Not all new financial rules for pension funds will be introduced on 1 January 2015 as planned, Jetta Klijnsma, the Dutch state secretary for Social Affairs has suggested.In answers following consultations with parliament, Klijnsma hinted that some parts of the new regulatory framework might be introduced later.ABP chairman Henk Brouwer, responded positively to Klijnsma’s suggestion.“Everything that could contribute to decrease the risk that pension funds won’t get sufficient time to implement the rules is welcome,” he said. But Gerard Riemen, director of the Pensions Federation, was less conciliatory. “I can’t work with hints,” he commented, demanding that the state secretary take the objections of the sector against introduction on 1 January into account.Riemen added that he would not be surprised if the introduction of the FTK were be executed in stages. However, neither Brouwer nor Jan Tamerus, chief actuary at PGGM, fiduciary manager for the healthworkers’ fund PFZW, said they could envisage how the rules could be cut up and separated.Tamerus believed that Klijnsma was likely referring an increase in the options for collective risk-sharing for defined contribution plans, which could could come into force later than 1 January.But both Brouwer and Tamerus expected that pension funds with defined benefit plans would not have much to gain from those increased options. “I am following my intuition here,” said Brouwer. “If pension funds such as ABP and PFZW want to use these options, than they must close their scheme and agree new pension arrangements with their participants. This is how it goes with collective DC plans.”In Tamerus’s opinion, the introduction of the full FTK on 1 January would not pose a problem based on what is known about the coming changes. “These could be implemented straight away. Only an amendment of current legislation would be sufficient.”Several political parties had asked the state secretary whether she still deemed the introduction of the updated financial assessment framework (FTK) achievable on 1 January.Part of the process is consultations with the employers and unions about adjusting pensions plans, which usually require more time than changing systems and processes.Klijnsma indicated that she is now considering how to introduce the draft legislation, which is currently with the Council of State (RvS) for a legal assessment.She reiterated in parliament earlier this week that the aim of the new rules is to better guarantee accrued pensions for the short and medium term, and that a discussion about the future of the retirement system – to be started this year – is meant to safeguard pensions for the long term.The state secretary further made clear that she wanted an additional survey of the merits of the average premium approach, which is increasingly opposed by younger generations.
When used by pension investors, the OCF charged by a fund vehicle would cover management charges, regulatory, audit and depositary fees and the cost of administration, the industry body suggested.However, it would exclude the cost of performance-related and brokerage fees, while any incurred transaction taxes would also need to be met through a separate payment.“With respect to the introduction of the charge cap for DC automatic-enrolment default strategies, we note the emergence of a new term, ‘Member Borne Deduction’ (MBD),” the paper said.“We urge the government, regulators and the pensions industry to use the term MBD only in the context of charge-cap compliance, not consumer disclosure.“This will help to facilitate the kind of consistent, intuitive messaging on charges that government, regulators and industry agree is necessary.”The report comes a week after the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) published the final regulation surrounding the UK’s 0.75% charge cap.The final guidelines will see DC schemes that offer a guaranteed return exempted, but they also recommended that trustees ensure “low value” promises not be used as a way of avoiding the cap.Pensions minister Steve Webb has previously insisted trustees have a fiduciary duty to ensure charges are being levied as a result of decisions that are in a member’s interest.The government also recently pledged to explore whether members should have access to information about tendering of asset management contracts, which would potentially include greater transparency on fees.For more on asset management fees and how pension funds are tackling them, see a recent Special Report in IPE,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to Investment Association paper on costs and charges The Investment Association has cautioned against describing management fees as a charge incurred by members unless discussing the UK’s forthcoming defined contribution (DC) charge cap, as it could lead to an inconsistent approach to the disclosure of costs.In a paper debating how the investment industry should disclose fees and charges, the association highlighted the use of the ongoing charges figure (OCF) as a metric for unit trusts and other funds over the total expense ratio (TER).The paper said it accepted pension funds were different from investment funds, and that there was no reason the OCF could not be extended.It argued that the use of the OCF would allow consumers to compare fund charges, but said it accepted the metric would need to be adapted to incorporate costs related to pension administration when used by trustees.
