Toronto, the worst city in Canada for renovations with a contractor

TORONTOJune 20, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ – According to a Reno-Assistance survey conducted by Ipsos across CanadaToronto is the city where people encounter the most problems with renovation contractors in comparison to MontrealVancouverCalgary and national data.

Key survey findings indicate the following:

  • Toronto is where it is most difficult to find a trustworthy renovation contractor in Canada: 78% find it difficult and 25% find it very difficult.
  • Toronto is the city where homeowners have a higher probability of encountering more than one major problem with a contractor on a single project, such as stolen deposits, poor finishing, sloppy work needing to be redone or theft of belongings.
  • Toronto is the Canadian city where people are most likely to have their deposits stolen (9% of our sample).
  • Toronto is the city where people are most likely to get unforeseen extras billed to them (27%).Toronto is the place where people are most likely to wait for a contractor who doesn’t show up without advanced notification (14%).
  • Toronto is the city where people are most likely to need work redone due to sloppiness (22%).

Overall, 63% of Torontonians experienced problems on their most recent project with a contractor. That number jumps to 79% for projects greater than $20,000 carried out in the last 3 years, meaning that if one begins such a project, there’s a 3 in 4 chance they’ll face a potentially damaging financial issue.

All these problems arise despite honesty being the leading selection criteria when choosing a renovation contractor. People surveyed said that out of a selection of important purchases, renovations would be the one they spend the most time thinking about before committing to.

Despite Torontonians making more verifications than the rest of the country on their contractors, the fact remains that too few make the necessary verifications. More than two-thirds of respondents do not verify that the company they are working with legally exists, has proper insurance, a valid licence, a clean legal history, no criminal record, and so on.

More than 4 in 5 people do not make any verification whatsoever regarding the financial health of their contractor before entrusting them with projects sometimes worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Confidence levels are low all-around

When we pore over the aforementioned data, it comes as no surprise that confidence levels towards renovation contractors are low, but the same can also be said about other renovation/building professionals. While the lowest trust we found in our survey was toward stonemasons (at 27%), interior designers, roofers and general contractors came in with trust levels of 31%, 32% and 33%, respectively. Architects did not fare much better at 38%.

Reno-Assistance to the rescue

Reno-Assistance was founded by Eric Perigny following a string of dreadful renovation experiences over the course of which he lost thousands of dollars and countless hours dealing with bad contractors. Wanting to help people avoid such nightmarish events, he created Reno-Assistance in 2010. Since then, the company has assisted over 64,000 homeowners and business owners on their renovation projects.

Methodology

These are some of the key findings of an Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of Reno-Assistance between May 18th and June 6th, 2018. For this survey, a sample of 1,742 Canadian homeowners were interviewed online. Weighting was then applied to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflected that of the adult population (according to Census data). The accuracy of Ipsos online surveys is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey is accurate within +/- 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20,. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage and measurement errors.

About Reno-Assistance

Reno-Assistance offers turnkey solutions to help homeowners carry out successful renovations with the best contractors. After their initial call, clients are assigned an experienced renovation advisor who assists them throughout their renovation project. They provide advice and information, help clients avoid common mistakes, handpick up to three of the best suited 360° verified contractors for the specific project, coordinate appointments, and send a verification report containing a Contractor Confidence Index, legal background check, financial status, past customer survey results and additional information for each contractor. Finally, they help clients understand quotes so they can make a sound decision. There’s no fee or charge to receive up to 3 quotes from verified contractors and to be assisted by a renovation advisor. Reno-Assistance began verifying contractors in Ontario in early 2017 and is now offering its services in the Greater Toronto Area.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry. With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

SOURCE Réno-Assistance inc.

Western Financial Group Inc. has acquired its first non-western Canadian brokerage, Axion Insurance Services Inc.

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Sun Life Financial announces appointment of Helena Pagano

Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX: SLF) (NYSE: SLF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Helena Pagano as Executive Vice-President, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer, effective June 11, 2018.

