Scotland, famed for its whisky, the Edinburgh Fringe and being a world-class financial hub, is also home to most of the UK’s remaining oil reserves – set to become a major point of contention as the Scots get to vote on independence later this year.The current devolved government, led by the Scottish National Party’s Alex Salmond and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon, has proposed that some of the country’s oil wealth, upon independence, be put into a sovereign wealth fund (SWF).Whenever asked, the pro-independence party evokes Norway’s NOK5trn (€600bn) Government Pension Fund Global as the approach to copy.However, there appear to be inherent conflicts within the proposals, never more apparent than when Sturgeon spoke yesterday at London’s UCL. Questioned how a Scottish SWF would look – a savings pot the SNP estimates would be worth approximately £110bn (€134bn) by now had it been put in place back in 1980 – she outlined that it would have the dual objectives of acting as a nest egg and a stabilisation fund.“It’s a good thing Scotland’s got massive oil reserves, but, clearly, we need to make sure we are operating and stewarding those reserves in a way that is stable and sustainable,” the deputy first minister said.She outlined that the surplus of a “cautious estimate” of the country’s oil revenue would be put aside each year, “so, in years when the revenues were undershooting the estimate, we’d have something to draw on and stabilise our finances”.So far, so common. The idea of tapping the wealth for stability’s sake, to avoid a budget deficit, is a tactic employed by a number of sovereign savers – from Russia to Mongolia – but it seems at odds with the stated goal of emulating the Norwegian model.Sturgeon is quick to say that the savings would be put aside as the state’s finances allowed “to save for the future in the way that Norway has done”.“But any fund like that,” she continues, “if it’s going to meet those objectives, there has to be discipline agreed and written into the rules of the operation of the fund, that meant it didn’t become something that became a political football at elections, and we spent money before we saved it, if you like.“And that’s what Norway has done very successfully – it doesn’t draw down to meet the short-term commitments, and that’s the kind of model we should emulate.”The acknowledgement that there should not be drawdowns to meet “short-term commitments” seems to be an out, as it excuses a myriad of future attempts to forego payments, or even to raid the fund when it is deemed expedient – for example, to avoid cuts to state pension expenditure, if the independent country were to struggle with a population ageing.Norway’s sovereign fund has managed to build up its wealth for two reasons – its fiscal rule limiting drawdowns to 4%, and the oil price over the last decade.However, the recently elected conservative government has indicated that some of the country’s wealth should be redeployed to aid the domestic economy, signaling an end to nearly two decades of political consensus.Elsewhere, one need only look at bailout recipient Ireland to see how quickly good intentions to save can fall by the wayside when faced with the grim reality of bank collapse.What remains of its National Pensions Reserve Fund will soon be deployed to stimulate its slowly recovering domestic economy, seemingly instead of its previous aim of pre-funding state liabilities.In short, the Scots’ noble attempt to save for future generations is well-intentioned, but to commit to the creation of a nest egg, when so many questions about an independent country’s finances remain unanswered, could quickly risk backfiring as a cash-strapped future government raids the tills.
Robeco, AP4, SPP, MN, NN Belgium, European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, PensionsEuropeRobeco – Hester Borrie and Hans Rademaker are to leave the executive board as of 1 May. Borrie has been head of global distribution and marketing since 2009. Rademaker has been CIO since he joined the €268bn global asset manager in 2010. Last year, Roderick Munsters left as chief executive after six years. Robeco was taken over by Japan’s Orix Corporation in 2013. At the moment, Robeco’s executive board (RvB) comprises David Steyn (chief executive), Leni Boeren (COO) and Roland Toppen, who is responsible for finance. The company declined to comment on the sudden departure of Borrie and Rademaker but said their responsibilities would be carried out by the remaining RvB members for the time being.AP4 – Sarah McPhee has been named chair of AP4, returning to the Swedish buffer fund she left more than a decade ago. McPhee, who until last year was chief executive of insurer SPP, replaces Monica Caneman, who has served as AP4’s chair since 2008. Prior to joining SPP in 2008, McPhee spent four years as CIO at Sweden’s largest pension provider, AMF. She also spent three years as head of ALM and compliance at AP4.MN – The €115bn asset manager and pensions provider has appointed Liesbeth Sinke as chief financial and risk officer. Effective 1 June, Sink is to become a member of the four-strong executive board, which also includes René van de Kieft (chief executive), Henri den Boer (pensions and insurance) and Gerald Cartigny (asset management). Her appointment comes in the wake of the reduction of MN’s executive team from eight members to four. Sinke is CFO at NN Belgium, a subsidiary of NN Group. Before then, she worked for insurance broker Marsh, consultancy Aon and ABN/Amro bank. European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) – Matti Leppälä, secretary general at PensionsEurope, has been elected chair of EIOPA’s pension stakeholder group (OPSG), succeeding Philip Shier. Leppälä, who has been with the European industry group since 2011, was previously the OPSG’s deputy chair, serving under Benne van Popta and Shier, following the former’s resignation mid-term in 2015. The OPSG, which met on 28 April for the first time since 21 new members were named, also elected Bernard Delbecque as deputy chairman.
