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UTAM looks under the hood at investment managers' ESG approaches – Benefits Canada

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With a team of about 30 people, the University of Toronto Asset Management Corp. managed more than $11 billion of the university’s endowment, pension plan and short-term working capital assets as of the end of 2019.

When the UTAM first looked at responsible investing, it considered what it wanted to accomplish and how to do that, given its small team and the fact that it predominantly invests through funds and not directly, says Daren Smith, the organization’s president and chief investment officer. “How are we going to integrate these considerations as part of our manager selection and monitoring process?”

Read: Considerations for integrating ESG into fixed income

The UTAM decided to embed responsible investing across the organization and has implemented a comprehensive approach to evaluating managers, which includes a relevant section in its investment due diligence memos. “Of course, we’re going to continue looking at performance, people, process and philosophy, but now we’ve added this additional lens, which is how managers do responsible investing.”

However, Smith notes it can be difficult to look under the hood at a manager’s approach. “The reality is there’s a lot of marketing spin on responsible investing and you really have to get into the weeds many times just to figure out what a manager is actually doing.”

To overcome the challenge on the public equity side, the UTAM is using an existing third-party system that analyzes position-level data to evaluate a manager on ESG metrics based on an ESG data feed from MSCI Inc. It does so by collecting manager holdings at each month-end going back five to 10 years, depending on the length of the track record, and uploading the data into the system.

Read: Short selling could impact company ESG behaviour: study

The system allows the organization to look at a manager’s portfolio characteristics on the environmental, social and governance sides, he says, and then the UTAM uses the data along with other qualitative and quantitative information to evaluate that manager.

“Then we’re also looking for names where there are some perceived issues coming out of the ratings from MSCI,” says Smith, noting the organization tries to be thoughtful about how it talks to managers about these names, particularly where it looks like there are potential ESG considerations.

When it comes to ESG, the UTAM also considers the investment holding period. “Many of the ESG concerns are more long term. So we think that for private equity, ESG considerations would almost always be very relevant. And there are some other strategies that are perhaps more short term in nature; for example, on the hedge fund side, we have some shorter frequency strategies where the holding period might be just a few months as opposed to multiple years, where we think it’s less relevant.”

Getting to know
Daren Smith

Job title: President and chief investment officer

Joined UTAM: 2008

Previous role: Partner and director of manager research at Keel Capital, which at the time managed investments for what’s now the Nova Scotia Health Employees’ Pension Plan

What keeps him up at night: Employee mental health and engagement amid the coronavirus crisis

Outside of the office he can be found: Spending time with his children, travelling and playing golf

The organization’s approach for public equity doesn’t work on the private side because it uses data from a provider that doesn’t have the same information available for private assets. For these assets, the UTAM relies on a series of questionnaires and conversations with managers.

Read: U of T Asset Management’s pension portfolio returns negative 1.6% in 2018

“We don’t have a system like we do on the public side for privates, but to some extent, those portfolios tend to be very concentrated and it’s easier to take that one-off approach where you look at individual holdings from prior funds.”

Overall, Smith’s advice for small or mid-sized plan sponsors investing through funds is to start slowly and have good discussions with their boards and investment committees to develop objectives and a game plan. “It could be a multi-year game plan, but it is important to start and to make progress. Things evolve and there is a lot that organizations of our size can do, but it does take time and effort and you do need buy-in from the board or the investment committee.”

Yaelle Gang is editor of the Canadian Investment Review.

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ROGER TAYLOR: CPP's investment head says sticking with oil and gas companies will help wind, solar development – Cape Breton Post

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Climate change is important to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, but it’s not ready to divest of its holdings in conventional oil and gas.

Although a segment of the Canadian population may want the CPPIB to drop conventional energy, the board’s top spokesman says its investment decisions are not necessarily motivated by politics or a change in public policy.

Michel Leduc, CPPIB senior managing director and global head of public affairs and communications, said in a phone interview on Monday that conventional energy sources are not going away as quickly as some people may believe, and oil and gas will have a role in the global economy for some time to come.

