Esko Energy Partners, Natixis Global Asset Management, State Street Global Advisors, Delta Lloyd Life, AEW Europe, Ashmore Group, Baring Asset Management, Morningstar Investment Management Europe, Manulife Asset Management, BNY Mellon, James Hambro & Partners, CF Partners, AXA Investment ManagersEsko Energy Partners – Carsten Eckery is to join Esko as a new partner and speaker of the board in January 2014. After holding positions as managing director at HypoVereinsbank Group, Allianz Global Investors Group and most recently as chief executive at KGAL, Eckert will join the existing partners in their new venture specialising on energy infrastructure for institutional investors. He will also remain on the supervisory boards of several other companies.Natixis Global Asset Management – Alex Wharton has been appointed a manager in the UK institutional business development team, while Fred McNeill has been appointed a manager in the UK consultant relationships team. Wharton joins from Capita Employee Benefits, where he was a business development manager. Before then, he spent more than 10 years at the Financial Times Group. McNeill joins from Neptune Investment Management, where he was a manager for its institutional business team. Before then, he worked at UBS Global Asset Management.State Street Global Advisors – Susan Raynes has been appointed to the newly created role of global head of consultant relations. She will be responsible for SSgA’s consultant relationships globally. In her former role as head of SSgA UK, Middle East and Africa, she was responsible for the UK intermediary, defined contribution and defined benefit teams. Before then, she managed SSgA’s San Francisco office with a focus on some of the largest US consultants and public funds. Before joining SSgA in 1996, she was director of marketing at Cambridge Associates. Delta Lloyd Life – Christel Droogmans has been appointed head of sales, marketing and product development, as well as a member of the board committee, as of 1 January. In her new role, she will be responsible for pension solutions. Currently, Droogmans is national head of lending and professional customers at ING Belgium, responsible for the development and implementation of the cross-channel sales strategy.AEW Europe – Raphael Brault has been appointed head of separate accounts and funds in Paris. He will also be a member of the investment and executive committees. Jean Lavieille, deputy CIO, will be retiring during 2014 but will continue as a senior adviser and member of the investment committee thereafter. Brault joins from Acofi-Alms, where he launched the firm’s debt fund platform, and, prior to this, spent 12 years with Morgan Stanley in Paris.Ashmore Group – Graeme Dell has stepped down from the board of directors to pursue other business opportunities. He will remain employed by the group until 30 April 2014 to enable an orderly handover of his responsibilities. Tom Shippey, currently Ashmore’s head of corporate development, has been appointed group finance director and has joined the board to succeed Dell, pending regulator approval.Baring Asset Management – Barings, Babson Capital and OFI Global Asset Management have announced the appointment of Gary Smith as head of sovereign wealth funds and official institutions, effective immediately. In a newly created role, Smith will work across the distribution networks of the affiliated firms of Barings, Babson and OFI. He joins from BNP Paribas Investment Partners, where he was global head of official institutions. Before then, he worked at BNP Paribas Group, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Greenwell Montagu.Morningstar Investment Management Europe – Simon Ewan has been appointed managing director. He will lead operations, client management, marketing and business development for Morningstar’s investment management and consulting operations in the UK and EMEA. He joins from MSCI in London, where he was executive director and head of EMEAI Asset Owners and Consultants. Before then, he was global head of sales at Hermes Fund Managers.Manulife Asset Management – James Wheeler has been appointed head of institutional sales for the EMEA region. He joins from Legal & General Investment Management in London, where he was a senior client sales and relationship manager focusing on European institutional clients. Before then, he worked with International Financial Data Services and the Royal Bank of Scotland.BNY Mellon – Lars Hella has been appointed head of depotbank services in Germany. He joined BNY Mellon’s German branch in July and moves into his new role from the global securities operations area. He has previously held positions with the German consulting firm itechx, CACEIS and State Street.James Hambro & Partners – Simon Brookes has been appointed a director at the private asset management partnership, which advises and manages assets on behalf of private clients and charities. Brookes was previously at Towry, where he looked after a wide portfolio of private clients for six years. CF Partners – The advisory, trading and investments firm in renewables and energy has appointed Chris Sherlock as COO. He joins from Adelante Asset Management, where he was a director and COO. In 2005, he helped to established Fenician Capital Management, where he served as partner and COO.AXA Investment Managers – John Porter has been appointed global head of fixed income, replacing Theodora Zemek, who has decided to leave the company. He will also become a member of AXA IM’s management board.