Bert Boertje has been named head of supervisory policy for pension funds at Dutch regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB).He will focus on developing, implementing, and evaluating supervisory policy across the Netherlands’ pension sector.Boertje succeeds John Landman, who has moved to become director of strategy at the Dutch Care Authority.Boertje has been division director of pension fund supervision at DNB since 2015. This role has passed to Gisella van Vollenhoven, who joined DNB in 2013 and has been division director of on-site and banking expertise since 2014. EIOPA elects Dutch supervisor to management boardThe council of European supervisors has elected Olaf Sleijpen, director of supervisory policy at DNB, to the management board of the European pensions regulator EIOPA.Currently, EIOPA’s management board is made up of representatives from Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, and Slovakia.Sleijpen is to succeed a representative of Romania. His appointment is for a period of two and a half years, with the possibility of a one-off extension.He is currently chair of EIOPA’s occupational pensions committee, and is an alternate member of the European Banking Authority’s board of supervisors.Sleijpen is a former division director of pension fund supervision at DNB, and has held senior roles at the Dutch civil service pension scheme ABP and its asset manager APG.New board for fund manager trade bodyThe Dutch Fund and Asset Management Association (DUFAS) has appointed six new board members.They are:Jacob de Wit (executive chairman of Achmea IM)Gerald Cartigny (CIO of MN)Hester Borrie (executive board member at NN IP)Erik Luttenberg (managing director at Kempen Capital Management)Diane Griffioen (director of ASN Investment Funds)Dick van Ommeren (managing director at Triodos IM)DUFAS is the sector organisation for Netherlands-based asset managers and custodians. Its general director is Hans Janssen Daalen.
“Factor-based investing is growing in popularity as it can be used to meet different investment objectives in a cost-efficient manner,” he said.The fund was developed in partnership with Scientific Beta, the provider of factor-based indices established by EDHEC-Risk Institute. The fund uses Scientific Beta’s recently launched High Factor Exposure indices as “building blocks” for the portfolio.LGIM said it customised these building blocks to target a balanced factor exposure while enhancing diversification and reducing risk by controlling region and currency exposures.The fund is run by multi-asset fund manager Andrzej Pioch alongside LGIM’s broader asset allocation team, which is responsible for more than £37bn.LGIM manages £35bn in factor-based strategies and alternatively weighted indices. Last November, the fund manager launched the L&G Future World Fund in collaboration with the HSBC Bank UK Pension Scheme.The multi-factor global equities index fund that incorporates a climate “tilt” to address the investment risks associated with climate change.The fund was picked as HSBC Bank UK Pension Scheme’s equity default option within its defined contribution scheme. Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) has launched a multi-factor global equity fund with initial investment from the £7.2bn (€8.1bn) Boots Pension Scheme.The LGIM Diversified Multi-Factor Equity Fund invests in a diversified portfolio of global equities based on smart beta factors, and is a pooled vehicle aimed primarily at UK institutional clients.The group said the fund aimed to reduce risk relative to the global equity market by diversifying more effectively across regions and reducing stock-specific concentration.Adam Willis, head of index and multi-asset distribution at LGIM, said investors were increasingly looking for alternatives to traditional market-cap and multi-asset products.
The UK government has pledged to take the lead on developing a “pension dashboard” to allow individuals to see all of their savings through one portal.Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) conference in Manchester yesterday, Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, pledged that the Department for Work and Pensions would take forward work on the project “at pace”.“Be in absolutely no doubt: The dashboard will happen,” Opperman said.The project has been pushed forward by industry bodies so far, with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) leading work on a prototype. The ABI co-ordinated work between pension providers and technology firms to attempt to address data issues and other hurdles to displaying all an individual’s savings and pensions in one place.Huw Evans, director general of the ABI, said a dashboard was “vital to helping workers keep track of their pension savings as they move employment as well as helping them track down lost pension pots likely to be worth billions in total”. Graham Vidler, director of external affairs at the PLSA, said: “The minister’s support of the pensions dashboard is great news for savers – who will be placed at the heart of the project. The dashboard could have a revolutionary effect on the way people engage with pensions, but it needs regulation and strong governance underpinning it. This is a job for government and we are pleased DWP has been tasked with leading the project.” Guy Opperman MPThe Pensions Regulator also backed the project. Darren Ryder, director of automatic enrolment, said: “The work to date is also a clear demonstration of what industry can achieve when it works together and showcases the huge benefits the pensions industry could get from the application of such technology.”The People’s Pension, one of the UK’s leading defined contribution providers, has been a vocal supporter of the dashboard concept. Darren Philp, director of policy, described the government’s support as “an important milestone”. “While there are still significant challenges to overcome, this is a substantial step to help bring people closer to their pensions,” he added.
