Alberta Investment Management Corporation: An Examination of a Corporatization Project: Preliminary Assessment

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  • The study examines the decision in 2006–2007 by the Alberta government to establish an arms-length, board-governed, investment management corporation expressly to improve investment performance and build local expertise in investment management. The comparison of the investment returns achieved by Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) for four provincial funds versus those achieved previously in the Department of Finance against established benchmarks shows little, if any, improvement. A second method of analysis, the Difference-of-Differences (DiD) method, indicates improving performance of AIMCo relative to its public sector investment management peers and its predecessor organization. All comparisons are highly sensitive to time periods chosen.

    AIMCo commenced operations in January 2008 when the financial crisis was still evolving. Consequently, the period to March 31, 2008 (Heritage Fund) and to December 2007 (pension funds) is used for the Alberta Investment Management (AIM) performance. The performance numbers for AIMCo commence on January 1 2010 for three pension funds and April 1, 2010 for the Heritage Fund and thereby exclude losses incurred in the 2008–2009 financial tumult. The reader is cautioned that the analysis is carried out at a high level and it may still be too early to fairly judge outcomes since AIMCo “inherited” its investment portfolio. Moreover, the investment policies that are given to AIMCo by the funds’ trustees to manage under have changed; specifically a move to place more funds in investment classes that cost more to manage, carry more risk, but offer potential higher returns.

    The study also shows the major beneficiaries of the transformation appear to be the senior managers and particularly the senior executives of AIMCo, whose pay has increased significantly. Unfortunately, there were no clear, public performance standards established for AIMCo as a whole and therefore no public assessment or debate of the success of the AIMCo corporatization project.. Given a new government assuming power, several policy suggestions are advanced including a detailed and careful review of AIMCo’s performance and governance structure.

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    Attribution 4.0 International
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • A previous version of this paper was presented to the Public Administration Theory Conference Vancouver, British Columbia on 30 May 2015.