29 Sep

‘Personal touch’ still best for pensions communications, Dutch experts say

first_imgWies Wiegman, manager of client relations at the €5.3bn pension fund for the hospitality and catering sector (Horeca & Catering), echoed his sentiments, saying: “Many of our participants are interested in this way of communication as well.”Frans Griffioen, adviser on pensions communication at Griffioen Employee Benefits, added: “Participants don’t need general pension information, but they want to hear the specific details that affect them personally.”His colleague Charles Beugelink, of communications firm Chardes, suggested that limited use by workers of their employers’ expensive digital pensions tools often did not justify the costs of these communication instruments.Niels Kortleve, innovator at the €153bn pensions provider PGGM, stressed that pensions communication ought to begin by consulting participants on their expected quality of life after retirement. Also during the congress, Emile Soetendal, co-ordinator for pensions policy at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the the new legislation for pensions communication was still scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2015.He added that the recent consultation on the concept legislation had generated 60 “mainly positive” responses from the sector, and that questions had chiefly been about feasibility, implementation costs and the interpretation of open norms.He also suggested the national record of pension rights – the so-called Pensioenregister, covering first and second-pillar rights – would now be extended to the third pillar, as well as consider the effects of changing purchasing power and risks under bad, expected and favourable conditions.Soetendal made clear that the extension – in three-year increments – was also meant to include an indication of the effects of personal choices and life events on the final pension.But he stressed that details and planning still needed to be fleshed out. Despite the wide range of communications tools now available to pension funds, a personal consultation with a specialist is the best way to increase pensions awareness among participants, Dutch industry experts have agreed.Speaking at an IIR congress on pensions communication in Amsterdam, Stephan Vollenbroek, head of communications at MPD, the provider for the €4.2bn pension fund PNO Media, said “personal contact about pensions and financial planning makes the real difference compared with digital and written communication”.He added that the provider had conducted almost 5,200 of these one-on-one meetings, and said they were very much appreciated by the participants.Jan van der Wel, who has carried out many of the personal consultations for MPD, said: “The financial knowledge of participants is very poor on average, and they often fail to plan ahead.”last_img read more

29 Sep

Friday people roundup

first_imgNOW: Pensions – Jocelyn Blackwell has been appointed to the board of trustees at ATP’s UK subsidiary multi-employer trust NOW: Pensions. She founded specialist pensions management consultancy Dunnett Shaw in 1987, which later merged to form Higham Dunnett Shaw and was then sold to Capita. Blackwell will replace Imelda Walsh, who asked to step down from the trust’s board at the beginning of this year due to other commitments. Kirstein, Capital Cranfield, Railpen, NOW: PensionsKirstein – Bodil Nyboe Andersen, a former director of the Danish central bank, has been appointed as chairman of the supervisory board of consultancy Kirstein with effect from 1 May. She takes over from Eigil Jørgensen, who has chosen to step down from the role after 14 years. Jørgensen will remain on the supervisory board as deputy chairman, however.Capital Cranfield – Tony Filbin has been hired by Capital Cranfield as a non-executive director in a new governance oversight role. Filbin comes to Capital Cranfield from Legal & General, where he was managing director for workplace pensions.RPMI Railpen – Richard Williams has been appointed by RPMI Railpen to the new post of chief investment risk officer for the £20bn (€24.3bn) portfolio it runs for the UK’s Railways Pension Scheme. Williams is part of a new investment leadership team with investment directors Paul Bishop and Ciaran Barr, reporting to chief executive Chris Hitchen. Williams was previously a partner of BlueCrest Capital Management (UK) and before that chief investment officer at Fischer, Francis, Trees and Watts.last_img read more

