Focus on strategic asset allocation, active asset management, diversification and long-term returns safeguards pensions of contributors and beneficiaries who dedicate their professional lives to public service
10-year net annualized return of 8.9% led to $11.3 billion in cumulative net investment gains above Reference Portfolio
Five-year net annualized return of 9.3% led to $4 billion in cumulative net investment gains above Reference Portfolio
One-year return of 18.4% marks best net return of the past 10 years
Net assets under management increased by 20.4% to $204.5 billion in fiscal year 2021
Continued focus on responsible investment activities enhances approach to ESG factors, climate change and data integration
Prompt response to COVID-19 pandemic includes a shift to an increasingly hybrid workplace
Montréal, Canada, June 16, 2021 - The Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) ended its fiscal year on March 31, 2021, with $204.5 billion of net assets under management (AUM) and an 18.4% one-year net portfolio return. Net assets under management grew by nearly $34.7 billion, up 20.4% from $169.8 billion at the end of the previous fiscal year. $31.6 billion came from net income that was impacted by negative currency movement of $13.4 billion, while $3.0 billion came from net contributions received by PSP Investments.
PSP Investments’ investment approach is designed to achieve the mandate set by the Government of Canada without exceeding its tolerance for funding risk, as expressed by the Reference Portfolio. Fully focused on long-term success, PSP Investments measures success based on the following performance objectives:
Achieve a return net of expenses greater than the return of the Reference Portfolio over 10-year periods. As of March 31, 2021, PSP Investments’ 10-year performance generated an annualized return of 8.9% that exceeded the performance of the Reference Portfolio by $11.3 billion, or 0.7% annually. This represents the value added by PSP Investments’ strategic asset allocation decisions and active asset management activities.
Achieve a return net of expenses, exceeding the Total Fund benchmark return over 10-year and five-year periods. As of March 31, 2021, PSP Investments’ 10-year annualized return of 8.9% exceeded the Total Fund benchmark by 1.1% per year, while the five-year annualized return of 9.3% exceeded the Total Fund benchmark by 1.0% per year. This represents the value added by PSP Investments’ active asset management activities.
“Our fiscal year began and ended in the midst of an active global pandemic, with all PSP Investments employees working from home,” said Neil Cunningham, President and Chief Executive Officer at PSP Investments. “I am exceptionally proud of our resilient and talented team that delivered PSP’s strongest absolute return in over 10 years through exceptionally turbulent times.”
“This investment performance demonstrates the strength of our portfolio and the inspired strategic actions taken to protect and enhance the long-term value of our holdings, and to create high-quality, long-term returns for our contributors and beneficiaries,” he added. “One of the long-term trends that has accelerated during the pandemic is the investor focus on ESG, including climate change. ESG risks and opportunities have long been integrated into our decision-making process for every active investment.”
“A key measure of PSP’s success is our long-term performance compared to the Reference Portfolio,” said Eduard van Gelderen, Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer and Interim Global Head of Capital Markets at PSP Investments. “This margin demonstrates the long-term value PSP Investments adds through portfolio construction and active investment activities. Over the past year, we continued to enhance our investment decision-making, remaining competitive, agile and ready to spot opportunities in today’s fast-changing investment environment.”
|ASSET CLASS (at March 31, 2021)||NET ASSETS UNDER MANAGEMENT (billion $) *1||ONE-YEAR RETURN||FIVE-YEAR RETURN||% OF TOTAL NET ASSETS|
|Complementary Portfolio||$0.2B||0.2%||11.2% *2||0.1%|
*1. This tables excludes Cash and Cash equivalents.
*2. Since Complementary Portfolio inception in 2017 (4.2 years).
As at March 31, 2021:
Capital Markets, which is comprised of two groups, Public Market Equities and Fixed Income, ended the fiscal year with $97.5 billion of net assets under management, an increase of $16.4 billion from the end of fiscal year 2020. The group generated portfolio income of $20.5 billion, for a one-year return of 26.6% versus the benchmark of 23.0%. The five-year annualized return was 10.0%, compared to the 9.3% benchmark. Public Market Equities, with a year-end AUM of $60.2 billion ($48.4 billion in 2020) and a five-year return of 13.1% (versus 12.1% for the benchmark), was able to outperform as global equity markets recovered from their initial March 2020 lows. Internal and external hedge funds largely contributed to the performance, which benefited from the surge in mergers, public offering activities and event-driven situations. Fixed Income ended the fiscal year with a net AUM of $37.3 billion, up from $32.7 billion at the end of fiscal year 2020, and outperformed its benchmark by 0.25%.
