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December 5, 2016

Global Leaders Can Save Carbon

Global leaders in carbon reporting have the potential to save the equivalent of Japan’s annual CO2 emissions by achieving standard levels of carbon-efficiency for their sector, says ET Index Research. It found nearly half of the world’s 800 largest listed companies have disclosed their emissions and have improved their carbon efficiency by 15 per cent in the last year, but there are huge variations in performance. If the dirtiest 50 per cent of disclosers achieved just mid-range carbon intensity for their sector, they could save 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2, as much as Japan emits in a year. The report demonstrates that investors can help drive decarbonisation of the economy and make money by switching investment to favour companies with above-average levels of carbon efficiency. It reveals that out of the world’s 2,000 biggest companies, the 1,000 least carbon-intensive have outperformed the 1,000 most carbon-intensive over the last five years.

Bond Selloff Helps DB Plans

The sharp selloff in bonds and buoyant stock markets in the wake of Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election victory have significantly improved the financial health of Canadian defined benefit pension plans, says Aon Hewitt’s ‘Pension Plan Solvency Survey.’ It shows as of December 1, median solvency stood at 91 per cent, up by five percentage points from November 1 (86.1 per cent). Of surveyed plans, 26.5 per cent were more than fully funded as of December 1, up from 17.2 per cent at November 1. As well, pension asset returns ended the month down marginally, by -0.6 per cent, as strong gains in U.S. (four per cent), domestic (2.2 per cent), and global market (1.8 per cent) equities were offset by price declines in long-term bonds (4.2 per cent), FTSE TMX universe bonds (2.1 per cent), and emerging market equities (4.3 per cent). Global real estate and infrastructure declined by 2.4 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.

U.S. Equity Performed Best

Twenty of the 44 fund Morningstar Research Inc. indices increased during November, including all indices that track Canadian or U.S. equity categories. U.S. equity and U.S. Small/Mid Cap equity were the top-performing regionally based equity categories for the month, with their fund indices increasing 3.9 per cent and 5.1 per cent, respectively. The S&P 500 Index had fallen approximately two per cent in the days leading up to the U.S. election on November 8, but following the victory by Republican candidate Donald Trump, the U.S. stock index rebounded to reach record highs by the end of November, producing a total return of 3.7 per cent. All five Canadian stock categories had positive results in the month.

Program Helps With Workplace Mental Health

Employers have an easier path to workplace mental health with the launch of CivicAction's ‘MindsMatter’ program. It includes a free online assessment tool that gives employers customized steps to take and relate resources to better support their people's mental health. Through the tool, employers are given a tailored report that provides three actions and a sampling of resources suggested by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The assessment tool is confidential and takes under three minutes to complete. Employers can join the program at The program is a direct response to research by CivicAction in partnership with Morneau Shepell and Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA). The research estimates that half of the Greater Toronto, ON, Area's labour force has experienced a mental health issue and, over the next decade, current mental health issues could cost the region $17 billion in lost productivity.

Insurers Invading Pension Turf

Insurers in Europe, under growing pressure from unaffordable historical guarantees on life policies, are invading the home turf of pension companies, says Cerulli Associates. "The pensions business offers insurers recurring income for generally less onerous capital implications than those that come with traditional insurance products. There is also the attraction of diversification. For some insurers in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, the temptation is proving too great," says Justina Deveikyte, a senior analyst at Cerulli. However, it says it is too early in some cases to tell whether insurers' expansionist tendencies will broaden or narrow opportunities for independent managers to run pension assets. It notes, however, that the largest insurers ‒ companies that tend to own in-house asset managers ‒ are generally better placed to expand into pensions provision. "That said, governance standards and the stipulations of pensions themselves should ensure not all asset management is brought in-house," says Deveikyte.

Benefits Plan Offers Pet Meals

Tom&Sawyer, in partnership with the League, is now offering pet meals as part of a benefits plan. Members of plans offered by the League can use their benefits to purchase meals for their pets and have them delivered to their door. “For many families, dogs and cats are our children, so it only made sense for us to offer our fresh pet meal service to an equally creative business in the benefits space, finally bringing health and wellness to the entire family,” says Kristin Matthews, co-founder of Tom&Sawyer.

