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Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

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Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
Crown corporation
Founded December 31, 1997 (1997-12-31)
Headquarters Canada
Key people Mark Wiseman, CEO
AUM $188 B (June 30, 2013)

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) manages, as of June 30 2013, over $188 billion in investment assets for the Canada Pension Plan on behalf of eighteen million Canadians.[1]

Under the direction of the then Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin, the CPP Investment Board was created in 1997 as an organization independent of the government to monitor and invest the funds held by the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). In turn, the CPP Investment Board created the CPP Reserve Fund. The CPP Investment Board is a crown corporation created by an Act of Parliament. It reports quarterly on its performance, has a professional management team to oversee the operation of various aspects of the CPP reserve fund and also to plan changes in direction, and a board of directors that is accountable to but independent from the federal government.


The Canada Pension Plan was first established in 1966. For much of its history, the plan relied on contributions to pay benefits. By 1996, it was clear the plan was unsustainable.[2] Major changes to the plan occurred, leading to a gradual increase in the contribution rate to its current 9.9% and the creation of the CPP Investment Board as a crown corporation that would operate at arm's length from the government.[2]


The CPP Investment Board's mandate is laid out in its founding legislation, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act. Its sole investing mandate is to achieve a "maximum rate of return, without undue risk of loss."[3]


The CPP Investment Board invests in more than 3,000 public companies around the world, including more than 500 Canadian companies[verification needed].[4]

As outlined in its Policy on Responsible Investing, first adopted in 2005, the Board considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues/factors from a risk/return point of view and encourages companies to adopt policies and practices that enhance long-term financial performance.[verification needed] [5]

Future and direction

Mark Wiseman is the current Chief Executive Officer of the CPPIB, replacing David F Denison on July 1, 2012.[6]

According to the 2008 Annual Report, about 45% of the fund's assets are now invested in securities domiciled outside Canada, largely in the United States and Western Europe. In addition, the CPPIB has been broadening the scope of its investments to include emerging markets, although Mr. Denison, CEO at the time, would not pinpoint a specific country or area. “Canada as a single market cannot accommodate the future growth of our organization,” said Mr. Denison.

In recent years, the CPPIB changed direction in its investment philosophy. It evolved from investing exclusively in non-marketable government bonds to passive index-fund strategies and, in 2006, to active investment strategies.

Growth and Strategy

According to the Office of the Chief Actuary of Canada, the CPP Fund needs a real rate of return of 4.0%, over the 75-year projection period in his report, to help sustain the plan at the current contribution rate.

In November 2010, the Chief Actuary reaffirmed that the CPP is sustainable throughout the 75-year timeframe of his 2009 report; the Chief Actuary will send a new projection for the CPP to the Minister of Finance in 2013. Over this long timeframe it is expected that there will be periods where returns are above or below this threshold.

Consistent with the CPPIB's mandate to maximize investment returns without undue risk of loss, they pursue a value-added strategy that seeks to deliver returns over and above a market-based benchmark over the long term. That benchmark is called the CPP Reference Portfolio and under reasonable capital market assumptions, it can generate the long-term 4.0% real rate of return required to help sustain the CPP.

The CPPIB reserve fund receives its funds from the CPP and invests them like a typical large fund manager would. The CPP reserve fund seeks to achieve at least the projected return (inflation-adjusted) needed to help sustain the CPP , a rate set at 4.0% by 2017 in the CPP actuary's report, starting from 3.2% in 2011. As indicated in its Financial Highlights for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2012, the CPP reserve fund averaged 2.2% return in the past 5 years, and a 6.2% return in the past 10 years,slightly less than the sum of projected Canadian inflation rates and the 4.0% target identified by the CPP Actuary report, or 6,3% in nominal basis, that is required for CPP contribution sustainability.

The CPP total assets are projected to reach the following levels according to the 2009 actuarial report: (in assets):[7]

  • $197 billion by 2015.
  • $275 billion by 2020.
  • $465 billion by 2030.

