Stenham Asset Management – Gary Rynhoud has been appointed global head of business development, while Lydia Carroll has been appointed business development manager. Rynhoud has held various senior positions at Man Investments, which he joined in 1997, and was most recently deputy head of sales at Man Investments (Middle East). Carroll joins from Investec Asset Management, where she worked in the Middle East Client Group.Northern Trust Asset Management – Mamadou-Abou Sarr has been named global head of ESG investing in a newly created role. Sarr has more than 10 years of investment experience, including roles at HSBC Global Asset Management, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and other firms. He joined Northern Trust in 2011.Xafinity – Jeff Hunt has been appointed managing director, succeeding Robert Birmingham, who remains executive chairman. Hunt joined Xafinity in June 2013 as deputy managing director. Before then, he was managing director of TradeRisks and, prior to that, a partner at KPMG for eight years.Sacker & Partners – The UK law firm for pension scheme trustees and sponsors has promoted Claire van Rees to partner. Van Rees is a member of the defined contribution team.Bank J. Safra Sarasin – Wolfgang Engshuber and Andreas Hoepner have joined the private bank’s newly established external sustainability advisory council (SAC). Engshuber, who will chair the new body, is the immediate past chairman of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment and has previously worked for Munich Re. Hoepner, meanwhile, is an associate professor of finance at the ICMA Centre of the UK’s Henley Business School and is currently the PRI’s senior academic fellow, having acted as an academic fellow for the organisation since 2009. Universities Superannuation Scheme, IBM Netherlands, Mercer, Stenham Asset Management, Northern Trust Asset Management, Xafinity, Sacker & PartnersUniversities Superannuation Scheme (USS) – Bertrand Biragnet has been appointed head of pan-European equities at USS Investment Management. He joins from RIT Capital Partners, where he was a global equity manager. The head of pan-European equities position became available after Ben Levenstein moved internally to join the newly formed private markets group last year. Biragnet has previously held positions with Hermes Focus Asset Management and JP Morgan Asset Management. He also co-launched a long-short equity fund hosted by PCE Investors in 2009.IBM Netherlands – The trustee board of IBM Pension Fund Netherlands (SPIN) has appointed Roeland van Vledder as chairman of the board of trustees. Vledder, who will serve as an independent chair, was a member of the board at insurance company ASR until 2012. Among other roles, he is on the board of commissioners at BNP Paribas Cardif and a member of the trustee board at the architects’ pension scheme. His appointment is to be for a period of three years.Mercer – The consultancy has expanded its Financial Strategy Group (FSG) to the Midlands. The newly formed team of seven specialists will be jointly led by Jane Ralph, a Birmingham-based partner, and Jonathan Repp and Suthan Rajagopalan, both principals. In additional to the leadership team, the FSG team will consist of Danielle Markham, Khalil Varachhia, Richard Forrest and Baljit Khatra.
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund saw its highest-ever quarterly returns, as some European and Asian markets saw double-digit equity returns. Announcing overall returns of 5.3% in the three months to 30 March, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) chief executive Yngve Slyngstad noted that, after weak returns from European equities late last year, markets rallied. The results came as oil revenues paid in by the Norwegian government fell further. After NOK151bn (€16.6bn) in oil revenue was paid in over the course of last year – significantly down from 2013 after oil prices fell – inflows fell further to NOK9bn in the first quarter of 2015, compared with NOK44.7bn for Q1 of 2014. When measured in Norwegian kroner, the Government Pension Fund Global reported its highest-ever return of NOK401bn, aided by equity returns of 7.5%.Japanese equities saw the best overall returns, at 14.5%, with Asia and Oceania as a whole returning 11%. NBIM also singled out German stocks for praise, as companies listed in the country returned 13.2%, well above the 8.5% return from European equities as a whole. Despite North American stocks only returning 5.3%, the fund noted that shares in Apple contributed the most returns across its equity portfolio, comprising more than 62% of the NOK7trn in assets, with Novartis and Daimler also singled out for their performance. The three firms were among NBIM’s largest holdings. Apple was second only to Nestlé, in which the fund held a stake valued at NOK51.5bn, whereas its stake in Novartis was worth slightly less at NOK42.1bn. Fixed income returned 1.6%, helped largely by the strengthening US dollar and the resulting 6% return. Euro-denominated fixed income fared less well, with a negative return of 4.1%. However, when measured in local currency, the euro-denominated holdings saw positive returns of 4.1%. Property holdings, which continued to grow over the course of the quarter, returned 3.1%, largely boosted by a 8.1% return from listed property. NBIM also emphasised its increasing focus on responsible investment, noting that it voted on 10 shareholder resolutions on environmental concerns. It added: “In Europe, we gave priority to work on the equal treatment of shareholders. In France, we engaged with a number of companies on new rules doubling the voting rights for long-term shareholders.” The matter of double voting rights is currently being discussed by the European Parliament as the chamber debates the Shareholder Rights Directive, but critics have warned that the proposed system would be flawed.
