Investors should not labour under the delusion that investment markets sit in an “ivory tower” apart from geopolitical risk, Bob Swarup has warned.Swarup, founder and principal at Camdor Global, said the admission by Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global and APG that they were monitoring their holdings in Russia over the situation in Ukraine did not reflect an appreciation of geopolitical risk.Writing in the current issue of IPE magazine, he said the considerations – alongside divestment by PFZW from several Israeli banks – instead reflected the growing importance of both environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters and political activism to investment decisions.The growing importance of political activism comes despite many pension investors remaining concerned that an activist stance could damage investment returns. “The current mantra among investors is to view these tremors as transient dislocations and buying opportunities,” he writes. “The Ebola mini-panic owes more to weak manufacturing data, and, in the meantime, related healthcare stocks have surged.“This is cognitive dissonance in action. It is the result of 60 years of general political and social stability, which has deluded markets into extrapolating these perceived patterns into the far future.“Markets are deemed to sit in an ivory tower, unsullied by the murkier world beyond. But, ivory or not, the tower and the world share a common foundation.”Swarup, who is also a fellow of the UK Institute of Economic Affairs and has advised the country’s pension regulator, argued that the last few decades were an “aberration”.“You cannot divorce economics from people, politics, geography and society,” he says. “The norm historically is that these have all been important influences on the course of money and economies.”For more from Bob Swarup, see the Guest Viewpoint in the current issue of IPE
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has set out its business plan for the coming 2015-16 year and said it would conduct a market study on the asset management space, examining charges paid by investors.The UK financial services regulator said it would develop the full scope of the market study in the coming months but focus on the level of charges and the factors affecting those levels.A document detailing the exact parameters of the study will be published in due course, it said, but a thematic review into investments will occur later this year, alongside a competition review of managers.PwC said it was likely focus on whether investment funds performed in line with what was sold to investors, with a potential extra focus on specific-target or absolute-return solutions. The regulator said it was also restructuring to create two separate divisions, with one responsible for supervision of wholesale and specialist markets, and the other for retail markets and authorisations.The FCA, overseen by HM Treasury, is responsible for supervising insurance-based defined contribution (DC) products, while The Pensions Regulator, overseen by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), regulates defined benefit (DB) and trust-based DC schemes.In other news, asset manager F&C has said the UK liability-driven investment (LDI) market saw a strong quarter in the final three months of 2014, as both interest rate and inflation hedging levels rose.Interest rate liability hedging increased by 26% on the previous quarter, covering £23bn (€31.6bn) of liabilities. F&C said this was driven by pension funds coming to market before year-end and existing participants switching between hedging strategies.Inflation hedging also rose 2% to £18.3bn despite the pricing of the strategy not falling in line with nominal yields, as is normally expected.F&C said demand for interest and real rate hedging strategies had kept prices higher than expected for most of the quarter, with prices dropping in mid-December as demand waned.Both strategies were mainly implemented via the swaps market, F&C said, despite the Gilt market’s becoming a cheaper option. There was some activity in shifting from swaps to Gilts, but this focused around syndicated sales from the UK government.
SNPF, SBMN, Nomura, Royal London Asset Management, Towers Watson, Delta Lloyd, AFMSNPF – Sjoerd Hoogterp has been appointed the new director for the €1.4bn occupational pension fund for notaries. He is to succeed Eric Uijen, who on 1 June became director of the €39bn metal scheme PME. Hoogterp has previously been interim director at the pension fund Celtona – currently in liquidation – as well as at PWRI, the €7.3bn pension fund for disabled workers and is currently assisting Pensioenfonds Mercurius Amsterdam (PMA) with its liquidation process. Following the 2016 merger SNPF and SBMN, the €1bn fund for the staff of notaries, Hoogterp is to head up the new fund’s pension bureau.Nomura Asset Management – Andreas Koerner is to become the Japanese asset manager’s new head of client relations and marketing for EMEA, following the retirement of Mark Roxburgh at the end of the month. Roxburgh leaves after 15 years with the firm, with his replacement moving over from the fund’s German business, where he has been for 12 years, lately as chief executive.Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) – John Burke is to join the UK asset manager in September as head of institutional, responsible for business development. Burke moves over from Newton Investment Management, where he held a similar role – working with the firm for 15 years. Burke will report to current head of distribution Rob Williams. Towers Watson – Ann Flynn has joined the consultancy as a senior consultant in its UK defined contribution (DC) practice, responsible for business development. Flynn left insurance company Standard Life in 2013, where she was head of workplace distribution, to set up her own consultancy. She has over 20 years experience in DC and insurance-based options, and has worked at Scottish Widows and Aegon.Delta Lloyd – Rob Ruijter has been named chairman of the insurer’s supervisory board (RvC). He is to succeed Jean Frijns, who announced his resignation as of 1 October, following a dispute between Delta Lloyd and supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank. Ruijter has been a member of Delta Lloyd’s supervisory board since 2014. Currently, he is chairman of the company’s remuneration committee and a member of both the audit and the risk committee within the RvC.AFM – Femke de Vries has been appointed to the board of the Dutch communications watchdog, a position she will take up from 1 October. She will succeed Theodor Kockelkoren, who is to leave on 15 October. Currently, De Vries is head of operational management at supervisor DNB. She has been supervisory head of pension funds at the regulator.