The growth of non-bank lending and activist hedge funds in the fixed income space must be followed by the emergence of “informed and motivated” bond holders if smaller companies are to continue borrowing, the OECD has suggested.In a paper charting the development of the corporate bond market since 2000 – in which the authors found a 600% increase in non-investment grade debt over the following 13 years – the OECD noted the recent emergence of activist investors pursuing an “aggressive interpretation of established bond covenants”.The authors noted that such investors – often hedge funds – filed default notices for even the most minor covenant violation, only to then negotiate even more favourable terms. “This kind of bondholder engagement, aiming at windfall gains, is a departure from the traditional role of large institutional bondholders who usually limit their engagement to governing the risk and participating in restructurings and recovery of losses.” The OECD noted that the differing approaches were of course down to the business models employed by investors – the long-term approach favoured by pension funds compared to the more short-termist hedge fund business model.“It remains to be seen if larger and more mature bond markets will develop a middle ground between total passivity and aggressive activism.“In an era of non-bank financial intermediation, the formation of such a community of informed and motivated financiers may be of particular importance for supporting the critical segment of medium-sized growth companies,” the paper said.The authors also noted that investors had gradually come to accept a greater number of high-yield bonds, with “less stringent” covenants becoming a more common feature.The increased risk appetite is backed up by a recent survey that found record issuances of high-yield debt in Europe.For more on high-yield bonds, read IPE’s previous coverage of the market,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to OECD paper ‘Corporate Bonds, Bondholders and Corporate Governance’
Such action might include issuing contribution notices, financial support directions or restoration orders.The collapsed company has two defined benefit pension schemes, with the larger of the two having a pension deficit of £571m (€734m).BHS had been sold to Retail Acquisition by its long-term owner businessman Philip Green in 2015.TPR warned that its investigation into the BHS pension scheme could take a considerable amount of time.“Such cases are complex,” the spokesperson said.Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, announced the parliamentary committee would now be inquiring into the PPF, and in particular, how the receipt of pension liabilities from BHS would affect the fund and its users.“We need as a committee to look at the Pension Protection Fund and how the receipt of pension liabilities of BHS will impact on the increases in the levy that will now be placed on all other eligible employers to finance the scheme,” he said.Field said the committee would then need to judge whether the law was “strong enough to protect future pensioners’ contracts in occupational schemes”.The PPF had already been working with the pension scheme since 3 March when the company was in financial difficulties, but these discussions are now at an end because of the newly launched administration process.Malcolm Weir, head of restructuring and insolvency at the PPF, said: “Following the BHS CVA last month, we had been in discussions to find a solution that was in the best interests of the pension schemes and the company. “However, following the BHS announcement that it has filed for administration, the PPF will now work with the Pensions Regulator and other parties to secure the best outcome for the pension schemes.”Scheme members can be assured they are protected, Weir said.Meanwhile, the scheme is continuing to pay benefits to its pensioners at PPF levels. On a PPF basis, the larger of the pension schemes has a shortfall of between £200m and £300m.Duff & Phelps, which has been appointed as administrators of the BHS group, said recent negotiations by the company’s shareholders to find a buyer from the business had been unsuccessful and that property sales had not materialised as expected.“Consequently, as a result of a lower-than-expected cash balance, the group is very unlikely to meet all contractual payments,” he said.Duff & Phelps said BHS would continue to trade as usual while the company sought to sell it as a going concern. The company is understood to have received more than 30 expressions of interest in buying the company, with a few of these from potential buyers that could be considered serious.At this stage, it is still possible that the company could be sold to a party that would take on the pension liabilities, but all depends on complex negotiations including many stakeholders. The UK Pensions Regulator (TPR) has confirmed it is investigating the case of the pension scheme of the collapsed department store chain BHS.A TPR spokesperson said: “We can confirm we are undertaking an investigation into the BHS pensions scheme to determine whether it would be appropriate to use our anti-avoidance powers.”BHS, which was owned by Retail Acquisition, was put into administration yesterday after attempts by shareholders to find a buyer fell through.TPR has the power to act where it believes an employer is deliberately attempting to avoid its pension obligations, leaving the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) to take on these liabilities.