In his time, he has been co-head of equity finance, deputy head of equity finance and head of strategy and development in the global equities and derivatives solutions department.Amundi is among the largest asset managers in Europe, and ranked 10th in IPE’s Top 400 Asset Managers 2015.At the end of 2014, it reported assets of €865bn, with external European institutional clients worth €261bn. French asset manager Amundi has hired a long-standing senior manager of Société Générale as deputy CIO.Vincent Mortier, most recently CFO of the global banking and investor solutions division at the bank, has been named deputy CIO and will join the manager’s executive committee.The position will see him work closely with Pascal Blanqué, current CIO and head of institutional clients, who replaced then-CIO Pascal Voisin in 2005 at Crédit Agricole Asset Management, which was eventually subsumed into Amundi. Mortier has worked at Société Générale, which owns a minority stake in Amundi, since 1996.
London-listed financial services group Old Mutual has announced it is to split its business into four separate entities in a drive to cut costs and for its shares to be valued more “appropriately” on the stock market.The group, which has £303.8bn (€391.5n) of funds under management, is to be separated into Old Mutual Emerging Markets, Nedbank, Old Mutual Wealth and OM Asset Management.These will be an African financial services company, an African bank, a UK-based wealth manager and a US-listed multi-boutique asset manager, respectively.Old Mutual grew out of a South African mutual insurer founded in 1845 and moved its headquarters to London in 1999. Since then, it has bought and sold a number of financial services companies from various countries, including Swedish insurer Skandia, which it acquired in 2006, subsequently selling and re-naming parts of that business.Bruce Hemphill, Old Mutual’s group chief executive since November 2015, said: “The strategy we have announced today sets out a bold new course to unlock value currently trapped within the group structure.“We have four strong businesses that can reach their full potential by freeing them from the costs and constraints of the group.”Hemphill said that, despite the group’s previous strategy, which led to a de-risking and re-shaping of the group, Old Mutual shares still traded at a substantial discount to those of its peers and to the sum of its parts’ value.He said, if one looked closely at the divisions, they had very little in common and there was limited rationale for them to be in one group.“It’s a costly structure with insufficient synergies to justify those costs,” he added.Additionally, regulatory change had added – and would add – extra complexity, Hemphill said.The company said the new strategy around the split involved a new capital-management policy intended to cut group holding company debt and reduce central costs in stages.Hemphill said the new strategy would give each business have simpler access to capital markets to fund its growth, and be valued more appropriately. “We are announcing today a strategy that will allow us to release the potential within the group for the benefit of all its stakeholders for many years to come,” he said.Hemphill said customers of its divisions would unaffected by the split.“This process will not impact our customers, and our excellent levels of service will be unchanged,” he said. “On the contrary, the businesses will be able to take better advantage of their exciting prospects and will continue to deliver great outcomes for our customers.”
Préfon, the association behind France’s insurer-managed €16bn voluntary pension scheme for civil servants, wants to reorientate the regime’s investments to contribute to what in France is commonly known as the ‘energy transition’ and has highlighted Green bonds as one of the means by which to implement this shift. It said it envisaged limiting the scheme’s investment in fossil-fuel industries and increasing investments that contribute to the energy transition. It announced these aspirations as two priorities intended to align Préfon with France’s energy transition law, whose frequently cited article 173 requires institutional investors to report on their approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors – and specifically climate risk.The law also encourages investors to make carbon an integral part of their activities. Préfon-Retraite is an optional, defined benefit, points-based pension scheme for civil servants that is managed by a pool of insurers: CNP Assurances, AXA, Groupama and Allianz.Christian Carrega, chief executive at Préfon, said its primary focus was on influencing its asset managers, with the aim of decarbonising the regime’s portfolio and stepping up its contribution to the energy transition.In a statement, the association refers to two main means of implementation, namely “reporting on green bonds” and a low-carbon strategy, involving investing in companies that contribute to the energy transition.IPE requested further information about the association’s plans but did not hear back by the time of publication.On its website, Préfon states that it has requested that reporting be set up to identify green bonds.It says it will then request its equity investments to be actively managed by investing specifically in green portfolios, or by seeking out companies that contribute to the energy transition.Préfon, despite its not being the direct manager of Préfon-Retraite assets, has the ambition to be “an engaged actor”, it says.It first embarked on a socially responsible investment (SRI) strategy in 2007, when its preferences for equity investments were incorporated in a financial agreement.Several steps have followed, from the regime’s insurers publishing information about the scheme’s “SRI intensity” for the first time in 2010 to the association last year signing the Global Investor Statement on Climate Change.As at the end of December 2014, the Préfon-Retraite regime was primarily invested in fixed-rate bonds (73%), equities (15%), floating-rate and money-market bonds (10%) and real estate and infrastructure (2%).Many of France’s large pension schemes are active supporters of the need to tackle climate risk.
