoditization

• Difficult to predict emergence of new companies

• Current focus on existing companies productizing AI successfully

• Look for sustainable competitive advantages, e.g. access to captive data

• Transformational for the global economy and will likely impact all industries

• Early stages of adoption – few companies have meaningfully transformed their businesses

• Global research depth and an active investment approach will be critical


Less clear Strong

(Google’s) is Gemini, to name a few. Each of these companies has invested billions of dollars in foundation models trained on broad data, designed for generality of output and adaptable to a wide range of tasks. These types of models provide a broad set of potential opportunities for commercialization/ monetization. Time will tell which companies are best positioned to benefit.


The application segment of the AI value chain may be the most exciting and broadest in terms of investment opportunities. An early example is CoPilot, now embedded in Microsoft Office for a higher subscription fee. In time, beneficiaries may span all GIC sectors, industries, and sub industries around

the world, due to the broad spectrum of potential use cases.

In healthcare, AI is already aiding diagnostics, drug discovery, and patient care. Startups and established players are leveraging the technology to analyze medical images, predict disease outcomes, and personalize treatment plans. US-based Eli Lilly and Swiss-based Novartis have, for example, inked a deal with Alphabet’s digital biotech AI company, Isomorphic, aimed at accelerating the companies’ drug discovery processes.

Targeting precision

Meanwhile, advertising and marketing companies are using AI to personalize ads, optimize campaigns, and predict consumer behavior. France’s Publicis Groupe, one of

the world’s largest advertising agencies, has made AI the core of its business, personalizing content, optimizing campaigns, and predicting consumer behaviour across its database of 2.3 billion profiles of people around the world.

In financials, a range of banks, insurance companies, and investment firms are starting to integrate AI into their operations using algorithms to analyze market data, optimize portfolios, and detect fraudulent transactions. JP Morgan has, for instance, rolled out a “Cash Flow Intelligence” AI tool to about 2,500 corporate customers to help them with forecasting. The company says the software has reduced human work in this area by 90 percent, and may charge for it in future.

“The approach to innovation, the role of regulation, ability to source scarce inputs, competitive pressures, and customer preferences all play a role in creating differentiated opportunities and risks for companies,” says Forrest.

A final point regarding the AI opportunity and Global Equity is that it’s not just about picking stocks, it’s about building a portfolio – a portfolio that considers more than just one market theme and is positioned to deliver against its objectives as it seeks to provide long-term, superior results. That means a diversified, balanced approach with many opportunities.

Commissions,trailingcommissions,managementfeesandexpensesallmaybeassociated withmutualfundinvestments.Pleasereadtheprospectusbeforeinvesting.Mutualfundsare notguaranteed,theirvalueschangefrequently,andpastperformancemaynotberepeated. CapitalGroupfundsinCanadaareofferedbyCapitalInternationalAssetManagement (Canada),Inc.,partofCapitalGroup,aglobalinvestmentmanagementfirmoriginatedinLos Angeles,Californiain1931.



Global Equity is underpinned by a distinct investment approach called The Capital SystemTM which divides portfolios into segments, each run by an individual manager. While managers collaborate and share insights, each invests independently according to their strongest convictions. The resulting portfolios are a diverse collection of investment ideas, not just one manager’s perspective. Capital Accumulation Plan sponsors and consultants can access Global Equity via the Sun Life Core Investment Platform, the Canada Life Top Shelf Program, and by request through Manulife Investment.

For more information contact Kevin.Martino@ capgroup.com, vice president of institutional for Capital Group in Canada.

Reimagining retirement will help all generations

It’s time to rethink our approach to later life – including our attitudes toward employment

WE LIVE in a youth-obsessed culture, where we are consumed with appearing youthful at all costs to fit in and demonstrate our value, even in the workplace. As a professional woman in my early 50s, I feel more confident and creative than ever before. I excel at my craft due to years of experience, success, and failures. I have gained the knowledge and the wisdom to lead and create exceptional value for the organization that I work for.

Based on the traditional concept of retirement, I am about 15 years away from my “normal retirement age” and the ability to leave the workforce and begin receiving a pension for the rest of my life. As a result, I am at a pivotal point in my career where I care more about making an impact and feeling valued and respected than moving up the corporate ladder. In fact, one in five working adults is nearing the age of retirement, and if we are not careful, we will face a tsunami of great talent leaving the workforce, taking with them immense knowledge and skill.

The world is greying, with more individuals across the world over the age of 60 than under five. By 2050, it is expected that 22 percent of the world will be over the age of 60. At the same time, we are living longer than ever before. The overall life expectancy of Canada’s population has increased from 70 years of age in 1960 to 83 years of age in 2024. By 2030, Canada will be considered a “super-aged”

country, with about one in five people over 65 years old.

Longevity is impacting all aspects of society, and I believe it is one of the most significant macro trends facing us today. However, instead of viewing this as a “looming crisis” the way some have written about it, I believe it can be a source of growth and opportunity if we take the necessary steps to prepare for a longer lifespan and reframe how we think about aging and retirement.

Our current retirement model is built around a concept that was created in the 20th century that assumes a three-stage life

– one where we will get educated, work, and then retire sometime in our 60s. This model is outdated and doesn’t take into consideration the additional years that we’ve gained. Evidence demonstrates that in order to live well into our older years, we require more access to financial resources, along with strong social connections and continued purpose and mental stimulation.

The fact that we are living longer means that the traditional life course may no longer apply to everyone. There are now new and diverse stages of life that do not follow a linear path. More people now view retirement as a

journey rather than a destination. In fact, 54 percent of Canadian retirees and pre-retirees over the age of 45 see retirement today as a new chapter in life. This means that the pace of life can be shifted from a sprint to retirement to a marathon, where time is spent finding new ways to embrace longer, healthier lives and “retire” the idea of retirement.

At the same time, up to 60 percent of Canadians don’t have access to an employer-sponsored pension plan, and many older adults cannot afford to retire. An Allianz Life survey indicates that in the United States, two out of three Americans say they fear running out of money more than they fear death. For some, the traditional concept of retirement is simply unattainable.

An opportunity to reimagine retirement

A traditional definition of retirement is the “withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from active working life” (MerriamWebster). But for many, retirement no longer means completely withdrawing from work. Many are transitioning into flexible or parttime work, dedicating themselves to their community through volunteering or finding meaning and perhaps a small business opportunity in their hobbies. Work can offer many benefits including purpose, social connection, identity, structure, and additional income.

Studies have shown that personal fulfilment and social connection are primary motivators for working in older adults, along with lifelong learning and participation in community organizations or other activities. Finding ways to include older adults and changing attitudes on aging overall and in the workforce can provide financial benefits, improve business performance, and strengthen economies. Older employees bring experience, knowledge, a vast network, and innovation.

At the same time, we need to change the narrative that people working longer will take

opportunities away from younger employees. This scarcity narrative is fictional, and by creating age-friendly jobs we will enable a win for employees and communities. Age-friendly jobs could encompass elements of mentorship and advisory roles, along with a move to more flexible schedules and autonomy that recognizes that many older workers may prioritize flexibility and phase in and out of retirement. Creating workplaces that allow all

people, more seniors than ever are returning to school to continue their education for vocational upgrading or simple enjoyment. Universities around the world are encouraging this trend with curriculums specifically tailored to adults 50 years of age and older, and even providing financial assistance for older students. In 2020, 156,585 students who enrolled in postsecondary institutions in Canada were age 40 and over.

More people now view retirement as a journey rather than a destination

generations to thrive, feel included, and feel valued is key to a reimagined workplace and a reframed retirement.

A World Economic Forum, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study found that investing in multigenerational workforces will raise GDP per capita by almost 19 percent in three decades. Key findings show that there are social and business benefits to a thriving workforce inclusive of employees from all life stages.

Japan, with the oldest population in the world, demonstrates the potential for thinking differently. Japan has integrated practices that embrace its aging population, where one in four people is over age 65, which is predicted to increase to one in three in the next 15 years. An example is the Silver Jinzai Center (“Silver” for older people and “Jinzai” for human resources), which connects employers with people aged 60 and older for jobs ranging from carpentry to accounting. Many workers reported that their job helps them stay mentally and physically fit, in addition to providing income.

Similarly, while higher education tends to be viewed as something reserved for young

I am truly blessed to work for an organization that nurtures employees and has inspiring role models across all generations. My hope is that we create a society where every person feels valued and included and does not feel the pressure to fit into a youth-obsessed culture. In the meantime, I will continue to have conversations about reframing retirement and providing a bright future for all.

An OMERS perspective

For more than 60 years, OMERS has been proud to provide secure lifetime defined benefit (DB) pensions to members who serve our communities across Ontario. We recognize our responsibility to raise awareness about the value of having a secure and stable income in retirement, both for our members and all Canadians.

Celine Chiovitti is the chief pension officer at OMERS. She leads a team of 400 employees in the delivery of exceptional services, innovative tools, and prudential pension administration for over 600,000 members.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa in the workforce

HIDRADENITIS SUPPURATIVA (HS) , also known as acne inversa, is a misunderstood, and often misdiagnosed, chronic inflammatory skin condition affecting approximately 1% of Canadians.1 The first symptoms of HS start to appear between puberty and before the age of 40, and is three times more common in women than men, overshadowing a unique time of transition into adulthood and hindering the most active years of their lives.2

Living with Hydradenitis Suppurativa

HS is characterized by painful inflamed bumps called “nodules” that can drain fluid or foul-smelling pus (abscesses). The nodules can eventually heal but may recur at any time and can lead to irreversible scarring and the formation of tunnels under the skin known as “fistulas”. HS often manifests in cycles of unpredictable, intense flare-ups and periods when the skin is clear. During a

flare-up, painful and swollen lesions tend to develop in several problematic areas where skin rubs together such as the armpits, groin, buttocks and breasts.3 In addition to causing chronic pain, fistulas can restrict range of motion in the limbs when accompanied by significant scarring. The severity of the

disease is commonly assessed using the Hurley staging system; mild disease represents approximately 44% of cases, whereas moderate and severe disease represent 44% and 12% of HS cases, respectively.4

The chronic and recurrent nodules, abscesses, tunnels, scaring, pain and itching


Single or multiple abscess

Single or multiple recurrent abscesses with fistula formation and scarring, widely separated lesions

Widely spread lesions, or multiple interconnected fistulas and abscesses

all contribute to the burden of HS and significantly hinder the person’s quality of life (QoL).6 Symptoms of HS can be physically debilitating for individuals as they experience impairment of activities and daily living, leading to greater reliance on caregivers and a loss of independence. Studies have shown that symptoms of HS, such as bad-smelling discharge and disfiguring scars, and the lack of disease control can negatively impact emotional and social functioning. 7 Additionally, the location of the lesions is often involved in sexual intimacy, which negatively impacts sexual health and quality of life while increasing psychological comorbidities.8

Most individuals with HS live with recurring symptoms over many years, which can lead to chronic pain, reduced mobility due to significant scarring and poor overall QoL. Although early recognition and prompt access to treatment has been shown to reduce the burden of HS, many individuals endure debilitating symptoms for years without access to effective treatment. Most notably, a survey conducted by the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (CSPA) in 2020 showed that the average time between symptom onset and HS diagnosis was seven years and that participants were on average misdiagnosed three times before receiving their correct HS diagnosis.9

Social stigma around the disease can amplify the fear of judgement and exacerbate feelings of isolation. Given their experiences, many individuals with HS ultimately suffer from isolation, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Notably, 43% of patients with HS are diagnosed with depression and with greater risk of death from suicide compared to the general population.10,11

Impact at work for employees with HS

HS usually affects young adults during prime career- and family-building years, with impairment increasing with disease severity. During flare-ups, symptoms can prevent employees from sitting at a desk, walking, lifting, wearing a uniform, etc. Understandably, participants of the CSPA survey reported missing on average 3 days of work per month and many experienced job loss due to their HS condition. A study


conducted in the United States in 2019 revealed that participants with HS had higher total annual indirect costs including disability and medically related absenteeism costs, number of days of work loss and risk of leaving the workforce compared to individuals without HS (Figure 1).9,12

HS can also negatively impact employees’ ability to be productive at work as shown in a recent Danish study where only 57% of participants with HS were employed, of which over 21% reported missing work and 60% reported loss of work productivity during the previous week as a result of HS. Notably, overall work productivity was reduced by 27% and impairment was shown to increase with disease severity.13

The ramifications of the disease can also extend into their social lives, impeding their ability to engage with their significant others and family members and socialize with friends and colleagues.9

What are the treatment options?