The strategies used to achieve these targets are:

  1. Diversification. In 1997, the CPP fund was 100% invested in government bonds, but it has since diversified not only by asset class, but also internationally.
  2. Employing basic asset allocation theories, with diversification of investments as one of the objectives. The asset mix has evolved over the years as follows:[8]
Asset 2008 mix 2012 mix
Public Equity 51.8% 34.1%
Fixed Income 25.6% 33.2%
Private Equity 10.9% 16.3%
Inflation Sensitive Assets 11.7% 16.4%
  1. Using equity firms to assist in achieving targets for each asset class. The CPP reserve fund allocates certain amounts to various pre-qualified equity firms to be managed and used towards reaching the growth targets. For example, the CPP Investment Board hires private equity firms to help it invest in private companies, fund managers to help it invest in public equities, bond managers to assist in investing in bonds (within Canada and foreign bonds), and so forth.


The performance and the market value of the CPP Fund is reported on a quarterly basis.

Investments held by the CPP Fund include equities, fixed income (primarily government bonds), and inflation-sensitive assets (real estate, inflation-linked bonds and infrastructure).

Historical information on the performance of assets available to the Canada Pension Plan, and financial statements of the CPP Investment Board, can be found under the Quarterly Reports and Annual Reports section of the CPPIB's website.

The total growth of the CPP Reserve Fund is derived from the CPP contributions of working Canadians, and the return on investment of the contributions.[9] The portion of CPP Reserve Fund growth due to CPP contributions varies from year to year, but have shown a slight decrease in the past 3 years. The historical growth with the investment performance is tabulated as follows:

Date Net Asset Value (CAD)¹ Rate of Return (annual)²
Mar 2003 $55.6 Billion -1.1%
Mar 2004 $70.5 Billion +10.3%
Mar 2005 $81.3 Billion +8.5%
Mar 2006 $98.0 Billion +15.5%
Mar 2007 $116.6 Billion +12.9%
Mar 2008³ $122.7 Billion -0.29%
Mar 2009 $105.5 Billion -18.6%[9]
Mar 2010 $127.6 Billion +14.9%[9]
Mar 2011 $148.2 Billion +11.9%[9]
Mar 2012 $161.6 Billion +6.6%[9]
Mar 2013 $183.3 Billion +10.1%[10]

¹Assets are as at the period end date (March 31).

²Commencing in fiscal 2007, the rate of return reflects the performance of the CPP Fund which excludes the short-term cash required to pay current benefits.

³Increased fund value due to worker and employer CPP contributions not needed to pay current benefits. The negative investment return amounted to $303 million CAD.[11]


The CPP Investment Board is responsible for managing nearly $200 billion in investment assets for the Canada Pension Plan.

Investments in Skype

CPPIB, as part of a consortium, first invested US$300 million in Skype in September 2009. In May 2011 CPPIB sold its stake in Skype to Microsoft for US$933 million.[12]

Board of directors

  • Robert M. Astley

Chair. Director since September 2006. Appointed Chair effective October 2008.

  • Ian Bourne|Ian A. Bourne

Corporate Director, Calgary, Alberta. Director since April 2007. Retired executive vice-president and CFO of TransAlta Corporation

  • Robert L Brooks

Corporate Director, Oakville, Ontario. Director since January 2009. Former vice-chair and group treasurer of the Bank of Nova Scotia

  • Pierre Choquette

Corporate Director, Vancouver, British Columbia. Director since February 2008. Director of Methanex Corporation since 2003. compensation (chair) committees.

Economist, PhD. Vancouver, British Columbia. Director since February 2008.

  • Nancy E Hopkins Q.C.

Lawyer, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Director since September 2008. Partner with the law firm McDougall, Gauley LLP.

  • Douglas Mahaffy

Corporate Director, Toronto, Ontario. Director since October 2009. Recently retired Chairman, chief executive officer and director of McLean Budden

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. Director since December 2010. Former Vice-President of Research and International Relations, and Professor and Dean at the University of Toronto.

  • D. Murray Wallace

Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario London, Ontario. Director since April 2007

  • Karen Sheriff

Corporate Executive, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Director since October 2012.

  • Kathleen Taylor

Corporate Executive, Lawyer, Corporate Director. Toronto, Ontario Appointed Director October 2013.

  • Jo Mark Zurel

Chartered Accountant, Corporate Director St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Director since October 2012


In 2009 executives of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board took a 31.4% cut in their bonuses after questions were raised about the level of compensation at the crown corporation.[13]


External links

  • Official website
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