Northleaf Acquires Parkway Interest

Northleaf Capital Partners has reached an agreement to acquire a 33.3 per cent equity interest in Northwest Parkway, a toll road located in the Denver, CO, metropolitan area. Northleaf is part of a consortium alongside DIF Infrastructure IV and HICL Infrastructure Company Limited which has conditionally acquired a 100 per cent equity interest in Northwest Parkway from Brisa, a Portuguese toll road operator. Northwest Parkway has 90 years left on its 99-year concession to operate and maintain a 14 kilometre section of the beltway system extending around Denver. The road opened in 2003 and connects with several toll and non-toll highways providing access to residential and commercial centres in the region.

Couture Co-owner At UC

Renee Couture is co-owner of UC Consulting. Most recently, she was a senior account executive at Great-West Life. Her background includes pension positions with the National Hockey League and Canada Post.

Eisman Provides Forecast

Steve Eisman, managing director of the Eisman Group at Neuberger Berman, is the guest speaker at the CFA Society Ottawa’s ‘2017 Annual Forecast Dinner.’ Steve Eisman, who was played by Steve Carell in the movie ‘The Big Short’ and is featured in the Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, is an investment manager who foresaw the collapse of the subprime mortgage security market in the United States. It takes place April 18 in Ottawa, ON. For information, visit Forecast Dinner

December 2, 2016

Institutions Shifting To Alternatives

Institutional investors worldwide are expecting to make more asset allocation changes in the next one to two years than in 2012 and 2014, says the ‘Fidelity Global Institutional Investor Survey.’ Now in its 14th year, it says the anticipated shifts are most remarkable with alternative investments, domestic fixed income, and cash. Globally, 72 per cent of institutional investors say they will increase their allocation of illiquid alternatives in 2017 and 2018, with significant numbers as well for domestic fixed income (64 per cent), cash (55 per cent), and liquid alternatives (42 percent). "With 2017 just around the corner, the asset allocation outlook for global institutional investors appears to be driven largely by the local economic realities and political uncertainties in which they're operating," says Scott E. Couto, president of Fidelity Institutional Asset Management. "Institutions are increasingly managing their portfolios in a more dynamic manner, which means they are making more investment decisions today than they have in the past. In addition, the expectations of lower return and higher market volatility are driving more institutions into less commonly used assets, such as illiquid investments." This means organizations may find value in re-examining their investment decision-making process as there may be opportunities to bring more structure and to accommodate the increased number of decisions, freeing up time for other areas of portfolio management and governance.

Opportunities Outside Banks Drive Growth

The opportunities outside of the banking channels for companies to find money in Europe is one of the drivers of the growth of private debt there, says Stephane Blanchoz, CIO of alternative debt management at BNP Paribas Investment Partners. Speaking at its ‘Private debt: it's not all about direct lending’ session, he said, however, Europe is just starting to catch up to this activity in the U.S. In fact, 70 per cent of corporate lending in the U.S. is from sources other than banks. In Europe, by comparison, it is 30 per cent. However, the market has been developing alongside high yield and the risk profile for both is pretty similar, he said. However, private debt is more secure because there is a better chance of recovery in the event of default. This is actually the basis for the lending charges. The probability of default and likelihood of recovery are used to determine the lending cost and the only change to that cost is if the probably of default or the ability to recover funds change. He said this is a global trend that will last as people move from investing to financing.

UK Funds Too Focused On Liquid Assets

UK pension funds are too focused on holding liquid assets to the detriment of the long-term health of their investment portfolio, says research by Cambridge Associates. If they considered switching from liquid public equities to illiquid private investments, it says they could improve their chances of closing the funding gap and reduce the likelihood to requiring additional capital injections to honour their commitments to pension fund members. The average UK pension fund can have 90 to 95 per cent of its assets in liquid assets which is far more than they need in order to be able to pay pension fund members. "Many schemes do not need to set aside more than five to 10 per cent of assets for benefit payments in any given year for the next 20 years," says Alex Koriath, head of Cambridge Associates' European pensions practice. "By having such liquid portfolios, they are giving up return opportunities and face having to deal with the risk of a widening funding gap."