The Inclusivity Index is to consist of 50 companies with strong track records on hiring disabled workers.PSO, a foundation that measures corporate performance, is to select the companies, reviewing the index annually.PWRI said it currently had a universe of 77 listed companies – with 27 having Dutch branches – that could accommodate its target group.“We want to extend the universe as soon as possible to 200,” said De Wit, adding that the concept of ‘inclusion’ was likely to be more effective than exclusion.“We would like to see some competition for the best ranking.”The pension fund has already allocated €50m as a target investment in approximately 35 companies; this is likely to be followed by an additional €50m next year, according to De Wit. At a later stage, other pension funds will be given the option to invest through the Inclusivity Index, which is to be operated by BMO, PWRI’s asset manager.PWRI – which has 95,000 active participants, 47,000 pensioners and 75,000 deferred members – recently restarted negotiations with the €172bn healthcare scheme PFZW over a possible merger. PWRI, the €7.6bn pension fund for disabled workers in the Netherlands, has developed an “Inclusivity Index” consisting of companies that employ people with a work disability.The scheme said it sought to make targeted investments in companies that contribute to the implementation of the Participation Act, which aims to employ more than 125,000 disabled workers in the private and public sectors by 2026.Kees de Wit, a board member and chairman of PWRI’s investment committee, said: “As things stand now, the implementation is getting nowhere near its target.“Human resource departments tend to find hiring disabled workers awkward – that’s why we try to approach companies from the investment side.”
The government has rejected proposals to introduce guarantees to new pension vehicles to be created under the “Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz” (BRSG).On 10 February the smaller chamber of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, had recommended amendments to the draft law the government had presented in November. The parliamentary body wanted to allow guarantees to be offered in the new vehicles which the government had intended as pure defined contribution (DC) plans.In a response to the Bundesrat’s suggestion the government clarified in a written statement that it did not want guarantees: “The pure DC plans are intended as an additional offer for those employer and employee representatives who do not see guarantees as protection but as a limitation to designing a pension plan or a hurdle for entering into an agreement on occupational pensions.”Further, allowing guarantees in these new plans would give insurers a competitive advantage in the market, it was reasoned. The government added: “Combining pure defined contribution plans with a non-guarantee rule is therefore only a next step.”The government emphasised that all those who wanted to have guarantees in their pension plans could still choose an existing vehicle.However, the final decision will lie with the larger chamber of the German parliament, the Bundestag, which is set to hold the first reading of the BRSG draft on 10 March.The government also rejected proposals by the smaller chamber on exempting parts of the contributions to occupational pension plans from health insurance payments.The Bundesrat wanted to exempt pension payments during retirement based on employer contributions from health insurance.But the government calculated that this would lower inflows into the state health insurance system by €2.5bn annually, and declined the proposal.Regarding other more technical proposals by the Bundesrat, the government promised to look into them.As reported by IPE, the German federation of company pension plans had also rejected a proposal to allow guarantees in the new pension plans.
The UK’s version of the defined contribution (DC) pension system “is not a pension” as it fails to account for the true “purpose” of a retirement arrangement, according to a report sponsored by Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC).PIC tasked David Pitt-Watson – executive fellow of finance at London Business School and co-founder and former CEO of Hermes EOS – and Hari Mann, professor of strategy and innovation at Ashridge Business School, with defining the “purpose of a pension, and what institutions would be best designed to fulfil that purpose”.After setting out the purpose of a pension and defining it as a collective arrangement, Pitt-Watson and Mann defined a pension as a collective arrangement, meaning that the DC system was “not a pension”.The lack of collective defined contribution (CDC) pensions in the UK was an example of the extent to which the financial system had been designed without taking purpose into account, the authors added. Introducing such a system would represent a step towards “a more purposeful financial system”, Pitt-Watson and Mann said. Danish or Dutch institutions like ATP, ABP or PGGM, they argued, came “pretty close to the characteristics we have laid out for a purposeful pension fund”. The CDC system in Denmark and the Netherlands “is recognised as extremely effective in fulfilling the purpose of a pension”.“In the UK, CDC pensions are effectively illegal, as regulations have been put in over many years, each aimed at some form of consumer protection, which prevent the flexibility needed for such pensions to operate,” Pitt-Watson and Mann added. “In establishing these, regulators were doubtless acting in good faith. Sadly they failed to start by thinking about “the purpose of a pension”, or the governance necessary to make such a purposeful system work.”Pitt-Watson’s and Mann’s paper is the first in a series that PIC intends to produce with partners investigating the purpose of the financial services sector.Tracy Blackwell, CEO of PIC, said there had been an increasing focus on culture in financial services since the 2008 financial crisis, but culture “might in fact be entirely the wrong place to start”.“In our view culture comes from purpose, and therefore the right place to begin is to define the purpose of finance,” she said. “Culture is the ‘how’, but purpose is the ‘why’.”Blackwell added: “We at PIC do not have the answers, but we believe that now is the right time to have a wider discussion around the need to refocus on the ‘Purpose of Finance’.”The full paper, “Why Finance Matters: Building an industry that serves its customers and society”, is available here.
