By Staff | January 10, 2005 | Last updated on January 10, 2005
7 min read

(January 14, 2005) PEAK Financial Group has announced the appointment of Caron Czorny as executive vice-president and chief operating officer of PEAK Insurance Services Inc.

“Caron understands what brokers need and knows how to get the job done,” said Robert Frances, president and CEO of PEAK Financial Group. “With the addition of Caron to lead the team, we are ready for rapid yet responsible growth

Czorny’s experience spans underwriting, product research, sales management and the development and execution of effective marketing strategies on a national basis.

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CRA Board chair nominated

(January 14, 2005) The Minister of National Revenue has nominated a new chair for Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA’s) Board of Management. Connie Roveto is president of consulting firm Cirenity Management.

“I am pleased to recommend Connie Roveto as the Chair of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Board of Management,” said John McCallum, Minister of National Revenue. “Ms. Roveto brings with her a wealth of leadership and management experience from both the financial and corporate management sectors.”

Roveto’s nomination will now be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Finance. The Board of Management comprises 15 members, 11 of whom are nominated by the provinces and territories, all are appointed by the Governor in Council.

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CSA issues disclosure guidance

(January 14, 2005) The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) has issued guidance on disclosure of retirement benefits for those insurers who choose to provide additional disclosure beyond what is mandatory.

“The complexity of compensation mechanisms has grown steadily in recent years, making it more difficult for investors to understand what executives are paid and how that compensation is determined,” said John Hughes of the corporate finance branch at the Ontario Securities Commission. “We understand that a number of issuers are considering providing enhanced disclosure on retirement benefits and we encourage these issuers to consider how to provide this disclosure in a clear and transparent way.”

CSA Staff Notice 51-314 — Retirement Benefits Disclosure is available on the CSA website. British Columbia is the sole jurisdiction which is not participating in the notice.

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Pensions’ solvency rises, for now

(January 13, 2005) The health of Canada’s defined benefit pension plans has improved, according to the Watson Wyatt Pension Barometer, which shows solvency levels have increased from 85% funded to 90% funded, for the typical plan.

“While this data shows that solvency levels are moving in the right direction, it is important to note that this improvement was in large part due to the extra contributions being made by many plan sponsors toward their pension deficits, as required by government regulations,” said Ian Markham, director, pension innovation, Watson Wyatt Canada. “Without these contributions, solvency levels would only have modestly improved from last year. The gains created by the 8% to 10% investment returns typically experienced by pension funds in 2004 were mostly offset by losses caused by the lower bond yields that measure the solvency liabilities.”

The bad news is that new standards from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries for determining lump-sum commuted values come into effect on February 1, and will affect solvency liabilities. Markham says these new standards could wipe out any solvency gains.

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Resource sector seen boosting Saskatchewan’s economy

(January 12, 2005) Saskatchewan should experience healthy economic growth over the next couple of years, thanks mostly to the resource sector, according to Scotia Economics.

Real GDP should be around 3% in 2005 and 2006, says senior economist Mary Webb. “Prospects are encouraging across a number of Saskatchewan’s industries. Surging oil and natural gas prices were a major contributor to the rebound in the province’s international export receipts in 2004, following three years of decline.”

Potash production and mine expansion will also contribute to growth, Webb adds, noting that resource-rich regions, particularly in Western Canada, will be insulated somewhat from the rising value of the Canadian dollar.

“Central Canada, however, is expected to be more vulnerable, even with the advantage of considerable economic diversification,” Scotia says.

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FPSC releases fall exam results

(January 11, 2005) Five hundred and fifty-one financial planners passed the fall sitting of the CFP exam. The Financial Planners Standards Council released the results of the November 20, 2004 exam today.

One-thousand and forty individuals wrote the test and the pass rate was 53%, the same as last year when more than 1,200 candidates sat the exam. Of those writing for the first time, 60% passed.

Last summer, 616 planners passed the June sitting of the CFP exam and the pass rate was 55%.

The six-hour financial planning exam is held twice a year in both official languages. The next CFP exam is set for Saturday, June 11, 2005. Registration closes on May 11. About 16,000 Canadians now hold the CFP mark.

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AIC cuts two portfolio funds

(January 11, 2005) AIC is streamlining its portfolio fund offerings, reducing the number from six to four. Effective at the close of business, January 11, 2005, AIC Fixed Income Portfolio Fund and AIC Long-Term Growth Portfolio Fund will no longer be available, except in connection with the automatic reinvestment of distributions.

The two funds will be terminated on or about March 28, 2005, following 60 days written notice to existing unitholders, who will have the option of switching to another AIC Fund or redeeming their units. AIC will reimburse unitholders for DSC costs and front-end loads, if they choose to redeem.

