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Message from the CEO

It's been almost two months since ATRF closed our physical doors and opened new virtual ones. Around that same time the rest of the world was also determining how to deal with the fallout of COVID-19, including the closures of businesses, students being taught at home and physical distancing rules coming into place.

ATRF's investment performance

The impacts of COVID-19 have been widespread, including global market and investment volatility, the price of oil dropping and high unemployment in many countries. Understandably some members are asking what affect this will have on their pension. To answer some of these questions, Gary Smith our VP, Fund Risk and Strategy shared some great information about what the recent markets changes and how the ATRF investment team responds to challenging difficult times like this.

We want you to know that your pensions are secure and do not fluctuate due to short-term investment returns. The Teachers' Pension Plans are defined benefit pension plans, which means your lifetime pension is calculated based on your salary and years of pensionable service. Your pension is not based on the amount you and your employer contribute or on the investment returns.

ATRF is a pension manager and we ensure we manage risk appropriately for a pension plan. While the market turmoil has affected us as it has all investors and pension plans, the Teachers' Pension Plans are sustainable and have appropriate risk management levers to mitigate market fluctuations.

Asset management transition

Over the past few weeks there has been significant news coverage about billions of dollars of losses at investment manager AIMCo.

Let me first reassure you that your pension is secure. While the Government of Alberta passed legislation late last year requiring ATRF to transfer our asset management to AIMCo, at this time all ATRF investments remain under our management.

We are in the process of transferring our asset management to AIMCo, but that hasn't been completed, so ATRF assets have not suffered as a result of the AIMCo losses reported in the media.

I want to reassure ATRF members that the ATRF Board and management team are working diligently on your behalf to ensure this transfer will not harm the long-term stability of our plans and the security of our members' pensions.

Transferring the management of these assets is a very complex process that will require some time to complete. Our singular focus during this transition is about ensuring the arrangement we put in place with AIMCo is in the best interest of our plans, and will protect teachers' assets as much as possible. You can read more about the transition and Bill 22 in this section of our website.

Continued service to members

We have a remarkable team at ATRF and their safety is always of vital importance to me. That's why we continue to work from home for the time being, hosting virtual meetings, making progress on Project Lantern—a multi-year project designed to enhance the service we provide members and the way we deliver that service—and of course processing and paying your pension benefits.

We are continuing to process pensions at at full speed. The ATRF team is an amazing group of skilled and caring people that act as a well-oiled machine. Teachers are receiving their pension benefits, their questions are being answered, plan members continue to interact with us every day even in these unprecedented times. This speaks to our adaptive capacity as an organization and the resilience of our team, and I'm very proud of that.

For more information about what we're doing to keep our members and our staff safe, take a moment to look at our website where we have updates on our response to COVID-19.

For many of you currently teaching remotely under incredibly difficult circumstances, I want you to know we are all grateful for your professionalism, dedication, and patience. Teaching is a tough job on a normal day, but during times like this it's an incredible feat. Thank you for everything that you do.

© Copyright 2015, Alberta Teachers' Retirement Fund Board
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