Sunday 29th May 2016
NEWS TICKER, FRIDAY MAY 27TH: BGEO Group plc, the London listed holding company of JSC Bank of Georgia, has this morning announced that Bank of Georgia, Georgia’s leading bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have signed a GEL220m (approximately £70m) loan agreement with a maturity of five years. EBRD obtained the local currency funds through a private placement of GEL-dominated bonds arranged by Galt &Taggart, a wholly owned subsidiary of BGEO. This is the largest and the longest maturity local currency loan granted to a Georgian bank, which will allow Bank of Georgia to issue longer-term local currency loans, providing essential support for micro, small and medium sized enterprises to converge to DCFTA requirements, as well as underserved women entrepreneurs. “We are keen to develop financial products and lending practices, to service specifically women-led SMEs, which will ultimately increase their involvement in developing Georgia’s private sector”, says Irakli Gilauri, CEO of BGEO Group - The UK’s CBI has responded to analysis from the Treasury showing that a vote to leave the European Union could negatively impact UK pensions. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Economics Director, says that: “All pension schemes benefit when funds can be invested across a stable, growing economy, to best support people in their retirement years. Any financial market turmoil caused by a Brexit is likely to have a negative effect on household wealth, the value of funds and damage pensions here at home, especially for those looking to retire within the next few years. The sheer weight of credible evidence points towards a serious economic shock if the UK were to leave the EU, meaning a hit to the value of our private pensions, jobs and prosperity.” - EPFR Global reports that Nine weeks into the second quarter mutual fund investors remain underwhelmed by their choices as they seek to navigate a global economy characterized by political uncertainty in Europe, lacklustre corporate profits and the prospect of another interest rate hike in the US, economic stress in major emerging markets and Japan's experiment with negative interest rates. During the week ending May 25 all nine of the major EPFR Global-tracked Emerging and Developed Markets Equity Fund groups posted outflows, as did Global, High Yield, Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets Bond Funds, seven of the 11 major Sector Fund groups and three out of every five Country Equity Fund groups. Alternative Funds look to have taken in over $1bn for the fifth time in the past 14 weeks. Overall, EPFR Global-tracked Bond Funds added $2.6 billion to their year-to-date tally while another $9.1bn flowed out of Equity Funds. Some $12bn was absorbed by Money Market Funds with US funds attracting the bulk of the fresh money. EPFR Global-tracked Emerging Markets Equity Funds remained under pressure from many directions. China's economic data and policy shifts continue to paint a mixed picture for growth in the world's second largest economy, the US Federal Reserve is talking up the prospects of a second rate hike this summer, Europe's recovery appears to be running out of stream and the recent recovery in commodities prices is being viewed with scepticism in many quarters. All four of the major groups recorded outflows during the week ending May 25, with the diversified Global Emerging Markets (GEM) Equity Funds seeing the biggest outflows in cash terms and EMEA Equity Funds in flows as a percentage of AUM terms. Latin America Equity Funds extended their longest outflow streak since late 3Q15 as investors who bought into the prospect of political and economic change in Brazil confront the messy reality. However, year to date Brazil has been the top emerging market for all EPFR Global-tracked Equity Funds as managers bet that the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff will open the door to more centrist economic policymaking says the funds data maven. Among the EMEA markets, the firm reports that GEM managers are showing more optimism than investors. EMEA Equity Funds have now posted outflows for five straight weeks and investors have pulled over $300m out of Russia and South Africa Equity Funds so far this month, though GEM allocations for both South Africa and Russia climbed coming into this month. The latest allocations data indicates less optimism about China despite is still impressive official numbers - annual GDP was running at 6.7% in 1Q16 - and the edge the recent slide in the renminbi should give Chinese exporters. GDP growth in Emerging Asia's second largest market, India, is even higher. Elsewhere, India Equity Funds have struggled to attract fresh money as investors