Private Equity ended the fiscal year with net assets under management of $31.7 billion, up $7.7 billion from the end of the previous fiscal year, and generated portfolio income of $7.2 billion, resulting in a one-year return of 28.4% versus the benchmark of 31.7%. The five-year annualized return was 11.3% versus the benchmark of 15.1%, primarily due to the underperformance of certain legacy investments in the communications, consumer staples and industrials sectors. However, the most recent portion of the portfolio, invested over the past six years following a change in asset class strategy and representing now over 85% of the asset class AUM, has generated a five-year return in excess of the benchmark. The portfolio income was primarily attributable to direct and co-investments in the health care, consumer discretionary, technology and financials sectors, which benefited from continued growth, favourable market conditions and successful exits. Performance was driven by $5.1 billion in acquisitions and $8.3 billion in valuation gains. New co-investments totalling $2.3 billion were made primarily in the US financials and communications sectors including, among others, the acquisition of significant interests in SitusAMC, a leading provider of services and technology supporting the real estate finance industry, headquartered in the US; and Ziply Fiber, a US-based provider of communication services to residential and commercial customers in the Pacific Northwest region.
Credit Investments ended the fiscal year with net assets under management of $14.5 billion, up from $13.3 billion from the end of the previous fiscal year, and generated portfolio income of $1.4 billion, resulting in a 10.5% one-year return that exceeded the benchmark of 9.6%. The 11.7% five-year annualized return also beat the 5.1% benchmark. The net AUM increase was mainly driven by $5.8 billion in acquisitions and net valuation gains of $1.6 billion, offset by $5.0 billion in dispositions primarily due to opportunistic refinancing by borrowers as the market recovered. Credit Investments continues to benefit from strong credit selection, allowing for interest income that has exceeded the benchmark since inception.
Real Estate ended the fiscal year with $26.8 billion in net assets under management, up by $3.0 billion from the end of the previous fiscal year, and generated $1.0 billion in portfolio income, resulting in a 3.8% one-year return (versus -6.0% for the benchmark). The 6.1% five-year return exceeded the 3.7% return for the benchmark. Real Estate maintained its focus on building a world-class portfolio of assets in major international cities and deploying into high-conviction sectors. Key acquisitions included an investment in a U.S. residential single-family rental portfolio with Pretium, multiple acquisitions in PSP Investments’ U.S. life science partnership with Longfellow, the development of a second fully leased building to Amazon in the Boston Seaport district with WS Development and a large life science portfolio in leading U.S. and U.K. innovation markets through a Blackstone Fund.
Infrastructure ended the fiscal year with $18.4 billion in net assets under management, a $0.1 billion increase from the end of the previous fiscal year, and generated $0.8 billion of portfolio income, leading to a 4.5% one-year return that exceeded the benchmark of 3.5%. The five-year annualized return of 10.5% also exceeded the 4.3% benchmark. Portfolio income was primarily attributable to the communications sector for which the underlying investments benefited from sustained growth and favourable market conditions. Infrastructure deployment was mostly done across existing platforms and portfolio companies to provide necessary capital to support growth and acquisitions. Notable deployments include AirTrunk, one of the largest Asia-Pacific hyperscale data centre operators.
Natural Resources ended the fiscal year with net assets under management of
$9.7 billion, an increase of $2.1 billion from the end of the previous fiscal year, and generated portfolio income of $0.9 billion, for a one-year return of 10.6%, versus 7.7% for the benchmark. The 9.0% five-year annualized return also beat the benchmark of 3.7%. With the addition of over 200,000 hectares during fiscal year 2021, Natural Resources now has a global footprint of over 1.6 million hectares of farmland and almost 0.9 million hectares of timberland. Other notable developments include the acquisition of a
high-quality timberland asset located in the heart of Chile’s forestry region, representing the group’s first timber footprint in Latin America; the acquisition of a diversified portfolio of wine grape vineyards in the United States; and a stake in one of the world’s largest olive producers in the Iberian Peninsula.
PSP Investments continued to deliver strong results while operating efficiently. Total operating costs decreased from the previous year, mainly due to management decisions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A temporary hiring and salary freeze led to lower compensation costs growth than during the previous fiscal year. At the end of fiscal year 2021, the operating cost ratio was 28.0 bps, a 3.8 bps decrease versus the end of fiscal year 2020 (31.8 bps). PSP Investments’ total cost ratio decreased from 72.4 bps at the end of fiscal year 2020 to 67.1 bps at the end of fiscal year 2021.
We assembled a dedicated taskforce to guide PSP Investments’ COVID-19 response and we shifted the entire organization to work remotely as of March 2020. Throughout the year, the taskforce monitored the evolving situation and adjusted our office opening and closing plans in keeping with local government guidelines and legal health and safety requirements. One of the expected permanent changes coming out of our pandemic experience will be a shift to an increasingly hybrid–virtual/physical–workplace, where employees don’t necessarily come into the office every day. This evolution should help us attract and retain the top talent needed going forward.
With our people working from home in fiscal year 2021, staying connected to them–and to what they needed to stay healthy and work productively–was one of our top priorities. We provided a financial allowance to support employees in setting up their remote offices and we prioritized the health, safety and wellness of our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that we could continue to fulfill our mandate and responsibilities. This included enhancing our benefit plans with wellness and virtual physical and mental healthcare support, which was extended to our workforce and their family members, as well as planning alternate voluntary return-to-office workspace options in the geographies where we have a presence, all while meeting government and legal health and safety requirements.