Firms Prioritize Operational Efficiency

Facing regulatory pressures and changing client demographics, asset management firms are prioritizing operational efficiency as the key to growth in 2017, says Seismic, an enterprise-grade sales enablement platform. It found 40 per cent of respondents stated that improving operational efficiency is the top goal for their firm in 2017 and 70 per cent of respondents indicated that it would result in freeing up time for employees who are now engulfed in rote, monotonous tasks to focus on more high-value activities. Sixty-three per cent said greater efficiency would help bring in new clients. Finding ways to streamline current processes was the most frequently cited opportunity for increasing efficiency and 62 per cent indicated that they plan on investing in new technology platforms such as content management systems, customer relationship management solutions, and data analytics.

Sabatino Joins TELUS

Shane Sabatino is president of TELUS Sourcing Solutions (TSSI), which delivers fully integrated human resources, payroll, wellness, and employee contact centre technology solutions to the organization’s business customers. Most recently, he was senior vice-president, human resources, with The Brick.

Lascelles Gives Economic Update

Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management, will provide the CPBI Southern Alberta region’s ‘2017 Economic Update.’ He will deliver a tour of the key themes and risks affecting the global economy including the rise of populism and the decline of globalization, why the world remains mired in slow economic growth, and the prospect of rising inflation despite sluggish growth. It takes place January 26 in Calgary, AB. For information, visit Economic Update

December 1, 2016

DC Only Designed For Accumulation

Defined contribution pension plans were designed only with accumulation in mind, not decumulation, says Idan Shlesinger, of Morneau Shepell. Part of Osler's panel discussion on DC plans, he said the money in these plans accumulated to retirement and the notion was to hand it over to member and let them figure it out for themselves. Now, however, some plan sponsors want to be more involved. They don't want to go back to DB world, but they are looking for ways to, for example, pay variable income in retirement, to do so. Others have registered their own group RIFs to make sure employees benefit from lower fees and good governance and to stay engaged with their former employees. Jonathan Marin, of Osler, said one reason sponsors are not more involved in decumulation is the legislation in jurisdictions like Ontario is not quite there to allow variable payments from DC pension plans. As well, there are no real incentives to move in that direction by providing, for example, safe harbours for plan sponsors and there are no negative incentives to make employers focus on decumulation. Employers are also concerned that it will add costs and fiduciary obligations which is a valid concern if employees are kept in a sponsored plan. However, there are alternatives for employers, said Marin. They can provide education for employees heading into retirement or negotiate lower fees for those transitioning out of their DC plans into retirement plans. However, he advised that even without decumulation plans, employers still have an obligation to communicate information to plan members on the payout phase.

Frontier Markets Offer Opportunity

Frontier markets offer an opportunity for a better return on investment in the coming years. Speaking in the 'Embracing the Next Frontier' session at AB's '2016 Institutional Investment Symposium,' Henry D'Auria, chief investment officer ‒ emerging markets value equities, identified the opportunity as in the 50 emerging markets outside of the top 12 like China and India. Those countries have had a lot of capital invested in them. These countries ‒ like Kuwait, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are positioned for good long-term growth so the return on capital will be good. The opportunity set for investment in these countries is greater than what their savings rate can provide so foreigners need to step in. And since there is a lot of inefficiency and concentration in these markets, the ability to find what others haven't is significant which means active management can add a large premium. The drivers of these economies will start with infrastructure as by improving things like roads and electrical systems, productivity will improve and the cost of getting products to market will decrease. As well, these investments have an inherent impact with tagalong benefits like better health, better education, and jobs for women.

Unions Celebrate CPP Enhancement

Canada's unions are celebrating the adoption by the House of Commons of Bill C-26, legislation that will expand the Canada Pension Plan for the first time in the plan's history. "Winning a stronger CPP has been a key priority for us for years and is an excellent example of the good that can come from collaborative work between unions and governments at the federal and provincial level," says Hassan Yussuff, president of the CLC. "This increase will benefit today's young workers the most, which is especially important in a world where good, secure jobs are so hard to come by, making saving almost impossible." He also welcomed the government's acknowledgment that amendments were needed to ensure that no Canadians, particularly women and persons with disabilities, are excluded from the benefits outlined in Bill C-26. "This oversight means the legislation, unless amended, discriminates against anyone who leaves the workforce to care for children or for health reasons, disproportionately disadvantaging women and workers with disabilities. We hope the government will work with the provinces to amend the legislation as soon as possible and correct this oversight," he says.

