By Staff | December 7, 2009 | Last updated on December 7, 2009
3 min read
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Corporate pensions were in bad enough shape at the start of 2008, but the market decline that began in the fall has left them in the worst shape in years.

A MoneySense magazine study of defined benefit pensions offered by the 100 largest public companies found that, as a group, they were underfunded by $50 billion. Plans were assigned one of three ratings and there is wide variation between the best and worst on the list.

The good news is that only eight of the 100 plans landed in the “danger” classification. Thirty-four were rated as “on alert” while the remainder were considered “safe” in the magazine’s survey.

These ratings were based on two factors: the percentage by which the plan is underfunded and the risk that the company sponsoring the plan will go bankrupt.

Plans were deemed to be in the danger category if they were underfunded by 50% or more or if they were underfunded by more than 20% and there is a chance that the associated company could go bankrupt in the next two years.

The full report is on news stands now and will be made available on

MoneySense is published by Rogers Communications, which also owns

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Desjardins offers carbon offset program

As world leaders meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to negotiate fighting climate change, Desjardins Group is offering its clients a way to shrink their carbon footprint.

Clients who collect Bonusdollars reward points through their Desjardins Visa card may now exchange these points for carbon offset credits. Desjardins has partnered with Planetair, a provider of carbon offsets that has been recognized by the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute.

A third party verifies that credits purchased from Planetair fund projects that actually reduce carbon emissions. For example, Planetair credits funded the construction of Madagascar’s first wind farm, which will reduce both deforestation and the use of coal-fired power plants.

For 36 Bonusdollars, a Desjardins client can buy enough carbon credits to offset one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions or the equivalent of driving the family car 5,000 km.

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BofA brings new algorithms to Canada

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has announced “significant” changes to its algorithmic trading platform for Canadian equities, designed to deliver improved execution performance for clients.

“Investors in Canadian equities are constantly looking for ways to optimize their trading strategies and we are pleased to introduce these enhancements, which are based on detailed quantitative analysis and supported by a dedicated local trading desk,” says Michael J. Lynch, head of Americas execution services with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The company will introduce its Instinct algorithm, which is designed to execute trades of small- and mid-cap stocks.

Also new to the Canadian market is the application of its quantitative implementation shortfall algorithm (QIS), which the firm says increased benchmark performance approximately 30% when it was implemented in the U.S.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is also rolling out a new trading engine for interlisted stocks, which analyzes real-time foreign exchange rates and market data to provide more efficient cross border execution and settlement.

(12/07/09) staff


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