MFA Blog

In Bid to Enhance Alternative Investments, Canadian Pensions Open Foreign Offices

Posted on July 10, 2014

A number of Canadian pension funds are looking to foreign shores to help boost their alternative investments outside of their home country.  A recent report from Pensions & Investments noted that several large pension plans, with billions of dollars in assets, are establishing offices in locations like New York, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Leo de Bever, CEO of Alberta Investment Management Corp., noted that many Canadian pensions conduct a lot of direct investing, making their foreign offices important to their operations.  “There are 10 of us (large Canadian plans) with a total of C$1 trillion. The U.S. pension fund market is much bigger, but the grasp of their investments isn’t like ours,” he said.  “You’ll see Canadian names more often (in overseas offices), but that’s because we have a different model without third-party managers.”

Ryan Bisch, senior consultant, principal, and head of Canadian alternative investments for Mercer Canada Ltd., agreed, telling Pensions & Investments that most of the pensions with foreign offices opened them in regions near their existing investments.  ““It is a trend for sovereign wealth funds and large pension funds like the Canadian plans,” he said.  “Investing is global. It’s important to have people on the ground to find additional investment opportunities.”

“Increasing our local footprint in these regions reflects our global investment mindset and the importance of the U.K., European and Asian markets to our investment strategies,” said Gwen-Ann Chittendon of the British Columbia Investment Management Corp.  “In addition to bringing us closer to many of our existing investments … a local presence serves to strengthen our existing relationships and provide new opportunities for investment partnerships in both our private and public asset classes,” she said.

Read more about the trend of Canadian pensions opening foreign offices online from Pensions & Investments.