Multi-asset Solutions Growing

The issue going forward is that the tradeoff between equities and fixed income is growing greater, says Martin Atkin, managing director ‒ multi-asset solutions at AB. He told the 'Style Premia Investing' session at its '2016 Institutional Investment Symposium' that part of the problem over the last 15 years is that while investors are seeing benefits from including alternatives in their portfolios, the results have been disappointing. This is due in part to the higher fees, but also because there is a lot of equity beta in the returns and hedge funds have not provided the necessary diversification. While the uptake has been slow, interest in multi-asset solutions is growing and they are finding the diversification they need in strategies like style premia. This approach offers a low correlated approach to investing with little relationship to the broader fixed income market. Currently, the universe is quite narrow, he said, because it takes particular expertise in a manager to deliver this product in part because they need a research platform that stretches across all asset classes.

Co-operators Earns Governance Award

The Co-operators has earned an Excellence in Governance Award in the category of Best Practices in Sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues from the Governance Professionals of Canada. It was recognized for its progress in embedding sustainability and ESG considerations into every aspect of its business. This includes a variety of initiatives ranging from the introduction of new sustainable products and services to reducing its carbon footprint and maintaining a high level of employee engagement on sustainability.

Trump Would Supercharge Fiscal Stimulus

A Donald Trump presidency will supercharge fiscal stimulus, says Scott DiMaggio, director ‒ global fixed income and Canada fixed income at AB. In the 'Trump, Trudeau, Debt Traps and Price Trends' session at its '2016 Institutional Investment Symposium,' he said fiscal policy has been detractive from GDP for the past five years so changing this will add to GDP growth. However, spending more money in areas like infrastructure will also add to the debt issue. As a result, there could be a secular shift to higher inflation which is the easiest way to deal with rising debt. However, he said the rising debt is not an issue yet because the cost of servicing debt, for example, has dropped in recent years from five to three per cent. Unfortunately, he said this debt is frustrating because you would like an increase in debt to be productive and improve GDP. Yet, this hasn't happened and the unintended consequences are that it is keeping interest rates low so more money is being borrowed and savers are not getting any return from their savings accounts.

Actuaries Launch Climate Index

Organizations representing the actuarial profession in Canada and the United States have launched the Actuaries Climate Index (ACI), a quarterly measure of changes in extreme weather events and sea levels. The index is based on analysis of quarterly seasonal data for six different index components collected from 1961 to winter 2016, compared to the 30-year reference period of 1961 to 1990. It is an educational tool designed to help inform actuaries, public policymakers, and the general public about climate trends and their potential impact. Higher index values indicate an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events. The latest index values show an increase in the impact of extreme weather events such as high temperature, heavy precipitation, and drought.

McLean Joins Mercer

Todd McLean is a partner and office leader for Mercer Canada based in its Vancouver, BC, office. He has over 25 years of consulting experience and held a number of executive leadership roles with several large consulting and financial services firms in the Calgary, AB; Vancouver; and Toronto, ON; markets.

November 30, 2016

Decumulation Strategies Can Fail

Typical strategies for drawing down one's life savings in retirement fail badly when confronted with a worst-case investment scenario, says Fred Vettese, chief actuary at Morneau Shepell. "Most people believe that Canada/Quebec Pension Plan payments should start immediately, that annuities are unattractive in this low-interest environment, and that total pension income needs to rise with inflation every year," explains Vettese. "Our worst-case investment scenario shows that such an approach leads to ruin." The problem is that most retirees are unlikely to stumble on the optimal strategy on their own, so the sponsors of defined contribution pension plans could do more to help at the point of retirement. He also notes that it is not entirely the plan sponsor's fault for not helping more. "In most provinces, including Ontario, the regulations that would permit an intelligent decumulation strategy from a DC pension plan are not yet fully in place. The time has come to take action," says Vettese.

