December 02, 2019

CC&L Portfolio Manager Departure

Plan sponsors may wish to consider whether this investment news has any implications for the investment options available within their plans. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada purchases units of the fund listed below, which is established as a segregated fund in accordance with the Insurance Companies Act (Canada).

On September 4, 2019, Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group (CC&L) announced that Chris Kalbfleisch left the firm for personal reasons relating to health and family. Mr. Kalbfleisch was co-team leader of CC&L’s fixed income team, along with Brian Eby. Mr. Eby has assumed all aspects of team leadership for CC&L’s fixed income team. CC&L is comfortable with the reintroduction of a sole leadership structure and have no immediate plans to conduct an external search or an internal promotion to replace Mr. Kalbfleisch’s role.

In addition to co-lead for fixed income, Chris Kalbfleisch had other key responsibilities that CC&L have addressed.

  • Kalbfleisch was Chair of the Asset Mix Committee. Martin Gerber, President and Chief Investment Officer, has assumed this responsibility.
  • Kalbfleisch carried out the fixed income macro research and strategy function, along with Crista Caughlin, Brian Eby and Carolyn Kwan. The remaining three will continue to be responsible for this work.
  • Kalbfleisch took on a significant communication role for the fixed income team supported by Ms. Kwan. She’ll now handle this function.

There’s no change to the CC&L Group Bond Fund’s objectives or strategy. The decision-making process for the strategy also remains unchanged.

Our View

Brian Eby was the sole team leader before Mr. Kalbfleisch’s co-leadership promotion in 2015. However, both the asset size and the investment team have grown significantly since that time. The increased size of the team could create a distraction from day-to-day portfolio management duties. We’ll assess this situation.

Senior members on the team remain stable. There has been some low, junior-level staff turnover. Regarding long-term succession planning, the firm appears to have a well-thought-out approach to building strength in its fixed income capability. Mr. Eby is near retirement age, so we’ll seek further insight into how the firm will manage this key person risk and identify a potential successor.

For the Asset Allocation Committee, the unplanned departure of Mr. Kalbfleisch should have a minimal impact. Martin Gerber, who’s assuming leadership, has been a member of the team since 2013.

Please contact your Sun Life Group Retirement Services representative.