A quick and orderly energy transition away from fossil fuels could be beneficial to equity markets if significant investments were made to increase the sustainability of infrastructure in the coming decade, according to Ortec Finance.The Dutch consultancy said its asset-liability management (ALM) model, which factored in climate measures, predicted positive effects in a scenario focused on global warming of less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.Higher levels of investment would increase returns from 7.6% to 7.9%, Ortec reported.“The outcome shows that an energy transition would be beneficial to both the climate and the economy,” said Willemijn Verdegaal, a co-developer of the ALM model. The model – presented at a climate event in Paris on Tuesday – was developed in co-operation with Dutch pension funds PME and Philips, insurer ASR and Canadian pension fund OPTrust.Separate calculations by Dutch consultancy Sprenkels & Verschuren predicted that pension funds should prepare for high volatility and low returns if global warming reaches 4°C above pre-industrial levels.“We have looked into the economic impact of governments taking the energy transition seriously through making large investments in, for example, heat pumps and thermal insulation to reduce carbon emissions,” said Ortec’s Verdegaal.She added that carbon pricing should be part of the energy transition process.“A robust price would be important, combined with a timely announcement to enable all parties to prepare properly,” she said. “That would give the market additional incentives to invest in carbon reduction.”Verdegaal also highlighted that the Dutch government should co-ordinate all climate measures, including retraining workers whose jobs become redundant as part of a “socially inclusive” transition.However, she also warned that the 1.5°C scenario was susceptible to shocks, such as sudden climate measures or companies with large oil stocks running into trouble.If carbon emissions could not be sufficiently brought under control, the economy would be negatively affected by physical effects, including flooding and other extreme weather conditions, which would reduce GDP growth.According to Ortec Finance, the divestment of, for example, energy firms with high carbon emissions would not be sufficient to protect against the negative impact of the energy transition.“Climate change would affect the entire economy, interest rates and inflation,” Verdegaal said.
Let’s go shopping!More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus13 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market13 hours agoThe findings come as Stockland prepares to test the trend today with the release of more than 100 blocks of land and new terrace homes across 11 southeast Queensland communities.Communities taking part in the Super Sunday event include Foreshore Coomera, Highland Reserve and Riverstone Crossing on the Gold Coast, Augustine Heights, Sovereign Pocket and Kalina Springfield in the Ipswich corridor, Pallara in Brisbane, Newport and Promenade in the Moreton region and Aura on the Sunshine Coast. An aerial shot of Stockland’s Augustine Heights community.New townhomes will also be released at Stockland’s Sway Birtinya terraces project on the Sunshine Coast.For Graeme and Kellie Abraham, going house hunting on a Sunday recently was their only option due to work commitment.“My wife had a work shift on Saturday, so Sunday turned out to be the best time for us,’’ Mr Abraham said. “I think generally people are busy with sport and are running around. “Sunday seems to be more relaxed for most people which gives them the time they need to visit a display village.” Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:51Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:51 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD576p576p432p432p270p270pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. 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 Rate1xFullscreenStarting your hunt for a dream home00:51It is supposed to be the day of rest, but new research has found that Sunday is the most popular day for Queenslanders to go shopping for their biggest asset.Research conducted by residential developer Stockland has found that there were 65 per cent more visits to their new communities on a Sunday — perhaps after a short prayer for a sales success.Stockland’s Queensland general manager for residential communities David Laner said Sunday was the clear winner when it came to Queenslanders going out to shop for a brand new home. A render showing the future Aura development by StocklandIncluded in the Super Sunday event will be block sizes ranging from 263sq m to a whopping 10,989sq m site.Land prices start from $161,900 while house and land packages start at just $344,300 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home at Augustine Heights. Stockland residential development Queensland general manager David Laner.“While Saturday is traditionally the most popular day for the established market, these new figures show a very different pattern for new home buyers,” Mr Laner said.“In fact, our research shows we get by far the highest number of walk-in visitors on a Sunday across all our communities in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.“People are generally more relaxed and have fewer commitments on Sundays, which means they can bring their family and take the time to visit our sales centres and wander through our display villages.”