Reed Sets Retirement Date

Don Reed will retire after a 27-year career with Franklin Templeton Investments on January 31, 2017. Recruited by the late Sir John Templeton to join the firm in 1989, Reed has a long history of dedication to Templeton’s value investing principles. His portfolio management responsibilities will be transitioned to long-tenured, Canada-based Templeton Global Equity Group portfolio managers. He will also transition out of his director and/or chair roles for the company entity boards on which he serves, but will remain on the Templeton Growth Fund, Ltd. and Franklin Templeton Corporate Class Ltd. fund boards after January 31, transitioning to a non-executive chair role. Duane Green, managing director – Canada, who has been heading its Canadian distribution business since October 2015, will assume the additional titles of president and CEO on Reed’s retirement.

ESG More Important To Millennials

Millennials are more likely to place greater importance on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors than older investors and rank them as highly as investment outcomes when considering investment decisions, says the ‘Schroders Global Investor Study.’ It found the investment decisions of those aged 18 to 35 were far more influenced by ESG factors than those of investors aged 36 and over. Opinions between these groups differed most on world-based social outcomes such as poverty and climate change with millennials rating these highly compared to older investor groups on average. The study also concluded millennials were more likely to actively withdraw their capital from companies with poor ESG records.

Institutions Turn To Insourcing

Many institutions have begun exploring ways to make their portfolios more efficient and much of the focus has been on ways to reduce administrative costs as well as investment management costs, including the fees paid to third-party managers, says Cerulli Associates. This is prompting some to insource. They are bringing investment management responsibilities in-house for a portion of its investment portfolio to save on costs of external management, particularly in traditional equity, fixed income, and derivatives instruments. There are additional expenses to consider with this model, such as technology upgrades, as well as systems to handle portfolio management and administrative capabilities. At the same time, an even larger portion is outsourcing investment responsibilities in the form of an outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO). "One of the major advantages of outsourcing investment responsibilities is a faster decision-making process and the transfer of monitoring responsibility that can free up time for professionals to focus on their organizations," says Chris Mason, a senior analyst at Cerulli.

Heo Has New Role

Emma Heo (FRM) is manager, client relationships, defined benefit solutions, at Sun Life Financial. Since July of 2013, she has been a senior analyst, investment research, in its International Investment Centre.

Pensions In Alberta Examined

The CPBI Southern Alberta region will examine ‘Pensions in Alberta: The Road Ahead.’ Nilam Jetha, assistant deputy minister, financial sector regulation and policy, and superintendent of pensions, insurance, and financial institutions; and Paul Owens, deputy superintendent of pensions in Alberta; will share their thoughts on the current state of pensions in Alberta and what they envision for the road ahead. It takes place December 15 in Calgary, AB. For information, visit Alberta Pensions

November 29, 2016

Role Of Technology Needs To Be Understood

“It’s impossible to understand institutional investing today without also understanding the role of technology,” says Jay Vyas, head of quantitative investing in the Public Market Investments department at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). For large institutional investors like CPPIB, how equities are bought or sold can be as important as what those equities are, he says. The race to generate the insights that inform decisions on where to make investments and then to execute those decisions in the optimal way is won by those who can quickly build sophisticated technology solutions that can harness enormous amounts of data and turn it into meaningful, actionable information. “Those able to make the best decisions about what to invest in, do so more quickly than others, and then execute those decisions flawlessly, can get a bigger piece of the pie. If you can generate data-driven insights the fastest and can act on those insights, you can gain a competitive edge,” he says

Factor-based Strategy Demand Grows

Demand for factor-based strategies is increasing globally, with investors planning to almost double allocations over the next five years, says an Invesco Asset Management survey. It found that 71 per cent of institutional investors, private banks, and consultants based in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific expect to increase factor product allocations. Risk diversification and increasing alpha were cited as the main drivers for this. Over two-thirds of respondents already use factors in portfolio construction. The survey shows there is no lack of belief in the rationale behind factor investing, with 83 per cent of respondents believing that factors help explain outperformance.