Polish president Bronisław Komorowski has signed off the controversial pensions reform bill, but, in an unexpected move, also referred the law to the Constitutional Tribunal.Presidential minister Krzysztof Łaszkiewicz explained at a press conference that the key reason for signing the law was the need to preserve fiscal stability.The removal of state bonds from the pension funds’ (OFEs) portfolios, which kicks in on 3 February, would, according to Finance Ministry projections, reduce the public debt share of GDP to 47%, from an estimated 58% in 2013.Critics note that this gives the government spending leeway ahead of the 2015 general elections. On the other hand, there were constitutional doubts – and conflicting expert opinion – on some key aspects of the law, including banning OFEs from investing in sovereign bonds while forcing them initially to invest heavily in equities (75% in 2014).These articles changed the OFEs from balanced funds to high-risk plans, which could ultimately erode the trust of fund members in the state and the law.Komorowski also wanted to settle once and for the all the question of whether the funds were public entities, as the Polish Supreme Court ruled earlier, or private ones – in which case the removal of state bonds from OFE portfolios would be unconstitutional.Komorowski has long had misgivings about the reforms, which he described as a “backward step” for Poland’s pensions system, but his decision to sign the law and refer it to the tribunal has astonished the law’s many critics.The opposition has accused him of acting in the interests of Civic Platform, the senior ruling coalition party, whose membership Komorowski had to resign when he became president.Stanisław Gomułka, chief economist at the Business Centre Club and former Finance Ministry adviser, told the Polish Press Agency that, had the president delayed the signing until the tribunal’s verdict, the government would have lost only some six months in implementing the law if it proved constitutional.The risk now is that, if the tribunal rules against the government, it would have to prepare a corrected bill – a process that could take up to two years – with the second pillar operating unconstitutionally in the meantime.Gomułka questioned how Polish workers, who will have between April and July to choose whether to have their future contributions in OFEs or the Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), can make a rational decision in these circumstances.Jerzy Stępień, former president of the Constitutional Tribunal, echoed these sentiments on Polish Radio.Stępień has long maintained that the law is unconstitutional.As a former senator, he was also appalled at the speed with which the bill rushed through the legislature – the lower house completed its three readings and final vote over three days, while the upper house spent barely a day reviewing the law.The government has no such doubts and consequently no ‘Plan B’.The law comes into effect at the end of January.For more on pensions in Central and Eastern Europe, see the current issue of IPE magazine.
Etera – Stefan Björkman has been named chief executive of the Finnish pensions mutual, succeeding retiring chief executive and president Hannu Tarkkonen. Björkman joins from local bank Aktia, where he spent seven years, most recently as deputy managing director and CFO. He was also chief executive of dentistry chain Oral Hammaslääkäri and a partner at venture capital fund eVentures. In his nine years at lift manufacturer Kone Corporation, he held a number of positions within the business.BNY Mellon – Serge Futvoie, managing director at the bank, has stepped down as chair of the firm’s Belgian pension fund. He has been replaced by trained lawyer Mark Buyst, current head of remuneration and compliance. Buyst was previously the European head of human resources at BNY, and also spent a number of years at JP Morgan, becoming vice president for HR prior to joining his current employer.Kames Capital – Carolyn Bell joins the firm’s international equities team, responsible for portfolio management across the North American portfolio. She has previously worked at Baillie Gifford, covering North American, UK and Asian equities.Pictet Asset Management – Luke Chua has been appointed senior investment manager within the emerging market (EM) corporate bond team, based in London. Chua joins from Schroder Investment Management’s Singapore office, where he managed its EM corporate bond fund. He has also worked at AXA Investment Managers. Standard Life Investments – Johan Langerak has been named investment director for the Netherlands, working alongside Pat Woods. Lanerak, who has 20 years’ industry experience, previously worked at Bank J Safra Sarasin and ING Investment Management.