UK financial regulators have come under the spotlight of political and industry groups pushing for the growth of green finance in the country.The parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has written to Michael Gove, secretary of state for the environment, to use powers under UK climate change legislation to require the Pensions Regulator (TPR), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to produce climate adaptation reports in respect of their public functions.“Amongst financial regulators in the UK, only the Bank of England and its Prudential Regulation Authority have given the issue serious attention,” the committee wrote in its letter.It was “particularly” concerned the FCA needed to develop its thinking in this area, it said. Investment consultants need expertise on climate change and other ESG issues, says Green Finance TaskforceThe financial regulatory framework was also the focus of some of the wide-ranging recommendations issued by a government-commissioned green finance group in its report to the government today.The Green Finance Taskforce issued a suite of recommendations for policy measures that could help mobilise investment needed to meet the UK’s environmental objectives and strengthen its position as a centre for green finance. “Clarification of fiduciary duties, investor competence, good fund governance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and processes that take proper account of the financial risks and opportunities that they pose, are essential to enable the UK financial system to respond in a timely way to climate risk and clean growth opportunities,” the taskforce wrote in its report.Fiduciary duties were “foundational” for the UK investment industry and “the way they are framed, viewed and understood helps set the assumptions for appropriate investment behaviour,” it said.The taskforce recommended that the government clarify fiduciary duties and implement several supporting recommendations on investment processes and disclosures, in particular in revising investment regulations.The government should also “clarify” that investment consultants have sufficient expertise and competency on ESG issues, including climate change, and should include ESG issues as “a standing issue” when giving advice to pension scheme trustees.“Significant market failures are created by the challenges of translating science and data and applying it productively in corporate contexts.”Green Finance Taskforce The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has already approached TPR, FCA and FRC about the possibility of them voluntarily participating in the next cycle of climate-related reporting.The bodies’ adaptation reports would need to set out their assessment of the current and predicted impact of climate change in relation to their functions and how they would adapt to it.A spokeswoman for the FCA said: “Our strategic objective is to ensure that the relevant markets function well. We are working alongside DEFRA and other regulators to address the issues of reporting and working towards a more collaborative approach to climate-related issues.”A spokeswoman for the FRC told IPE it was considering its approach to climate adaptation reporting and would “respond in due course”.The Environmental Audit Committee is conducting an inquiry into green finance, examining how to mobilise investment to meet the country’s climate change targets and “factor sustainability into financial decision-making”. It recently wrote to the 25 largest UK pension funds to question them about their approach to climate change.Expert group presents raft of green finance policy proposals The green finance taskforce also advised the government to establish a centre for climate analytics, together with the private sector.This would help bridge a communication gap between climate impact experts and businesses, as many corporates and governments did not properly understand the potential size and scale of climate risk, according to the group.“Significant market failures are created by the challenges of translating science and data and applying it productively in corporate contexts,” it said.The taskforce also urged implementation of recommendations made by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), including that the government legislate if financial regulators did not provide the necessary support by 2021. Nick Molho, executive director at the Aldersgate Group and member of the Green Finance Taskforce, said that, if implemented together, the recommendations would make investment in green infrastructure projects more attractive and help “move the needle on green finance”.To be fully effective, implementation must be accompanied by more policy detail under the government’s Clean Growth Strategy and 25-Year Environment Plan, he said.“If we want financial institutions to ‘green’ their investments, there needs to be a pipeline of green infrastructure projects for them to invest in,” Molho said. “This will only happen if government provides more clarity in the coming months on the regulations and incentives that will be introduced to encourage investment in the energy efficiency of buildings, on- and offshore wind, low-carbon heat, electric vehicles and the natural environment.” The government is due to respond to the recommendations in full later this year.
