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​Has it really only been one year?

Remarkably, it was only a little bit more than a year ago that the COVID-19 global pandemic was declared. It took some time for us to realize that what many of us thought (hoped?) would be with us only a short while was going to significantly change how we work, shop, attend school, socialize and generally live our lives for a significant period of time. Given all the change we have endured, it sure feels like much more than just a year has passed since the pandemic was declared.

And, unfortunately, we're not done yet. Globally, unprecedented progress was made developing and producing vaccines and we are well on our way to having all Canadian citizens "stick it to COVID" as the Saskatchewan Government's vaccine campaign encourages us to do. Yet, variants of the virus have emerged, new cases continue to climb, and government, businesses, communities and individuals continue to work through the challenges presented by an ever-changing pandemic landscape.

As an organization, CSS acted promptly in 2020 to shift operations to a primarily remote model, developed and delivered more digital communications, accelerated our adoption of digital practices, and closed our doors to walk-in traffic. These steps were designed to protect our team, our members, and other CSS stakeholders as well as to ensure we could continue to effectively serve our CSS membership. While there have been some bumps and unexpected learnings along the way, the plans that CSS had in place to deal with this type of serious business disruption have served us well. CSS will continue to remain focused on the health and safety of our team and our members and adapt our business practices as information and guidance comes to us from government and health authorities.

With respect to our pension investments…more specifically from a short-term perspective, if we had to choose one word to describe our equities investment performance in 2020, "disappointing" might be a fair choice. We've communicated previously on this subject (for example, "A word or two about recent performance," TimeWise Fall/Winter 2020, and TimeWise Spring/Summer 2020). From a long-term perspective, however, we remain confident that our investing philosophy that has worked for us for many, many years will reward our patient, principled and disciplined investment approach, as it always has.

Looking out from here, much uncertainty with respect to COVID-19 remains at the time this article is being written. On the upside: businesses and consumers appear to be cautiously optimistic that we'll be on the other side of the worst of the pandemic in the near-term; economists and central bankers are forecasting very robust predictions for gross domestic product (GDP) growth later in 2021 and beyond; and stock markets set new record highs on almost a daily basis. On the downside: there have been hiccups in the distribution of vaccines in Canada (although, generally, vaccinations are progressing globally); variants of COVID-19 continue to emerge; and talk of a "third wave" is prevalent. On the whole, it is probably fair to say that the potential for more volatility in investment returns is present in the near-term.

If you are closing in on retirement, it may be wise to consult with one of CSS' Pension Plan Consultants or your financial advisor to discuss strategies for preparing your CSS portfolio for your transition to retirement. For those of us with many years left before retirement, keeping a long-term perspective and looking out past any short-term volatility is likely the best path forward. Having a long-term retirement plan, and sticking to it, is one of the best strategies to help you do that. 

Article from the spring/summer 2021 issue of TimeWise.