We were proud to see our people responding with increased commitment, resilience and energy. They also demonstrated a renewed sense of community, rallying around our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Initiative and PSP Gives Back campaign to help raise $1.17 million for non-profits serving local communities and vulnerable citizens in the geographies where we have a presence.
Spearheaded by our Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (Ei&D) Council and its eight affinity groups, we continued to enhance our strong commitment to Ei&D. In the wake of the horrific incidents of racism witnessed during the year, we stepped up our Ei&D efforts to work harder for change. Our fight against racism aims at addressing all forms of hate and discrimination based on culture or religion. Our actions, educational communications and events focused on addressing the increase in hate crimes against people of Asian descent and the systemic racism which significantly impacts our Black and Indigenous communities. As part of our commitment, in July 2020 we signed on to the BlackNorth Initiative, by which we pledged to work toward ending anti-Black systemic racism.
Other Ei&D significant accomplishments include carrying out a structural inclusion audit and developing a three-year plan with the goal of advancing Ei&D, narrowing underrepresentation gaps, creating equitable practices and removing barriers to career advancement. Last but not least, we also introduced a Veteran Integration Program pilot to create opportunities for veterans to leverage their wide-ranging skill sets in the business world. The tailored, one-year program includes a personal development plan, coaching, mentoring and sponsorship support.
We continued to expand our responsible investment activities by further enhancing our approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, climate change and data integration. Responsible investment achievements during the past year included a systematic assessment of climate change physical and transition risks when evaluating investment opportunities, development tools to better integrate and assess potential material climate change and ESG risks and opportunities as part of our investment processes, and leading engagement efforts on diversity and inclusion. PSP Investments was recognized as a sustainability frontrunner in a United Nations report on sustainable practices of pension and sovereign wealth funds. Our 2021 annual Responsible Investment Report can be consulted here.
During fiscal year 2021 PSP Investments and our CEO Neil Cunningham joined the CEOs of Canada’s largest pension plan investment managers in a statement advocating for standardized disclosure of companies’ ESG risks and opportunities. The group called on companies to measure and disclose their performance on material, industry-relevant ESG factors using the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework.
Fiscal year 2021 also marked the end of PSP Investments’ previous corporate strategy, Vision 2021, which executed transformative progress based on objectives set in 2016. These included shifting to a total fund investment approach and mindset throughout the organization, increasing our global footprint and improving the brand locally and internationally. Our total fund investment approach contributed to over 50 transactions completed during the fiscal year that entailed cross-asset class collaboration.
The Board of Directors approved our new strategic plan, PSP Forward, to advance how PSP Investments operates as a global organization focused on insight-driven decision-making that enhances total fund performance and our investments. The new strategy will also enable us to further fulfil our mandate and role as an insightful global investor and a valued partner that is selective across markets and focused on the long term. Our technology and digital strategy will be a key enabler of PSP Forward supporting PSP Investments with scalable systems, organized data and advanced analytics.
At least every 10 years, a special examination of PSP Investments is required by legislation. This exercise includes a rigorous review of our policies and practices. During fiscal year 2021, the Examiners, which included the Auditor General of Canada and Deloitte LLP, concluded that PSP Investments’ systems and practices provide reasonable assurance that assets are safeguarded and controlled, resources are managed economically and efficiently, and operations are carried out effectively.
Board renewal was another focus area in fiscal year 2021, as three Directors ̶–Mr. Léon Courville, Ms. Lynn Haight and Ms. Micheline Bouchard–fully completed their mandates with PSP Investments. We thanked departing Board Directors for their exceptional service, and we welcomed two new Board Directors: Ms. Marianne Harris and Ms. Susan Kudzman. Following these appointments, PSP Investments maintained its gender-balanced Board of Directors, now composed of five men and five women.
During fiscal year 2021, Mr. David Ouellet was promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Technology and Data Officer and joined PSP Investments’ Executive Committee in recognition of the important role technology and data will play in our organization moving forward.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our world-class global teams who proved their mettle and delivered the PSP edge in an extraordinary year,” said Neil Cunningham, President and Chief Executive Officer of PSP Investments. “Looking to the future, I am excited about our new corporate strategy, PSP Forward, which, we believe, will ensure PSP Investments remains well-positioned in the quickly changing investment landscape. We will continue to build on the foundation we’ve established through the impressive efforts of our people, whose engagement and resilience has enhanced our performance, agility and our ongoing commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity.”
About PSP Investments
The Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) is one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers with $204.5 billion of net assets under management as of March 31, 2021. It manages a diversified global portfolio composed of investments in public financial markets, private equity, real estate, infrastructure, natural resources and credit investments. Established in 1999, PSP Investments manages and invests amounts transferred to it by the Government of Canada for the pension plans of the federal Public Service, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Reserve Force. Headquartered in Ottawa, PSP Investments has its principal business office in Montréal and offices in New York, London and Hong Kong. For more information, visit investpsp.com or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Phone: (514) 218-3795