ABP made clear that the raised premium must also contribute to the recovery of its funding, which had dropped to 92.8% at October-end, and is now near the critical level that triggers immediate rights cuts.It added that rising life expectancy and changes in its participant population had contributed 0.2 and 0.1 percentage points to the contribution increase.The civil service scheme could not provide more details about the further rise of its premium, citing factors such as developments in salary, longevity, and the franchise – the part of the salary that is exempt from pension accrual.ABP said that it expected that its premiums would rise further by a couple of percentage points during the coming years.The civil service scheme did not grant an indexation for the eighth consecutive year, taking the combined inflation compensation in arrears to 11.9%.Earlier, the €185bn healthcare scheme PFZW said its contribution would remain at 23.5%, while the €21bn PGB announced a rise from 21.5% to 24%.Premiums at the large metal schemes PMT and PME, however, are set to decrease as a result of a five-year agreement with the social partners.The €68bn PMT is to reduce its contribution from 23.5% to 23%, while PME (€44bn) is to decrease the premium level from 23.2% to 22.9%.Both metal industry schemes were able to reduce their contributions as they had created a financial buffer from premium surpluses during the past years. The €381bn Dutch civil service pension scheme ABP announced it will raise its contribution by 2.3 percentage points to 21.1% next year, as it has reduced its assumptions for future returns.The adjustment followed economic indications of structurally lower interest rates as well as returns, ABP said.Rather than drawing its expected returns from the maximum allowed assumptions – equating to 3.6% in real returns minus inflation – it has decreased its expected yield to 2.8% for the coming years, its spokeswoman said.Under the new financial assessment framework (nFTK), pension funds are allowed to use maximum returns for equity, AAA-rated government bonds, and non-listed property of 7%, 2.5%, and 6%, respectively.
Eva Halvarsson, chief executive, AP2Halvarsson said large-cap firms were showing the way in terms of the proportion of women they had on their boards.“If the CEO is excluded from data on supervisory boards the proportion of women is 39.8%, and at companies with a primary listing the proportion rises to 41.2%,” she said.It was gratifying, Halvarsson added, to see that 44.9% of newly-appointed supervisory board members were female.“With the same rate of change as that of the last five years, it would take 12 years for supervisory boards, and 24 years for executive boards, to consist of 50% women,” Halvarsson said. When broken down according to the size of company, it was large-cap businesses that had the highest weighting of female board members, with 37.7% on supervisory boards and 25.8% on management boards, the data showed. The proportion of women in leadership positions at companies listed in Sweden ticked higher once more this year – a development AP2’s chief executive said showed progress was being made without laws forcing the change.AP2, one of Sweden’s five buffer funds for its state pension system, reported in its 2018 corporate management gender diversity “Kvinnoindex” (women index) that 33.9% of supervisory board members at companies listed on Nasdaq Stockholm were women, up from 32.2% in the previous year’s report.Women were less represented on management boards at 23.7%, but this figure was also higher than 2017’s 21.7%, according to the index.Eva Halvarsson, chief executive of the Gothenburg-based fund, said: “I think this shows that nomination committees and companies, without legislation, are on the right track towards achieving equality on boards and management teams.”