29 Sep

LGPS ‘unsustainable’ due to cashflow issues, UK think tank warns

first_img“A politically challenging U-turn is required,” Johnson said, referencing the commitment by then-chief secretary to the Treasury that no further changes to public sector schemes, including the LGPS, would be needed for 25 years.“Fortunately, this foolishness is not set in law.” Johnson said the LGPS faced a “perfect storm” of underfunding and negative cashflow that would see the system become unsustainable, and that the planned pooling of assets to create six pools would be unable to see off the cashflow problems.The paper’s criticism received qualified support from City Noble, whose director William Bourne chairs the joint local pensions board for the Lancashire County Pension Fund and the London Pensions Fund Authority.Bourne agreed with Johnson’s focus on the “looming issues” facing the LGPS, but he took issue with the academic’s criticism of a number of matters he argued were beyond the control of local authorities administering the schemes.“The nub of the problem is on the liability side and caused by the government’s weak negotiating in previous years,” Bourne said.“As Johnson alludes, the settlements in 2008, 2010 and 2014 were too generous to the employee.“In particular, the change from 1/80 to 1/49th accrual rates, which is where his 63% ‘increase’ comes from, was government imposed.”The risk of the LGPS going cashflow negative was raised during negotiations over the Hutton-inspired reforms, with unions warning of its “massive” impact. The UK’s local government pension scheme (LGPS) is unsustainable and must be further reformed, a think tank has argued.Michael Johnson, fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and a long-term critic of the current LGPS, said the government must revisit the 2014 overhaul of the system and break a ministerial pledge that it would be the last change to accrual rates in 25 years.Johnson argued that the changes recommended by the John Hutton-chaired Independent Public Service Pensions Commission of 2011 – which saw a shift to career-average benefits instead of final salary-linked payments – were rendered “impotent” by a government decision that effectively meant savings would only be incurred from 2024 onwards.He also criticised the amended accrual rate of 1/49th, which Johnson estimated was an increase of 63% and would exacerbate future cashflow issues.last_img read more

29 Sep

Russian pension funds return 9% in first quarter of 2016

first_imgFor the first time, the volume of savings in the NPF system exceeded that managed by the State Management Trust Company for state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB).Over the period, VEB’s expanded portfolio assets fell by 17.2% to RUB1,781bn.However, its return for the quarter totalled 11.7%, a result exceeded by only 18 of the NPFs.According to the CBR, the continuing recovery of Russia’s financial markets contributed to the positive results generated by the majority of funds, while corporate bonds accounted for the biggest share of NPF portfolios.The substantial growth in member and assets achieved by the NPFs was due largely to last year’s campaign to attract the so-called ‘silent ones’, who had earlier invested by default at VEB, as well as inflows unfrozen from the second half of 2013.These activities were, however, restricted to those funds that had converted to joint-stock status and signed up to the Deposit Insurance Agency’s guarantee scheme.As of the end of March 2016, 37 funds had signed up to the scheme, with a further two joining since.The 33 NPFs registered as of the end of 2015 received a total RUB259bn in unfrozen contributions.Those funds that fail to comply with these two requirements will be barred from offering compulsory pensions insurance, while the DIA-registered funds will, for the time being, only be able to increase their assets through investment returns and poaching clients from each other.Neither the finance ministry nor the CBR has confirmed widespread reports that the government plans to extend the moratorium on the NPFs receiving the 6% mandatory pensions contribution, and initiated in 2014, into 2017.The Non-State Pension Fund Association (ANPF), the second pensions body to register as a pensions self-regulatory organisation, recently estimated that the 2014-16 moratorium would result in a 10.5% decrease in future pension payments for members and a RUB1.7trn loss in long-term investments for the economy. Russia’s non-state pension funds (NPFs) returned a weighted average of 9% year to date in the first quarter of 2016, according to sector regulator Bank of Russia (CBR).Returns ranged from 16.97% to -6.81%, with 38 of the 60 NPFs currently licensed for mandatory second-pillar fund operations outstripping the inflation rate of 8.7%.Pensions savings grew by 74.2% year on year to RUB1,997.4bn (€25.6bn), equivalent to 2.4% of GDP.Pension reserves grew by 10.5% to RUB 1,020.3bn, and the number of insured by 33.2% to 29.4m.last_img read more

