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Keith Ambachtsheer

Director Emeritus

Keith Ambachtsheer has consulted on the design, governance, and investment policies of retirement income systems since 1985.


Keith Ambachtsheer is Director Emeritus of the International Centre for Pension Management (ICPM). He was founding Director of ICPM 2005-2014, and Editor of the Rotman International Journal of Pension Management 2008-2014. He was founding Academic Director of the international Rotman-ICPM Board Effectiveness Program for board members of pension organizations from 2011-2015; and continues to teach modules in this Program. He is a member of the Scholars Council of Georgetown University’s Center for Retirement Initiatives. Through his firm KPA Advisory Services, he has advised pension and investment organizations, as well as governments and their agencies, on the design, governance, and investment policies of retirement income systems since 1985. He co-founded CEM Benchmarking in 1991. CEM benchmarks the organizational performance of over 400 pension organizations worldwide. Keith has authored four books on pension management. He has been the recipient of awards globally for his work in the pensions, governance, and investments field, and comments regularly on these topics in video, electronic, and print media around the world.


Another round of CPP mythbusting, courtesy of Keith Ambachtsheer
Financial Post

July 06, 2016

Debate on public policy issues of the day is, by any measure, a good thing. The back and forth between various experts can lead to a greater understanding given that wisdom does not reside on just one side of the debate.By any yardstick, Keith Ambachtsheer is a pension expert. The 74-year old is the director emeritus of the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management, and has spent virtually his whole career in the field. Three decades back, he started a consulting firm — KPA Advisory Services – that has advised “on the design, governance, and investment policies of retirement income systems.

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Titanic analogy too simplistic (author)
Pensions & Investments Online

October 03, 2016

With bond yields at extreme lows, stock prices at historic highs and return correlations unstable, pension fund managers are taking ever greater risks. As a result, plan participants are “increasingly being exposed to the threat of losses that cannot be recouped quickly,” concludes Mohamed A. El-Erian, chairman of President Barack Obama's Global Development Council and former chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. LLC, in a recent commentary.

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The big CPP clash: Who’s fuelling pension myths now?
Financial Post

July 13, 2016

The “agreement in principle” to expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a major change to one of the key pillars of Canada’s retirement income system. While we encourage an informed debate about the costs and benefits of the change, it’s disappointing that a respected pension expert such as Keith Ambachtsheer has fuelled further misunderstanding over CPP expansion.

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The ‘Canadian Pension Model’: Past, Present, and Future
KPA Advisory Services - The Ambachtsheer Letter

2021Last year, Frank Fabozzi, Editor of the influential Journal of Portfolio Management (JPM), invited me to write an article setting out the origins and evolution of the globally-admired ‘Canadian Pension Model’. The resulting article appears in the just-released April 2021 issue of JPM. Through special agreement with the publisher, we are proud to share the JPM article with our clients as the April 2021 edition of The Ambachtsheer Letter.

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Why We Need to Change the Conversation about Pension Reform
Financial Analysts Journal

2014The sustainability of traditional public sector defined benefit (DB) plans has become front-page news and the subject of acrimonious debates usually framed in stark terms of DB versus DC (defined contribution). This either/or framing is unhelpful: It simply perpetuates the strongly held views of the defenders and critics of these two opposing pension models.

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The Case for Long-Termism
Rotman International Journal of Pension Management

2014In their 2014 article in Harvard Business Review, Dominic Barton and Mark Wiseman write that “big investors have an obligation to end the plague of short-termism.” This article supports their assertion by showing that, logically, real investing (as opposed to trading) is inherently wealth creating and long-term in nature. However, powerful short-term forces stand in the way of this kind of investing.

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Fixing the “Loser’s Game”: What It Will Take
Financial Analysts Journal

2013In preparing to write this editorial, I compared Charley Ellis’s 1975 FAJ article “The Loser’s Game” with his 2012 FAJ article “Murder on the Orient Express: The Mystery of Underperformance.” The comparison confirmed for me his remarkable ability to stay “on message” for a very long time. Equally remarkable is that over that same very long time, so little has changed in an industry he continues to accuse of producing too little value at too high a price. Why is that?

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The Dysfunctional 'DB vs. DC' Pensions Debate: Why and How to Move Beyond it
Rotman International Journal of Pension Management

2012Traditional DB and DC pension plans have both become dysfunctional, as have attempts to “prove” that one is superior to the other. Far better that we should devote our energies to designing a new breed of pension plans, adapted to twenty-first-century realities. Such plans strike an intelligent balance between the dual goals of adequacy and affordability.

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Beyond Portfolio Theory: The Next Frontier
Financial Analysts Journal

2005Logically, investment theory's next frontier is to put into practice the rich set of tools that academia has bestowed on the investment community—starting with Harry Markowitz's seminal article on portfolio selection in 1952. Or is it? In fact, the next frontier lies beyond simply engineering the implementation of new investment decision tools.

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Area of Expertise

Human Rights


Public Policy Analysis



Member Advisory Group on Retirement Security; Government of Ontario

Member Investment Advisory Committee; RMC Club Foundation of Canada

Member Board of Directors; The Jeffrey Company (USA)

Member Advisory Council; Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index

Director Emeritus; Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Emeritus Council

Member; Network for Sustainable Financial Markets

Co-founder and Director; CEM Benchmarking

Founder and President; KPA Advisory Services Ltd.

Executive-in-Residence and Director Emeritus; International Centre for Pension Management (ICPM), Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Senior Fellow; National Institute on Ageing, Ryerson University



Public Policy

Writing and Editing


McGill University : Economics

University of Western Ontario : Economics

Royal Military College of Canada : Commerce and Economics

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