However, Sergio Bortolin, president of the association of collective pension funds in Switzerland, the Inter-Pension, said this policy “cannot be executed”. Bertolin – who is also managing director of the CHF16bn (€14bn) Asga multi-employer pension fund – argued that the regulation was “completely superfluous” as local authorities already had the means to assess the risks related to collective pension plans.“The OAK is exceeding its authority with this directive,” he added. Asga is the largest independent Gemeinschaftseinrichtung in Switzerland, serving over 12,000 companies, mostly SMEs. It would not fall under the new regulation as companies joining with their pension plans are integrated into the overall risk and return structure.In Sammelstiftungen, however, each client – whether a one-person business or one with 1,000 employees – has a separate pension plan within the collective.In the note published with its draft proposal, the OAK said the current legal framework only included very few special regulations for collective pension plans.The regulator cited such Sammelstiftungen’s “complex structures” and the fact that multi-employer pension plans operated in competition with other providers.“Compared to company pension plans these characteristics provide additional requirements particularly regarding governance, transparency and security of funding,” the OAK stated.Swiss stakeholders have until mid-January 2019 to comment on the draft during the consultation phase. The top Swiss pension supervisor Oberaufsichtskommission (OAK) wants to give local regulators more power over multi-employer schemes, as more pension plans are being transferred.With increasing regulatory demands and a continued low interest rate environment, many smaller company pension plans have been joining so-called Sammelstiftungen – collective foundations – or other Gemeinschaftseinrichtungen, which are multi-employer plans organised in a vehicle other than a foundation.Additionally, Axa Winterthur – a major pension provider to small and medium-sized businesses – announced earlier this year that it would no longer offer full insurance cover for its 40,000 clients but instead offer them individual pension plans, transferring some of the risk to these businesses.Under the amended regulatory framework proposed by the OAK, each of these individual plans would have to be assessed by an expert who would look at longevity risk, investments and other parameters.
BpfBouw, the €63bn Dutch pension fund for the building sector, has appointed Russell Investments as fiduciary adviser for its €10.5bn real estate portfolio. Russell will monitor Bouwinvest, the scheme’s wholly owned property investor, and assess its investment proposals. It is the first time BpfBouw has selected an external manager for this task.David van As, BpfBouw’s director, said the appointment followed the scheme’s plans to increase its international property allocation through Bouwinvest.“This means we have to deal with other players and risks than within the Dutch context,” Van As said. “As a pension fund, we are hitting the limits of what we can assess ourselves.” BpfBouw is the fifth largest pension fund in the NetherlandsVan As rejected the suggestion that supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) had played a role in the appointment of a fiduciary manager. Earlier this year, the trade journal Vastgoedmarkt suggested that DNB had been critical of Bouwinvest’s strategy to grow by using other pension funds’ assets.At the time, Dick van Hal, chief executive at Bouwinvest, had described the insinuation as “rubbish”.In the meantime, Bouwinvest has installed a new supervisory board (RvC), after the previous one resigned at the end of last year.PostNL invests €170m in European green bondsThe €8.6bn Dutch company scheme PostNL has invested €170m in green bonds – amounting to approximately 2% of its entire assets – through Dutch asset manager NN Investment Partners (NN IP). The scheme said it had divested from “ordinary” credit to fund the purchases.The investment was initially made in an NN IP fund comprising green bonds and government bonds. However, these assets would be invested in an exclusively green mandate as of 1 January, PostNL said.The scheme said it wanted to solely invest in European green credit as this market was the most advanced.The pension fund also highlighted that, by focusing on European green bonds, it could avoid incurring costs for hedging currency risk. In his opinion, keeping Bouwinvest at some distance from the pension fund also made sense from a professional point of view.
