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Peer Intelligence | Fall 2023

Coffee Chat with Daniel Griffiths

Daniel is a Senior Analyst in CEM’s Canadian office and has been with the firm since 2020. He primarily serves the firm’s global PABS and IBS clients. 

How did you find yourself at CEM? You’re the second Analyst we’ve interviewed, and it sounds like you might originally be from somewhere “down under”? But tell me if I’m wrong. 

  • Yes, you are correct. I was born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. I moved to Canada in March 2020, right as the pandemic was really kicking off, to marry my Canadian wife, Kathleen, that August. I had lined up an interview with CEM the week I landed, but that was moved to a virtual interview as lockdowns started. I ended up getting the job but didn’t meet most people in person until around a year later! 
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                                  Kathleen and Daniel at a recent wedding

The good news is that you don’t have to go too far to interact with New Zealanders in this business! CEM has been serving pension systems in the region for over 20 years. What have you observed working with those plans? 

  • I remember it being weird the first time I had a call with NZ clients, and having the accent that I’d heard all my life now sounds a little strange in a business setting. But it’s been great being able to work with a little taste of home. I know New Zealanders, coming from a small country, are always proud when we punch above our weight, and I know that the pension plans are no different. 
  • In New Zealand, the private pension space is rather new, and the plans are taking the lead from the Australian “Super” funds, who are some of the leading funds in the world when it comes to DC pension plans. As it is all over the world, plans are always trying to improve member outcomes, especially on the pension administration side. That attitude and the work from the employees of those plans is always great to see. 

What do you see as the next big frontier in pension administration? 

  • It’s everywhere at the moment, and everyone and their dog is saying it’s going to be the next big thing, but AI is being explored in the pension administration space. In fact, some of the bigger plans are already utilizing it. It may not completely reshape the pension workforce, but it does have some pretty cool applications that will make employees lives easier, and bring about better outcomes for members.

You’ve been to a few CEM PABS conferences since you started. So far, what’s been your favourite memory? 

  • I was able to go to both the Phoenix and the Vancouver conferences, and I loved both of them. I don’t really have any particular memory that stands out, but I really enjoyed the chance to meet some of our clients and get to know them and their plans. It’s a good reminder of the reason the plans and CEM, exist. For example, I had countless conversations with employers who were passionately talking about the new process they enabled to make life easier for their members. You can really see that they care, and they want to ensure the best outcome for their whole membership. 

The Rugby World Cup is on right now in France. Have you been watching any of the matches and are you cheering for the All Blacks? 

  • I grew up in a rugby-mad family and I’ve managed to convert Kathleen too. We both cheer for the All Blacks but I also try to watch most of the games. I’m not super confident in the All Blacks for this World Cup but we’ll see how we do. We got tickets to the All Blacks when they played against the U.S.A. in Washington, D.C., in October 2021. It was great to take Kathleen to her first live rugby game, even if the score was a little lopsided (it ended 104-14 to the All Blacks).
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                                     Kathleen and Daniel at FedEx field

Peer Intelligence | Fall 2023