Reporting to Dean Connor, President and Chief Executive Officer, Helena is responsible for leading Sun Life’s enterprise-wide human resources and communications strategies, programs and governance. It is a critically important role as we drive for a disproportionate share of top talent, wrapped in a diverse, inclusive and engaging culture.

Helena Pagano (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Inc.)

“Since joining Sun Life, Helena has had a big impact, enhancing our approach to global wellness, data and analytics, and our employee agile program,” said Dean Connor, President and CEO, Sun Life Financial. “She demonstrates the leadership and forward-thinking that will continue to support our Client For Life strategy and purpose of helping Clients achieve financial security and live healthier lives.”

Helena brings deep global human resources expertise, with more than 20 years in financial services supporting retail and institutional businesses. Prior to joining Sun Life, she held several senior roles in financial services. She joins an Executive Team committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, which includes strong female representation in leadership roles. Helena succeeds Carrie Blair who announced her retirement from Sun Life earlier this year.

Helena is a Board Member of the Artists’ Health Alliance and is a member of the United Way’s Major Individual Giving Cabinet.

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life Financial has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canadathe United States, the United KingdomIrelandHong Kongthe PhilippinesJapanIndonesiaIndiaChinaAustraliaSingaporeVietnamMalaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2018, Sun Life Financial had total assets under management of $979 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Note to editors: All figures in Canadian dollars

Media Relations Contact:
Irene Poon
Manager, Media & PR
Corporate Communications
T. 647-256-2596
irene.poon@sunlife.com

Investor Relations Contact:
Greg Dilworth
Vice-President
Investor Relations
T. 416-979-6230
investor.relations@sunlife.com

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.

Feds take aim at terrorist use of cryptocurrencies, prepaid cards

By Jim Bronskill

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ The federal government is proposing measures that take aim at shadowy payments made by terrorists and money launderers using virtual currencies and prepaid credit cards.

The planned regulations would help close loopholes in Canada’s anti-money laundering regime and address shortcomings pointed out by an international watchdog.

Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, are increasingly being used to commit fraud and cybercrime and to buy illicit goods and services in the darker corners of the internet, notes a federal summary accompanying the proposed changes.

“They allow for the rapid transfer of funds within or across borders, oftentimes without any intermediary, are generally characterized by non-face-to-face customer relationships, and can circumvent the physical ‘brick and mortar’ financial system entirely.”

The measures would impose new reporting obligations on people and businesses dealing in such cryptocurrencies.

Like more traditional money service businesses, they would have to register with Fintrac, Canada’s anti-money laundering agency, as well as keep track of virtual currency transactions of $10,000 or more.

Prepaid credit cards can be abused because it is difficult to trace the origins of money loaded to them, the government says.

Under the changes, prepaid cards would be treated like bank accounts, meaning issuers would need to verify the card purchaser’s identity, keep records and report any suspicious dealings.

The measures would not apply to gift cards tied to specific retailers or shopping centres.

The planned changes represent an attempt by regulators to keep up with the dawn of new financial technologies to deliver services more conveniently.

“While providing benefits to consumers, the new business models can complicate monitoring as well as make it more difficult for authorities to follow the money trail,” the federal summary says.

The overall goal is to ensure banks, money service businesses and others who provide access to the financial system know their customers and keep good records, the summary adds.

“Such information could assist in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of money launderers and terrorist financiers.”

The proposals come as the RCMP makes the fight against money laundering “a key strategic priority” for its federal policing branch by “elevating the priority” of the crime, according to an internal memo released under the Access to Information Act.

Other proposed changes would:

_Require foreign money service businesses to report suspicious transactions to Fintrac, ensuring a level playing field with domestic businesses;

_ Force financial institutions to confirm the accuracy of any new ownership information about companies as it comes in, a measure intended to prevent firms from hiding the identities of their true proprietors;

_ Impose stricter record-keeping and reporting requirements on the life insurance sector, which has begun issuing mortgages and loans against the amount of a policy.