The UK’s occupational pension fund association has invited the chairs of the UK’s largest listed companies to meet with pension schemes to discuss their reporting on employment models and working practices.In a letter to FTSE 100 chairs, Julian Mund, chief executive of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), said investors believed a company’s workforce was critical to its long-term success, but that the association’s research had found that many FTSE 100 companies did not go beyond minimum statutory requirements when reporting on workforce practices.“It is the PLSA’s aim that these discussions will help UK companies to lead global best practice in relation to workforce disclosure and governance,” said Mund.“It is only through working together on this issue that investors and companies can both deliver significant improvements to millions of working lives as well as delivering better returns to investors – and pension scheme members – over the long term.” Some UK pension schemes are also calling for better workforce reporting via an initiative co-ordinated by campaign group ShareAction. “It is the PLSA’s aim that these discussions will help UK companies to lead global best practice in relation to workforce disclosure and governance”Julian Mund, chief executive, PLSAThe Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) brings together more than 120 asset managers and asset owners to ask listed companies to provide information relating to diversity, wages, health and safety, and other aspects of workforce practice.More than twice as many companies filled in the 2018 survey than the first WDI survey, although that left more than 400 that did not. According to the WDI, at least some of the non-participating companies often cited “a confidence in their existing public reporting that is not shared by WDI investor signatories”.
Jean-Paul Delevoye, the man brought in by French president Emmanuel Macron to spearhead a major reform of the French pension system, resigned yesterday amid scrutiny of his failure to disclose a number of paid and unpaid roles.His resignation came after almost two weeks of public transport strikes in protest over the pension reform, and on the eve of a planned day of mass protests called for by trade unions.Delevoye first came under pressure last week in relation to an unpaid role at an institute for training insurance professionals that he had failed to declare. He stepped down from the role, over which he had been accused of a conflict of interest, but matters spiralled when Delevoye updated his declaration of interest over the weekend to reveal 10 previously undisclosed roles.On Twitter, Delevoye said he would weaken the pension reform project by staying in his role. He also claimed “violent attacks and a hotpotch of lies” were weakening the trust that had characterised a two-year period of consultations about the reform. Delevoye was appointed to the new role of high commissioner for pension reform in 2017 and was brought into the government in September.Laurent Berger, leader of CFDT, France’s largest trade union, said he was “dumbfounded” by the revelations of Delevoye’s undeclared mandates, and that consultations with him had been “loyal”. The leader of hardline union CGT, Philippe Martinez, said Delevoye was no longer credible.The more moderate CFDT has expressed support for the principle of transforming the French pension system into a universal system and had so far refrained from calling for strikes, but last week said the government had crossed “a red line” with its proposal that people work two years longer, until 64, to get a full pension.It called on members to join the mass protests scheduled for today. Berger reportedly has said the union does not want transport strikes over the upcoming holiday period, but that it would continue to “mobilise” in January if changes had not been made to the reform plan.Prime minister Edouard Philippe last week said a pensions reform bill would be presented to the cabinet on 22 January and discussed in parliament at the end of February.French media reports have quoted government spokespeople as saying that the pension reform project would continue and that Delevoye would be replaced “as soon as possible”.
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has today announced the appointment of nine specialist firms to a new framework agreement, which will provide administration, actuarial, support and consultancy services to its board.The announcement marks the conclusion of a three-month procurement process for a framework agreement that consists of two lots.Lot one is primarily for services to the board where both administration and actuarial services and/or pensions consultancy may be required at the same time, the PPF said.Lot two is aimed at firms with specialist actuarial capabilities that have experience in either the pensions or insurance industries, where long-term risk modelling is also considered. ”These firms will provide broader but more specified actuarial consultancy services, as part of a pool of suppliers capable of delivering any specific call-off contract we award,” the fund said.Broadstone Corporate Benefits has been selected for lot one, while Government’s Actuary Department (GAD) and Hymans Robertson will handle lot two.Additionally, Barnett Waddingham, Deloitte, Mercer, XPS Pensions Consulting, Quattro and Spence & Partners have all been selected for both lots as well.These businesses will perform a range of tasks including:collecting and analysing data;providing administration, actuarial and payroll functions;giving actuarial advice;supporting specialist projects; andproviding consultancy support and services. The PPF said the companies will be required to perform all services in line with PPF standards of professionalism and PPF’s ICARE values.The work is expected to be ‘right first time’ to the board’s satisfaction and in accordance with the framework agreement and call-off contract.