PensionDanmark reported an 18.1% rise in its investment profit in the first quarter, with returns spread more evenly across asset classes than they had been in the year-earlier period. The Danish labour-market pension fund said investment profit before tax rose to DKK4.24bn (€568m) in the January-to-March period, up from DKK3.59bn in the same period last year.Torben Möger Pedersen, managing director, said: “In contrast to 2013, when equities did significantly better than the other asset classes, this quarter’s return from individual asset classes was more equally spread.”He said the pension fund was very satisfied with the first-quarter results, with its aim being to secure good returns for its members at low risk. In terms of returns to members in the first quarter, the return for 40-year-old scheme members fell to 2.6% in the quarter before tax from 3.5% in the same period last year.For 65 year olds, the pre-tax return rose to 3% from 1.7%.However, PensionDanmark said that, for both groups, the return had increased since the end of the reporting period to stand at 4.2% and 4.6%, respectively, year-to-date.Total assets rose to DKK157.4bn from DKK142bn, while pension contributions increased strongly between the first quarters of 2013 and 2014, climbing to DKK3.73bn from DKK2.55bn.PensionDanmark said this growth was due to extraordinarily large transfers, notably a transfer of DKK1.2bn from Industriens Pension, which was only accounted for in the first quarter of 2014 for technical reasons. Meanwhile, Denmark’s largest commercial pensions provider PFA announced it would merge its subsidiary PFA Asset Management (Kapitalforvaltning) with PFA Portfolio Administration to deal with increasing regulatory and reporting demands. The two units will be combined under the new name of PFA Asset Management. All current staff employed in both subsidiaries will continue to work in the new unit.The merger will be carried out after approval is received from the Danish FSA (Finanstilsynet), expected to come in September.The new unit will be included in the accounts with effect from the beginning of January 2014.PFA said: “The merger is happening as a result of the big increase in regulation and reporting to the authorities, which has made a simplification of the company structure appropriate.”Poul Kobberup and Jesper Langmack will be the two directors of the new subsidiary.PFA said the basis for the new company was that all employees would remain in place, which it said would strengthen areas that now overlap, such as compliance, risk management and administration. In other news, tax minister Morten Østergaard has now named the remaining four members of the new Pensions Commission, and said the group will now begin its work.The four members are Jørgen Elmeskov, national statistician at Statistics Denmark; Carsten Tanggaard, professor at Aarhus University; Lisbeth Pedersen from SFI, the Danish National Centre for Social Research; and Nabanita Datta Gupta, professor at Aarhus University.Torben Andersen, economics professor of Aarhus University, was named a fortnight ago as chairman of the commission, which is being formed to find solutions to the twin problems faced by the Danish pensions industry of complex rules and high taxation.Østergaard said: “The issue the pension commission must find solutions to is very important but also very complex.”There were no easy answers, he added.Andersen said he was pleased with the composition of the commission, and that the members had the knowledge to cover the issues outlined in the terms of reference.However, the commission’s work will also involve key stakeholders and organisations, the tax ministry said.Experts from the pensions industry will be continuously involved in the work, it added.“The pension industry has a lot of knowledge in this area, as it will be quite foolish not to draw on,” Andersen said.