The goal of currently available therapies is to reduce symptoms, alleviate pain, heal existing lesions, treat infections, prevent subsequent flare-ups and stop disease progression. In addition to lifestyle changes and pain medication, HS treatment options include topical therapies, antibiotics, hormone therapy, steroids, biologics, laser therapy and surgery.

Most individuals with HS require lifestyle, medical and/or surgical interventions to effectively manage their symptoms. However, each individual responds differently to any given therapy and HS patients often have other medical conditions which can make developing an effective treatment plan very challenging.5 This was demonstrated in the CSPA survey where more than 60% of the participants reported dissatisfaction with the treatment options, after trying an average of 15 different therapies.9 Further,

Hurley stage II Hurley stage III
HS impact on ability to work affects all patients across all disease stages (Hurley stages I-III)*1
HS patients suffer from indirect costs due to hospital stays and affected work ability **2 (patients with HS vs. health controls)


by Health Canada for the treatment of HS. COSENTYX® works differently via a new mechanism of action by selectively neutralizing the body’s interleukins (IL)-17A.21,22

What does this mean for plan sponsors?

Despite the abundance of images and information about the disease in the public domain, HS is a relatively obscure skin condition for many people, including some health care providers, leading to delays in treatment start and misdiagnosis, resulting in irreversible lesions and prolonged disease burden. Access to adequate treatments can significantly reduce indirect costs due to absenteeism, presenteeism, productivity loss and disability costs.

Although there is a tremendous unmet need in HS, only a small proportion of plan members have access to new therapies that are safe, effective in limiting disease progression and have been shown to be successful treatment options for long-term use.9 One way to improve health outcomes would be to ensure that physicians have timely access to the full range of approved medications with different mechanisms of action, including newly approved therapies, in order to effectively manage each patient with HS. Plan sponsors should ask their benefits providers about their approach in reviewing new therapies and how comprehensively their drug plan is maintained to support employees with HS.

a separate report based on interviews with 12 patients and 16 healthcare providers (HCPs) conducted in 2022 revealed 16 areas of unmet needs, which were either related to treatment outcomes or the care process, and 13 important treatment attributes. The most frequently reported unmet needs by patients and HCPs were lacking quality-oflife improvement, low treatment effectiveness and inadequate pain control.15

Antibiotics and surgery can be effective therapies in some HS patients but have limiting factors such as limited short-term response, development of bacterial resistance, painful recovery and permanent scarring.5,16, 17 With suboptimal treatments, HS can progress to more severe stages.5 Early treatment

with biologics has been shown to delay disease progression and can prevent the severe form of the disease such as scaring (Figure 2).18 HS patients will benefit from therapies with different mechanisms of action to allow for more personalized treatment plans.

Currently, two biologic drugs –adalimumab (HUMIRA® and biosimilars) and COSENTYX® (secukinumab) – are approved by Health Canada for the treatment of moderate to severe HS. Adalimumab is a recombinant human immunoglobulin (IgG1) monoclonal antibody which works by blocking tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF α ).20 COSENTYX®, which has been marketed in Canada for other conditions since 2015, was recently approved

Given the impact of HS on employees’ well-being, and their ability to function both at work and socially, providing access to safe and efficient treatment options early can have a significantly positive impact on employees, help them remain productive at work and enable them to engage in healthy and rewarding experiences in their personal lives.

References: 1Kimballetal.(2023), 2Alikhanetal.(2009), 3CanadianHidradenitisSuppurativeFoundation, 4Canadianmarketresearchstudy,Novartisdataonfile(2022), 5Johnstonetal.(2022), 6Chernyshovetal.(2019), 7Alavietal.(2018-MR), 8Alavietal.(2018-JN), 9CanadianSkinPatientAlliance, 10Thorlaciusetal.(2018), 11Vazquezetal.(2013), 12Tzellosetal.(2019), 13Yaoetal.(2020), 14Kimballetal.(2020), 15Willemsetal(2022), 16Fischeretal.(2017), 17Burney(2017), 18Alikhanetal.(2019), 19Martorelletal.(2016),20Abbvie,HUMIRAProductMonograph(2022), 21Novartis,COSENTYXProductMonograph(2023), 22Skrozaetal.(2017)

This article was sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceutical Canada Inc.




recognizes the Top Consultants of 2024, a collection of firms honoured for their renowned and varied expertise. Their clients hold them in high regard due to the impressive array of results they consistently generate.

No matter the complexity or size of the task, all of this year’s winners are steadfast in their commitment to delivering industry-leading solutions that continue to propel the industry’s evolution.


Headquarters: Toronto, ON Years in Operation: 6

Focus: Pensions

The firm is led by president Colin Ripsman, who has over a quarter of a century of institutional investment experience, along with a law degree and an MBA in finance.

Ripsman and partner Igor Litvinov focus on defined benefit and defined contribution plans, and particularly on investment-related issues and governance.


“We deliver a very highquality specialty offering. Being a smaller, more targeted firm, we use our leaner structure to deliver prudent and costeffective solutions”
Colin Ripsman, Elegant Investment Solutions, Inc.

They leverage their expertise in consulting, investing, and the law to:

• improve decision-making

• enhance the portfolio’s risk-and-return profile

• control fiduciary risk

While the conglomerates deal with a lot of areas, that’s not the model Elegant follows. Ripsman explains, “We are laser focused, we do the things that we do well and don’t focus on other areas.”

He adds, “We have really strong govern-

ance roots. My belief is in helping clients manage their portfolios in a more effective way and coming up with holistic and innovative solutions, but most important is controlling fiduciary risk. We’re uniquely positioned to deliver on those types of solutions.”

While some may view the firm’s narrow focus on pensions as a detraction, for Ripsman, it’s a badge of honour that ensures his team can deliver the best unbiased pension and investment consulting. Elegant’s size is another plus point for clients relative to some firms, who are in the OCIO space to build their own fund of funds to market.

“To work with a small firm where you’re actually working with the principals where you’ll have that continuity over time is becoming a lot more appealing,” says Ripsman. “The benefits of our laser focus is that all of our revenue is generated from consulting projects, there are no conflicts of interest.”

Elegant Investment’s full range of services includes:

• governance structures

• plan design

• recordkeeper searches

• investment manager searches (bundled and unbundled)

• contract review and negotiation

• manager and recordkeeper monitoring

• fee benchmarking

Defining its role to the client is another of Elegant Investment’s priorities, to ensure there is a transparent convergence of expectations. The firm begins with a welldefined governance framework to promote an understanding of roles and responsibilities, key objectives, and activities.

“Our promise to our clients, which we deliver on, and what our clients say, is that we deliver our projects on time and on budget. Our holistic approach helps improve the quality of decision-making. We demonstrate

and document it all so that our clients can consider all the key inputs and make a reasonable and prudent decision,” says Ripsman.


Headquarters: Richmond Hill, ON

Years in Operation: 3

Focus: Compensation, Benefits, and Retirement Consulting

Being able to decipher situations from all angles sets this firm apart from the rest.

This is driven by founder Joseph Chan, who had a decade-long background in actuarial and group insurance underwriting when he flipped to the client side, first overseeing the Canadian benefits and wellness department for construction giant Lafarge, then heading up benefits and pensions for Walmart’s 100,000 employees in Canada.

This 360-degree appreciation is what makes Looniewell distinctive, as it’s embedded in the firm’s internal processes and across its team members.

“We have actual hands-on experience working at an employer, while some brokers or consultants might be very good with strategy, but they haven’t executed,” explains Chan. “We know what the reality is in rolling out benefits and pension programs, changes, or communication to employees. A lot of times, we actually help clients execute the strategy that we have built for them.”

The firm prides itself not only on being able to adopt the employer’s perspective, but also on seeing things from the individual employee’s vantage point.

Chan highlights how important this is.


Benefits and Pensions Monitor launched the nominations for its inaugural Top Consultants report on March 11 in line with the publication’s goal to recognize the elite consultancy firms in the benefits and pensions sector. Entrants were requested to outline their accomplishments over the last 12 months and explain the distinctive service offerings that distinguish these firms, along with the value they deliver to their clientele. In the process of selecting the final 20 Top Consultants, BPM meticulously evaluated all nominations, scrutinizing each firm’s significant contributions to its clients and the benefits and pensions industry.

“I’m not afraid to invest in resources and bring in talent, but I ensure it’s without sacrificing our high-touch, highly responsive service”

Chan, Looniewell

“For employees, it’s about how much money they are going to pay out of pocket and what are they going to get. We’re able to give clients that perspective,” says Chan. “When we design newer programs, it’s all flexible benefits, and the execution is tough. It requires a lot of communication and education to tell employees what it means personally for them.”

Many of the firm’s clients take advantage of being able to get support across:

• benefits

• pensions

• compensation

“Our clients get access to our senior people, and we generally have more hours to devote to client work than we would at larger firms. Our clients reap the benefits of that”
Greg Heise, George & Bell Consulting

Chan adds, “We bring that holistic perspective, which a lot of clients really like because we’re not looking at one piece at a time. We’re able to speak intelligently to strategies that address their total business needs.”

This is delivered via Looniewell’s Know Your Client discovery, which is undertaken even if the client only wants one of the firm’s three services.

“We want to understand the company philosophy, what the business priorities are, what their employee value proposition is, to ensure that even if we’re doing only one piece, it fits into the bigger strategy,” says Chan.

Another similar structural advantage of Looniewell is that it is small enough to remove unnecessary red tape and empower its people to be proactive. The firm also pays at or above industry average, along with bonuses and short-term incentives for its team, which drives further motivation to maintain standards.

Chan says, “If our clients need things that are out of the ordinary, often at the bigger firms this would require senior partner-level approval. But with us, we get it done. I’m the owner, so it starts and stops here, and we don’t report to shareholders. Our interests directly align with those of our clients.”


Headquarters: Vancouver, BC Years in Operation: 12 Focus: Pensions

Regarding itself as a rarity in the industry, George & Bell Consulting has gradually shaped itself to be a composite machine.

It has a 50-strong team that collaborates to offer an impressive package:

• pinpointing issues with precision

• drafting innovative solutions

• delivering difficult messaging if necessary

• articulating concepts into understandable pieces

“Our people are very technically proficient and communicate well,” says partner Greg Heise. “Consultants who can really distil the issues and make clear, concise recommendations that clients understand are what set us apart.”

George & Bell have a core of 10 partners, each with up to three decades of industry experience. As the owners, they lead strategically, and the firm’s size allows them to directly affect the day-to-day business.

“As owners, we’re the ones who benefit

from delivering on our commitment to the clients; we don’t have other stakeholders as a distraction. It’s very simple and back-tobasics,” explains Heise.

Part of that straightforward approach involves staff crisscrossing Western Canada. Heise himself undertakes 10-hour roundtrip car journeys for meetings.

“It’s not the norm, but I once took an hour-and-a-half flight to attend a meeting that lasted five minutes for one of my clients.”

Even with a switch to more remote work, George & Bell values face-to-face meetings and feels this is another difference-maker.

Heise says, “It does set us apart. For example, we took over a client recently and they hadn’t seen their actuaries in person in about four-and-a-half years. Travel for us is part of the business.”

Being a certain size and having full control of its affairs, the firm is proactive as a thought leader. That involves positioning itself with government regulators and lobbying efforts with politicians.

“We consider ourselves full-throated advocates for our clients,” adds Heise. “It’s easier when you’re a smaller firm to just take a stance, and we don’t necessarily have to walk in the center. As much as we can, we take a position on an issue and stand by it.”



Website: looniewell.com


Phone: 1-877-953-1066

Email: info@benefitsconnect.ca

Website: benefitsconnect.ca

Elegant Investment Solutions, Inc.

Phone: 647-904-9892

Email: colin.ripsman@elegantinvestmentsolutions.com

Website: elegantinvestmentsolutions.com

George & Bell Consulting

Phone: 888-800-1450

Email: info@georgeandbell.com

Website: georgeandbell.com

Selectpath Benefits & Financial, Inc.

Phone: 519-675-1177

Email: infoselectpath.ca

Website: selectpath.ca


The Benefit Solution, Inc.

Phone: 519-936-4197

Email: darryl@thebenefitsolution.ca

Website: thebenefitsolution.ca

Bodhi Research Group

Covenant House Toronto

Gallagher Benefits Services (Canada) Group

INTEGRIS Pension Management

Kensington Health Centre

Leslie Consulting Group

Lounsbury Life & Group Insurance Services

Mosley Group Benefits


Normandin Beaudry

Penmore Group

People Corporation

Smith Pension & Actuarial Consultants

Sterling Brokers

Website: looniewell.com

Looniewell is a Toronto-based consulting firm specializing in delivering total rewards solutions across compensation, benefits, and retirement. Founder Joseph Chan has shaped Looniewell by bringing together the elements of his extensive experience as an HR leader in industry, including heading up benefits and pensions at Walmart Canada.

