Investments

The UBC Staff Pension Plan (SPP) is a Target Benefit Plan that is funded by fixed contributions made by UBC staff employees and by UBC and its related employers. These contributions are invested in the financial markets and these investments (the SPP funds or assets) are expected to earn a rate of return sufficient to help support the longer term financial needs of the SPP.


Investment Governance

The Plan’s Governance Policy and Pension Board Terms of Reference identify the roles and responsibilities of UBC, the Board of Governors, and the Pension Board in the governance of the SPP. UBC, acting through its Board of Governors and senior management, is the sponsor and administrator of the Plan. The Pension Board Terms of Reference and Governance Policy guide the Pension Board in its management and oversight of the Plan on behalf of UBC.

The Plan’s Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures (SIPP) outlines the investment strategy and overall framework for managing the Plan’s assets, which our investment manager, UBC Investment Management Trust (IMANT) is responsible for implementing. The SIPP is prepared by the SPP Board with assistance of the Plan’s investment consultant and input of UBC IMANT, and is approved by the UBC Board of Governors.

UBC IMANT follows a manager-of-managers approach in investing the assets of the Plan. IMANT selects the appropriate investment strategies and external investment managers for each asset class in accordance with the Plan’s long-term asset mix. The performance of each external investment manager is measured against a benchmark with the goal of meeting or exceeding those returns over time. In addition, the total Plan’s investment performance is evaluated using the weighted average rate of return of the market indices from those asset classes.


Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures

The SPP funds are invested in accordance with the Plan’s Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures (SIPP). The SIPP defines the governance structure for the SPP Fund and formulates investment principles, guidelines and monitoring procedures to manage the assets of the Plan in accordance with the B.C. Pension Benefits Standards Act (PBSA). This Policy is supplementary to the rules contained in the PBSA.  IMANT must adhere to the guidelines in the SIPP in selecting the investment strategies and external investment managers for the SPP. The SIPP also outlines permitted types of investments and the allocation of funds between different asset classes.

View the Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures


Asset Mix

The goal of our long-term asset mix policy is to generate sufficient returns to keep our pension promise and to reduce investment risk during times of market instability, and to ultimately keep the Plan sustainable. Investment returns have a direct impact on the financial health of the SPP.

The SPP’s investments are broadly diversified, including allocations to fixed income, public equities and alternative asset classes such as infrastructure equity, real estate and private equity. As we have a long-term view on investments, a portion of our portfolio is invested in private markets as they generally provide a more stable return stream and help to insulate the Plan from the volatility typically observed in public markets.

SPP Asset Policy Mix – Updated to March 31, 2021

The table below shows the SPP Asset Mix as at March 31, 2021 versus our long-term asset mix policy. After a comprehensive asset mix review, the SPP Board and UBC Board of Governors approved a new long-term policy effective January 1, 2019. Since then, UBC IMANT has continued to transition the Plan’s portfolio towards this long-term policy, which includes additional investments in private debt, private equity and infrastructure assets. These new asset types require significant analysis, which is why full investment takes some time to complete.


Responsible Investing

Responsible investing plays an important role in the management of the SPP funds as it is a factor in keeping the SPP sustainable for the long-term. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors may impact the Plan’s investment performance and the Plan’s SIPP requires that ESG factors be considered as part of the investment management process for the SPP. The SPP Board has also formed an ESG committee in recognition of the importance of responsible investing. The purpose of the committee is to advise the SPP Board on responsible investing and ESG investing related to the SPP’s investment policy.

 

The SPP is a signatory of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment through our investment manager, UBC IMANT. The PRI is a global community of signatories seeking to build a more sustainable financial system.

 

The SPP Board receives quarterly reports on the investment managers hired by UBC IMANT to manage the SPP assets, and UBC IMANT regularly reports on their ESG activities. Through a manager-of-managers approach, UBC IMANT helps to implement the SPP Board’s commitment to responsible investing and integrates ESG factors criteria within their investment processes. Learn more about how UBC IMANT is integrating ESG considerations into the Plan’s investments in the SPP Annual Report and the UBC IMANT 2020 Annual Report.

In December 2020, the SPP Board approved a Responsible Investing Policy for the Plan.

A listing of the SPP’s public equities holdings is available on the Responsible Investing section of UBC IMANT’s website.


Investment Performance

Although we evaluate our investment performance on an annual basis, our approach is to focus on long-term performance as the purpose of the SPP is to provide stable retirement pensions for the lifetime of our members.

2020 Highlights

The table below shows the SPP’s investment performance for 2020 as well as the 10-year and 25-year fund performance:

2020 10-Year 25-Year
Net Rate of Return* 7.4% 8.0% 6.4%

* The net rate of return is the rate of return earned by the SPP Pension Fund after accounting for gains, losses and expenses.

Learn more about the SPP’s investment performance in our latest annual report.


Annual Reports & Financial Statements

Please see the Plan’s Annual Reports & Financial Statements for additional investment and financial information.