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Manulife Investment Management earns top scores from United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment – Canada NewsWire

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An A+ was awarded for the strategy and governance, listed equity incorporation, and fixed-income SSA modules  

TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2020 /CNW/ – Manulife Investment Management announced today that it has been recognized with top scores from the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) annual assessment report. For the second year in a row, Manulife Investment Management received a score of A+ for strategy and governance from the PRI for integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into investment practices across a range of asset classes. An A+ was also awarded in the listed equity and fixed-income sovereign, supranational, and agency (SSA) integration modules.

Other notable achievements included:

  • Manulife Investment Management’s public markets received an A in all other direct investment and active ownership PRI modules for which it was assessed. Other modules covered its investments in corporate bonds and securitized debt. Manulife Investment Management saw notable increases in its scores as compared to 2018 in areas such as: communications regarding ESG screens, and integration and implementation of analysis of the ESG information for internally managed listed equity holdings. There was also improvement in the number of companies engaged with and the intensity of engagement and effort. Similarly, for fixed income, Manulife Investment Management saw improvements in the integration and implementation of the ESG issues reviewed and its disclosure of approach with the public. For securitized, an outcome of either financial/ESG performance was also noted as an additional assessment indicator.
  • Manulife Investment Management’s private markets continued to be recognized as a leader with real estate receiving an A for the third consecutive year under the property module. In addition, Manulife Investment Management demonstrated its commitment to sustainable investing within private markets by expanding the scope of the assessment in 2019 to include submissions for infrastructure and private equity, achieving a B in each respective module.

“Manulife Investment Management strives to be a leader in ESG investment practices as a responsible steward of client capital,” said Christopher P. Conkey, CFA, global head of public markets, Manulife Investment Management. “We are very proud of our investment teams for achieving an A+ for ESG strategy and governance for the second year in a row and for earning superior marks in the screening, integration, and engagements modules for listed equities and in direct fixed-income SSA. This is not only important for our clients who entrust us to implement ESG for specific portfolio goals, but also for the overall relevance of our strategies as we look to the future of investment management.”

“Sustainability is one of the keys to creating long-term value for our clients within private markets,” added Stephen J. Blewitt, global head of private markets. “It is important for us to consider sustainability because we’re generally long-term investors across a diverse range of private markets asset classes and submitting to the PRI is an opportunity for us to demonstrate transparency while tracking our progress. It is rewarding for the work we have done to be recognized.”

The key activities within Manulife Investment Management’s investment teams in 2019, which helped to achieve the PRI scores include:

  • The release of its inaugural sustainable and responsible investment report in 2019.
  • Increased integration in industry analysis, sovereign analysis, and securitized fixed income. Manulife Investment Management developed a proprietary sovereign ESG assessment model in 2019, which is currently in use by its investment teams as an input into credit analysis. The model produces sovereign-specific baseline views on ESG issues.
  • The use of scenario analysis—a key tool for companies in demonstrating planning for climate change.
  • Engagement with 724 companies in 940 separate engagements across all investment teams. In 2019, 26% of engagements had an environmental factor focus, 20% had a social factor focus, and 54% had a governance factor focus.

For more information on Manulife Investment Management, please visit manulifeim.com/institutional

About Manulife Investment Management
Manulife Investment Management is the global wealth and asset management segment of Manulife Financial Corporation. We draw on more than a century of financial stewardship and the full resources of our parent company to serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. Headquartered in Toronto, our leading capabilities in public and private markets are strengthened by an investment footprint that spans 17 countries and territories. We complement these capabilities by providing access to a network of unaffiliated asset managers from around the world. We’re committed to investing responsibly across our businesses. We develop innovative global frameworks for sustainable investing, collaboratively engage with companies in our securities portfolios, and maintain a high standard of stewardship where we own and operate assets, and we believe in supporting financial well-being through our workplace retirement plans. Today, plan sponsors around the world rely on our retirement plan administration and investment expertise to help their employees plan for, save for, and live a better retirement. 

As of June 30, 2020, Manulife Investment Management had CAD$900 billion (US$660 billion) in assets under management and administration. Not all offerings are available in all jurisdictions. For additional information, please visit manulifeim.com.

SOURCE Manulife Investment Management

For further information: Media contacts: Brooke Tucker-Reid, Manulife Investment Management Canada, 647-528-9601, [email protected]; Elizabeth Bartlett, Manulife Investment Management US and Europe, 857-210-2286, [email protected]; Carl Wong, Manulife Investment Management Asia, 852-2510-3180, [email protected]

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Sydney's Smart Shop to reopen amid surge in downtown investment – CBC.ca

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The construction of the new Nova Scotia Community College Marconi campus on the Sydney waterfront is spurring investment in the downtown.

A notable recent development is the purchase of Sydney’s iconic Smart Shop Place on the corner of Charlotte and Prince streets, which has been sitting vacant in recent years.

“We see Sydney as booming nowadays,” said Ajay Balyan, who recently purchased the three-level building along with his brother, Ankit.

Brothers Ajay and Ankit Balyan, former CBU students from India, have purchased downtown Sydney’s iconic Smart Shop building. (Holly Conners/CBC)

It was a different picture when he moved to Cape Breton from India in 2017 to study at Cape Breton University.

A lot has changed since then, with a boom in international enrolment at CBU and unprecedented public infrastructure investment in the area, including the new NSCC campus, health-care redevelopment and a potential new regional library.

“We know after NSCC, the Sydney downtown is going to be the main spot for the students to hang out or to eat,” said Balyan. “And we’re getting good support from the community, as well. So we find it to be a good opportunity for us.”

Smart Shop Place opened in 1904 as a clothing store and long served as a retail anchor in Sydney. The Balyans plan to rename the building Western Overseas, after their family’s business in India.