The government is accepting public comment on the planned measures until early September.

Pension plan sponsors using group annuities to transfer risk

Morneau Shepell released the June 2018 issue of its monthly newsletter, News & Views, in which the Company looked at a number of topics including: exploration of buy-out annuities as a risk transfer method; British ColumbiaNew Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador’s expansion of certain types of employment leaves in alignment with the federal government’s recent updates to employment insurance (EI) rules; the Ontario Court of Appeal’s treatment of long-term disability (LTD) claims made after termination of employment; and the impact of an Alberta court ruling permitting common law spouses to divide pensions after relationship breakdown.

  • Pension risk transfer activities are growing in Canada – Recent changes in legislation in British ColumbiaQuebecand Ontario and economic pressure on sponsors of defined benefit pension plans have prompted plan sponsors to diversify their assets in order to reduce investment risks. While some sponsors have opted to reduce their allocation to equities, others have moved to a full liability driven investment (LDI) strategy. Since these strategies do not deal with the risk that retirees may outlive actuarial projections, some sponsors are considering the options of purchasing annuities for pension plans. This article discusses in detail the pros and cons and steps involved in buy-out annuity purchases by pension plan sponsors.
  • Employment leave provisions amended in some provinces – Amendments to employment standards legislation in British ColumbiaNew Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have aligned certain types of leave with the federal government’s recent changes to EI rules effective December 3, 2017. The types of leave updated include maternity, pregnancy, parental, child care, compassionate care, care of a critically ill adult, domestic violence leave, and leaves upon the disappearance of a child and death of a child.
  • Injured former employee successful in LTD claim – The Ontario Court of Appeal in MacIvor v Pitney Bowes held in favour of a former employee who submitted an LTD claim two years after resigning and five years after the injury itself. Although the circumstances and ruling of MacIvor are uncommon, employers and insurers should take note that terminating an employment relationship does not necessarily bar an employee from making future LTD claims for injuries that occurred while employed.
  • Alberta permits pension benefits to former common-law spouses – On May 23, 2018, the Alberta Superintendent of Pensions issued Employment Pension Plans Act (EPPA) Update 18-03, which describes a recent Alberta court ruling that allows up to 50 per cent of the pension benefits earned during a relationship to be transferred to a former common-law partner. Previously, Alberta legislation restricted such pension division to formerly married couples. The court decision and Update apply to all non-federally regulated employees regulated by Alberta pension legislation.
  • Tracking the funded status of pension plans as at May 31, 2018 – Morneau Shepell shared the changes in the financial position of a typical defined benefit plan with an average duration since December 31, 2017. The graph in the newsletter shows the impact of three typical portfolios on plan assets and the effect of interest rate changes on solvency liabilities of medium duration.
  • Impact on pension expense under international accounting as at May 31, 2018 – Morneau Shepell showed the expense impact for a typical pension plan that starts the year at an arbitrary value of 100 (expense index). Since the beginning of the year, the slight increase in the discount rate combined with returns slightly below expectations (relative to the discount rate) has resulted in the pension expense returning almost to its level to the beginning of the year.

About Morneau Shepell
Morneau Shepell is the only human resources consulting and technology company that takes an integrated approach to employee assistance, health, benefits and retirement needs. The Company is the leading provider of employee and family assistance programs, the largest administrator of retirement and benefits plans and the largest provider of integrated absence management solutions in Canada. As a leader in strategic HR consulting and innovative pension design, the Company helps clients solve complex workforce problems and provides integrated productivity, health and retirement solutions.  Established in 1966, Morneau Shepell serves approximately 20,000 clients, ranging from small businesses to some of the largest corporations and associations.  With more than 4,000 employees in offices across North AmericaMorneau Shepell provides services to organizations across Canada, in the United States and around the globe. Morneau Shepell is a publicly-traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: MSI). For more information, visit morneaushepell.com.