5705 Anchorage Terrace, Sanctuary Cove is on the market.TRUCKING magnate Ian Cootes has put his spectacular Gold Coast riverfront home on the market.Mr Cootes and his wife Maria, who are both based in Melbourne, bought their Sanctuary Cove block in 2008. The kitchen. The living areas open out the terrace and pool.“We’ve been at Sanctuary Cove for over 20 years,” Mr Cootes said.“When we saw that block of land on Anchorage Terrace we decided we would buy it with the intention of selling our other Sanctuary Cove property. There was a very high standard in Anchorage Terrace and we wanted to add to it.” The pair, who have seven children and 14 grandchildren between them, enlisted architect Paul Ziukelis and builder JM Buildling Development to bring their vision to life. The house took eight months to build and was completed in 2010. Its street appeal is evident — the house stands out with it contemporary facade which contrasts a white exterior with river stone cladding. A sight to behold!“The bar opens up and cantalivers out to the outdoor living area which joins the pool,” he said.The couple, who stay in the property at least once a month, said they were sad to be selling but the time was right to move on. “We just love Sanctuary Cove,” he said.“The main reason we’ve put the house on the market is we have family and business in Melbourne and we need to be in Melbourne more than we need to be in Queensland.” From the front.Inside, your eyes are drawn to the gallery-styled double ceiling height foyer while the riverfront location is taken advantage of with floor to ceiling windows. Constructed using top-quality materials, finishes and appliances, the residence was crowned the 2011 Master Builders Gold Coast Housing and Construction Award for best individual home. More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa16 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days agoThe view is evident as soon as you step inside.The house features an open-plan design with several living and dining areas that open up to the infinity-edge self-cleaning pool and terrace. A 10m island bench takes centre stage in the kitchen while Gaggenau appliances and Gessi sink mixers creates a functional yet stylish space. “We imported the kitchen from Italy,” Mr Cootes said. “It’s a magnificent kitchen with a lot of stainless steel and marble.”Other standout features include a bar with Calcutta marble benchtop and a temperature-controlled 400-bottle wine room. ON THE MARKET 5705 Anchorage Terrace, Sanctuary Cove Agent: John and Marie Manning, and Paul Arthur, Queensland Sotheby’s International RealtyFeatures: Northeast facing, garden terraces, pontoonArea: 1147sq mPrice: Offers over $5 millionInspections: By appointment
Metricon Home’s Metro 31 display home at Helensvale’s The Surrounds.Metricon Queensland general manager Peter Ryan said it was an honour to receive the award.More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa15 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days ago“To receive this recognition for our workmanship, design and innovation is a thrill and a credit to our Queensland team,” he said.“Entering the Master Builders Housing and Construction Awards has allowed us to showcase what we do and how proud we are of our team.” Renders of Sunland’s Magnoli Residences.“The commercial projects completed in our region over the past year will have a positive impact on the local community now and into the future.“The quality of the winning homes is second to none and epitomise what coastal living is all about.”The full list of winners can be found here https://www.mbqld.com.au/whats-on/housing-and-construction-awards/winners/gold-coast Metricon Homes has won a Master Builders Queensland award for its Metro 31 display home at Helensvale’s The Surrounds.THE Gold Coast’s best houses, developments and builders will represent the glitz and glamour of the Glitter Strip at the Master Builders Queensland state awards next month.There were 50 award recipients at the Gold Coast ceremony last month, which was one of nine to be held across the state.They will now compete in the State Housing and Construction Awards to be held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on October 12.Among the winners was Metricon Homes, which claimed one of the five ‘Best Display Homes’ categories for its Metro 31 design on display at The Surrounds in Helensvale. The Tilbury residential community, Coomera by Bos Property Group.Bos Property Group was also recognised for The Tilbury Residences at Upper Coomera while Sunland Group was honoured for Magnoli Residences at Palm Beach.Master Builders’ Gold Coast regional manager John Duncalfe said the standard of projects entered in the awards was “extremely impressive”.“It’s been a massive few years for the Gold Coast, with preparation for the Commonwealth Games taking centre stage,” he said.