29 Sep

UK court rules against British Airways in pension increase case

first_imgThe High Court in London has ruled in favour of the trustees of a British Airways pension scheme in a case concerning their decision to award discretionary pension increases.The case was brought by British Airways plc in late 2013, after the Airways Pension Scheme (APS) trustees decided to award a discretionary pension increase of 0.2% on top of inflation-linked increases.The APS is the older of British Airways’ two defined benefit schemes. According to the High Court judgement, as at 31 March 2015, the scheme – which closed to new entrants in 1984 – had 27,200 members, of which more than 90% were pensioners.  The APS trustees decided to introduce a power that would allow them to grant such non-standard increases in 2011, after the statutory indexation measure was switched from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index. This is generally expected to mean lower pension increases for members. The trial started in October last year.On Friday the High Court ruled that the trustees’ decision to introduce the discretionary increase power in 2011 was valid, as was the decision to grant a 0.2% increase for 2013, effective 1 December 2013.“We are naturally very pleased with the clarity brought by the Court’s decision,” said the APS trustees in a statement.“We welcome the confirmation from the Court that we and our professional advisers acted appropriately in relation to those decisions.”The scheme said it does not currently intend to make further public comment “given the complex nature of the proceedings”.British Airways has the right to appeal.It said that it is “considering its position”.”Given the risks that remain within the scheme we believe the deficit contributions should be applied to improve funding and reduce risks, not improve benefits,” it said, adding that the pensioner members are ”on far more generous pensions than succeeding generations of British Airways employees”.It said the company made payments of more than £500m (€579m) towards pension fund deficits.The APS 2016 annual report put the funding deficit as at 31 March 2014 at £409m.Whether or not British Airways appeals will influence several actions the trustees are able to take in the near term, the scheme has said.For example, it may need to wait before being able to pay the additional 0.2% increase and deciding on any backdated increases for the years 2014-17, it said. The costs of the legal proceedings that APS can expect to have paid by British Airways may also depend on whether the airline appeals, and the outcome of that.The scheme has previously said that it was unlikely it could complete its March 2015 valuation until the outcome of the litigation was known. Following Friday’s judgement it said it is considering its position with its professional advisers.A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, when the High Court will deal with any “applications” that British Airways or the trustee make in relation to the litigation judgement. This could include British Airways seeking permission to appeal, according to a statement from the trustees. Note: This piece was updated on 23 May to clarify when the APS was closed to new members.last_img read more

29 Sep

AAE wants discussions with IFoA to cover MRA legal challenge

first_imgThe AAE’s Valkenburg said the outcome of its recent extraordinary general meeting was positive, as members of the AAE had indicated they wanted the IFoA to remain a full member, and had given the AAE board a formal mandate to have further discussions about the terms and conditions of that membership. The chair of the Actuarial Association of Europe (AAE) has indicated the organisation, which is in discussions with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) about it remaining a full member, “needs to look into” questions of arbitrage surrounding actuarial qualifications.Falco Valkenburg was speaking to IPE following an extraordinary general meeting held earlier this month to discuss the IFoA’s proposal for a new approach to subscriptions to the AAE.The IFoA is seeking a revised relationship with the AAE for reasons including to do with the UK no longer being in the European Union, and a legal challenge in the UK that, according to the IFoA, would mean it could not participate in a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with the AAE.An MRA is a reciprocal agreement that recognises the participating actuarial bodies’ professional qualifications. The legal challenge in question is that the IFoA is awarding its UK fellowship qualification to European actuaries who in some cases qualified up to a lower level via their domestic qualification. “If there is any form of discrimination then we need to solve that”Falco Valkenburg, chair of AAEThe AAE would want those discussions to address the legal challenge the IFoA faces in relation to the MRA, said Valkenburg.“If there is any form of discrimination then we need to solve that,” he said. “The IFoA would like to have that solved and if there are any issues on our end we need to solve that as well of course.”All AAE member associations have to meet the education standards set by the AAE core syllabus, but individual associations are able to do require more.Valkenburg said: “What we need to prevent is that people would go to the country with the lowest bar but still meeting our requirements, and then apply in another country to become a full member there.” Subscriptions discussionThe IFoA wants to remain a full member of the AAE, but would also like to pay less. It has so far not paid the AAE subscription fees for 2020/21 that were due in April, and has asked the AAE to waive any late charge.The Institute has proposed that the AAE’s statutes be amended to introduce a cap on the number of a member association’s individual members that subscription fees can be based on – this was the focus of the extraordinary general meeting.AAE’s Valkenburg said the IFoA had been very “straightforward” in proposing a cap based on a fixed number – 5,500 members – and that AAE would prefer something “more dynamic” although the monetary outcome would be similar.“We are entering into constructive and friendly discussions and hope to find a solution together,” he said.Valkenburg also said the discussions between the AAE and the IFoA would also be about how the organisations could work together, and what roles the IFoA could fill in light of the UK no longer being in the European Union.The IFoA has said that it would not be appropriate for it to comment further until the outcome of discussions with the AAE was reached.last_img read more