He says, “We provide a three-dimensional perspective from a holistic business and total rewards view.”

Innovation is a mindset ingrained across the firm, demonstrated by how it approaches matters differently, with the sole aim of providing superior service.

“We don’t just do spreadsheets and decks, we take the lead on execution and communication, and really take care of our clients in ways others don’t in the industry,” adds Chan. “We put our clients first and advocate for them.”

Looniewell’s rapid rise has been driven solely by organic growth, and its customer base is the result of referrals, which include organizations with over 10,000 employees to start-up operations seeking to scale.

“Our philosophy is to be honest, ethical, and transparent with our clients; focus on what’s in their best interest; and help their businesses thrive,” he says.

Embracing a DEI mindset

Building a diverse product shelf across a large insurance company can be a huge challenge. Here’s how Canada Life is making it happen

CHANGE IS a long journey. With Canada Life’s 175-year history, the company knows firsthand how challenging the process of change can be. But Canada Life also knows that with these challenges come growth and success. And most of the time, the rewards make the journey more than worthwhile.

Today, a large part of Canada Life’s journey through change involves rethinking and reshaping their core offerings to better

ly-building benefit have been successful steps toward diversifying their product shelf. According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 300 Canadians aged 15 or older identify as transgender or non-binary. 1 Canada Life’s gender affirmation coverage can help Canadians on their gender affirmation journey to be their authentic selves – since everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable in their body.

“Workplace benefits are a really important way that employers can support inclusive and diverse workplaces” Shelley Sjoberg, Canada Life

reflect the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Their main reason for doing this is so they can ensure they’re supporting their customers, communities, and their own valued team members. Canada Life firmly believes that people are unlikely to embrace their full potential if they don’t feel seen and understood. They recognize that people’s needs are shaped by their backgrounds, life stage, experiences, identities, and personal beliefs. That’s why Canada Life takes the time and care needed to develop products and services that are tailored to support the diverse needs of Canadians and their families.

When it comes to group benefits, Canada Life’s recent product launches like gender affirmation coverage and their fami-

Family is one of our primary ways to feel connected and have belonging in the world – and Canada Life’s family-building benefit can help support the many different paths people take to build their families. This benefit can help support the approximately one in six couples in Canada who experience infertility,2 as well as people looking to preserve their future fertility, those who struggle with unrelated medical diagnoses that impact fertility, and same-sex couples looking to start a family.

Canada Life’s wealth plans can help Canadians access trustworthy and affordable financial programs, but they know that not everyone starts their savings journey with the same goals in mind. For example,

some plan members may be more focused on their children’s potential wealth rather than needing their own savings during retirement. But Canada Life’s wealth products are designed to meet members where they are, no matter their unique situation.

Having a diverse wealth offering also means providing access to specialty funds like the BlackRock Islamic Global Equity Index Fund. This fund provides members who are Muslim with the opportunity to invest in a diversified portfolio of global equity investments to help their retirement savings grow. Offering a high-quality fund that is Shariah-certified also allows plan sponsors to help support their ambitions and commitments toward DEI.

Being forward-thinking and approaching product development through a DEI lens is a huge priority – and something that Canada Life’s Shelley Sjoberg, assistant vice president, product development and support, is particularly passionate about.

“Workplace benefits are a really important way that employers can support inclusive and diverse workplaces,” said Sjoberg. “Our new family-building benefit and gender affirmation supports are just some of the ways we’re helping to do that. Critical to our success is drawing from the diverse perspectives of our customers and our own team. By fostering a diverse team, we’re better equipped to meet the needs of plan members, wherever they are in their own lives.”

Through 2024 and beyond, Canada Life is working to make their workplace plans even more relevant for members with

Sponsored by

Canada Life firmly believes that people are unlikely to embrace their full potential if they don’t feel seen and understood

diverse needs. On the benefits side, Canada Life is working hard to diversify their products and services and expand on existing coverage. This includes resources to help support women in the workplace and bring more attention to issues surrounding women’s health, which have historically been underfunded and suffered from a lack of research. This also means enhancing their family-building offering to further support Canadians in navigating their unique journeys to grow their families.

Improving supports available for Indigenous plan members is also a key focus for Canada Life. Indigenous peoples in Canada often face more severe health challenges

compared to other populations.3 Canada Life wants to help mitigate these challenges by showing how their products can support the unique needs of Indigenous members.

As one of Canada’s leading experts on disability prevention and management, Canada Life is also committed to meaningful innovations to meet the diverse needs of members experiencing disability. This includes further educating their teams on the role culture plays in someone’s disability and return-to-work experience.

On the savings front, Canada Life is looking to continue ensuring their fund shelf includes quality investments to help Canadians save for retirement. They’re

looking for even more opportunities to add specialty funds and help members build their financial plans for retirement, estate planning, a child’s education, and whatever else they may need.

While their efforts are far from over, Canada Life is working hard to build a product shelf that acknowledges how essential DEI is to doing business. It’s their belief that a strong spirit of curiosity, collaboration, and understanding will be key to any future success. Because change is a journey, and it can be challenging – but it’s also essential to embrace it with open arms and an open mind.

Sources: 1StatisticsCanada,“CanadaIstheFirstCountrytoProvideCensusDataon TransgenderandNon-BinaryPeople.”Statcan.gc.ca,April27,2022.www150. statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220427/dq220427b-eng.htm 2Unknown,“Fertility101:FertilityFundamentals,” Fertility Matters Canada,last modifiedJune2023.www.fertilitymatters.ca/learn/fertility101/ 3Kim,PaulJ.“SocialDeterminantsofHealthInequitiesinIndigenousCanadians ThroughaLifeCourseApproachtoColonialismandtheResidentialSchool System,” Health Equity,vol.3,July25,2019.www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC6657289/pdf/heq.2019.0041.pdf

Attitudes are changing in the workplace

Empire Life VPs Vanessa Lycos and Christine Wyatt explain how the philosophy around benefits is evolving

WORKPLACE BENEFITS are at the core of employees’ well-being. It’s important that insurers and employers alike keep up with ongoing trends not only to stay ahead of competition but also to ensure that employees’ well-being is not being left out.

Vanessa Lycos, vice president of group product and marketing, and Christine Wyatt, vice president of group distribution, both at Empire Life, highlight the future of employee benefits, with a focus on personalization, sustainability, and technology. They emphasize the ongoing consolidation in the distribution industry and the challenges plan sponsors face this year, as well as opportunities and technological trends.

“We’re seeing much more consolidation, and businesses are all trying to find a way to differentiate their services,” Wyatt says. “Insurers have to be much more creative in how we serve that market, because they have different segments they’re all in now.”

For Empire Life, Wyatt notes that this is a challenge but also an opportunity, because the Canadian insurer is small enough that it can pivot freely and be more personalized in catering to the various markets. The challenge with this, Wyatt says, is that “as these firms get bigger and bigger, some of them eclipse us in size.

“The real key to that is to be quite

Take a data-driven approach to your workplace plans.


Among 600 benefit advisors, 56% ranked balancing costs and enhancements to their benefits plans as their top priority, a 10% increase over last year.

36% ranked cost containment as the top priority – a 17% increase compared to January 2023.

Source: Empire Life, January 2024

“If you look at your greatest asset, it’s your ability to work, and if that goes away, then what do you have?’
Vanessa Lycos, Empire Life

Sun Life brings you the Best in Health through our ongoing analysis of industry trends.

agnostic, as well as flexible, and spread the solutions that you’re bringing, so that they can take pieces of it along that value chain.”

Lycos and Wyatt also attest that the philosophy around benefits is also changing as they reflect on questions like, “What do people need versus what do people want covered? What’s the role of the employer now versus what it used to be? How flexible do you have to be, or how much are you willing to pay? How much can you really cost-share with your employees? [These questions] will continue to be a big driver,” Wyatt notes.

Plan sponsors’ needs are changing Lycos is quick to note that employees’ needs and sponsors’ needs are changing and evolving, as they want to have a broad array of flexible options so they can customize according to “what their philosophy is.”

“What benefits do they believe are important for their employees and

Visit our Health Insights centre and check out our Designed for Health reports for insights that keep you ahead-of-the-curve. They’ll help you understand:

•New trends and risks across plan member demographics

•What’s driving long-term disability claims

•Toolkits and playbooks to help you take action on workplace health.

Learn more – check out our reports at sunlife.ca/healthinsights.

Life’s brighter under the sun


are sustainable? What can they afford? What helps them attract and retain their employee base? We’re making sure that we have a really great product shelf of different options to choose from and making sure they’re consumable and easily understood,” she says.

As for opportunities coming to the benefits field over the next year, Lycos points to a growing appreciation for physical wellness and mental wellness, and a desire to have products and services that can meet those needs available to employees. She says while long-term disability (LTD) is important, it’s also not typically considered, because it’s unpleasant or because people think they will never “slip in the

shower or on a banana peel,” for example.

“If you’re really going to protect financial wellness, as well as health, not having those products really opens up people to risk,” Lycos says. “If you look at your greatest asset, it’s your ability to work, and if that goes away, then what do you have? While we provide the traditional insurance in case stuff happens, there’s also the prevention and access to wellness and mental health.”

“You’re better off preventing things early on versus letting something fester [until] it becomes a chronic disease and potentially leads to long-term disability,” she adds.

Wyatt says that while technology, specifi-

341,000 individual customers

11,300 group employer customers

252,000 group life and health plan members

860 employees across Canada; 530 employees at its corporate head office in Kingston, Ontario

36,000 distribution partners – professional financial advisors, brokers, managing general agents, group producers, and mutual fund dealers across Canada

cally AI, won’t change the work they do, it will help enhance the benefits space to curate the right sources of information.

“We have much better tools now as insurers to make sure that we actually can provide [benefits] to really small employers versus what used to be considered big benefits for big employers. Bringing the right tools and the right access to financial and physical well-being is really difficult, but I

“We’re seeing much more consolidation, and businesses are all trying to find a way to differentiate their services”

think we’re getting better at it because technology enables us to do that,” she says.

In addition to providing insurers with the right tools, Wyatt believes AI will provide opportunities to look at trends and data sets “way more efficiently” than ever before.

“For years, as an industry, we’ve really relied on historical data. There are certain things we just don’t have historical data for. How we’re going to wade into that in the future is going to be a real opportunity to see how everyone changes the game and what risk

people are really comfortable with. I think what we’ll see coming out of it is probably more specialized risk insurance carriers as well,” she says.

Similarly, Lycos emphasizes that the significance of combining digital capabilities with personal human touch will be crucial for the benefits space in future. “At the end of the day, digital technology and innovation are key for us, but [so is] never losing sight of the fact that there’s a person in charge of the sponsor and there’s a person who is accessing benefits. Marrying digital capabilities and innovation with the personal human touch will continue to be really important for us,” she says.