Ajay Balyan, shown in the lower level of the former Smart Shop Place, which he plans to reopen as a fine-dining restaurant. (Holly Conners/CBC)

Construction is underway to convert the main floor into a small food court and the lower level into a fine-dining restaurant. The upper level will become apartments.

The brothers, with family partners in India, have similar plans for the former Cape Breton Post building on Dorchester Street, which they bought last year.

The two also own Swaagat, an Indian restaurant they opened on Prince Street in 2019.

Craig Boudreau is among a group of investors who have been buying up properties in downtown Sydney. (Holly Conners/CBC)

Meanwhile, on Charlotte Street, local entrepreneur Craig Boudreau and a group of partners recently bought four buildings and are negotiating a fifth.

Two years ago, Boudreau purchased the former Jasper’s Restaurant site on George Street. It’s currently being used as a parking lot, but he hopes to start construction next fall on a multi-story commercial and residential development.

NSCC students will need housing and the community could use more dining options, said Boudreau.

“It’s really spinoff,” he said. “It’s kind of the perfect scenario.”

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Don't let fear drive you into a fee trap when working with an investment advisor – BNN

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Spiking market volatility and a renewed threat of global economic stagnation caused by COVID- 19 has sent stressed-out investors flocking to advisors.

Many advisors have been reporting a rise in new clients since last spring’s lockdown, and a new survey commissioned by Manulife Investment Management backs it up. It shows 63 per cent of respondents plan to seek investment advice in 2020 compared with half in 2019. And more than half of respondents in Canada indicated they were interested in retirement planning and investing advice.

It’s good that more people are looking for long-term retirement plans managed by professionals, but fear can lead investors into fee traps that consume their investment dollars.

The path to those fee traps typically begins with investors looking to coordinate a mishmash of investments in their registered retirement savings plans (RRSP), and tax-free savings accounts (TFSA). For the vast majority of Canadians, the only route to a diversified, professionally-managed portfolio is through mutual funds.

The price investors pay for diversification and professional management in a mutual fund is an annual fee based on a percentage of the money they have invested called the management expense ratio (MER). MERs vary depending on the fund company and asset class, but a typical MER on a Canadian equity fund purchased through an advisor is about 2.5 per cent.

That might not seem like a lot at first glance, but on a $500,000 portfolio of mutual funds, it adds up to $12,500 annually whether the fund makes money or not. That’s $12,500 each year not invested and not compounding, and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime of investing.

Baked into the MER is a hidden trailing commission, or trailer fee, to compensate the advisor who sold the fund for “ongoing advice.” A typical trailer fee is one per cent annually – or $10,000 on a $500,000 portfolio of mutual funds each year.

Trailer fees are banned in most of the developed world due to the inherent perception of conflict of interest. You have to wonder if an advisor is selling a fund because it is right for the investor or because it provides the best trailer fee from the mutual fund company. 

And it get’s worse. 

Some advisors will direct investors toward segregated funds, which are essentially mutual funds wrapped in an insurance product. Seg funds have the potential to make money from the investments they hold but are insured, or partially insured, against losses on the principal amount invested over long terms – often 19 years. Investors pay for that extra security through higher MERs. Manulife – the company that commissioned the survey – for example, sells segregated funds with MERs above three per cent.  

Segregated funds have certain advantages for small business owners wanting to protect their savings in the event of bankruptcy, but sometimes appear in workplace defined contribution pension plans. 

Advisors sometimes push seg funds on unsuspecting clients through a regulatory loophole known as “the-know-your-client rule,” which requires advisors to document a questionnaire relating to return goals and risk tolerance, and only sell investments in line with the client’s answers.  

Some clients might not understand that all investments have some degree of risk and say they expect their savings to grow risk-free. Only segregated funds fit that bill.  

Payback Time is a weekly column by personal finance columnist Dale Jackson about how to prepare your finances for retirement. Have a question you want answered? Email dalejackson.paybacktime@gmail.com. 

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TransLink in time crunch to update its 10-year Metro Vancouver transit investment plan – Vancouver Sun

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The COVID-19 pandemic and an unexpected provincial election have put TransLink in a time crunch to finish a required update to its 10-year investment plan.

Metro Vancouver’s transit authority is obligated, by provincial legislation, to update the plan at least every three years. The current plan was approved on June 28, 2018, which means the new one is due by June 28, 2021.

“Originally we had had planned for that to happen this year, but because of COVID-19 and dealing with the emergent financial challenges with that, that was not possible,” Mayors’ Council chair Jonathan Coté said following a meeting on Thursday. “But we’ve now reached the point where we need to start to work towards that.”

Priorities for the update include finding revenue to cover long-term COVID-19 losses. Although the federal and provincial governments will provide a combined $644 million to TransLink to cover its pandemic losses for 2020 and 2021, there will likely be shortfalls of $100 million to $300 million each year between 2021 and 2030.

The losses will depend on how long the pandemic lasts, the depth of economic damage and how quickly transit ridership recovers. The plan cannot show a deficit.

“Even with the near-term financial aid, we almost certainly have a fairly significant structural hole in our budget and we’re going to have to work to understand just what that hole is over the months to come,” CEO Kevin Desmond said after the meeting.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the path of the pandemic.”

The investment plan will also deliver elements of the second phase of the 10-year regional transportation vision that are outstanding or were delayed due to the pandemic, plus approving projects that are already funded, such as a SkyTrain extension to Fleetwood and the next stage of the low-carbon fleet strategy.

A lot will have to be done before next June, including confirming federal and provincial contributions, finding new regional funding sources and setting rates, plus consultation with the public and local governments.

“No doubt this is going to be a significant part of our work plan and probably one of the more challenging things the Mayors’ Council is going to have to work on,” Coté said during the council meeting.

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