Michel Leduc is senior managing director and global head of public affairs and communications at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. – Contributed

It is the investment board’s view that conventional oil and gas is still a good investment, providing a good return for years to come, said Leduc, and the board will maintain such investments.

The conventional oil and gas companies are making the switch to unconventional wind and solar energy themselves, Leduc argued, so if the CPPIB was to cut its investment in such companies it would actually help slow the transition from conventional to renewable energy.

The subject of energy may come up again Tuesday when Leduc hosts a CPPIB virtual town hall for Nova Scotians, during which he will explain what the investment board is doing with its $430-billion fund.

Every second year, the CPPIB holds public meetings individually for each province and the northern territories throughout October. Nova Scotia is the second last of year’s presentations.

There are a total of 20 million CPP contributors and beneficiaries in Canada and, of that, there are 461,799 contributors and 220,693 retirement beneficiaries in Nova Scotia.

Leduc said that despite the economic concern brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the solvency and sustainability of the Canada Pension Plan is on solid footing for at least the next 75 years.

Before the creation of the CPPIB in 1997, the Canada Pension Plan was 100 per cent invested in government debt, Leduc said. To better prepare for so-called black swan events, such as a pandemic, the investment board has diversified the fund.

The fund is invested in three broad categories: 20 per cent in fixed income, which is mainly sovereign bonds and provincial bonds; 53 per cent in equities, both publicly traded stocks and private companies wholly controlled by the CPPIB; and the remainder would be in real assets, which includes toll roads, commercial real estate and ports, which provide steady income for a long period.

Geographically, only about 15 per cent of the CPPIB’s investments are in Canada, Leduc said, and about 85 per cent is invested across the developed economies of the world.

Considering that Canada represents only about three per cent of global markets, most of the CPPIB investments are outside of the country to be fully diversified and protect the fund from downturns in the Canadian economy.

The largest portion of the outside investments are in the United States, followed by Europe, Japan, South Korea and then developing countries, which includes China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Colombia.

In Canada, the fund is invested in both conventional and renewable energy, the financial sector and technology, including Ottawa-based tech darling Shopify, Leduc said.

The CPPIB has a 50 per cent holding in the 401 toll highway in Ontario, which has proven to be the investment board’s biggest return on investment so far, he said.

In Nova Scotia, the fund has investments in Empire Co. Ltd., parent of the Sobeys grocery chain, and Crombie REIT, both of which are controlled by the founding Sobey family of Pictou County.

Internationally, the CPPIB owns 23 ports in the United Kingdom, which also provide steady income over a long period.


CPPIB VIRTUAL TOWN HALL

The virtual Canada Pension Plan Investment Board town halls are accessed at cppinvestments.com/publicmeetings. The Nova Scotia session is scheduled for today from noon to 1 p.m.

To join, click the link for the meeting and register with an email address. Registrants will get a response and can submit a question in advance.

In Nova Scotia, 461,799 residents are CPP contributors (47.9 per cent of the provincial population) and 220,693 are CPP retirement beneficiaries (22.9 per cent of the population).

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Jarvis: A massive, game-changing investment – Windsor Star

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Article content continued

So the third shift is forecast to return in 2024, when mass production of the new vehicle begins. All 425 workers still laid off are expected to have the opportunity to be recalled plus another 1,500 are expected to be hired.

Here’s the but.

Workers will have to weather more layoffs before more jobs come back.

“We’ve got another down week coming. That’s already been announced,” said Dias. “I wish I could say with conviction that everything is going to be fine after the down week, but I really can’t say that.”

Everything is tied to consumer demand. Minivan sales are stable now, he said, “but it’s not like it was.”

There are also questions about the investment, said Automotive News Canada reporter John Irwin.

Normally, when negotiations lead to a new investment, that investment happens before the contract expires. Mass production of the new vehicle announced as part of this contract won’t start until 2024, after the contract expires.

But retooling for the new product will start in 2023, before the contract expires, Dias said.

The auto industry makes these decisions four to five years in advance, he said.