Gas Prices Won’t Change Demand

Electric cars may not be the answer to lowering carbon emissions as long as coal fired power generation is charging their batteries, says Aaron Bennett, a partner and senior research analyst at Jarislowsky Fraser. He told its ‘Institutional Investment Forum’ on ‘Sustainability in the Canadian Oil Patch’ that gas prices won't change demand or consumer behaviour on gasoline, until they get to a point where people will have to consider alternatives and putting a carbon price on top of that will “get us there sooner.” However, this will take multiple sectors working together to look at the entire chain from production to transmission to consumption because 75 per cent of carbon produced comes from everyday living from heating homes with natural gas to driving cars. Brian Ferguson, president and CEO of Cenovus Energy, said his company has set a target of zero carbon emissions from producing oil and he believes it can do it. The downturn in the price of oil has created opportunities to improve performance as operating costs need to be reduced per barrel. Today oil sands production emissions are being reduced by burning natural gas to inject steam to melt the oil so it can be pumped to the surface. As a result, the emissions are comparable to those to produce a barrel in the U.S. Energy intensity was reduced by 30 per cent from 2007 to 2015 and they have a target to reduce it even more, by one-third, over the next decade.

ORPP Ad Budget Used After Program Cancelled

Documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) through a freedom-of-information request show the Ontario government spent $793,925 on new advertising out of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) ad budget after cancelling the program. The new ads promoted changes to Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Ontario has claimed credit that CPP changes were the result of its government’s cancelled ORPP.

‘Smart Money’ Votes With Portfolios

It seems clear to market watchers that some ‘smart money’ is voting with their portfolios and asset allocators are moving to equity sectors that will most benefit from the expected policies and many promises that President-elect Trump campaigned on, says Jamie Colliver, of Bristol Gate Capital Partners, in the article ‘Rates Rising? Inflation? … A Case For Dividend Growth’ at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor website. He explains why many investors are overweight equities with portfolios that hold high dividend paying stocks.

Pre-retirees Focused On Legacy Building

Americans aged 51 to 69 have a unique outlook on life, particularly when it comes to financial management and insurance, says a white paper from Chubb. While sharing several of the same interests and passions as younger cohorts, pre-retirees are more focused on legacy building than on wealth accumulation, says ‘The Pre-Retirees: Changing Minds, Changing Needs.’ Some of the most pressing legacy building-related risks pre-retirees and their advisors should be aware of include: serving on non-profit boards that might not offer sufficient D&O liability coverage in the event of a lawsuit; emerging property risks as a result of relocation as more pre-retirees move or purchase property to be closer to their adult children and grandchildren; unforeseen gaps in protection when pursuing sophisticated wealth transfer strategies, such as the establishment of a trust or LLC; and having sufficient medical evacuation coverage and travel insurance in the event of an accident or injury abroad.

Hedge Fund Assets Increase

Assets held by hedge fund managers increased by 2.9 per cent, taking total industry assets under management (AUM) to $3.24 trillion, says a report from Preqin on asset flows in the industry for the first three-quarters of 2016. Across most strategies, strong returns have been the central driver of asset growth, with the industry posting gains of 5.44 per cent to date in 2016. Strong performance for equity and macro strategies funds overcame net investor redemptions to see their AUM grow in the first three-quarters of the year, while credit, relative value, and multi-strategy funds all saw their total assets fall. The extended run of positive performance that hedge funds have posted since March has been offset by continued investor redemptions across the industry. Hedge funds saw outflows of $33 billion through the third quarter, compounding outflows incurred through in the first two quarters to record outflows of $67 billion A higher proportion of funds based in North America saw outflows (42 per cent) than managed to attract inflows (40 per cent).

Platform Provides Education

T.E. Wealth has launched ProsperiGuide, an online financial education platform that complements products and services already offered for employees in the workplace. It covers six pillars of personal finance: financial planning; savings and debt; investing; retirement; tax; and life and death. It includes real-world case studies, worksheets, and decision-making tools to encourage, practice, and develop new financial skills. It can be used by employees in organizations of all sizes.

Salmond Heads GMS

John Salmond is president and chief executive officer of GMS and GMS Insurance Inc. He has been part of its executive team since August 2013, when he was appointed vice-president, sales and marketing. With over 28 years of senior sales and marketing experience, he was previously at Manulife Financial.

Session Offers Economic Update

CPBI Alberta North will address ‘Have We Reached the Bottom Yet? Economic Update 2017.’ Todd Hirsch, chief economist of ATB Financial, will explore the events that impact the economy ‒ both globally and closer to home. It takes place December 14 in Edmonton AB. For information, visit

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