Contact: Sunil Hirjee, Vice President, Sales & Partner Experience

Address: 110 Sheppard Ave. E. Suite 500, Toronto, ON, M2N 6Y8

PH: 416-580-7004

Email: Sunil.Hirjee@beneva.ca Web: beneva.ca

Net premiums (as of Jan. 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Life, $253M; Group Health, $3,208M; ASO Premiums, $167M Products/Services: Dental, Drug, Extended Health, LTD & STD, Life Insurance, AD&D, Flexible Benefits Plan, Critical Illness Insurance, Co-ordination of Benefits, Communication, Material, Drugs & Dental Cards, Rehabilitation Services, Health & Wellness Programs, Income Insurance, Early Intervention Program, Direct Deposit, In-House Medical Expertise, Telemedicine, Pharmacogenomics, Travel Benefits, Health Spending Accounts, Transition Services, Organizational Health Consulting, Employee and Employer Assistance Programs, Insurance for Plan Members Working Abroad, Insurance for Temporary Residents, Mobile Applications

Contact: Amy Ferguson, Vice President, Business Development, Group Benefits Address: 95 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON, M4V 1N7

PH: 416-926-2626

Email: amy.ferguson@dfs.ca

Web: desjardinslifeinsurance.com


Contact: Derrick March, Senior Vice-President, Business Development Address: 330 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 1R7

PH: 647-326-2885

Email: derrick.march@canadalife.com Web: canadalife.com

Net premiums (as of Jan 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Life, $3,170.9M; Group Health, $4,022.7M; ASO Premiums, $4,971.7M Products/Services: Dental, Drugs, Extended Health, Supplementary Hospital, Long-term Disability, Short-term Disability, AD&D, Life & Optional Life, Critical Illness, Flexible Benefit Plans, Employee Assistance Programs, Drug Cards, Rehabilitation Services, Communication Materials, Electronic Enrolment, Preferred Provider Network, Medical Specialists, Assessment & Treatment Facilities, Out-ofCountry Claims. NOTE: Health includes Health and Dental; Life includes all other benefits

Net premiums (as of Dec 31, 2023, based on OSFI): Group Life, $286M; Group Health, $3,510M; ASO Premiums, $439M Products/Services: Life Insurance; AD&D; Extended Healthcare Insurance – Prescription Drugs, Vision Care, Travel Insurance & Assistance, Virtual Healthcare, Dental Care, Health Spending Account, Wellness Account, Healthy Weight Initiative, Gender Affirmation Coverage; Insurance for Expatriate Employees; Insurance for Temporary Resident; Drug Cards & Drug Management Programs (Patient Support Program for Specialty Drugs, Prior Authorization Drug List, Tiered Plan with Dynamic Therapeutic Formulary, Active Pharmacy, Preferred Provider Network, Medical Cannabis Option); Biosimilar Strategy; Family Focus (fertility, surrogacy, adoption support). Short-Term Disability, Long-Term Disability, Disability Management Advisory Services; Critical Illness Insurance; Second Medical Opinion; Health & Wellness (Health is Cool 360 platform, Employee & Employer Assistance Programs [including Digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy], Health Assistance Service, Health PACT, Sleep Disorder Solutions); Pharmacogenetics. HR Outsourcing, Secure Sites for Plan Administrators & Plan Members, Omni Mobile App, Transfer of Electronic Data, Flexible Benefits, Self-insured Benefits (ASO, BASO, Cost Plus)


Contact: Marc Avaria, Executive Vice-President, Group Insurance Division

Address: One Westmount Road North, Waterloo, ON, N2J 4C7

PH: 519-904-8011

Fax: 519-883-7400

Email: mavaria@equitable.ca

Web: equitable.ca

Net premiums (as of January 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Life, $44M; Group Health, $381M; ASO Premiums, $164M

Products/Services: Equitable® provides a range of group benefits solutions designed to meet clients’ unique needs, including: Life, Accident and Critical Illness Insurance, Extended Health Care, Dental Care, Pharmaceutical Benefits, Vision Care, Disability Management Solutions, Health Care Spending Accounts and Taxable Spending Accounts, EZBenefits™ for small business, myFlex™ flexible benefits plans, Personal Health and Dental Coverage (for plan members exiting their employee benefits plan), Emergency Medical Travel Assistance, Provincial Plan Replacement Coverage for Inpats and our suite of HealthConnector™ health and wellness services, including Employee and Family Assistance Programs, Virtual Healthcare, Medical Second Opinion Services, Cancer Support, and Online Mental Health Assistance.


Contact: Philippe Berbari, Vice-President, Business Development and National Administration, Group Insurance Address: 1555 Girouard Street West, St-Hyacinthe, QC, J2S 2Z6

PH: 514-602-6791

Email: philippe.berbari@humania.ca

Web: humania.ca

Products/Services: Compassionate Care Leave: Included as part of our LTD benefit. Possibility of taking a leave of absence, with up to 12 months of LTD benefits, to care for a seriously ill or injured loved one. Employee and Manager Assistance Program: Prezen+ My Health Ally –Full EAP, included as part of our LTD benefit. Roadside Assistance Program: Included with our Health Care insurance benefit; available 24 hours a day anywhere in Canada and the continental United States. Telemedicine Services: Included as part of our Health Care insurance benefit; 24/7 access to a licensed physician by telephone or video call. The Fracture Benefit: Included with any Humania group insurance benefit. Receive an indemnity up to $1,000 in the event of an accidental fracture. Conversion Privilege: Convert your group Life, LTD and critical illness benefits into individual insurance coverage.



Contact: Martine Sohier, Senior Vice-President, Sales

Address: 1080, Grande Allée Ouest, C.P. 1907, succursale Terminus, QC, G1K 7M3

PH: 418-684-5000

Fax: 877-660-2519

Email: martine.sohier@ia.ca

Web: ia.ca

Net premiums (as of Dec 31, 2023., based on OSFI): Group Life: $149M; Group Health: $1,274M; ASO Premiums: $240M

Products/Services: AD&D, Critical Illness, Dental Care, Early Intervention Program, Employee Assistance Program, Extended Health Care, Flexible Benefits Plans, Health Spending Accounts, Living Benefits, Long-term Disability, Medical Navigation System, Paid-up Life, Rehabilitation Services, Short-term Disability, Term Life, Travel Assistance/Trip Cancellation, Wellness Programs, Drugs Coverage & Drug Cards, Disability Management Consulting, WCB Services, Ergonomics Assessments, Absence Management Programs, Claims Assessment, Services for Alary Continuance Plans, EDI Rental, Cost Plus, Internet-based Administration Tool, Preferred Provider Network, Preferred Pharmacy, Telemedicine


Contact: David Tompkins, Vice-President, Sales

Address: Box 1045 Stn Main, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 2X7

PH: 204-784-6484

Fax: 204-774-1761

Email: david.tompkins@mb.bluecross.ca

Web: mb.bluecross.ca

Net premiums (as of Jan 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Life, $27.4M; Group Health, $97.6M; ASO Premiums, $272.9M

Products/Services: Group Products/Services: Group Health Benefit Plans, including Prescription Drugs, Extended Health, Vision, Dental, Travel, Ambulance/Hospital, Health and Wellness Spending Accounts, Wellness, Virtual Care, Employee Assistance Program, Critical Illness, Accidental Death and Dismemberment,

Life Insurance, and Short- and Long-term Disability. Organizational Wellness Benefits include Organizational Assistance, Trauma Response, Crisis Event Management, Workplace Interventions and Conflict Resolution. Individual Products/Services: Individual Health and Dental Plans, including Family, Retiree and Conversion Plans, and Travel Coverage.


Contact: David Adams,

Senior Vice President, Insurance Business Address: 644 Main Street, Moncton, NB, E1C 8L3

PH: 506-867-4720

Fax: 506-867-4651

Email: groupbenefits@medaviebluecross.ca

Web: medaviebc.ca

Net premiums (as of Jan 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Life, $529M; Group Health, $861M; ASO Premiums, $39M Products/Services: Canada’s only fully integrated health, disability, and pharmacy benefit carrier, and Canada’s largest administrator of federal government health programs. Full Group Insurance offering, including Life, Income Replacement, Extended Health, Dental, and Travel products, as well as wide range of Digital Health, Mental Health, Disease Management and Optional Benefit Solutions, spending accounts and connected care services.


Contact: Sally Hagan, Managing Director, Group Benefits, Retirement and MGA

Address: 100 King Street West, Suite 5140, Toronto, ON, M5X 1E1

PH: 647-556-5343

Email: sally.hagan@nfp.ca

Web: nfp.ca

Net premiums (as of Jan 31, 2024, based on OSFI): $415M combined (Life, Health, and ASOS) Products/Services: Group Benefits Consulting, Group Retirement Consulting, and Actuarial Services


Contact: Kelly Sanheim, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial & Risk Officer

Address: 516 2nd Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK, S7K 2C5

PH: 306-244-1192

Email: ksanheim@sk.bluecross.ca

Web: sk.bluecross.ca

Net premiums (as of Jan 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Life, $32M; Group Health, $59M; ASO Premiums, 47

Products/Services: Health, Dental, Drugs, Travel, Drug Card, EFAP, Medical Second Option, Health Spending Account, Vision Care, ASO, Life Insurance, AD&D, WI, LTD, Critical Illness, Protection Plus, Virtual Care, Cost Plus


Contact: Sophie Ouellet, Vice-President, Business Development, Group Benefits Address: 1155 Metcalfe Street, Montreal, QC, H3B 2V9

PH: 514-866-3967

Email: sophie.oullet@sunlife.com

Web: sunlife.ca

Net premiums (as of Jan 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Life, $774M; Group Health, $5,915M; ASO Premiums, $6,005M Products/Services: Extended Health Care & Dental, Pharmaceutical Benefits, Travel Benefits, Vision, Drug Intervention Programs, Pay-direct and Deferred Drug Plans, Health Spending Accounts and Personal Spending Accounts, International Benefits, Voluntary Benefits (Mandatory & Optional Critical Illness, Optional Life & AD&D), Transition Services (Life, Critical Illness & Health & Dental for Group Plan

Members exiting their employee group benefits plan), Organizational Health Consulting, Mental Health Solutions, Virtual Care, Absence & Disability Management Services (for Disability Benefit and Salary Continuance Programs), Employee Assistance Programs, Total Benefits (Integrated Benefits & Retirement Services)



Contact: Chris Carr, Senior Vice President, Special Risk

Address: 33 Yonge Street, Suite 400, Toronto, ON, M5E 1G4

PH: 416-366-2223

Email: inquiries@suttonspecialrisk.com

Web: suttonspecialrisk.com

Products/Services: Group AD&D/Personal Accident, Critical Illness, Life, Disability; Temporary and Permanent Total Disability; Expatriate Benefits; Out-of-Country/Inpatriate Medical & Dental; Global Business Travel; Occupational AD&D, Kidnap, Ransom & Extortion; War Risk & Terrorism; Professional Sports; Contingency


Contact: Mike Aiken, Vice-President, Group Insurance

Address: 236 Carlton Street, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 1P5

PH: 204-232-1285

Fax: 1-888-985-3872

Email: maiken@wawanesa.com

Web: wawanesalife.com

Net premiums (as of Jan 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Life, $18M; Group Health, $70M; ASO Premiums, $25M

Products/Services: Employee Life, Dependent Life, Optional Life, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, Short-term Disability, Longterm Disability, Hybrid Disability, Accident and Serious Illness Disability, Critical Illness, Extended Health, Vision, Emergency Out of Country, Dental, Health Care Spending Account, Personal Spending Account, Cost Plus, Business Assistance Program, Employee Assistance Program, Telemedicine, Expert Medical Services


Contact: Derrick March, Senior Vice-President, Business Development, Workplace Solutions

Address: 330 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 1R8

PH: 416-552-3300

Email: derrick.march@canadalife.com

Web: canadalife.com

Net premiums (as of Jan. 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Pension Premiums & Deposits: $7,393M; Group Pension Assets: $74,184M Products/Services: RPP/SPP, DPSP, EPSP, RRSP, RESP, PRPP, VRSP, TFSA, NRSP, Investment-only, Group LIF, Group RRIF, Annuities, Deferred Salary Leave Plan, Employee Benefit Plan, Longevity Insurance. Services: CAP Recordkeeping; Customizable Communication Materials; Online Enrolment, Educational and Transactional Website for members, plan sponsors and advisors; Bilingual, Toll-free Client Service Centre; Customizable Education Seminars and Videos; Sponsor Safeguards & Compliance Program; Third-party Financial Planning Website and Seminars; Retirement Income Planning, Member Investment Selection Service; Personalized Member Statement Illustrations. Client Profile (by no. of employees): 1–100, 9,195; 101–500, 1,161; 501–1,000, 166; 1,000+, 152


Contact: Connor Bays, Director, Sales & Partnerships

Address: 77 King Street West, Suite 2130, PO Box 74, Toronto, ON, M5K 1E7

PH: 855-683-2030

Email: info@commonwealthretirement.com Web: commonwealthretirement.com

Products/Services: Innovative Products: Common Wealth is Canada’s fastest-growing group retirement provider. Winner of the Pensions & Investments Innovation in Technology Award, the modern platform offers a superior digital experience with fast, easy setup and administration of group plans. Integrated Group RRSP, Group TFSA, DPSP, RRIF,

DCPP and highly flexible matching options. High-quality institutional investments from BlackRock® and RBC Global Asset Management and annuity options from Brookfield Annuity with modern recordkeeping technology. Members benefit from low fees for life, built-in personalized retirement planning that projects retirement income including government benefits, automatic investing, and a mobile app to track retirement readiness. Superior Services: Online education, dedicated access to retirement specialists for sponsors and members, customizable enrolment materials, team education. Advisors: Full-service sales and marketing programs, seamless sponsor transfers and guided onboarding. Client Profile: All company sizes.