As one of several LGPS funds managing assets – and active equity allocations – in-house, the scheme would be affected by government proposals to force listed assets into common investment vehicles, with some peers considering legal action.The fund’s 45.9% allocation to listed equities provided a 14.9% return overall, with strong performance from Japanese, North American and global holdings, which each returning more than 20%.Its 6.3% allocation to absolute return strategies also fared well, providing a 20.2% return, with assistant director for investment, Mark Chaloner, singling out insurance-linked funds for praise.The scheme’s 22.7% allocation to fixed income produced a positive return but underperformed the benchmark.Chaloner described the 13.8% return as “strong”, attributing the underperformance to the 2.6% allocation to emerging market debt and specialist fixed interest funds.The scheme has a 9.2% allocation to property, with direct holdings providing a 12.8% return.However, indirect holdings – mainly in overseas markets – provided a “dull” 8.8% return.The pension fund sold out of its £190m allocation to commodities and £200m hedge funds, with the former losing 12.2% over the period. In February, the fund said it was divesting its £200m allocation to hedge funds to build underweight assets to benchmark allocations.Overall, the scheme increased in size from £10.1bn to £11.4bn after strong investment returns and positive inflows from the scheme’s active membership.The scheme now provides pensions for 277,500 current and former public sector workers, with contributions from more than 100,000.The scheme has produced annualised returns of 10.2% over three years and 7.9% over 10. The £11.4bn (€15.9bn) West Midlands Pension Fund reported an annual investment return of 15.1% after the fund sold its commodities and hedge fund portfolios.The local government pension scheme for public sector workers in Birmingham and the surrounding area saw strong returns across its growth assets, dragged down slightly by fixed income allocations.The fund’s 12% allocation to private equity returned 24.6% over the year – the best-performing asset class.The scheme manages assets predominantly in-house, including its passive UK equity, overseas equity, active global equity, private equity and fixed income allocations, with other non-equity assets managed externally.
UK local authority pension pools building up internal management capacity must be conscious of the risk of teams underperforming and failing to meet targets.Ian Barnes, head of UK and Ireland at UBS Global Asset Management, said new internal teams at a number of the eight pension pools to be formed by English and Welsh local authority funds would struggle as much as the asset management industry in their quest for alpha.Barnes also rejected the suggestion the new asset pools would shift from using asset managers for conventional mandates, such as global equity and government bonds.Speaking as UBS published its latest Pension Fund Indicator report, he told IPE the asset management industry remained strong, although he acknowledged that it faced growing competition for LGPS assets as the pools started undertaking joint procurement exercises to consolidate mandates, or shifted management in-house. “If they do decide to internalise and run money actively, just as many will fail in doing that as external active managers would fail,” he said.Barnes predicted there would be a “natural balance” between outsourcing and in-sourcing, as pension funds able to find and retain good staff achieved lower management costs due to individual pools’ approach as not-for-profit entities.“But a lot of internal teams will fail and deliver underperformance – and it won’t really matter how cheap they are if they are under-performing,” he said. However, despite the growing competition for LGPS assets, where UBS currently has 30 clients, including the UK’s largest, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, Barnes predicted asset managers would continue to see interest from the local authority sector.He said managers only offering one asset class well would continue to benefit, as “quality will really shine through for them”.Barnes added: “Multi-asset managers, they will be able to strongly argue for the governance advantages of coming to one house for multiple asset classes, and that’s where the growth of houses like ours will come from.”A number of emerging pools, including the Local Pensions Partnership and the Northern pool, comprising GMPF, West Yorkshire Pension Fund and Merseyside Pension Fund, have said they wish to grow their internal management capability gradually.Additionally, the Border to Coast Pensions Partnership comprises a number of funds already managing assets in-house and is expected to further grow its capabilities in an effort to reduce management costs.