Charlie Simkins, chairman of the Kent Superannuation Fund committee, said: “We had not been made aware that the Woodford Equity Income Fund was being closed, as we were previously advised that the situation would be clarified in December.“However, we believe a managed run-down of the portfolio is in the best interests of all the fund’s investors.”Although it was disappointing that payments to investors would not now begin until January, rather than December, “the delay in recouping the Kent Pension Fund’s investment will not impact on the fund or its ability to pay members,” Simkins said.“The Kent Pension Fund is one of the top 10 largest local government pension schemes in the country and is one of the top performing.”Woodford Investment Management has been removed as manager of the equity income fund, which is to change its name to LF Equity Income Fund. BlackRock has been appointed transition manager to dispose of listed assets, and PJT Partners (Park Hill) as brokers to help sell unlisted assets.Subject to regulatory approvals, the winding-up is expected to begin in mid-January, after which money will be returned to investors in instalments. Link is meanwhile requesting formal approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to wind up the fund.Meanwhile, the FCA is carrying out an investigation into the activities that led to the high-profile fund suspension. The regulator is reviewing whether changes are needed to its rules about open-ended funds holding illiquid assets.Peter Brunt, associate director, equity strategies, manager research, Morningstar, said: “It was always going to be a monumental challenge for Woodford Investment Management to keep the LF Woodford Equity Income Fund going, even if it had successfully managed to reposition the portfolio for its re-opening in December 2019, as investor confidence had been so badly beaten down.” The pension fund for Kent County Council, a £6.4bn local government pension scheme, has said a managed run-down of the portfolio of beleaguered Woodford Equity Income Fund is in the best interests of all the fund’s investors.The Woodford fund was suspended in June following a surge in redemption requests from investors, including one from the Kent local authority pension fund, and today it was announced that it is to be wound up as soon as practicable rather than re-opened.In a letter to investors, Woodford Equity Income Fund’s authorised corporate director Link Fund Solutions said the suspension in June was designed to give Woodford Investment Management time to reposition the fund’s portfolio into more easily sellable investments but that while progress was made, it was not sufficient to provide reasonable assurance as to when the repositioning would be fully achieved.Neil Woodford, who managed the fund, reportedly hit back at the decision to close it, saying he did not think it was in investors’ long-term interests.
The housing sector is expected to be a big beneficiary of better lending conditions. Picture: Jodie Richter.“Based on these considerations, a “no-change” decision seems a certainty from the RBA Board meeting on Tuesday. Indeed the market has only a 4 per cent chance of a change priced in.”For the first time since last month’s cut, Monday saw the RBA Rate Indicator swing in favour of a cash rate target decrease to 0.75 per cent. “As at 5 August, the ASX 30 Day Interbank Cash Rate Futures August 2019 contract was trading at 99.115, indicating a 57 per cent expectation of an interest rate decrease to 0.75 per cent at the next RBA Board meeting.”That might not be enough though — with 96 per cent of experts and economists in the latest Finder RBA Cash Rate Survey convinced there RBA will hold at 1 per cent for several months. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:58Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:58 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD432p432p216p216p180p180pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. 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This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenHow much do I need to retire?00:58 Where tenants are ditching dead money for a mortgage Queensland is expected to see a surge in interest from interstate and other buyers given its relative affordability compared to southern neighbours, including Brisbane over Sydney and Melbourne.After a torrid two months of slashing, the Reserve Bank board is expected to hold fire until November on any further interest rate cuts — but there’s still lots to celebrate for buyers.Experts agree that November is the month the RBA board is most likely to make its next move on rates, as it waits for its shock two cuts in a row to take hold along with government action to boost consumer spending. FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK Star puppet Agro making a move More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus12 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market12 hours agoRBA assumptions and forecasts. Source: RBA.gov.au”Our view remains that the RBA will deliver another 25bpt rate cut but they will wait until November to deliver that cut,” he said in CBA’s latest Economic Update. “The RBA has, of course, revealed its hand with 25bpt rate cuts in June and July. Successive rate cuts are rare events and normally reserved for dire economic circumstances. But circumstances, as the RBA assures us, are not dire. The RBA has indicated that it is prepared to wait while monitoring developments, especially in the labour market. MORE: The growth suburbs to watch It found 35 per cent of experts believed the next cut would come in November, while 23 per cent thought it would be earlier in October.Either way, Finder insight manager Graham Cooke said the RBA board would be hesitant to cut three months in a row.“The jury’s out on the impact of these most recent cuts — it’s simply too soon to tell,” he said. “Economists feel slightly more confident that recent cuts will have a positive effect on the economy once given time to roll out. While positivity is generally still low, housing affordability remains the most positive economic element.”Mr Blythe said CBA could “only agree” with a comment by RBA Governor Philip Lowe that “it is reasonable to expect an extended period of low interest rates”. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor, Philip Lowe, is expected to see the board hold at 1 per cent cash rate target come Tuesday afternoon. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins.This after the RBA finally moved its cash rate target down to 1.25 per cent in June, followed rapidly by another 0.25 percentage point drop again in July to even out at 1 per cent. Before that it had stagnated at 1.5 per cent since August 2016.Aligned with APRA loosening its grip on lending conditions, boosting the chances of those applying for mortgages, the moves were expected to see some lift in the economy.Chief economist for one of the nation’s Big Four banks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Michael Blythe, expected the cash rate to remain at 1 per cent come Tuesday afternoon’s RBA monetary policy meeting.