Contact: Nadia Darwish, Vice President, Business Development & Client Relationships

Address: 95 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON, M4V 1N7 PH: 416-926-2700, ext. 5595019

Email: nadia.darwish@dfs.ca

Web: desjardinslifeinsurance.com

Net premiums (as of Dec 31, 2023, based on OSFI): Group Pension Premiums & Deposits, $4,616M; Group Pension Assets, $28,231M Products/Services: Plan Member Education; Financial Planning; In-Plan Advice & Guidance; Plan Management Services; Transfer-in; Investment Solutions; DC Plans; Group RRSPs; DPSPs; First Home Savings Account (FHSA); Non-Registered Plans; Simplified Pension Plans; Individual Pension Plans; Defined Benefits Plans; Investment-only Plans; Single Premium Annuities; TFSA,VRSP and RIF/LIF/Annuities; Variable Benefits; Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan; Delegated DC; Financial Wellness Centre; Retirement Simulator; Online Investment Advice, Online and Virtual Education Session; Onsite Education; Contribution Limit Monitoring: Online Contribution Rate Management, Customer Service Center, Transactional & Mobile Secured Plan Member Website: Personalized Member Communication; Secured Plan Sponsor Website; Online Sponsor Reports; Personalized Sponsor Dashboards; Electronic Data Exchange; Eligibility Management



Contact: Michael Barnett, Executive Vice-President, Institutional

Address: 483 Bay Street, Suite 300, Toronto, ON, M5G 2N7

PH: 416-217-7773

Email: michael.barnett@fidelity.ca

Web: institutional.fidelity.ca

Products/Services: Fidelity Canada Institutional (FCI) is one of Canada’s largest institutional asset managers, offering plans and a full range of investment products. FCI is a leading provider of Target Date solutions for Group Plans with a range of offerings including Active, Blend and Index Target Date offerings. FCI offers a full suite of options in all asset classes, including Canadian, US, international, emerging markets equity, fixed income, asset allocation, LDI, SMA, and alternatives. As of Dec 31, 2023, FIC had $216.8B assets under management, including $41.75B pension assets from its institutional clients.


Contact: Martine Sohier, Senior Vice-President, Sales

Address: 1080, Grande Allée Ouest, C.P. 1907, succursale Terminus, QC, G1K 7M3

PH: 418-684-5000

Email: martine.sohier@ia.ca

Web: ia.ca

Net premiums (as of Dec 31, 2023, based on OSFI): Group Pension Premiums & Deposits: $2,590M; Group Pension Assets: $21,236M

Products/Services: Defined Contribution Plans, Registered Pension Plans, Simplified Pension Plans, Registered Retirement Savings Plan, Deferred Profit Sharing Plans, Tax-free Savings Account, Defined Benefit Plans, Individual Pension Plans, Retirement Compensation Arrangements, Annuity Products, Insured or Guaranteed Annuities, Registered Retirement Income Funds, Life Income Funds, Investmentonly Services, Dynamic Asset Management, Pooled Funds and Guaranteed Investments, Life Cycle Portfolios, Customized Life Cycle Portfolios


Contact: Jason Hubbell, VP, Sales & Distribution

Address: 1 Richmond St., Suite 701, Toronto, ON, M5H 3W4

PH: 416-364-8492

Email: jhubbell@openaccessltd.com

Web: openaccessltd.com

Products/Services: Open Access is a provider of Group Savings plans in Canada. Open Access offers full-service group savings solutions for all-sized clients; whether an organization has two employees or 2,000 employees, Open Access will treat them with white-glove service and our full range of products and services. Open Access offers DC Pension Plans, Group RRSPs, TFSA, NRSPs, CAP Governance, Discretionary Investment Management, Financial Education and Planning with a focus on Financial Literacy. New in 2024, Open Access also offers Debt Management solutions, which are easily incorporated into existing GRS plans that allow employees to prioritize their own goals. We have a full-service sales and marketing model for advisors and offer customized implementations, online enrolment, and asset transfers.


Contact: Ted Singeris, Head of Westen Canada, Vice-President Client Relationships and Business Development

Address: 140 4th Ave SW, Calgary, AB, T2P 3N3 PH: 416-587-0878

Email: ted.singeris@sunlife.com Web: sunlife.com/workplace/en/ group-retirement-services

Products/Services: Group DCPP, RRSP, TFSA, DPSP, EPSP, NREG


Contact: Jean-Francois Potvin, Senior Director, Business Development

Address: Place TELUS Montréal 630 René-

Lévesque Blvd W, Montréal, Quebec, H3B 1S6

PH: 416-445-2700

Fax: 416-445-2700

Email: jean-francois.potvin@telushealth.com

Web: telus.com/en/health/employers/ consultinglinkname=See_all_consulting_ services&linktype=ge-meganav

Net premiums (as of January 31, 2024, based on OSFI): Group Pension Assets, $13,900M Products/Services: CAP Arrangements: Defined Contribution Pension Plan (DCPP); Group Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and Spousal Plans; Deferred Profit Sharing Plan (DPSP); Simplified Pension Plan (SPP); Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA); First Home Savings Account (FHSA); Individual Pension Plan (IPP); Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA); Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF); Non-registered Plan; Stock Plan; Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan (SERP); Retirement Compensation Arrangement (RCA); Employee Profit Sharing Plan (EPSP); Employee Savings Plan (ESP); Group Investment Account (GIA); Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP); Recovery Expense Plans; Notional Plans; Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan (VRSP) (Quebec); Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP; Small Business Solution (RRSP, TFSA); Universal Program for transitioning plan members. Decumulation Plans: Group LIF (Life Income Fund); Group RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund); Variable Benefits. Other Retirement and Financial Services: CAP Recordkeeping (full outsourcing, co-sourcing or system only); Multiple Employer and Association Solutions (including digital onboarding and contracting); Pensioner Payroll Services; Online Sponsor Reporting; Comprehensive Responsive Websites for plan members, plan sponsors and advisors; Responsive Enrolment and Financial Planning Support Tools; Fully Transactional Mobile App; Plan Sponsor Portal and Tools; Retirement Projection Tools and Retirement Income Planning Tools; Contribution Limit Monitoring; Online Contribution Remittance Tools; Secure Electronic Data Exchange and APIs; Eligibility Management; Customizable Communication and Design Services; Bilingual, Toll-free Customer Service; Customizable Education Seminars and Videos; Governance and Compliance Reporting and Support for Plan Sponsors; Financial Advice and Guidance; Transition Services. Other Services: Defined Benefit Pension Plans (DBRPP); Actuarial Services; Supplemental Employee Benefits; Employee Benefit Plans (EBP); Employee Assistance Programs (EAP); Disability Management Solutions; Workers’ Compensation and Health and Safety; Case Management Software; Investment Solutions



Contact: Jason Vary, President

Address: 466 Speers Road, 3rd Floor, Oakville, ON, L6K 3W9

PH: 905-257-2038

Fax: 519-979-4699

Email: jason@actuarialsolutionsinc.com

Web: actuarialsolutionsinc.com

Other offices: Lakeshore, ON

Staff: 11

Services: Group Benefit: Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, DC Pension Plans; Record-keeping and Third-Party Administration: DB Pension Plan Administration


Contact: Mona Bannis, President

Address: 195 Riviera Drive, Unit 2, Markham, ON, L3R 5J6

PH: 905-948-1991 / 888-471-4721

Fax: 905-948-0464

Email: mbannis@adv-care.com / info@adv-care.com

Web: advpharmacy.com / medchoice.ca

Staff: 2

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, DB Pension Plans, DC Pension Plans; Healthcare: Drug Cost Management, Claims Management, Employee Assistance Program; Recordkeeping and Third-Party Administration: Claims Adjudication, Eligibility Verification; Software and Technology: Benefits Administration

Staff: 11

Services: Group Benefit Consulting: Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, DC Pension Plans; Record-keeping and Third-Party Administration: DB Pension Plan Administration


Contact: Massimo Nini, Vice President, Consulting and Underwriting

Address: 3500 de Maisonneuve Blvd West, Suite 2200, Westmount, QC H3Z 3C1

PH: 647-689-8277

Fax: 905-948-0464

Email: massimo.nini@aga.ca

Web: https://www.aga.ca/en/ Other offices: Montreal, Quebec City, Markham, Kitchener, Calgary, Vancouver

Staff: 330

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, Actuarial Services, DC Pension Plans; Healthcare: Drug Cost Management, Claims Management, Employee Assistance Program; RecordKeeping and Third-Party Administration: Claims Adjudication, Employee Assistance, Healthcare Spending Account Administration, Claims Payment, Call Centre, Administrative Support, Premium Billing and Collection

Delivering Outstanding Service for Over 30 Years


Contact: Pam Martin, Vice President/Senior Consultant, Group Benefits; June Smyth, Senior Actuary, Practice Leader, Pension/Retirement Address: 20 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 1006, Toronto, ON, M4R 1K8

PH: 416-863-9159

Fax: 416-863-9158

Email: info@bayneswhite.com

Web: bayneswhite.com

Staff: 10

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans; Investment: Investment Consulting, Risk Management, Manager Search, Policy Development, Performance Measurement, Education & Communication, Transition Management; Healthcare: Disability Management, Drug Cost Management, Claims Management, Employee Assistance Program, Return To Work; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: Eligibility Verification, DB Pension Plan Administration, Healthcare Spending Account Administration, Administrative Support, Premium Billing & Collection; Software and Technology: DB Pension


Contact: David Vanasse, President Address: 1836 Sherbrooke West, Montreal, QC, H3H 1E4

PH: 514-315-3335

Fax: 514-843-3842

Email: dvanasse@bflcanada.ca

Web: bflcanada.ca

Other offices: Montréal, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg

Staff: 80+

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans; Other: Disability/Absence Management Consulting; Investments: Investment Consulting, Manager Search, Performance Measurement, Education and Communication; Healthcare: Disability Management, Claims Management, Return to Work; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: Eligibility Verification, Administrative Support, Premium Billing and Collection



Contact: Diana O’Reilly, Executive Vice President

Address: 2020 Winston Park Drive, Suite 102, Oakville, ON, L6H 6X7

PH: 905-896-2022

Fax: 905-896-2108

Email: benefits@compben.com

Web: compben.com

Staff: 10

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans; Healthcare Services: Disability Management, Drug Cost Management, Claims Management, Employee Assistance Program, Return to Work; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: Claims Adjudication, Employee Assistance, Eligibility Verification, Call Centre, Claims Advocacy, Administrative Support, Premium Billing and Collection; Software and Technology: Benefits Administration


Contact: Ryan Kuruliak, President

Address: 130 King Street West, Suite 1100, Toronto, ON, M5X 1E4

PH: 416-619-8468


Fax: 416-597-2313

Email: rkuruliak@proteusperformance.com

Web: proteusperformance.com

Staff: 22

Services: Group Benefit: DB Pension Plans, DC Pension Plans; Other: Pension Governance, Administration/Actuarial Evaluation and Search, Executive Retirement Plans; Investments: Investment Consulting, Asset Allocation, Risk Management, Manager Search, Portfolio Modelling, Policy Development, Performance Measurement, Attribution Analysis, Education and Communication, Transition Management. Other: Pension Governance, Foundation Governance, OCIO Search, Retirement Planning Workshops/Seminars, Administration Review and Search, Executive Retirement Plans, Investment Compliance, Performance Reporting; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: Recordkeeping and Third-Party Administration Search; Software and Technology: Investment Management, DC Pension, Portfolio Style Analysis, Fund Reporting, Investment Manager Selection, DB Pension. Other: Performance Reporting


Contact: Sayeh Radpay, President

Address: 110 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 311, Toronto, ON, M2N 6Y8

PH: 844-509-3760

Fax: 844-951-5076

Email: sayeh.radpay@humanisrx.ca Web: humanisrx.ca

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans. Other: Population Health Analytics, Drug Plan Analytics, Medication Optimization, Drug Plan Risk Reduction; Healthcare: Disability Management, Drug Cost Management, Return to Work, Other: Optimize Medication Use, Medication Adherence, Health Risk Reduction, Chronic Disease Management; Software and Technology: Software as a Service