SOURCE Morneau Shepell Inc.

Insurers to rely on acquisitions and partnerships to transform business

Facing sluggish industry growth and agile new competition, insurance executives are actively pursuing acquisitions and partnerships to transform and grow their businesses, according to a new report from KPMG International, Accelerated evolution – M&A, transformation and innovation in the insurance industry. In fact, 80 percent of insurance executives surveyed for the report expect to seek one to three acquisition targets or partnership opportunities over the next three years.

The majority of insurers are intending to make acquisitions that could transform their organization for the future, rather than merely enhance their current business and operating models. More than 60 percent of the 200 executives surveyed globally said transforming their business or operating model would be the key factors driving acquisitions, while just 21 percent identified enhancing their current model as the key factor.

“Insurers are competing for market share in a slow-growth environment, that is experiencing an influx of dynamic new insurtech players,” said Laura Hay, Head of Global Insurance for KPMG International. “They know they can’t rely just on organic growth to meet their objectives, so alliances and acquisitions become essential as insurers look to engage with customers in new and different ways, and gain access to innovative operating capabilities and technology infrastructure to reshape their business and drive future growth.”

Cross-border deals expected to dominate
In terms of geography, a majority of insurance executives are looking for inorganic opportunities outside their country of domicile, with 66 percent expecting to conduct cross-border deals, while just 32 percent say they expect deals to be focused domestically. The distinction is particularly telling with respect to partnerships and alliances over the next three years, with 39 percent expecting these to be cross-border and only six percent anticipating domestic alliances.

North America, particularly the US, is widely expected by the insurance executives surveyed to have the most insurance M&A activity in the coming three years. Asia-Pacific is projected to be the region where insurers have the most partnership opportunities, and Western Europe is expected to drive relatively more divestiture activity.

Identifying the right, transformational deals
Intending to do more deals is one thing, but are insurance organizations up to the challenge of identifying and successfully executing the right deals?  Only ten and seven percent of executives, respectively, say they are extremely likely to find a deal that is a strategic fit for their business and operating model.  Moreover, a majority believe their organization’s capabilities for deal sourcing, evaluation and execution are lagging, with 72 percent saying their deal sourcing objectives aren’t highly aligned with their corporate strategy and 72 percent rating their capabilities for evaluating a target’s strategic fit as moderate to low.

To accelerate their transformation goals, an emerging trend for insurers is setting up dedicated capabilities, including corporate venture capital (CVC) teams, to acquire and accelerate innovation. Eighteen percent of insurers surveyed indicated they either already had an established CVC or had plans to establish one, with the top ranked objective being acquiring innovation for business model transformation.

“To realize value from their deals, insurers need to rethink their approach and their capabilities,” points out Ram Menon, Global Head of Insurance Deal Advisory for KPMG International. “Insurers need to redefine deal success — from acquisition strategy to integration execution — set out a clear path for transformation applying holistic design thinking, accelerate innovation by standing up an inorganic innovation engine, and more importantly, resist short-term thinking. Transformation is not a ‘one-and-done’ event.”

About the report
For KPMG worked with Mergermarket to interview more than 200 global insurance executives involved in M&A, strategy and innovation initiatives at their respective organizations to learn about their outlook for the industry and their expectations as they plan to strategically deploy capital. The research respondents were divided regionally among firms in Asia-Pacific (33 percent), EuropeMiddle East + Africa (33 percent), and North America (33 percent) as well as by the segments Life (25 percent), Non-Life (25 percent), Reinsurance (25 percent), and Other (25 percent) (the segment ‘Other’ encompasses Insurance Brokers and Insurance Services). Companies needed to have a minimum of US$1.5bn in annual revenue to qualify for participation.

About KPMG International
KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 154 countries and territories and have 200,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

SOURCE KPMG International

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