Power Financial Announces the Adoption of Statement on Social Responsibility: Power Financial Q1 Profit Soars on Gains

Article excerpt

MONTREAL - Power Financial, regularly criticized for some of its investments, notably in French oil company Total, announced Monday the adoption of a "statement of social responsibility."

The declaration, which was formally approved in March, said the company should consider "environmental, social and governance" challenges and "making a contribution to communities."

"We realized that we needed to communicate better," president and CEO Jeffrey Orr told reporters after the annual meeting in Montreal.

The statement also says that Power Financial (TSX:PWF) advocates "a frank and constructive dialogue" with management of companies in which it invests.

Power Financial's holdings include controlling interests in Great-West Lifeco Inc. (TSX:GWO), which makes up its insurance business, and IGM Financial Inc. (TSX:IGM), one of Canada's largest mutual fund companies.

Power Financial also promised Monday to respond for the first time to a questionnaire by the Carbon Disclosure Project, which aims to improve the environmental practices of large companies.

Orr also said that Power intended to benefit from the establishment of a voluntary system of retirement savings.

Starting next January, companies that don't offer pension plans to their employees may establish a voluntary system. They will be forced to do so beginning in 2015, but employees can still opt out.

"We know that when there is a savings plan at work, employees are much better prepared for retirement," Orr said.

Like other financial institutions, Power subsidiaries plan to offer products, which must be registered with the pension board to ensure management fees are "comparable" to institutional pension funds of similar size.

In his speech to shareholders, Orr said Canada's retirement system was one of the strongest in the world, partly due to the fact that its components are managed by both governments and the private sector.

In Canada, pension plans offered by companies had assets worth $1.075 trillion in 2010. These were supplemented by personal savings totalling $2. …