Contact: Susan Bird, President

Address: 45 McIntosh Drive, Markham, ON, L3R 8C7

PH: 905-946-8655

Fax: 905-946-2535

Email: sbird@mcateer.ca

Web: mcateer.ca

Other offices: Edmonton, AB

Staff: 70

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans; Investments: Investment Consulting, Asset Allocation, Compliance Investment, Risk Management, Manager Search, Portfolio Modelling, Policy Development, Performance Measurement, Attribution Analysis, Education and Communication; Healthcare Services: Disability Management, Drug Cost Management, Claims Management, Return To Work; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: Claims Adjudication, Employee Assistance, Eligibility Verification, DB Pension Plan Administration, Healthcare Spending Account Administration, Claims Payment, Claims Advocacy, Group RRSP Administration, Administrative Support, Premium Billing and Collection, DC Pension Plan Administration; Software and Technology: Benefits Administration, DC Pension, Health Claims Adjudication, DB Pension


Contact: Mark Lesniewski, President and CEO

Address: 2700, 255 – 5th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB, T2P 3G6

PH: 403-228-9024

Fax: 833-345-0404

Email: mark@lmcgroup.ca Web: lmcgroup.ca

Other offices: Winnipeg, Toronto

Staff: 16

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, DC Pension Plans. Other: Retirement Compensation Arrangements (RCAs); Record-Keeping and ThirdParty Administration Services: DB Pension Plan Administration, DC Pension Plan Administration

PH: 514-285-1122

Email: emontminy@normandin-beaudry.ca

Web: normandin-beaudry.ca

Other offices: Quebec City, Toronto Staff: 350+ across Canada

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans. Other: Compensation and Health Benefits; Investments: Investment Consulting, Asset Allocation, Compliance Investment, Risk Management, Manager Search, Portfolio Modelling, Performance Measurement, Attribution Analysis, Education and Communication, Transition Management; Healthcare: Disability Management, Drug Cost Management, Claims Management; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: Claims Adjudication, Employee Assistance, Eligibility Verification, DB Pension Plan Administration, Healthcare Spending Account Administration, Claims Payment, Administrative Support; Software and Technology: Benefits Administration, Investment Management, DC Pension, Portfolio Style Analysis, Fund Reporting, Client Server Technology, Investment Manager Selection, DB Pension. Other: Actuarial Valuation; Compensation Survey, Benchmark, Analysis; Pension Administration


Contact: Éric Montminy, President

Address: 630 René-Lévesque Boulevard West, 30th Floor, Montreal, QC H3B 1S6



Contact: Riley St. Jacques, Partner, Senior Consultant

Address: 505 Burrard Street, Suite 1070, Vancouver, BC, V7X 1M5

PH: 604-687-8056

Fax: 604-687-8074

Email: pbi@pbiactuarial.ca

Web: pbiactuarial.ca

Other offices: Vancouver, BC, Burlington, ON Montreal, QC Staff: 100+

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans. Other: Health & Welfare Plans, Member Communication; Investments: Investment Consulting, Asset Allocation, Compliance Investment, Risk Management, Manager Search, Portfolio Modelling, Policy Development, Performance Measurement, Attribution Analysis, Education and Communication. Other: Asset/ Liability Modelling, Portable Alpha Overlay

Strategies, Alternative Assets Investment (Real Estate, Hedge Funds, Infrastructure); Healthcare: Funding and Claim Risk Analysis; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: DB Pension Plan Administration, Administrative Support, DC Pension Plan Administration. Other: Recordkeeping Services, Benefit Calculations, One-on-One Member Meetings, Marriage Breakdown Calculations, Research and Advice regarding Pension Legislation, Government Filings, Educational Seminars, Annual Member Statements, Reconciliation of Expenses, Contributions, Hours Reported and Benefit Payments, Organization and Attendance at Trustee Meetings, Preparation of Meeting Minutes, Annual Member Meetings, Member Communication; Software and Technology: DC Pension, DB Pension. Other: Web-based Pension Administration System, Member Portal, Member Education Websites, Member Education Videos


Contact: Mark Vanderkam, Sr. Acct Executive

Address: 194 Weber Street East, Kitchener, ON, N2H 1E4

PH: 519-743-9000

Fax: 519-743-8346

Email: info@penad.ca

Web: penad.com

Staff: 30

Services: Group Benefit: Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: DB Pension Plan Administration, Group RRSP Administration, Administrative Support, Premium Billing and Collection, DC Pension Plan Administration; Software and Technology: Benefits Administration, DC Pension, Health Claims Adjudication, Fund Reporting, Client Server Technology, Investment Manager Selection, DB Pension


Contact: Marcelo Regen, Chief Client Officer

Address: 1403 Kenaston Blvd, Winnipeg, MB, R3P2T5

PH: 416-277-4596

Benefits and Pensions

Email: marcelo.regen@peoplecorporation.com

Web: peoplecorporation.com

Other offices: Offices Canada-wide Staff: 2,500+

Services: Group Benefit: Group Benefit Plans, Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans; Investments: Investment Consulting, Asset Allocation, Compliance Investment, Risk Management, Manager Search, Portfolio Modelling, Policy Development, Performance Measurement, Attribution Analysis, Education and Communication. Healthcare: Disability Management, Drug Cost Management, Claims Management, Employee Assistance Program, Return to Work; Record-Keeping and ThirdParty Administration: Claims Adjudication, Employee Assistance, Eligibility Verification, DB Pension Plan Administration, Healthcare Spending Account Administration, Claims Payment, Call Centre, Claims Advocacy, Group RRSP Administration, Administrative Support, Premium Billing and Collection, DC Pension Plan Administration


Contact: Darren Connolly, Director, Employer and Payor Partnerships

Address: 2300 Meadowvale Boulevard, 4th Floor, Mississauga, ON, L5N 5P9

PH: 416-786-7502

Email: dconnolly@rexall.ca

Web: rexall.ca/ppn

Offices: 390+ across Canada

Staff: 8,000

Services: Group Benefit: Other: Preferred Pharmacy Network Solutions; Healthcare: Drug Cost Management, Claims Management, Other: Prescription Fulfillment and Delivery, Medication, Management & Adherence Tools, Chronic Disease Management Support., Workplace Solutions for Employers.


Contact: Mark Vanderkam, Sr. Acct Executive

Address: 194 Weber St. East, Kitchener, ON, N2H 1E4

PH: 519-743-9000

Fax: 519-743-8346

Email: info@seclon.com

Web: seclonlogic.com

Staff: 30

Services: Group Benefit: Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: DB Pension Plan Administration, Group RRSP Administration, Administrative Support, Premium Billing and Collection, DC Pension Plan Administration; Software and Technology: Benefits Administration, DC Pension, Health Claims Adjudication, Fund Reporting, Client Server Technology, Investment Manager Selection, DB Pension


Contact: Ed Lee, Vice President

Address: 25 York St, 29th Floor, Toronto, ON, M5J 2V5

PH: 416-445-2700

Fax: 416-445-2700

Email: ed.lee@telushealth.com

Web: telus.com/en/health/employers/ consulting?linkname=See_all_consulting_ services&linktype=ge-meganav Offices across Canada: telus.com/en/health/ offices

Staff: 9,000

Size: $160 billion

Services: Group Benefit: Actuarial Services, DB Pension Plans, Administration Outsourcing, DC Pension Plans. Other: Governance and Legal Consulting, Regulatory Consulting, Compensation Consulting; Investments: Investment Consulting, OCIO, Asset Allocation, Investment Compliance, Risk Management, Manager Search, Portfolio Modelling, Policy Development, Performance Measurement, Attribution Analysis, Education and Communication, Transition Management. Other: Portfolio management outsourcing and investment operations , ESG Integration/Sustainable Investment Framework Development and Reporting; Healthcare: Disability Management, Drug Cost Management, Claims Management, Employee Assistance Program, Return to Work; Record-Keeping and Third-Party Administration: Employee Assistance, Eligibility Verification, DB Pension Plan Administration, Call Centre, Group RRSP Administration, Administrative Support, DC Pension Plan Administration; Software and Technology: Benefits Administration, DC Pension, DB Pension

directories can be found at www.benefitsandpensionsmonitor.com

Can US stocks keep on growing?

After outpacing markets for most of the past decade, can US equities still perform despite high valuations and concentration risk?

US MARKETS have tended to return well above global averages across long, medium, and short-term time horizons. In 2023, the S&P 500, taken as an index of large-cap US stocks, returned around 24 percent. The MSCI World ex USA Index, representing global markets aside from the US, returned around 12 percent.

The S&P 500 has delivered 13.06 percent annualized returns on a 10-year basis, 15.22 percent returns on a five-year basis, and

10.18 percent on a three-year basis. The MSCI World ex USA offers 5.34 percent, 8.04 percent, and 5.49 percent annualized returns across those same periods.

The point is perhaps best demonstrated by comparing the MSCI World Index –which includes US markets – to the MSCI World ex USA index. As of March 29, 2024, the MSCI World has returned 25.72 percent in the past year. The MSCI World ex USA has only returned 15.92 percent.

Historically, US markets have delivered. But after years of outperformance, some are asking whether US stocks have become too expensive and too concentrated, or will lack the same opportunity set in future.

Much of the recent growth in US stocks has been driven by a few select mega-cap names, which has introduced concentration risk. The US is also in an election year, adding more short-term uncertainty. Can the US equity allocations that have done


so well for institutions and pension funds sustain their performance?

“Sometimes compositions adjust, but a new player inside the US always seems to be emerging, and I think that is unlikely to change,” says Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at BMO Global Asset Management, when asked whether current US equity performance will be sustainable. “Because of the global presence that many of these companies have, you still want to own US along the way.”

What makes US equities so strong?

Adatia highlights scale and diversity in US markets as drivers behind their ongoing performance. Contrasting US equity markets against Canada, he notes that Canadian markets offer strong exposures to energy, financials, and natural resources. The US, however, has worldleading companies in virtually every sector as well as unmatched names in sectors like technology and healthcare.

Kate Lakin looks at earnings growth to back up her bullish view of US markets. Lakin is the director of equity research at Putnam Investments. She noted that over the past decade S&P 500 companies have offered around 11 percent average earnings growth, which is only slightly behind its annualized rate of return. More recently, S&P 500 companies have generated significant earnings growth despite a global pandemic, the onset of record high inflation, and one of the sharpest rate-hiking cycles in recent memory.

Lakin attributes some of that resilience to the strength of US-listed mega caps. Both she and Adatia highlight how performance in 2023 was driven largely by the “magnificent seven” stocks: Tesla, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, Alphabet, Nvidia, and Apple. This year, performance has bifurcated somewhat, but Lakin and Adatia both highlight that some of the trends behind that performance in 2023

should keep driving equity returns from US markets in 2024 and beyond.

What might drive US equities forward?

“I get excited about further growth because of AI, reshoring, antiobesity drugs, and a little bit of ‘Who knows what else could come next?’” Lakin says when asked about what could drive US performance in the future.

AI (artificial intelligence) tops her list for somewhat obvious reasons. Exposure to AI in 2023 was a major driving force behind each name in the magnificent seven. As they split somewhat in 2024, the names with better exposure to AI – Nvidia, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft – have outpaced their competitors.

Lakin explains that AI offers positivity because hyperscaling companies spend big on AI. In a drive to revolutionize their productivity through AI and automation, these companies are increasing their total capital expenditures at a compound annualized growth rate of around 20 percent.

Putnam estimates AI capital expenditures are doubling every year.

Adatia shares Lakin’s optimism around AI, though he notes that some element of investor hype may see the largest AI market leaders correct slightly in future. While he notes that the current run in US tech names is backed by some strong earnings growth, he compares this moment to how tech stocks corrected in the 1990s and have since climbed back beyond those pre-crash valuations.

Both he and Lakin note their excitement about some of the downstream impacts of AI, which could see the broader US equity market catch up against its mega-cap leaders. Lakin notes, for example, that AI could represent a paradigm shift in utilities. The computing behind AI requires a huge amount of electricity, resulting in a demand growth profile that US utilities companies have probably never experienced.

While AI has been the headline grabber in recent years, both Adatia and Lakin emphasize the range of other themes and


innovations that could push the global economy forward, from GLP-1 obesity drugs to automated cars. In almost every one of those trends, there is a leading company based in the US or listed on a US exchange.

What risks are out there for US stocks?

Despite the high valuations we now see on US markets, both Lakin and Adatia argue that the prices are largely justified. Earnings would have to come down significantly among leading US names for their multiples to hit “unreasonable” territory. That said, there is already some degree of divergent performance among the US stock markets’ biggest winners. That may justify more of a stock-picking approach in future as valuations adjust on specific names.

One area that may affect valuations, according to Adatia, is interest rates. While the bond market has largely priced-in US interest rates staying higher for longer, he notes that equity markets have been more reticent to price-in the likelihood of only one or two interest rate cuts this year.