For purposes of consistent branding, AIC will also change the French names of the remaining Portfolio funds, replacing “Fonds groupé” with “Portefeuille.” For example, “Fonds groupé de croissance équilibré AIC” will become “Portefeuille de croissance équilibrée AIC.”

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Jovian launches Taliesin multi-strategy hedge fund

(January 11, 2005) Jovian Capital Corporation has launched the Taliesin Multi-Strategy Fund, a strategic partnership between Eden Rahim’s Taliesin Capital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jovian.

“We believe that the unique structure and approach of the Taliesin Multi-Strategy Fund, combined with Eden’s skills, will provide tremendous value-added for the fund’s clients,” said Mark Arthur, president of Jovian Asset Management Inc.

Rahim was vice-president and senior portfolio manager with RBC between 1998 and 2003.

Available in Class A, Class F and Class I Units, the new fund will trade in equities, derivatives, bonds, currencies and commodities.

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Arrow launches two new notes

(January 11, 2005) Arrow Hedge Partners has launched two principal-protected notes linked to the Arrow Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund and the Arrow Global Long/Short Hedge Fund. Both offerings will be available for purchase up to March 24, 2005.

The Arrow Multi-Strategy Notes, Series 6 offers a fully diversified pool of 20 to 25 hedge fund managers and has an annual absolute return objective of 7 to 9%, after fees.

The Arrow Global Equity Long/Short Notes, Series 1 is linked to a pool of 13 equity long/short hedge fund managers, with a goal of beating the MSCI World Equity Index over a market cycle, but with half of the volatility.

Both products are available for a minimum investment of $5,000 that is tax efficient and fully RRSP eligible.

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Creststreet opens funds for direct investment

(January 11, 2005) Creststreet Mutual Funds Limited is opening its Creststreet Resource Class fund to public investors. This fund was previously only available through subscription to a Creststreet flow-through share.

Public investors can now purchase Resource Class shares by placing an order through their investment advisor in the same manner as they would purchase units of most mutual funds available in Canada.

Creststreet is also launching the Creststreet Managed Income Class and the Creststreet Managed Equity Index Class for public investment.

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Troubled Crocus fund appoints special advisor

(January 10, 2005) Manitoba’s Crocus Investment Fund has appointed a special advisor to lead an organizational review and portfolio assessment.

Retired accountant Delmore Crewson will work with the Manitoba Securities Commission and the province’s auditor-general. The labour fund halted trading on December 10, 2004, prompting a number of investors to threaten a class-action lawsuit against the fund’s managers.

“The decision to undertake this work was precipitated by underperformance of the fund and in light of new developments with key holdings in the portfolio,” Crocus said in a release last month.

Crocus also announced on Friday that fund president Laurie Goldberg has resigned, the latest in a series of high-profile departures. The portfolio review is scheduled to be completed by the end of January.

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PlanPlus launches new advisor online product

(January 10, 2005) PlanPlus has introduced Web Advisor Gold, a new online product the company says will allow advisors to upload data from their mutual fund back office system.

Advisors no longer need to key in basic customer information and can have their client accounts updated as frequently as they desire, the Toronto-based firm says.

“A continuing challenge for financial services advisors has been the administrative burden of re-keying their back office data into their planning software, or updating information for planning or portfolio reviews. Usually, time pressures mean that the planning process suffers,” says PlanPlus president Shawn Brayman. “Web Advisor Gold allows an advisor to import this data using the FundServ industry standard file format, which can be created from many mutual fund back offices.”

The product used daily pricing data from Cannex to update client portfolios. “This dramatically reduces the time required for an advisor to perform an annual review,” adds Brayman.

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InvestorEd to explain investment statements

(January 10, 2005) The Investor Education Fund has launched an online program aimed at demystifying investment statements, called “Understanding Your Account Statement.”

“Seven out of 10 respondents of a recent informal online survey believed investment statements are incomplete or hard to understand,” says Terri Williams, president of the Investor Education Fund. “Average retail investors have struggled for years to understand the information they receive on their statements. Our new online program aims to demystify these very important documents.”

The program was developed in consultation with Toronto-based research firm, DALBAR Inc., which specializes in measuring effectiveness of account statements and other industry services.

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ME sees 23% volume growth

(January 10, 2005) The Montreal Exchange saw trading volume soar in 2004, with 21.8 million derivatives contracts changing hands, representing an increase of 23% over 2003.

Market activity has grown 125% since the Montreal Exchange launched as a special derivatives market five years ago.

Open interest, a leading indicator of future activity on the market, is up 22%. This indicator corresponds to the number of contracts held by investors at a specific date. At year-end, MX open interest stood at 1.6 million contracts compared with 1.3 million at the end of 2003.

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