The Council on Ethics for Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) is meeting a group of indigenous women from the US today to talk about its investments in the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline.Eli Ane Lund, head of the Council on Ethics’ secretariat, confirmed that the meeting was taking place this afternoon in Oslo. The council assesses whether the fund’s investments tally with its ethical guidelines.Vibeke Larsen, the president of the Sami Parliament in Norway – which has been supporting the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the US in its opposition to the construction and operation of the pipeline – will join the US delegation at the bilateral meeting, a parliament spokesman said.The GPFG has around €1.2bn invested in five companies behind the pipeline project, in the form of equities and corporate bonds, according to its published investments. Major Norwegian bank DNB, which has also come under pressure from the Sami Parliament and other stakeholders over the pipeline issue, announced yesterday that it had agreed to sell its share of the Dakota Access Pipeline loan.The decision to divest was made after reviewing various options for its involvement in the project financing, the bank said.Harald Serck-Hanssen, group executive vice president and head of large corporates and international at DNB, said: “By selling our stake, we wish to signal how important it is that the affected indigenous population is involved and that their opinions are heard in these types of projects.”Although the project parties had made attempts at consultation, the outcome of the process suggested that these had been inadequate, he said. The bank’s arm DNB Asset Management sold its mutual fund investments in the companies behind the pipeline back in November 2016.Danish funds sign up to PRIIn other news, Danish professional pension funds JØP and DIP – which cover lawyers and economists (JØP) and engineers (DIP) – have signed up to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).The funds said the move was part of their continued work on responsible investing.“JØP has worked on responsibility in our investments for many years, and through our membership of the PRI we look forward to being able to take part in working groups and networks under the auspices of the PRI, as well as having access to information about responsible investments from PRI,” the fund said.Other Danish funds had previously criticised the PRI’s approach, quitting the organisation in 2013. Last year, ATP, PFA, PKA, and Sampension all rejoined, but Industriens and PensionDanmark have yet to return.Education fund strengthens ethical approachMeanwhile, the Danish pension fund for education practitioners, Pædagogernes Pension (PBU), said it strengthened its focus on ethics and responsibility in 2016.The fund said: “As an active owner, Pædagogernes Pension has voted for shareholder resolutions which support positive development for people, society and [the] environment.”In 2016, the fund ruled that its employees should under no circumstances accept gifts from suppliers or external investment firms.In its annual report, the pension fund said the return on market-rate pensions rose to 8.4% in 2016, up from 3.7% in 2015. Claus Omann Jensen, chairman of the pension fund, said the annual results showed that the change of chief executive that took place during the summer had gone very well.“It has not been an easy year to operate in the pensions market, and at the same time we changed captains in the middle of a storm, so to speak,” he said.Leif Brask-Rasmussen, PBU’s chief executive for more than 25 years, retired in August 2016 and was replaced by Sune Schackenfeldt.
Russian non-state pension funds (NPFs) returned an annual weighted average investment return of 5% in the first quarter of 2017, according to sector regulator Central Bank of Russia (CBR).The funds recorded a more modest 2.5% gain for pension reserves. Meanwhile, inflation for the period was 3.7%.The year-to-date returns of the 38 NPFs currently signed to the Deposit Insurance Agency’s guarantee scheme (a condition for continuing to participate in Russia’s compulsory second-pillar system) varied widely, from a gain of 12.2% to a loss of 5.4%.Regulator’s diversification push While the CBR has yet to publish the aggregate portfolio asset breakdown, it is likely to show a continuing increase in corporate bonds and shares, which accounted for 50.2% and 17.3% respectively at the end of 2016.The regulator has been encouraging this trend towards investment in the ‘real economy’ by lowering the cap on deposits and other bank instruments, and liberalising investment in the corporate sector.This February it published proposals to further shrink the current cap on banking sector investment, which is currently 40%.The bank also said it wanted the NPFs to start selling out of mortgage participation certificates, with only those securities holding a valuation from an independent appraiser being held to maturity.To boost investment in the technology sector, NPFs will be allowed to invest up to 5% of a portfolio in companies quoted on the Moscow Exchange’s IIM-Prime segment.Savings rate upDespite a continuing moratorium on the 6% contribution rate to NPFs, in place since 2014, since the start of the year pensions savings grew by 11.2% in Russian rouble terms, to RUB2.4trn (€38.2bn). Membership grew by 15.4% to 34.4m.This growth reflected the continuing success of NPFs attracting clients away from the State Management Trust Company, which runs the pensions system for state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB).A large share of VEB’s savers invested there by default.Second pillar reforms shelvedIn separate news, Russian daily newspaper Izvestia has reported that the individual pension capital account (IPC) system drafted by the CBR and finance ministry to replace the current second pillar in 2019 is set to be put on ice for a year.The IPC has been described as ‘quasi-voluntary’, meaning savers would be automatically enrolled unless they specified otherwise. This has been strongly opposed by the Russian labour ministry, and deemed by some experts to be illegal.According to Izvestia, the IPC project will be discussed as part of the reform of the entire pensions system after next year’s presidential election.The reform will have to tackle the politically explosive issue of raising the retirement age, which is currently 55 years for women and 60 years for men.
