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How To Invest For Retirement Like The Top Pensions

By Jeffrey Ady

Who are the most successful investors that you know of? Names like Warren Buffet and Prem Watsa may come to mind. It’s common to think of individuals when your mind turns to successful investors, but what about those whose success affects thousands or millions of people?

The truth is that many of the most successful investors are not individuals, but pensions. Canada’s top 10 pensions manage more than $400 billion and are a major cornerstone of Canada’s financial system and economy. Thanks to these pensions, Canada has one of the strongest retirement systems in the world. Now, institutional investors and pension funds from all over the globe look to them for best practices. (1)

Canada has some great pensions, but how does that affect you as an individual investor? Though you will never compare to their size of power, you can still learn from them. You can imitate their techniques and perhaps get a taste of the investment success that they experience.

The Pension Difference: Alternative Investments

What do pensions do that individual investors don’t? Pensions invest with the goal of reducing portfolio risk by capturing the long-term diversification benefits among stocks, bonds, and alternative assets.

The big difference between the way that individuals and pensions invest is the use of alternative investments. Investing in alternative assets like private equities and infrastructure investments can complement and diversify the typical individual’s stock and bond portfolio. This increased diversification helps provide more stability and dependability to pensions who have so many people depending on them.

The Challenge Of Pension-Style Investing

Clearly, Canadian pensions are doing a good job with their investments. If pensions experience so much success by investing in alternative assets, why doesn’t everyone do it? The answer is simple: many investors would like to but cannot.

The challenge is that accessing the kind of alternative investments that pension funds do is difficult for private investors. They often require a minimum investment in the millions of dollars. Most investors do not have enough assets to put that much into a single investment, and most investment advisors that work with individuals don’t even offer them.

The Northfront Advantage

At Northfront Financial, we specialize in portfolio management that brings alternative investment options to individual investors. Our investment process looks for opportunities to invest like pension funds do in alternative assets such as timber and farmland, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and venture capital that provide a diversified stream of cash flow and growth opportunities, while being less correlated to the broad stock and bond markets.

The Northfront Investment Committee relies on staff and outside service providers’ expertise (including investment managers) in executing its investment management strategies. Our goal is to reduce portfolio risk by capturing the long-term diversification benefits among investments to stocks, bonds, and alternative assets, just like the pensions do. To learn more about how we at Northfront Financial can help you invest like a pension, call 403-571-8960 or email

About Northfront Financial

Northfront Financial is a boutique full-service financial planning firm serving individuals and families in Calgary, Alberta. We pride ourselves on being a different kind of investment firm. This stems from our humble roots, entrepreneurial spirit, and a culture of integrity and professionalism. Our goal is to offer the best investment products, services, advice, and ideas the financial industry has to offer from our experienced team, which includes individuals with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Investment Manager (CIM), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designations. To learn more about Northfront Financial and how we can help you, visit their website and schedule a complimentary appointment.



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