2023

End of year message from UPP

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Letter from Barb Zvan

Letter from Barb Zvan

UPP President and CEO

As we approach the end of 2023, I wanted to share some updates on our key priorities at UPP and our path ahead in 2024 —and what that means for you, our members.

This time last year, I wrote about the uncertain and volatile economic environment, and we have seen those conditions persist today. To me, times like these only reinforce the importance of defined benefit pensions in providing stability, certainty, and increased capacity to manage risk. While many Canadians are navigating these challenging conditions without a workplace pension, we are proud to provide a strong and dependable retirement income to a growing number of members across Ontario’s university sector.

As a pension plan, our investment strategy is purposefully designed for long-term results, meaning we can withstand—and draw opportunity from—short-term fluctuations while continuing to create sustainable value for members. No matter the conditions, we are laser-focused on progressing our mission of delivering lifelong pension security to our members—today and for generations to come.

Building our member-driven service approach

Developing our in-house member services capabilities was a key priority throughout 2023 and continues as a major focus in 2024. By design, we prioritized flexibility, customization, and security, ensuring our service model can adapt to the changing needs of our members. Your feedback will continue to be a crucial input in shaping the progression and evolution of our Member Services going forward, and we thank you for the important contributions to date.

Coming Fall 2024, the myUPP Member Portal will provide members with a secure, digitally-enabled platform—a new home for all things related to your pension, including tools, information, and resources, all at your fingertips. The launch of the myUPP Member Portal will also mark the full transition of member services from the founding university employers to UPP, meaning this coming fall, we will proudly become the direct service provider for our entire membership.

Key to our approach will be self-serve digital tools like a pension estimator to ensure you can make informed decisions about your retirement, and proactive, customized support in the moments that matter. Whether you have a question about your statement, life event or want to better understand how your pension works, UPP’s expert Member Services team will be there to help you every step of the way.

Protecting your pension against inflation

When you retire with a UPP pension, it’s secure retirement income for the rest of your life. An important feature of your UPP pension is conditional funded indexation, a provision designed to increase your monthly pension in pay to account for increases in the cost of living over time, based on the Canadian Consumer Price Index (CPI). Put simply, once you start receiving your pension, this feature helps the UPP portion of your monthly payments keep pace with inflation.

Your UPP pension includes annual conditional funded indexation of up to 75% of the increase in CPI for Canada. In 2024, UPP is pleased to provide indexation at the full 75%, which means retired members, survivors and dependents in pay will receive an increase to their pensions accrued under UPP provisions of 3.54% effective January 1, 2024.

Shaping a resilient, purpose-driven fund

In 2023, we made significant strides in transitioning toward our target asset mix, priming the fund for new investment opportunities and long-term resilience. In practice, that means diversifying our portfolio to reduce our sensitivity to economic risk brought by drivers like inflation, and introducing new asset classes that yield strong long-term returns while helping us hedge risk and exercise our responsible investing principles, such as private assets. In 2023, we made new investments in infrastructure and real estate, including a recent fund investment with a global leader in renewable energy development. This followed an earlier fund commitment in 2022 with DigitalBridge, a leading global investor specializing in infrastructure that powers the generational transition toward a more digital economy and society. Meanwhile, our in-house experts have brought cost savings and greater risk efficiency, transparency, and control to the portfolio—all key benefits that UPP was designed to provide to our members.

Delivering long-term, sustainable value

Earlier this year, I was invited to address the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit to share how our Climate Action Plan is helping grow a strong, resilient fund to deliver secure pension benefits for members. I spoke about how our objectives are interrelated: our ability to achieve investment returns and provide retirement benefits depends on a stable climate; and in turn, our investments impact and affect the stability of the climate.

This past year, we continued to implement the Climate Action Plan, including the recent launch of our Climate Stewardship Plan and Climate Transition Investment Framework. The Climate Stewardship Plan is a roadmap for how UPP engages in active ownership with a targeted focus on climate performance, or how portfolio companies perform against their climate-related targets. The Climate Investment Framework evolves our sustainability approach by setting investment targets and thresholds to both avoid exposure to unmitigated climate transition rise and seek out climate-related opportunities. These initiatives are key steps in progressing our commitment to manage the impacts of climate change on investment performance and to achieve net-zero portfolio emissions by 2040 or sooner—supporting long-term value creation for members.

Entering the new year, I am both proud and inspired by what has been accomplished in the past year. The singular focus on strengthening the financial foundation that UPP members can count on makes me confident that we will come through these challenging times into a bright future.

To our members, thank you for your continued trust and support. It is truly an honour to build and operate this pension plan for you, and all those in Ontario’s university community. On behalf of everyone at UPP, I send you our very best wishes for the holiday season and a healthy and safe New Year.

Sincerely,

Barbara Zvan
President and CEO, UPP

A new member service experience with UPP

At UPP, our goal is to deliver member service excellence. Coming Fall 2024, UPP will roll out our new member service experience, custom-built using insights and input directly from our members. Central to the new UPP member experience will be easy, secure access to tools and information—all within one digital platform. The myUPP Member Portal will enable members to:

  • Estimate pension benefits with a real-time estimator tool.
  • View and update pension account details, including beneficiary information.
  • Communicate directly with UPP’s team of pension experts and securely send documents and forms.
  • Plan for a variety of retirement scenarios.


Further details, including information sessions and registration instructions will be provided throughout 2024.

Inflation protection for pensions in pay for 2024

UPP is pleased to announce that UPP pensioners, survivors, and dependents in pay will receive an inflation protection increase of 3.54% to the UPP portion of their pensions at January 1, 2024. Those currently receiving a pension will see the UPP portion of their monthly pension payments increase beginning January 1, 2024. This increase, or indexation, will only be applied to benefits accrued under UPP provisions for service on and after July 1, 2021.

Update on Climate Action Plan implementation

In 2023, UPP advanced several key initiatives from its Climate Action Plan, supporting our commitment to manage the impacts of climate change on investment performance and to achieve net-zero portfolio emissions by 2040 or sooner. Read about our progress across the Plan’s four pillars: Evaluate, Invest, Engage, and Advocate.

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