UK pension buyout volumes are likely to have declined in 2016 compared with the past two years, according to data from JLT Employee Benefits.It is an indication that pension funds are delaying de-risking transactions due to “a widespread misconception” that low interest rates make buy-in or buyout deals less attractive, JLT said.Ruth Ward, senior consultant at JLT, said: “We are aware of plenty of cases where schemes have been ready to complete a buy-in or buyout but have delayed in the expectation of an improvement in pricing that has just not materialised.”The UK’s base interest rate was cut to 0.25% in August, following the country’s vote to leave the European Union, after more than seven years set at 0.5%. The yield on 10-year Gilts fell to a record low of 0.518% in August.At close of trading on Friday, 10-year Gilts were yielding 1.438%.Pension schemes need to determine the risk of delaying transactions while liabilities deteriorate, JLT argued.Despite the difficult market conditions, even pension funds of less than £1m have been able to obtain buyout quotes, Ward added.“Trustees and sponsors should insure their liabilities as soon as they can afford to do so,” she said.“There is no guarantee the position will look better in future, and, even if it does, it may prove more difficult to get a quotation and execute a transaction.”Ward recommended that pension funds consider insuring pensioner liabilities first, before moving on to other parts of their liabilities.The ICI Pension Fund, which has advocated this approach, completed five separate buy-in transactions this year as it continued its opportunistic approach to de-risking.JLT’s quarterly buyout market report predicted that total transactions in 2016 would be lower than the £12.4bn in 2015, and £13.2bn in 2014.Among 2016’s largest deals were a £1.1bn buyout of the Vickers Group Pension Scheme, backed by Legal & General, and a £1bn longevity swap involving the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme and Abbey Life.
The government is planning to appeal the judgement, according to Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, parliamentary under-secretary for Communities and Local Government.Replying to a question from Baroness Tonge, an independent member of the House of Lords, Lord Bourne wrote: “The Government is strongly opposed to boycotts, which undermine its work to support the peace process and achieve a negotiated solution.“We have received permission to appeal the judgement on the guidance to administering authorities on preparing an investment strategy statement for Local Government Pension Scheme funds, and will submit an appeal shortly.”He said the government would amend the guidance pending the outcome of the appeal, but this has already been done.Ralph McClelland, a lawyer at Sackers, said he would have expected the government to amend the guidance given the judgement.“I’m not particularly surprised they’ve done that and I think it’s appropriate as well,” he said.The guidance, from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), is on how the LGPS should prepare and maintain an investment strategy statement, which the schemes’ administering authorities are required to formulate and must be in accordance with the guidance issued by the minister in charge.The statement relating to boycotts and divestment was included in the guidance in relation to the requirement that the strategy statement set out how “social, environmental or corporate governance considerations are taken into account in the selection, non-selection, retention and realisation of investments”.Fergus Moffatt, head of public policy at the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), said: “We have argued since DCLG first consulted on this that LGPS funds should be taking financially material factors into account and that the appropriate tests for taking non-financial factors into account were set out by the Law Commission in 2014, namely that scheme members share the concern and that there is no risk of significant financial detriment to the fund.“The inclusion of rules requiring schemes to invest in line with government foreign and defence policy was arbitrary and in conflict with this clear guidance.”He said UKSIF welcomed the decision to remove this aspect of the rules, “at least until the conclusion of any potential appeal by the government”.The case against the government was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which said the power was introduced “specifically to curtail divestment campaigns against Israeli and international firms implicated in Israel’s violations of international law, as well as to protect the UK defence industry”.A DCLG spokesperson said: “Current local government pension scheme investment guidance has now been amended to reflect the High Court judgment regarding boycotting and divestment and sanctions against foreign nations. The government is appealing the court’s decision.” The UK government has amended guidance to local government pension schemes (LGPS) to remove a reference to boycotts and divestment from foreign nations being “inappropriate”, although it plans to appeal the High Court judgement that is likely to have prompted the change.The guidance used to state that “using pension policies to pursue boycotts, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries are inappropriate other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the Government”.This no longer features in updated guidance that was published yesterday.The amendment comes after a High Court last month ruled that the guidance was “unlawful”.