28 Sep

Clive Palmer buying out the neighbours in quiet Brisbane suburb

first_imgClive Palmer snapped up this Fig Tree Pocket home for $5 million.Queensland’s richest man Clive Palmer is spending ­millions buying out his neighbours, with one of them banking $2.1 million in profit, others knocking him back and another agreeing to sell for $5 million in the most recent deal.Neighbours at Fig Tree Pocket have been left wondering what the former politician has planned for their secluded ­riverfront ­suburb, with his most recent deal ­seeing him hand over $5 million to secure a massive 12,100sq m block.MORE: Best on Show’s big winnersWhy cashed-up buyers are going rural‘It’s taken a pandemic’ but 43pc ready to ditch home loans nowFellow Queensland richlister and neighbour Bevan Slattery is understood to have already knocked back approaches to sell his home to Palmer. Mr Slattery had paid $8.25 million for his property in May 2014, which sits between that of Mr Palmer and his son ­Michael on the riverfront.Mr Palmer had bought his riverfront home there in 2018 off embattled Linc Energy founder Peter Bond for $7.5 million – a $2 million discount on what Rivergum Retreat had been listed for.The Palmers have quite the property portfolio in Fig Tree Pocket.Mr Bond had two properties on the market there, with the second bought by another party for $2.99 million in 2017, which sold for $5 million in March this year to Palmer’s firm Closeridge.Mr Palmer’s son Michael had bought the home next door to Mr Slattery on Ningana Street for $5.1 million in July 2018. The site has 1.34ha of land. Mr Palmer’s son also owns a neighbouring 3,430sq m property that he’d bought for $1.85 million in January 2016, according to CoreLogic records.Clive Palmer restarted his real estate buying spree after winning a $200 million court case in 2017. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEANIn March this year, Mr Palmer’s builders applied for special ­permission to build one of ­Brisbane’s largest private home jetties on the river by his Rivergum Retreat property.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus8 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market8 hours agoCoastal Pontoon & Jetty ­Repairs asked Brisbane City Council for a development ­permit for “tidal works” at Mr Palmer’s Fig Tree Pocket home – with the length of the proposed pontoon (28m) about three times that of the 10m length currently “acceptable” in Brisbane riverfront homes.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. 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 Rate1xFullscreenHow much do I need to retire?00:58His most recent property purchase of Oakworth House in Fig Tree Pocket was listed by Alex Jordan of McGrath Paddington as being “situated on Fig Tree Pocket’s most prestigious street” with “a ­substantial 132-metre-wide frontage”.Mr Jordan declined to ­comment on the buyer of the property, instead saying that the prestige market in Brisbane was the best it had been in decades.Mr Palmer restarted his real estate buying spree after winning a $200 million case against Citic over Pilbara royalty payments in November 2017.FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOKlast_img read more