wait to for domestic business investment and the government's reform agenda to kick into higher gears says EPFR Global – According to New Zealand press reports, stock exchange operator, NZX, will initiate confidential enquiries into listed companies that experience large, unexplained share price movements, to determine whether they may be holding undisclosed "material" information even while remaining in compliance with the market's Listing Rules that require disclosure of material information at certain trigger points. In an announcement this morning, NZX also warned investors not to assume that a listed entity's Listing Rules compliance statements meant they did not have material information in their possession which would potentially require eventual disclosure - Asian stocks were modestly higher today, largely on the back of increasingly softening sentiment from the US Federal Reserve. Most people think there will be one rate hike this year, but likely it will be in July rather than June. Either way, it will be one and not two or three. Fed chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to talk about interest rates at an event at Harvard University today and the expectation is that a softer approach for the rest of this year will be writ large; a good signal of intent will follow today’s quarterly growth stats. The presidential election will encourage caution; continued market volatility will encourage caution and mixed manufacturing data will encourage caution. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4% to touch 16,834.84 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.9% to 20,576.52. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 2,829.67. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 6.65 points or 0.24% higher to 2773.31, taking the year-to-date performance to -3.80%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 1.05%, DBS, which gained 0.07%, UOB, which gained0.11%, Keppel Corp, which gained2.47% and Ascendas REIT, which closed unchanged. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.27%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.30% - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says it is taking the first step towards developing a green financial system in Kazakhstan in partnership with the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) Authority. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov signed an agreement today on the sidelines of the Foreign Investors Council’s plenary session to commission a scoping study for the development of a green financing system in Kazakhstan. The study, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will assess the demand for green investments, identify gaps in current regulations, and make recommendations for the introduction of green financing standards and for the development of the green bonds market and carbon market services. The development of a green financing system would be consistent with the COP21 Paris Agreement, aligning financing flows with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development. The AIFC Authority was put in place earlier this year and is tasked with developing an international financial centre in Astana. In March, the AIFC Authority, TheCityUK and the EBRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the establishment of the financial centre and to encourage and improve opportunities for the financial and related professional services industries – Turkey’s Yuksel has issued notice to holders of $200m senior notes due 2015 (ISIN XS0558618384), and filed with the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, that the company has agreed a term sheet with the ad-hoc committee of noteholders and its advisors to implement a restructuring of the notes and is currently finalising the required scheme documentation with the Committee. Once agreed, the Company will apply to the English High Court for leave to convene a meeting of note creditors to vote on the scheme proposals as soon as reasonably practicable when the High Court reconvenes after vacation in June 2016 - Following the agreement in principle of the May 24th Eurogroup for the release of the next loan tranche to Greece, domestic authorities have intensified their efforts for the completion of all pending issues reports EFG Eurobank in Athens. According to Greece’s Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos, on the fulfilment of all pending issues, €7.5bn will be disbursed in mid-June, of which €1.8bn will be channeled to clear state arrears – This weekend is the second UK May Bank Holiday. FTSE Global Markets will reopen on Tuesday, May 31st at 9.00 am. We wish our readers and clients a sunny, restful, safe and exceedingly happy holiday.