Spanish insurer MAPFRE is acquiring a 25% stake in French investment boutique La Financière Responsable (LFR) in what the organisations described as a “strategic ESG-driven partnership”.The arrangement gives MAPFRE a stake in LFR and LFR access to MAPFRE’s global network. LFR managed funds will be offered through MAPFRE’s Luxembourg platform or directly to institutional investors.LFR currently has €147m of assets under management.MAPFRE’s investment in LFR was “a major endorsement” of the French boutique’s methodology for valuing stocks, according to a statement. This involves analysing more than 120 environmental, social or governance (ESG) indicators for 160 Eurozone companies using information provided directly by the companies, as opposed to secondary research. MAPFRE chief investment officer José Luis Jiménez said: “The new relationship offers MAPFRE Group and our asset management company, MAPFRE AM, a real opportunity to play a part in the CSR debate.”Companies getting more serious about waterCompany boards are beginning to take water security more seriously, according to new research.In 2017, 520 companies (70%) that responded to questions about freshwater resources from CDP, an environmental data and campaign group, had board-level oversight of water issues. The organisation said water security now had “a firm seat at the table” at these companies’ boards. However, only a small group of 53 companies (7%) were putting an internal price on water that accounted for its social and environmental costs and benefits, according to CDP’s report. Slightly more – 16% – saw higher water prices as a potential risk. CDP reported that 418 companies (56%) had set water targets or goals, although the majority were still short-term in nature and did not “adequately account for the sustainable thresholds of the basins upon which companies rely”.Overall, three times as many companies (73) made the organisation’s “A-list” for global water management in 2017 compared to last year. CDP launched its concept of water disclosure in 2009. At the time it had 137 investors signed up to its request for water-related information, and 175 companies responding. This year CDP asked 4,653 of the largest global companies to provide data and 2,025 companies responded, up from 1,432 last year. Its research report presented an analysis of this year’s water response data from a sample of 742 of the world’s largest publicly-listed companies. More investors have signed on to CDP’s programme, too. Today CDP acts on behalf of 639 institutional investors, representing $69trn (€60trn) in assets.Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the assets of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, said it was pleased to see CDP reaching significantly more companies regarding water disclosure. ”Observing the steady increase in the number of reporting companies, we are now hoping to see more firms disclose targets and metrics addressing water management, rendering disclosure more meaningful for us as shareholders,” it said.Diesel bans: a tough sellBans on diesel cars in various countries and cities could prevent car manufacturers from meeting emissions targets and avoid fines, according to analysis by MSCI. Most carmakers rely on fuel-efficient diesel fleets to meet strict emissions standards in the EU, according to Arne Philipp Klug, an analyst at MSCI.He said all carmakers apart from Toyota were at risk of missing regulatory targets for fleet emissions in 2021 and that declining vehicle sales could increase the risk of fines. Diesel is dominant in German carmarkers’ fleets, accordin to Klug, but Volkwagen would not be affected much compared with Daimler and BMW. This was because there was a “marginal gap between the fuel efficiency of VW’s petrol and diesel fleets”, according to Klug.