Denmark’s Industriens Pension made a 3.7% pre-tax return on investments in the first half of this year, with profits driven in particular by strong gains on its domestic equities investments.In its interim report, the labour-market pension fund for industrial and food-sector workers said its total assets had grown to DKK163bn (€22bn) from DKK157bn, in the first six months of 2017.Laila Mortensen, chief executive of Industriens Pension, said: “The first half was marked by rising contributions, more members and a really solid investment return.”The pension fund’s first half return is up from the 2.7% return produced in the same period last year. In absolute terms, the return was DKK5.6bn in the first half, compared to DKK3.6bn in the first half of 2016, and DKK11bn for the whole of 2016.Danish equities generated a 16.8% profit between January and June, private equity produced 7.8%, and corporate bonds returned between between 2.3% and 3.4%, the pension fund reported.On the other hand, government bonds had produced just 0.2% in return.The pension fund said the strong return on equities was due to the fact that economic growth had continued over the period, particularly in Europe, combined with the European Central Bank’s monetary policy.Industriens Pension fund also said in its report that it expected to receive a tax gain of DKK150m as a result of its recent court win alongside PensionDanmark and other Danish pension funds.The pension funds received a ruling from the National Tax Tribunal (Landsskatteretten) in their favour this summer in a case against the the Danish Customs and Tax Administration (SKAT), about taxes withheld from foreign investments between 2010 and 2014.PensionDanmark said at the end of August that it had added an extra DKK218m to its profit in the first six months of this year as a result of the court win.
The pension fund for Berlin’s dentists’ association has taken an equity stake in and awarded a currency overlay mandate to 7orca, a new German institutional asset manager.7orca officially launched at the end of November when it obtained its license from BaFin, the German financial supervisory authority.It will concentrate on overlay management and short volatility strategies for institutional investors, in keeping with the founding members’ focus when at their previous employer, Berenberg Bank.The seven – hence the ‘7’ in the name – founding members held senior positions at the Hamburg-headquartered private bank, where they were in charge of establishing an asset management group within Berenberg. 7orca’s offices are in Hamburg’s ‘harbour city’. Source: Elbphilarmonie. Credit: Iwan Baan In addition to awarding 7orca a €300m currency overlay mandate, VZB has invested in the manager as a shareholder. Tindaro Siragusano, CEO of 7orca, told IPE the pension fund had taken an equity stake of 13% and made a mezzanine debt investment worth some €3m.VZB is represented on 7orca’s supervisory board, with Wohltmann its chair.7orca said VZB’s investment “guarantees a sufficient capital base which allows us to meet the highest requirements for professionalism and modern technology infrastructure”.The €20.6bn active asset manager Assenagon has also taken an equity stake in 7orca, also representing 13% of shares. Its co-founder Vassilios Pappas is deputy chairman of 7orca’s supervisory board.“We believe in this business model, we know the track records of the people in charge, and we wish the team an excellent start as an independent company,” said Pappas.Siragusano told IPE that the manager had agreed four mandates in total from institutional investors.In a statement, Jasper Düx, CIO of 7orca, said that by specialising in currency overlay and short volatility, the manager could provide answers to two essential questions asked by its customers: “How do you respond to increased foreign currency risks due to global diversification, and what is a sustainable alternative source of income to generate stable profits in a low-interest environment?” What’s in a name?In addition to reflecting the number of founding members, the manager’s name, ‘7orca’ , stands for overlay, risk, currency and alpha.It was a happy coincidence rather than deliberate that the initials of the manager’s core competencies spelled out the name of the ocean mammal also known as killer whale, says Siragusano when asked about this by IPE. Orcas were hunters, and very intelligent, communicative, and team players – and also, as it happens, his favourite animal, he said.“It was fate,” he said. The former Berenberg bankers have not strayed far, as 7orca is also based in Hamburg. This location – rather than the financial hub of Frankfurt – was a conscious decision, the new company said, allowing it “to monitor the hectic financial industry and to differentiate long-term trends from short-term fads”.Versorgungswerk der Zahnärztekammer Berlin (VZB), the €1.5bn pension fund for the Berlin dentists’ association, was a customer of the overlay team at Berenberg for more than 10 years, according to Ralf Wohltmann, manager of VZB.“We are pleased to be able to assist the team on its road to becoming independent,” he said.