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Employer pension plans (trusteed pension funds), first quarter 2017

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Released: 2017-09-14

The market value of assets held by Canadian trusteed pension funds topped $1.8 trillion in the first quarter. Asset levels were up 4.2% from the fourth quarter and were 10.5% higher compared with the first quarter of 2016.

Pension fund assets held in stocks grew 5.0% in the first quarter of 2017, while bond holdings rose 0.7%. The value of mortgage investments continued its upward trend, increasing 12.9% from the fourth quarter.

About one-third of funds in foreign investment

Canadian pension funds hold approximately one-third of their assets in foreign investments. Foreign holdings grew 4.2% in the first quarter. Holdings in foreign bonds increased 23.9% to $76.6 billion, following a 6.7% decline the previous quarter. Meanwhile, investments in foreign stocks increased 8.0% to $304.7 billion, following a 4.2% gain in the fourth quarter.

Pension fund revenue declines in the first quarter

Pension fund revenue declined 14.8% in the first quarter to $48.3 billion. Most sources of pension fund revenue declined except net profit on the sale of securities (+4.3%). The overall decline was led by investment income, down 32.6% from the fourth quarter, while total revenue from contributions decreased 15.9%.

Overall net income down by one-fifth from the previous quarter

Expenditures decreased 5.6% from the fourth quarter to $21.1 billion in the first quarter. Pension payments accounted for most pension fund expenditures, down 1.4% to $15.5 billion, while cash withdrawals rose 2.6% to $2.3 billion. The decrease in expenditures partially offset the decline in revenue, but overall net income declined from $34.3 billion in the fourth quarter to $27.2 billion in the first quarter.

Over 6.2 million Canadian workers belonged to employer-sponsored pension plans in the first quarter. Of this group, 5.2 million or 82.7% belonged to pension plans with assets managed by trusteed funds, while the remainder had assets managed by insurance company contracts.

  Note to readers

For the purposes of this survey, trusteed pension funds include the assets of one or more registered pension plans: those held under a trust agreement, those held by a pension corporation or pension fund society, those administered under legislation of the Government of Canada or government of a province of Canada, and those held by an insurance company for investment management only.

Excluded from the survey are pension funds held in total under an annuity insurance contract.

Contact information

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