Greenwood said: “Kieran will be a hard act to follow, but like him I firmly believe our approach will enable us to ensure we remain the most cost-effective and efficient pool in the local government pension scheme, underpinned by a simple but effective democratic governance structure. This will ensure the Northern Pool maintains the good investment returns and low costs that have resulted in low contribution rates for the benefit of taxpayers.” VBV Group – Andreas Zakostelsky is to become the chief executive of the €9.4bn Austrian group’s provident fund from October, replacing the retiring Heinz Behacker, who has also been the chief financial officer of VBV Holding.At the €3.3bn VBV Vorsorgekasse Zakostelsky will be joined by Michaela Attermeyer, who has been head of department at VBV’s pension fund. Martin Vöros is staying on as a member of the Vorsorgekasse’s board, and has been appointed the successor of Behacker as CFO on the holding company board. Zakostelsky has been VBV group chief executive since 2016, when he replaced Karl Timmel. Behacker has led the VBV group since it began operating in 2003. Pensioenfonds Notariaat – Nienke Bijlholt has been named as trustee of the €2.8bn pension fund for legal notaries and their staff. Bijlholt, a junior notary at VBC Notarissen, is currently chair of the Pensioenkamer, the fund’s sponsor that is responsible for its pension arrangements. She succeeds Marinus de Waal, who represented notaries’ employees on the board.BMO Global Asset Management – Bart Kuijpers has been appointed as managing director and head of fiduciary management for the Netherlands at BMO Global Asset Management as of 1 April.Kuijpers was previously CEO of IPP-SE, a joint venture between Swiss Re and Credit Suisse which had established the low-cost defined contribution (DC) vehicle i-PensionSolutions. Prior to this, Kuijpers was managing director at Credit Suisse. At BMO he succeeds Ernst Hagen, who is to fully focus on a small group of strategic clients at the company.Smart Pension – Darren Philp, currently director of policy and market engagement at multi-employer DC provider The People’s Pension, is joining Smart Pensions as head of policy in September.A well-known figure in the UK pensions industry, Philp was director of policy at the UK pension fund association before joining B&CE, the provider of The People’s Pension auto-enrolment scheme, in October 2013. Philp also worked at the UK treasury department for almost 13 years.Man Group – The listed asset manager has appointed Simon Finch to the newly created role of CIO for credit at Man GLG, its discretionary investment management arm. He will join Man Group’s executive committee and Man GLG’s management team. He was previously CIO at fixed income specialist CQS where he had worked since 2004.Altis – The fiduciary management subsidiary of NN Investment Partners has added three portfolio managers to its alternatives research team. Robbert Staal, senior portfolio manager for real estate, joined at the beginning of March. He previously worked at Blue Sky Group, CBRE and ING Real Estate and is experienced in listed and non-listed real estate.Menno Meekel, senior portfolio manager for fixed income, will join effective 1 April. He previously worked at Rabobank and IRIS and has extensive experience in fixed income, manager selection and monitoring. Arjan van der Loo will join as senior portfolio manager for alternatives on 1 May. He previously worked at MN, Morgan Stanley and KPMG.AFM – The Dutch cabinet has reappointed Merel van Vroonhoven for a second four-year term as executive chair of communication watchdog Authority Financial Markets (AFM). The supervisor’s executive board still has a vacancy after the departure of Femke de Vries, who left at year-end. The AFM is also seeking an additional fourth board member, which it said was necessary because of the increasing digital and international aspects of the financial sector.Hymans Robertson – The UK consultancy has named Alistair Russell-Smith as head of corporate defined benefit practice. He has worked at the firm since 2000 and was made a partner four years ago. He primarily advises corporate and charity clients on funding and investment strategies, benefits strategy and member options, and de-risking.Inflection Point Capital Management (IPCM) – At the end of June Matthew Kiernan will retire as chief executive of the sustainability-oriented investment research boutique that he launched with La Française in 2013. Groupe La Française this week announced it would acquire full ownership of IPCM and rebrand it Inflection Point by La Française. Kiernan will stay on as a non-executive board member. Roland Rott, who has been responsible for ESG integration and responsible investment research since July 2016, will become managing director of the new entity.State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) – The investment manager has hired Kathleen Gallagher as head of ETF model portfolios for the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions. Before joining SSGA, Gallagher was at BlackRock where she was most recently head of investment strategy in the iShares solutions team. Sackers – The pensions law firm has appointed Paige Willis as associate in its alternative funding and contingent asset practice. Willis was previously at Ashurst, where she worked in the securities and derivatives team since qualifying in March 2017. LawDeb Pension Trustees – Edward Levy has joined the firm as a new trustee director, having previously been group strategic projects director at Aviva. Before that he worked at Abbey National plc and Lloyds TSB Group. PGGM, Northern Pool, VBV, Notariaat, BMO GAM, Smart Pension, Man Group, Altis, AFM, Hymans Robertson, Inflection Point, SSGA, Sackers, LawDebPGGM – The €206bn Dutch asset manager has appointed Hans op ‘t Veld as head of responsible investment, to start on 1 May. Currently, Op ‘t Veld is head of listed real estate at PGGM as well as manager of its €11bn listed property fund.He has been working at PGGM since 2007. Prior to this, he worked at MSCI and Kempen. Op ‘t Veld succeeds Marcel Jeucken, who left in November to start a self-employed career. His role was temporarily filled by Frank Roeters van Lennep, CIO of private markets.Northern Pool/LGPS – Ian Greenwood has been named chair of the Northern Pool, a £42bn investment collaboration between the Greater Manchester, Merseyside, and West Yorkshire local government pension funds. Greenwood is deputy chair of the West Yorkshire fund and also of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum. He succeeds Kieran Quinn, who died in December.