28 Sep

Marseille Fos to Cut Port Dues for Eco-Friendly Ships

first_imgFrench port Marseille Fos is set to reduce port dues for ships performing better than required under air pollution regulations as it joined the World Ports Climate Initiative (WPCI).Namely, from July 1 this year the incentive will apply to eligible ships among the 236 container carriers and cruise vessels that call at the port, representing a 60/40% split. The port said that other sectors will be added in 2018.The WPCI features the Environmental Ship Index (ESI), which scores atmospheric pollution on a zero to 100 scale. Currently only around 50 ports worldwide offer reduced call charges based on the ESI. Marseille Fos reductions will apply from a score of 35 – the level attributed to ships equipped for the so-called ‘cold ironing’ facility to take shoreside electrical power at berth instead of using onboard diesel generators.Port Marseille Fos said that it was the first in France and the Mediterranean to announce such a facility following an agreement with Corsica and Sardinia ferry operator La Meridionale. The company’s three ships have been equipped since January. For each vessel, CO2 and particle emissions have been cut by the equivalent of more than 3,000 vehicles per day on the 64 km route from Marseille to Aix, while NOx emissions are down by the equivalent of 65,000 vehicles per day.In a further green initiative, Marseille Fos has reinforced its cooperation with AirPACA, the air quality monitoring association for the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region. The port joined in 2004, making it the longest-serving transport infrastructure member. Since 2015 it has been supplying annual maritime traffic statistics to support air quality analysis.last_img read more

28 Sep

WorleyParsons nets Marjan field FEED deal

first_imgAustralian engineering company WorleyParsons has been awarded a contract by Saudi Aramco for work on the Marjan oil field development in Saudi Arabia. According to a Tuesday statement by the Australian company, it was awarded the project management and front end engineering and design (FEED) services for the offshore oil and gas facilities portion and the onshore upstream and downstream pipelines portion of Saudi Aramco’s Marjan oil field development program.Under the agreement, WorleyParsons will provide project management and FEED services.The services will be executed from WorleyParsons’ office in Al-Khobar in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with support from other WorleyParsons offices.“We are pleased to build on our relationship with Saudi Aramco through this significant contract,” said Andrew Wood, Chief Executive Officer of WorleyParsons.Less than two months ago, Saudi Aramco awarded Amec Foster Wheeler a contract for facilities required as part of the integrated oil and gas expansion of the Marjan offshore and onshore oilfield in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Under the five-year contract, Amec Foster Wheeler will deliver the pre-FEED, FEED, overall program management, and other support services for an additional 300,000 barrels per day gas/oil separation train, a world scale greenfield gas processing plant, a cogeneration facility and modifications to an existing facility to add natural gas liquids fractionation capacity.Recently, Saudi Arabia reportedly thwarted what appeared to be an attack on Marjan oilfield in the country’s territorial waters.According to Wood Mackenzie, the Marjan complex, located off Saudi Arabia’s east coast, contains four offshore fields – Marjan, Lawhah, Maharah and Hamur. Marjan, the largest of the four, is a super-giant field that straddles the offshore median line with Iran. The majority of oil reserves lie within the Saudi Arabian part of the field although the Iranian portion, which is called Foroozan, also contains significant volumes of oil.last_img read more

28 Sep

Braemar Enters Financial Advisory Market with NAVES Purchase

first_imgUK-based shipbroker Braemar Shipping Services has entered into the conditional acquisition of the entire issued share capital of German NAVES Corporate Finance GmbH (NAVES), a corporate finance advisory business focused on the maritime industry.NAVES advises predominantly German clients on financing, restructuring, and sale and purchase transactions. Since the establishment of the business in 2009, the company advised on over USD 6.5 billion of capital and charter hire restructurings.The acquisition’s value has been set to EUR 24 million (USD 28.7 million), which could rise up to EUR 35 million depending on target working capital.Braemar said the transaction would enable the company to create a new division to be known as the Financial Division, which would be headed by Mark Kuchenbecker and Axel Siepmann.In addition, the acquisition is said to be in line with Braemar’s strategy to improve market coverage and diversify business operations by venturing into the valuable maritime financial advisory market.As explained, acquisition benefits include continued growth opportunities from the strong fundamental market drivers of the NAVES niche business, which include continuing high global levels of distressed maritime debt, particularly held by German banks.“The board has been looking for high-quality acquisitions for some time as a key part of Braemar’s growth strategy. NAVES not only introduces a new service offering for Braemar, enhancing our ‘full service’ offer to our customers, but also widens our geographical footprint,” James Kidwell, Chief Executive Officer of Braemar said.“We have plans to develop the NAVES business within the group considerably as this acquisition marks a very good entry level into this growing niche market. It also signifies Braemar’s return to growth and I have no doubt that this will create further value for shareholders.”The acquisition requires the approval of shareholders, who are set to convene on September 26, 2017, at a general meeting.last_img read more