Another significant area of risk, Adatia says, is geopolitics. The biggest issue he foresees is if US election rhetoric elicits any kind of retaliatory action by China. Restrictions on massive companies like Tesla or Apple doing business in China could have huge detrimental impacts on US stock performance.

The significant run in mega-cap stocks has raised the issue of concentration risk in US markets, in particular whether the S&P 500 is too heavily weighted toward a small group of largely tech names. The magnificent seven, for example, represent over 25 percent of the S&P 500’s market capitalization. Both Adatia and Lakin note that there could be corrections in some of those mega-cap names, but the sheer range of other leading companies listed on US markets should continue to drive overall long-term performance.

“When you have a few names that come up short-term you need to be cognizant of that, but when you have these industry leaders that have been around for decades or longer, I think you’re okay in those areas,” Adatia says. “And you have lots of



leaders in large-cap names, the JP Morgans and Eli Lillys of the world, and lots of great sectors where you can find good opportunities to move and rotate along the way.”


Contact: Wendy Brodkin, Managing Director

Address: 200 Bay Street, North Tower, Suite 1200, Toronto, ON, M5J 2J2

PH: 647-375-2803

Email: wendy.brodkin@alliancebernstein.com

Web: alliancebernstein.com/americas/en/ institutions/home.html

Managed US assets since: 1971

US asset clients: 9

US equities: Small Cap Value, $156M; Core, $160M US bonds: Real Estate, $67M; Alternatives, $667M Total US assets: $1,030M

Passive products: S&P North America Technology Sector; US Aggregate Bond Index; US Bond Index; US Index – DJ REITs; US Index – MSCI US IMI; US Index – Russell 1000; US Index – Russell 1000 Growth Index; US Index – Russell 1000 Value; US Index – Russell 3000 Index; US Index – S&P 500; US Mid Cap Index – S&P 400; US Small and Mid Cap Index; US Small Cap Index – Russell 2000; US Small Cap Index – S&P 600; US Structured Equity

Other assets managed: Global, Global ex-US, EAFE, Emerging Markets, Regional, Single Country Regional


Contact: Craig Auwaerter, Senior Vice President, Client Service & Business Development

Address: 2000–20 Eglinton Avenue, Toronto, ON, M4R 1K8

PH: 416-932-6342

Fax: 416-485-1799

Email: cauwaerter@beutelgoodman.com

Web: beutelgoodman.com

Managed US assets since: 1985

US asset clients: 14

US equities: Large Cap Value

Total US assets: $2,571M

Other assets managed: Canadian Equity, International Equity, Global Equity, Canadian Fixed Income, US Fixed Income (Core Plus), Money Market, Dividend Focused, Balanced


Contact: Mike Sandrasagra, VP, Head of Canadian Institutional Group

Address: 181 Bay Street, Suite 4510,

Toronto, Ontario, M5J 2T3

PH: 416-869-8980

Fax: 416-869-1700

Email: msandrasagra@burgundyasset.com

Web: burgundyasset.com

Managed US assets since: 1996

US asset clients: 18

US equities: Large Cap Value, $167M; Small Cap Value, $1,427M

Total US assets: $1,594M

Other assets managed: Global Equities, EAFE Equities, European Equities, Asian Equities, Canadian Equities, Emerging Market Equities, High Yield, Fixed Income, Money Market

Alternative investment professionals: 53


Minimum investment:

Separate, $10M



Contact: Hugh Macdonnell, Managing Director

Address: 230 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10169

PH: 212-883-2500

Email: hugh.macdonnell@clarionpartners.com

Web: clarionpartners.com

Managed US assets since: 1982

US asset clients: 16

Total US assets: $4,382M

Other assets managed: Solely focused on real estate


Contact: Kevin Martino

Vice-President, Institutional

Address: Brookfield Place, 181 Bay Street, Suite 3100, Toronto, ON, M5J 2T3

PH: 416-815-2128

Fax: 213-486-9223

Email: kevin.martino@capgroup.com

Web: capitalgroup.com/ca

Managed US assets since: 1931

US asset clients: 2

US equities: Core: $20M

US bonds: Active

Total US assets: $19.7M

Other assets managed: Global Equity, Canadian Equity, International Equity, Emerging Markets, Multi-Asset, Fixed Income


Contact: Colin Miller, Head of Sales

Address: 1981 McGill College Avenue, Montreal, QC, H3A3A8

PH: 514-954-3300

Fax: 514-954-9692

Email: cmiller@fieracapital.com

Web: fieracapital.com/en

Managed US assets since: 2009

US asset clients: 14

US equities: Core, $0.8M; Large Cap Growth, $912.6M; Mid Cap Growth, $4.7M; Total US assets: $918.2M


Contact: Carlo DiLalla, Managing Director and Head, Institutional Asset Management Address: 161 Bay Street, Suite 2230 Toronto, ON, M5J 2S1

PH: 416-980-2768

Email: carlo.dilalla@cibc.com

Web: cibcam-institutional.com

Managed US assets since: 1988

US asset clients: 10

Total US assets: $834M

US equities: Large Cap Value, $425M; Passive, $409M

Passive products: S&P 500, Russell 3000 Value

Other assets managed: Money Market, Canadian Fixed Income, Liability Driven Investments (LDI), Private Debt, Canadian Equity, EAFE Equity, Currency Overlay, Asset Mix Overlay, Global Tactical Asset Allocation, Balanced, Multi-Asset Absolute Return Strategy, Asian Equities, Commodities, Global Equity Growth


Contact: Dennis Tew, Head of Sales, Canada

Address: 200 King Street West, Suite 1400, Toronto, ON, M5H 3T4

PH: 416-957-6023

Email: dennis.tew@franklintempleton.ca

Web: franklintempleton.ca

Managed US assets since: 1947

US asset clients: 6

US equities: Large Cap Value, $701M; All Cap Value, $1M; Core, $17M; All Cap Growth, $1,973M

US bonds: Active; Active US Bonds, $86M Total US assets: $2,778M

Other asset classes managed: Balanced Mandates, Canadian Equity, Canadian Fixed Income, Emerging Market Equity, Emerging Market Debt, Global Fixed Income, Global Equity, Global Real Estate, Hedge Funds, International


Equity, Retirement Target Date/Risk Portfolios, ETFs, Infrastructure, Private Debt, Private Equity, Custom/Direct Indexing & Local Asset Management



Contact: Robin Lacey, Head, Institutional Asset Management

Address: 199 Bay Street, Commerce Court West, Suite 2700, Toronto, ON, M5L 1E8

PH: 416-947-4082

Fax: 416-364-9634

Email: rlacey@guardiancapital.com

Web: guardiancapital.com

Managed US assets since: 1984

US asset client: 1

Total US assets: $1.0 M

Other assets managed: EAFE, Emerging Markets, Global, Canadian, US


Contact: Harry Marmer, EVP

Address: 1 First Canadian Place, 100 King Street West, Suite 5900, PO Box 477, Toronto, ON, M5X 1E4

PH: 416-913-3907

Fax: 416-913-3901

Email: hmarmer@hillsdaleinv.com

Web: hillsdaleinv.com

Managed US assets since: 1996

US asset clients: 11

US equities: Core, $578M

Total US assets: $578M

Other assets managed: Specializes in systematic, bespoke investment strategies, including extension mandates



Contact: Gary Wong, Associate Portfolio Manager, Institutional Clients

Address: 400 Burrard Street, Suite 1500, Vancouver, BC, V6C 3A6

PH: 604-683-3391

Fax: 604-683-0323

Email: garyw@leithwheeler.com

Web: leithwheeler.com

Managed US assets since: 1994

US asset clients: 39

US equities: Large Cap Value, $601.7M; Mid Cap Value, $23.3M

US bonds: Active, Short-term Securities, Passive, Cash

Total US assets: $625M

Passive products: IVV

Other assets managed: EAFE, EM, and Global Equity


Contact: Neeraj Jain, Institutional Portfolio Manager

Address: 79 Wellington Street West TD South Tower, Suite 3410, Box 276

Toronto, ON M5K 1J5

PH: 416-865-3929

Fax: 888-999-6657

Email: njain@mawer.com

Web: mawer.com

Managed US assets since: 1992

US asset clients: 29

US equities: core: $1,209.5M

Total US assets: $1,209.5M

Other assets managed: International Equity, EAFE Large Cap, Emerging Markets, Global Small Cap, US Equity, US Mid Cap, Canadian Equity, Canadian Small Cap, Balanced, Fixed Income, Private Equity (for Canadian investors)


Contact: Lauren Bloom, Head of Canada

Address: 77 King Street West, Suite 4240, TD North Tower, Toronto, ON M5K1G8

PH: 647-355-6887

Email: lauren.bloom@troweprice.com

Web: troweprice.com

Managed US assets since: 1937

US asset clients: 10

US Equities: Large Cap Value, $607M; Large Cap Growth, $458M

Total US assets: $7.9BB in US Equity

Other assets managed: Global Equity, International Equity, US Equity, Emerging Markets Equity and Global Fixed Income, Emerging Market Bonds, MultiAsset, Private Credit

Additional US Equity Asset Levels: US Large Cap Core Equity

C$2.6B, US Mid Cap Growth

C$3.2B, US Small Cap Core C$680M, US SRS (Structured Research Equity) Ext C$339M, US Value C$607M, US Large Cap Core Growth C$435M


Contact: Mark Cestnik, Managing Director

Address: 161 Bay Street, 34th Floor, Toronto, ON M5J 2T2

PH: 416-274-1742

Email: mark.cestnik@tdam.com

Web: tdgis.com

Managed US assets since: 1994

US asset clients: 103

US equities: Core, $373M; Passive, $13,983M

Other: Derivative Equity and Currency Overlay, $5,753.3M

Total US assets: $14,355.8M

Passive Products: TD Emerald US Market Index Fund, TD Emerald Pooled US Fund, TD Emerald Hedged US Market Index Pooled Fund Trust, TD Emerald Hedged US Market Index Pooled Fund Trust

Other assets managed: Canadian and US Money Market; Canadian Bonds; High Yield Bonds; US Bonds, Global Bonds, Canadian Equities, International Equities – EAFE and China; Global Equities, Emerging Market Equities, and alternative investments such as Private Debt, Mortgages, Real Estate, and Infrastructure



Contact: Andy Kong, Senior Director, Institutional Markets

Address: 600 Boulevard de Maisonneuve West, Montreal, QC H3A 3J2

PH: 514-991-5754

Fax: 514-985-2430

Email: akong@vanberkomglobal.com

Web: vanberkomglobal.com

Managed US assets since: 2000 (US Small Cap); 2017 (Small and Mid Cap)

US asset clients: 11

US equities: Core, $2,905.9M

Total US assets: $2,905.9M

Other assets managed: Canadian small cap equities, Global small cap equities, Greater China all cap equities

Conserving the craft of investing

Why, in the age of indexing, “actual investing” can still deliver significant value for institutions, pensions, and ordinary investors

WHEN SEIKO unveiled the first commercial quartz watch at the 1970 Basel Fair, jaws dropped throughout the Swiss watch industry. The Japanese had produced a cheap, accurate challenger to the mechanical timepieces perfected in Switzerland over centuries.

The “quartz crisis” soon forced traditional watchmakers to adapt to the new incumbent technology. But the market for Swiss mechanical watches of enduring

quality still flourishes. Why?

There are parallels with the investment world, where the first index fund debuted in 1976. It promised investors access to markets without the high costs of active management. Index-tracking “passive” management has become readily available across multiple investment areas. Why, then, nearly half a century later, are active managers still going strong?

Baillie Gifford’s answer is that active, or actual, investors – as we like to call ourselves – are free to allocate capital to enduring sources of growth and returns. We’re not tied to backward-looking passive indices. Actual investors focus on future growth.

We find support for our approach beyond conventional financial research, and draw on alternative sources, including academia, to confirm our understanding

and the enduring value that active investing is best placed to bring.

One such source has been professor Hendrik Bessembinder of Arizona State University. One of his studies, of US stock market returns between 1926 and 2021, found that the top five percent of all listed equities combined to account for total stock market net gains.

Bessembinder’s data showed that 58 percent of equities lost money over the whole period they were available as investments, 37 percent collectively offset those losses, and the best-performing five percent accounted for an amount equivalent to the entire net gain.

Whatever the company’s history, R&D spending is key to profitability.

• Lesson 2: have patience. It’s a quality that the market has been losing over time. Long-term investors in topperforming companies must have the stomach for large peak-to-trough share price declines. Amazon saw three drawdowns – of 93 percent, 45 percent, and 56 percent respectively – over a period (1997–2019) in which it still generated $865B in shareholder returns.