The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union will cost the country’s financial services regulator £30m (€34.4m), according to its 2018-19 business plan.The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it had already made “difficult and challenging decisions” about its priorities that had helped to partially fund its work on Brexit, but warned it still had to find £16m.UK-based regulated firms would pay for roughly £5m of this through annual fees, the regulator said, with a further £5m coming from its reserves.For the remaining £6m, the FCA said it would recover costs from “specific firms” in areas particularly affected by Brexit “once we know the final costs and number of firms affected”. “A significant proportion of our resources are already focused on the forthcoming exit, including arrangements to implement the change,” the regulator said.“To fulfil our regulatory objectives and provide technical support to the government in the run up to withdrawal, we have increased the level of resource dedicated to co-ordinating and managing this work.”The regulator’s annual funding requirement increased by 3.2% on last year to £543.9m. However, investment management firms could see their fees fall by nearly 6% according to a proposed levy model published today alongside the business plan.The FCA said it intended to charge “managers and depositaries of investment funds, and operators of collective investment schemes or pension schemes” £11.6m in total for 2018-19, compared to £12.3m in the 2017-18 financial year.Aside from Brexit, the FCA said it would focus on monitoring and improving the culture of financial services companies.“Firms should be able to show the effectiveness of their governance arrangements in identifying, managing and mitigating the risk of harm,” the regulator said.It also highlighted cybersecurity as an important area of focus, promising to monitor closely the companies deemed to be at high risk of security breaches.
The €1.3bn timber sector fund has been searching for a merger partner for several yearsMeubel would also keep its two-tier board structure, which would be extended with an employer seat on behalf of Houthandel, according to Lex Raadgever, chairman of the timber trade scheme.Representatives of Houthandel’s participants would also be appointed to Meubel’s accountability body (VO), which represents the scheme’s members.Both pension funds have outsourced their pensions administration to IT firm Centric, having both been forced to replace Syntrus Achmea following the provider’s decision in 2016 to cease services to industry-wide schemes.Meubel’s assets are managed by SEI and Syntrus Achmea Real Estate & Finance (SAREF). BlackRock is the scheme’s fiduciary adviser and Cardano runs its liability-driven investments.BMO Asset Management and SAREF are Houthandel’s asset managers.Meubel’s De Bruijn said that asset management at the merged scheme would be restructured. However, she could not yet provide clarity about the effects for both pension funds.Houthandel had already been considering a merger with the sector scheme for the trade in building materials (Hibin) in 2017, as both employer organisations were discussing a merger. However, as the envisaged co-operation didn’t materialise, the merger between the two pension funds was also called off. The €1.3bn Dutch sector scheme for the timber trade (Houthandel) is to join the €3.1bn industry-wide pension fund for the furniture sector (Meubel).Both schemes and their respective unions and employer organisations have signed a declaration of intent that would result in Houthandel’s liquidation, they announced today.Houthandel and Meubel have been in negotiations since early last year, with the latter wanting to grow, whereas the former reported that it was too small to carry on independently.If regulator De Nederlandsche Bank approves the collective value transfer, Meubel’s membership will grow to 127,000. Petra de Bruijn, chair of Meubel, said that it was exactly the right moment for the value transfer, as the funding of Houthandel (109.3%) and Meubel (108.6%) were almost equal.The pension funds said the merged scheme would retain a single pension plan, while offering choice on the contribution level, accrual rate, and the amount of salary exempt from pensions accrual.