Message from the Chair and Vice-Chair
2017 was another successful year for OPTrust. The Plan remains fully funded and its members continue to rate its services very highly. For a member-driven organization like OPTrust, there can be no higher accolade. The organization also completed the internalization of a large portion of its public markets assets as part of its ongoing implementation of its Member-Driven Investing strategy.
Although we are incredibly proud of the results OPTrust consistently produces, we recognize that challenges remain, from the continuing maturation of the Plan to rapid change in the world around us. We must not only pay pensions today, but preserve them for the future. To that end, in 2017, the Board oversaw and approved a new five-year strategic plan for the organization. This strategic plan sets a vision and roadmap that will help OPTrust continue to deliver long-term sustainability for its members with a focus on growth and innovation.
As we work to create a secure retirement for the Plan’s members, we also have the opportunity to create better retirement outcomes for everyone. Good pensions are not a nice-to-have. They are essential for a thriving economy and society. And even as the defined benefit model remains the best way to provide secure, predictable income in retirement, many people aren’t aware of its advantages.
To foster an ongoing conversation about workplace pensions, OPTrust launched its defined benefit advocacy program, People for Pensions, in 2017. The program has been a tremendous success, engaging the Plan’s members in building greater awareness of the value of the defined benefit model. We were delighted to see the program recognized last year with a gold MarCom award. OPTrust’s leadership was also recognized when President and CEO Hugh O’Reilly won a CORPaTH Crystal Global award, in acknowledgement of OPTrust’s ongoing efforts to promote defined benefit pension plans globally.
OPTrust will continue to take a leadership role in the pension industry, advancing new ideas on topics ranging from the implications of climate change for pension investing to the Canadian pension model, in service of a sustainable, secure future for everyone.
2017 saw the Board bid farewell to its longest serving Trustee, Tony Ross. Tony joined the Board in 2000 and during his time on the Board served as Chair, Vice-Chair and Chair of the Investment Committee. His contributions were instrumental in helping OPTrust become the sophisticated organization it is today and we gratefully acknowledge his service.
This year was also a time of renewal as two new Trustees joined the Board, appointed by the Government of Ontario. Sharon Pel joined the Board in February upon Tony Ross’s retirement and Don Wilkinson joined the Board in July, following the departure of Trustee Alan Hibben. We extend a warm welcome to our newest Trustees.
Serving as a Trustee is a significant responsibility and an incredible privilege. In everything the Board does, ensuring the retirement security of our over 92,000 members is always top of mind. We see that same focus on our members and their futures in each person who works at OPTrust. Their dedication is the reason why OPTrust stands out as a plan that others look to for how to get pensions right.
As the organization continues to create long-term sustainability through its new strategic plan, we look forward to continuing the conversation about pensions with our members and our industry.