The following is an end-of-year update from Michael Latimer, President and CEO of OMERS.
It is hard to believe that the end of 2014 is fast approaching. As you know, I took on the role of President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the OMERS Administration Corporation in April of this year. I did so with a sincere sense of duty and the belief that, at OMERS, we come to work each and every day for our Plan members and stakeholders. I am very aware of the responsibilities this job involves – especially in terms of upholding the pension promise to all Plan members. After all, it is our job at OMERS to provide a secure and sustainable pension to our members, now and into the future, and I can assure you that this clear mandate resonates with each and every OMERS employee.
One of the highlights of this year has been my ability to speak directly with our members and stakeholders. I believe that this is critically important as it helps us make certain that we are always connected. It also allows us to better understand the needs and priorities of our stakeholders and provides them with accurate and timely information about the OMERS Plan. The Spring and Fall Information Meetings were great opportunities for us to do just that. Participating in the two meetings and taking your questions directly gave me useful insights into, and a greater appreciation for, the diverse stakeholder community that we serve.
I wanted to share with you updates on two priority areas that I discussed at these meetings: building investment results and aligning our resources.
Building OMERS Investment Results
I am committed to building our investment results, and I know that you will not be satisfied until OMERS is fully funded. Neither will I, and that's where a great deal of my attention is focused.
We are on target to return to fully-funded status by 2025 or earlier. The Plan's funded status improved to 88.2% at December 31, 2013, and based on results to date, we estimate that it will improve further in 2014.
OMERS investment strategy continues to be focused on diversification, direct ownership and active management of our assets, and maintaining a strong balance sheet. Diversifying our assets to have greater exposure to private market investments is helping us to offset the volatility of the public markets and positions the Plan to generate strong, predictable returns and consistent cash flows with the appropriate amount of risk to meet funding requirements over the long term.
Aligning Our Resources for Service Excellence
As a pension plan, we pride ourselves not only on our investment returns. We also want to generate maximum value for every single pension dollar – always keeping in mind that every dollar we spend and invest comes directly from contributions made to the pension plan by OMERS members and employers. To do so, we have been working to align our resources to create greater efficiency and collaboration across our entire organization.
After much thought and planning, one of the changes we made was a shift in the responsibilities of our senior executive team. The changes were implemented in September, and I feel positive about and encouraged by our progress to date.
Aligning our resources also means making certain that we have the people, processes and technology in place to continue to achieve excellence in service delivery to our 440,000 members and retirees and 990 employers. The redevelopment of our Pension Services System is a great example of this. Our current pension administration system is outdated, and the cost and effort to maintain it will continue to grow over time. Modernizing our aging technology platforms is critical to serving our members and employers, so we have embarked on a four-year project to do just that. The first phase of the system has been implemented and is successfully in use.
Whether it is the OMERS client services hotline, our "road warrior" education teams that fan out across the province, OMERS employer training or pension processing, we want to provide the best possible service to the people counting on us. We also want to ensure that everything that we do is adding value and that we are making efficient use of resources. Again, "value for pension dollars" is our watchword.
I will provide further updates on these priority areas at the 2015 Spring Information Meeting, on April 13, 2015 and look forward to meeting you there.
On behalf of all of us at OMERS, I wish you a happy and safe holiday season.
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