“If we had waited another three years to talk about this investment, it probably would have been in Mexico,” he said.

The agreement also doesn’t identify the vehicle to be produced, only that it will be a plug-in hybrid “and/or” battery-powered electric vehicle.

A key feature is that the platform will be flexible enough to build cars, crossovers or pickups, Dias said.

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ROGER TAYLOR: CPP's investment head says sticking with oil and gas companies will help wind, solar development – The Journal Pioneer

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Climate change is important to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, but it’s not ready to divest of its holdings in conventional oil and gas.

Although a segment of the Canadian population may want the CPPIB to drop conventional energy, the board’s top spokesman says its investment decisions are not necessarily motivated by politics or a change in public policy.

Michel Leduc, CPPIB senior managing director and global head of public affairs and communications, said in a phone interview on Monday that conventional energy sources are not going away as quickly as some people may believe, and oil and gas will have a role in the global economy for some time to come.

Michel Leduc is senior managing director and global head of public affairs and communications at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.  - Contributed
Michel Leduc is senior managing director and global head of public affairs and communications at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. – Contributed

It is the investment board’s view that conventional oil and gas is still a good investment, providing a good return for years to come, said Leduc, and the board will maintain such investments.

The conventional oil and gas companies are making the switch to unconventional wind and solar energy themselves, Leduc argued, so if the CPPIB was to cut its investment in such companies it would actually help slow the transition from conventional to renewable energy.

The subject of energy may come up again Tuesday when Leduc hosts a CPPIB virtual town hall for Nova Scotians, during which he will explain what the investment board is doing with its $430-billion fund.

Every second year, the CPPIB holds public meetings individually for each province and the northern territories throughout October. Nova Scotia is the second last of year’s presentations.

There are a total of 20 million CPP contributors and beneficiaries in Canada and, of that, there are 461,799 contributors and 220,693 retirement beneficiaries in Nova Scotia.

Leduc said that despite the economic concern brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the solvency and sustainability of the Canada Pension Plan is on solid footing for at least the next 75 years.

Before the creation of the CPPIB in 1997, the Canada Pension Plan was 100 per cent invested in government debt, Leduc said. To better prepare for so-called black swan events, such as a pandemic, the investment board has diversified the fund.

The fund is invested in three broad categories: 20 per cent in fixed income, which is mainly sovereign bonds and provincial bonds; 53 per cent in equities, both publicly traded stocks and private companies wholly controlled by the CPPIB; and the remainder would be in real assets, which includes toll roads, commercial real estate and ports, which provide steady income for a long period.

Geographically, only about 15 per cent of the CPPIB’s investments are in Canada, Leduc said, and about 85 per cent is invested across the developed economies of the world.

Considering that Canada represents only about three per cent of global markets, most of the CPPIB investments are outside of the country to be fully diversified and protect the fund from downturns in the Canadian economy.

The largest portion of the outside investments are in the United States, followed by Europe, Japan, South Korea and then developing countries, which includes China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Colombia.

In Canada, the fund is invested in both conventional and renewable energy, the financial sector and technology, including Ottawa-based tech darling Shopify, Leduc said.

The CPPIB has a 50 per cent holding in the 401 toll highway in Ontario, which has proven to be the investment board’s biggest return on investment so far, he said.

In Nova Scotia, the fund has investments in Empire Co. Ltd., parent of the Sobeys grocery chain, and Crombie REIT, both of which are controlled by the founding Sobey family of Pictou County.

Internationally, the CPPIB owns 23 ports in the United Kingdom, which also provide steady income over a long period.


CPPIB VIRTUAL TOWN HALL

The virtual Canada Pension Plan Investment Board town halls are accessed at cppinvestments.com/publicmeetings. The Nova Scotia session is scheduled for today from noon to 1 p.m.

To join, click the link for the meeting and register with an email address. Registrants will get a response and can submit a question in advance.

In Nova Scotia, 461,799 residents are CPP contributors (47.9 per cent of the provincial population) and 220,693 are CPP retirement beneficiaries (22.9 per cent of the population).

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