By Staff | January 14, 2010 | Last updated on January 14, 2010
4 min read
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The Financial Planning Standards Council announced the results of the November 2009 CFP examinations, which were written by 1,272 candidates.

Of that total, 44.7% passed the exam, with first-time writers doing even better, with a pass-rate of 50.3%. The 569 successful candidates will have their names published in The Globe and Mail.

There are already 17,500 CFP professionals in Canada, and a global total of 120,000.

“We continued to see increased enrollment for the CFP Examination. The November 2009 exam saw a 24% increase in candidates over the June 2009 exam,” said John Wickett, senior vice-president, standards and certification, FPSC. “We also saw the highest pass rate in several years, up five percentage points from about 40% in recent administrations.”

The next scheduled sitting is June 12, 2010, and will be the last offering of the CFP exam in its current format. Effective July 1, 2010, future candidates will earn their certification through incremental steps. A two-staged examination process (Financial Planning Examination 1 and 2 – FPE1 and FPE2) will replace the single six-hour CFP exam.

Registration for the final six-hour exam closes on May 12, 2010.

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Empire Life enhances Class Plus GMWB

The Empire Life Insurance Company has announced changes to its Class Plus guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit product.

Clients will now receive the 5% annual Income Base Bonus each year if no withdrawals are made in that year. This feature was originally limited to the first 15 years of the contract.

Clients are also now able to start receiving their guaranteed lifetime withdrawal amounts at age 65, a year earlier than originally stipulated.

“We’re very pleased to be able to offer these enhancements as a way to bring Canadians one step closer to a worry-free financial retirement,” said Julie Yoshikuni, vice-president, retail wealth marketing. “These enhancements, along with the recent appointment of Gaelen Morphet as chief investment officer, demonstrate our continuing commitment to Empire Life clients.”

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Unity Life offers Annuity Plus TFSA

Unity Life of Canada has launched the Foresters Annuity Plus Tax-Free Savings Account, which offers the investments options of a daily interest account, and a guaranteed interest account with a choice of investment terms from one to 10 years.

“In addition to increased savings, Annuity Plus TFSA offers account holders the added value of Foresters membership, which includes complimentary member benefits, such as scholarships, family events and community involvement,” said Rob Baboth, vice-president, sales and marketing at Unity Life.

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Desjardins seeks fund merger approvals

Desjardins Funds proposed changes to the investment objective of the Desjardins Alternative Investments Fund which would provide wider securities investment discretion to the manager as to the types of securities in which the fund invests.

The company is also proposing merger of the Desjardins Northwest Specialty Global High Yield Bond Fund and the Desjardins Enhanced Alternative Investments Fund into the Desjardins Alternative Investments Fund, pending approval of the new investment objective of that fund.

Further, Desjardins is seeking unitholder approval to merge Desjardins Northwest Specialty Equity Fund into Desjardins Canadian Small Cap Equity Fund, and Desjardins Fidelity True North Fund into Desjardins Canadian Equity Fund. The latter merger would result in the fund being renamed Desjardins Canadian Equity Growth Fund.

Unitholder meetings are expected to be held in March. Should the changes be approved, the mergers would likely be effective in May.

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Pension intentions lean toward active management

In order to deal with the top issues of funding status of their pension plans, risk management, and continued volatility, plan sponsors will turn to actively managed equity strategies to achieve returns in excess of their benchmarks in the future, according to a poll.

Pyramis Global Advisors’ Pulse Poll of 427 corporate and public pension plans in 12 countries finds 88% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “We believe actively managed equity strategies will deliver alpha in the foreseeable future,” followed by 77% of Nordic plans, 76% of U.K. plans, and 70% of U.S. plans.

“The Pyramis Global Pensions Pulse Poll revealed that plans are seeking ways to return to equity markets after losses suffered in 2008 and the vast majority of institutional investors believe actively managed equity strategies, versus passive management, will deliver excess market returns in the future,” says Young D. Chin, chief investment officer with Pyramis Global Advisors. “Pensions face significant challenges as to how they move forward after the sustained volatility global equity markets have experienced, and we found a diverse set of outlooks and strategic approaches across the regions as pension plans navigate today’s markets and set a course for the future.”

According to the survey, many plans are also targeting increased global equity allocations and emerging market equities. The strongest interest in increasing emerging market equity allocations was found in the Netherlands (50%) and the Nordic region (46%). Canada and the U.S. trailed with 30% and 25% of plans, respectively, expecting to increase these strategies.

The U.S. and Canada displayed a strong interest in long-duration fixed and corporate credit strategies, reflecting continued growth of liability-driven investing (LDI). Forty-three percent of both U.S. corporate plans and Canadian plans expect to increase long-bond allocations, while 22% of U.S. corporate plans and 27% of Canadian plans expect to increase allocations to corporate bonds.

Alternative investments are receiving more attention, with 32% of European respondents indicating they are definitely or likely to manage volatility by diversifying into alternatives such as hedge funds, infrastructure or private equity. Strong interest in managing volatility through alternatives was recorded in Canada (50%) and among U.S. public DB plans (34%).

(01/14/10) staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.