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Is trustee confidence in managing DB risks waning?

Monday, 23 July 2012
Is trustee confidence in managing DB risks waning? As Defined Benefit (DB) scheme sponsors and trustees in the UK work to put their schemes on a more stable footing amid continued market volatility trustees' confidence in their ability to successfully manage the DB risks facing their plans may be waning, according to MetLife Assurance Limited’s 2012 UK Pension Risk Behaviour IndexSM (UK PRBI).   http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

As Defined Benefit (DB) scheme sponsors and trustees in the UK work to put their schemes on a more stable footing amid continued market volatility trustees' confidence in their ability to successfully manage the DB risks facing their plans may be waning, according to MetLife Assurance Limited’s 2012 UK Pension Risk Behaviour IndexSM (UK PRBI).  

As Defined Benefit (DB) scheme sponsors and trustees in the UK work to put their schemes on a more stable footing amid continued market volatility, scheme trustees’ confidence in their ability to successfully manage the DB risks facing their plans may be waning, according to MetLife Assurance Limited’s 2012 UK Pension Risk Behaviour IndexSM (UK PRBI).   The study of 89 sponsors and trustees analysed how each group viewed 18 investment, liability and business risks that affect their pension schemes, and assessed how well they believed they were managing those risks.

The overall index value of the 2012 UK PRBI,which measures the importance that sponsors and trustees ascribe to each risk, their perceived success at managing each risk and the consistency between the two,remained consistent from 2011 to 2012 at 79 out of 100. However, the Index value for trustees fell another two points year-on-year to 78 in 2012 from 80 in 2011 and 82 in 2012. Conversely, the Index value for scheme sponsors is steadily rising, increasing by two points to 80, from 78 in 2011 and 75 in 2010. These movements, taken together, account for the overall 2012 Index value remaining level.



The drop in self-reported success at managing several key DB-related risks, including Scheme Governance and Inflation Risk, helps to partially explain the inverse relationship of the Index values between sponsors and trustees over the past three years.  In 2012, trustees rated their overall success at managing risks a 4 or 5 (out of a scale of 1-5, with 5 indicating success) 77% of the time, down from 80% in 2011 and 83% in 2010.

“Constant regulatory changes appear to undermine trustees’ confidence, as evidenced by the fall in the reported success of Scheme Governance and Inflation Risk.  Increasing levels of uncertainty being generated by issues such as Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) Equalisation and Solvency II for pension schemes are impacting trustees’ confidence in managing some of the critical risks facing their schemes. Where once there was a degree of certainty, the revisiting of GMP Equalisation by the Department for Work and Pensions now requires that trustees again reconsider and tackle this issue,” holds Wayne Daniel, chief executive officer of MetLife Assurance Limited. 

Funding deficits is the most important risk facing scheme sponsors and trustees for the second year in a row, according to the 2012 UK PRBI. The ranking of Funding Deficits as the most important risk for the second year in a row reflects significant fluctuations in scheme assets and liabilities, mainly as a result of the volatility in equities and rising bond prices. At the same time, schemes may have also seen their liabilities grow due, in at least part, due to corporate bond and gilt yields, and continued uncertainty around the Eurozone.

Scheme sponsors and trustees continue to face unprecedented challenges on the economic and regulatory front. Volatile markets, driven in part by the Eurozone crisis, have demonstrated how quickly and significantly pension liabilities (and funding deficits) can change. "As a result, we expect sponsors and trustees to pay even greater attention to the connection between investment strategies and the risks that impact a scheme’s funding status. Additionally, scheme sponsors and trustees should consider incorporating triggers for de-risking the scheme in order to protect it.,” adds Daniel.

To ensure the viability of their schemes and safeguard members’ benefits, sponsors and trustees, says the report, are continuing to closely monitor the Employer Covenant. This risk ranked second among trustees for the second year in a row, and third among scheme sponsors.  Interestingly, the Importance Selection Rating, or the number of times the risk was selected by respondents when presented alongside other risk factors, for Employer Covenant is rising considerably among scheme sponsors: from 41% in 2011 to 49% in 2012. This may reflect the increased focus among scheme trustees on the Employer Covenant following The Pensions Regulator (TPR) guidance issued in November 2010.

The results of the 2012 UK PRBI demonstrate that scheme sponsors and trustees are continuing, and strengthening, their focus on a handful of key risks.  The overall Importance Rankings for the top four risks remained consistent from 2011 to 2012.

2012 vs. 2011 UK PRBI Overall Importance Ranking

RISK FACTOR                   

2012 RANKING

2011 RANKING

Funding Deficits

1

1

Employer Covenant

2

2

Asset and Liability Mismatch

3

3

Meeting Investment Return Targets

4

4

Measurement of Technical Provisions/Liabilities

5

7

In addition, the range between the Importance Selection Rates for the most important risk and least important risks this year is 66 percentage points, compared to 57 percentage points in 2011. This continues the trend established in the inaugural UK PRBI in 2010. 

Scheme sponsors and trustees continue to move toward a co-ordinated holistic approach to pension risk prioritisation, according to the 2012 UK PRBI. The importance rankings between trustees and sponsors are aligned within one or two ranking spots for all but one risk factor:  Asset Diversification. Trustees rank this fifth in importance whilst sponsors rank it 10th.

More details on the 2012 UK PRBI can be found at: www.metlifeassurance.co.uk/knowledge-centre/research

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