• Lesson 3: avoid biases. Just because tech stocks have been some of the strongest performers, it doesn’t follow

“Active investors are on the lookout for companies capable of joining the illustrious five percent of big winners”
Anthony Spagnolo, Baillie Gifford

Some might call this an argument for passive management. To us, it explains why actual investors must focus on the small cohort of companies with long-term compounding potential, and management ambition to match.

But how do we find them? Bessembinder sifted through years of data to discover the common characteristics of those big winners. What can we learn from this?

• Lesson 1: focus on growth. Winning companies invest in research and development while they grow returns, scale, and profitability. Firms succeed or fail for many reasons, but a commitment to R&D is a must. Bessembinder’s evidence suggests that, over long-term horizons, returns follow fundamentals.

that companies in that category have an outsized chance of extreme performance. The research reveals the opposite to be true. What’s needed is a careful study of individual firms and their competitors. The best approach is to build relationships with founders and managers to help assess their chances of success.

Actual investors need time and space to think about where the big returns will come from. The above lessons tell us that the answer can’t be just a matter of passively owning the biggest companies around. Actual investors are on the lookout for companies capable of joining the illustrious five percent of big winners.

Swiss watchmakers discovered that high-

quality hand finishings and luxury branding still meet enough of a need to sustain a traditional watch industry. Many still value the exquisite craftsmanship of heirlooms that can be passed down the generations.

Just as quartz watches have made accurate time-keeping more accessible, passive management offers a cheaper way to gain broad market exposure. But managing an active portfolio is about beating the market, not just accessing it. That’s not easy, but it can be done by identifying what the growth drivers are going to be in the long term, allocating capital with conviction, and showing patience in the face of the inevitable shortterm ups and downs.

Seeking that tiny percentage of winners takes experience, curiosity, lateral thinking, relationship building, optimism, and, perhaps most importantly, imagination. As with Swiss watchmaking, demand for the craft of the actual investor will endure.

Anthony Spagnolo is a director at UK investment manager Baillie Gifford and is based in Toronto. He is a member of the advisory board of BenefitsandPensionsMonitor.

PwDs face misconception in the workplace, BHER report finds

Matthew McKean, chief R&D officer at BHER, says employers lack capacity and resources to make workplaces universally accessible

A RECENT report released by the Business and Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) found that employers, specifically hiring and EDI managers, are facing misconceptions about accommodating persons with disabilities (PwDs), prohibitive organizational structures and hiring processes, and issues with capacity and funding needs.

Matthew McKean, chief research and development officer at BHER, says PwDs are an “untapped talent pool” in Canada, despite significant strides in post-secondary achievements and work readiness. That’s why they’re engaged with employers to identify the barriers, needs, and enablers in hiring, supporting, and retaining PwDs.

“The employers we spoke to all want to do this, so that’s not the barrier and that’s not the challenge,” McKean says. “It’s having the capacity and the resources to make workplaces universally accessible. We often think 75 percent of the challenge in the workspace is similar to the company next door. It’s that last 20 or 25 percent that’s going to be a little bit different.” He compares this to creating accommodations on a construction site.

“That’s going to be different from upgrading accommodations in an office, but there’s probably a whole lot of commonalities

when it comes to accommodating people with different disabilities,” he adds. “That can be shared across companies who want to do it, then we can figure out that [final] 25 percent to get a variation that we need to support companies in getting all the way.”

Among the barriers that employers face,

or forthcoming legislation could create new barriers. Additionally, employees of those companies could start to have negative associations with some accessibility efforts.

“We found that to be a misperception, and an unfortunate one, that could be overcome by raising knowledge and awareness

“The employers we spoke to all want to do this ... [it’s a question of] having the capacity and the resources to make workplaces universally accessible”
Matthew McKean, BHER

as outlined in the report, McKean highlights misperceptions, organizational structures and processes, and a lack of internal resources. As McKean says, the misperceptions are based on what it takes to implement accessibility in the workplace.

For example, employers were at various levels of familiarity with legislation. Some viewed legislation as a burden to introducing accessibility accommodations into their workplaces, and feared that existing

about what gaps there are and how they can be overcome,” McKean says.

Other misperceptions include what constitutes a disability, the abilities that PwDs have, and the value that they bring to organizations, in addition to misperceptions around types of accommodations, like physical buildings or HR policies.

BHER says the shift to remote work during the pandemic forced many employers to rethink how they work and what’s possible

“We encourage calling up the local association, which might be able to help ... versus trying to take this on by yourself”
Matthew McKean, BHER

for accessibility in the workplace. It required employers to reassess and better understand the challenges faced by equity-seeking employees, including PwDs.

“For some, this was the nudge they needed to act and invest more into the recruitment and support of PwDs,” the report said. “The

shift to remote, hybrid, and flexible work environments also meant that employers whose physical spaces could not support PwDs were still able to hire and retain them by allowing them to work from home.”

BHER’s report, titled Employer Perspectives on Hiring Persons with Disabilities, contains a

“Proposed Maturity Level” on which organizations and workplaces are graded at A+, A, B, or C levels, C being the lowest level, at which employers haven’t made room for accessibility yet. They might be thinking about it or want to change their workplaces to include PwDs, but they don’t know how or where to start. A grade of B and above means employers have created new structures to reduce barriers and create more opportunities to hire and support PwDs, ensuring employees with disabilities are part of the process.

For those who might need more resources or information, McKean points to the report, where they can access several workplace resources, such as toolkits and funding resources “to help [employers] find funding to accommodate employees with disabilities.”

“We understand it can be overwhelming to go from nothing. That’s why we list the resources in the report and [encourage] calling up the local association, which might be able to help, and starting there versus trying to take this on all by yourself,” McKean says.

Ultimately, one of the main takeaways from the report, McKean highlights, is “no one has to start from scratch. In Canada, we have a habit of starting from scratch on everything. Everybody goes out and creates their own tools, resources, or maps,” he says. “We need to coordinate and avoid the duplication of efforts and collaborate with one another. For us, that’s a big opportunity here, too.”

The report was released to recognize National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) 2024. The government of Canada is also working toward developing new accessibility regulations under the Accessible Canada Act, aiming to make workplaces barrier-free for PwDs by 2040. BHER worked in collaboration with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and with funding from Accessibility Standards Canada to produce the report.

Lack of sleep and physical activity is leading to decreased workplace well-being

Dialogue’s medical director Marc Robin highlights a few strategies employers and employees can take to improve


A NEW report released by Dialogue, a Canadian health and wellness platform, offers a stark reminder to employers and employees alike when it comes to workplace productivity. According to the report, the overall well-being of Canadians remains markedly lower than pre-pandemic levels, as they struggle with lifestyle challenges around sleep and physical activity.

These insights are assessed through Dialogue’s Well-Being Score, leveraged by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Well-Being Index (WHO-5), one of the most widely used questionnaires to measure wellness in research, explains Dr. Marc Robin, Dialogue’s medical director. Robin says the findings are critical as they underscore broader impacts on workplace productivity and individual health.

He explains why these results matter for employers and why younger employees, those aged 18-30, scored lowest in the report. Robin discusses the impact of work-related stress on sleep and productivity. He also suggests that both employers and employees can make a difference

together by promoting healthy workplace practices and habits.

“The Well-Being Index measures wellbeing through five dimensions of lifestyle: sleep, physical activity, stress, mood, and sense of purpose. The two areas Canadians seem to be struggling with are sleep and

recommended amount of sleep for Canadians is between seven and nine hours. Meanwhile, the Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests Canadians aged 18 years and older should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week.

“This data helps to inform workplace initiatives and leverage the tools needed to measure the successes of said initiatives”
Dr. Marc Robin, Dialogue

physical activity,” Robin confirms. “It’s really helpful to know that because we can direct content and help address some of those issues proactively [with individuals]. For the employer, this data helps to inform workplace initiatives and leverage the tools needed to measure the successes of said initiatives.”

According to Statistics Canada, the

Robin is quick to point out that despite young Canadians having a low well-being score of 49.4 because of mental health issues, there is light at the end of tunnel for those who seek out help. “Seventy percent of people who participated in this well-being survey adopted a healthy habit around exercising more, managing their

stress, or getting tips about sleep. People actually went from taking the survey to doing something about it, and I think that tells us the tool is being used and polls can make a difference,” he affirms.

“Young adults and early-career employees may be more likely to experience psychological distress due to several life transitions, and entering the workforce can be a significant change as they transition away from familiar social supports at home or at university,” said Dialogue in their report.

To help combat this, Dialogue says employer-funded programs can help reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for employees. In fact, 80 percent of employees think employers should offer virtual care options. “This is because such programs ease the financial burden and encourage employees to seek support for mental health issues without worrying if they can afford it,” Dialogue added.

Accordingly, Robin notes, employers should consider how workplace benefits can proactively address health concerns across the wellness-illness continuum. “Not

by creating a solution that waits until you’re sick, but one that really promotes well-being proactively and offers a prevention journey by leveraging tools [like Digital Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and integrated health platforms].”

exercising more regularly, and managing our moods and stress levels.”

To promote lasting well-being and reduce future mental health cases in the workplace, clinical support is only one piece of the puzzle, Dialogue said in their report.

“Improving well-being means understanding the unique factors that put employees at risk and intervening before more serious issues develop”
Dr. Marc Robin, Dialogue

“As we look ahead and want to address work-life productivity and overall wellbeing, we have to be a lot more proactive than the reactive EAP model that we’ve had for years,” he adds. “Employers have a role to play by encouraging healthy practices at work. And as employees and individuals, we all have to adopt the healthy habits of not staying online right before going to bed,

“Improving well-being means understanding the unique factors that put employees at risk and intervening before more serious issues develop. By helping individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and implementing strategies to improve work-life balance, well-being is promoted in the workplace every single day –not just once or twice a year when employees are already sick or struggling.”

Potvin awarded Canadian Wildlife Habitat certification


24 years



How the passion of gardening applies to the nature of doing business

PATIENCE, ADAPTABILITY, trial and error, and the importance of small, consistent actions are just some of the parallels Julie Potvin draws between her role as partner and SME commercial national leader for Canada at Mercer and her personal passion of gardening.

In 2018, Potvin bought a home in the country. It was during the pandemic in 2020 that she started to do a little gardening.

“It started with a little piece of the corner of the yard and it quickly grew into over 12,000 square feet of gardening and landscaping and learning so much about myself,” she says.

“It really is a passion of mine in terms of creation, selfreflection, and how it applies to so many facets of our lives. The lessons we take away from any passion are applicable to interpersonal, personal, and professional relationships and the journeys that all of those take us on.”

At the same time as her passion for gardening grew, Potvin headed a new focus area for Mercer, “and we were really starting to be trailblazers into a segment that typically wasn’t focused on.” That segment is small and medium-sized employers.

“I discovered that a lot of the lessons I had applied to gardening I could apply to work.”

varieties of hostas in Potvin’s garden
working at Mercer
square feet of landscaping

SEPTEMBER 24 – 26, 2024


Delta Hotels Grand Okanagan Resort REGISTER AT  acpm.com

JOIN US as we dive into the world of retirement income management at this year’s ACPM National Conference “Global Insights, Canadian Impact: Cultivating Retirement Success”. The event will draw upon the deep experience and insights of our industry professionals who will navigate the triumphs and challenges that define Canada’s pension landscape.


The 2024 ACPM National Conference is the premier event for the retirement income industry.

With three Plenary sessions, eight workshops, three special sessions and numerous social opportunities, this is one conference you don’t want to miss!


Alberta Finance, Aon, B.C. Financial Services Authority, B.C. Municipal Pension Plan, Bell Canada, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Brookfield Annuity Company, CAAT Pension Plan, C.D. Howe Institute, CEM Benchmarking, CPKC, Desjardins, Eckler, Farm Credit Canada, Canada Climate Law Initiative, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Glencore, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, IWA–Forest Industry Pension Plan & LTD Plan, Lawson Lundell LLP, Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel, Linea Solutions, McCarthy Tétrault LLP,

Manulife Investment Management, Medicus Pension Plan, Mercer, Miller Thomson, Normandin Beaudry, Northern Trust, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Plannera, Saskatchewan Financial Services Commission, Saskatchewan Pension Plan, Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), Signum Global Advisors, Special Forces Pension Plan (SFPP), Sun Life, TELUS Health, University of Calgary, University Pension Plan, Vancouver Airport Authority, Waterfront Industry Pension Plan, WTW.

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