The Concordia pension plan remains bullish despite market struggles
The Pension Plan for the Employees of Concordia University retained its strong position for the year ending December 31, 2018. The plan weathered an otherwise stormy period for markets thanks to good governance, careful management and prudent policies.
“I am pleased with the results,” said Patricia Saputo (BComm 88), chair of Concordia’s pension committee, to plan members gathered at the annual information meeting at the D.B. Clarke Theatre on September 26.
On December 31, 2018, the plan’s net assets were $1.02 billion, up $19 million from the previous year. The fund’s 2018 returns were 2.6 per cent, below the objective of six per cent but well above the average of similar funds, which experienced a one per cent loss for the year.
At the same time, the Concordia plan’s operational expenses dropped 15 per cent and its membership rose from 6,667 to 6,751.
Planning for the future
Concordia offers its employees a chance to save for retirement by contributing to its pension plan, which provides a defined benefit based on a formula using earnings and years of service. The university contributes 55 per cent of the cost for each employee, while the employee pays the remaining 45 per cent.
The independent pension committee governs the plan, and Concordia’s Office of the Treasurer is responsible for its oversight and financial management. The committee’s key role is to ensure the plan’s financial health and long-term sustainability and to act in the best interest of all its members.
“The year’s results show that we have a strong, integrated governance framework that ties together the design of the plan with its funding and investment policies,” says Marc Gauthier (BComm 94), university treasurer and chief investment officer.
Pension plan administrators also needed to adjust to new government regulations that came into effect in 2017.
“We successfully implemented the Quebec Government Pension Plan reform that became operational in 2018,” says Gauthier, who serves as principal administrator of the plan and pension committee secretary.
“And we saw a significant increase in the full participation in the plan by Concordia members. This reflects the value they place on having our defined benefit plan and their trust of our governance framework.”
Responsible investments and improved communication
Part of the secret of the plan’s success is the committee’s innovative approach in constructing and managing its investment policy, Gauthier adds. “The policy seeks to provide assurance to both the university and members of the plan against loss of capital, which is the greatest risk, while still having the ability to meet the investment target.”
Looking ahead, the committee is aiming to increase its responsible investments and improve communication. “We want to add value for our members,” says Gauthier. “We’re looking to make our available information more user friendly and to update the community on our progress.”
One result of this commitment to better communication is the recently completed pension video, which clearly and succinctly explains the plan.
Visit the pension plan webpage on Cspace to learn more.
Watch the pension plan video.
Log in to pension@ccess to access your personal pension statement and use the pension calculator.
Contact Pension Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 514-848-2424, ext. 3666.