The Bank of England (BoE) has weighed into the on-going debate on the systemic risk posed by asset managers, suggesting distress at large firms could create friction in financial markets.Executive director for financial stability at the BoE, Andrew Haldane, said given the asset management industry’s projected growth, it was viable to consider whether the industry runs greater risks to financial stability.Speaking at the London Business School Asset Management Conference, Haldane said with expected assets under management to reach $400trn (€292trn) by 2050, it was essential managers strengthen the financial system and the real economy.He said two relevant factors to discussing whether managers posed any risk was the level of concentration, suggesting this was broadly similar to that of the banking sector, and the scale of the largest firms. “On the face of it, then, the structure of banking and asset management is not too dissimilar. But the risks to these balance sheets are also quite different,” he said.“They are not, however, insolvency-immune. An individual manager or fund does face operational and reputational risk.”He said there are three risks posed by managers which could undermine financial security for the markets, starting with the sheer size.“Even if the ‘fail’ element of too-big-to-fail is a red-herring, the ‘big’ is not. Distress at an asset manager may aggravate frictions in financial markets, in particular frictions in market liquidity.”Haldane also said managers could “amplify pro-cyclical swings” in the economy and contribute to the mis-pricing of risk.He also highlighted the recent trend for managers to move into more illiquid assets, and passively managed funds, suggesting these would create greater illiquidity risk, correlated price movements and leaving manager susceptible to runs.Liability contracts have also put more risk back onto investors which may increase their incentive to run, he said.However, he commended international work currently being done by European and US agencies on whether asset managers pose systemic risks.He said prudential policy would be the best way to regulate, and defend against pro-cyclical swings, and initiatives on long-term financing would protect against illiquidity risk.The argument over asset manager’s impact on the global economy has been on-going since the financial crisis.While the regulation and containment of systemic risk within banks has been the focus since 2008, both the Office for Financial Research (OFR) in the US, and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), backed by the G20, have launched consultations on the topic.An OFR report published last Autumn caused controversy, after it highlighted four ways asset managers were susceptible to systemic risk.However, the report was dismissed by a bi-partisan group of US Senators, who accused the OFR of mischaracterising the industry, and warned of credibility damage to the US Treasury.The, FSB, while not currently designing any policies, is working on identifying which organisations are large, complex and systemically connected enough to cause financial disruption.Once this was defined, the FSB said it would develop policy measures.
Ruud Hagendijk, chief executive, said: “Anticipating developments in the world around us is no voluntary option but a hard necessity to remain in the top of service providers.”Following ongoing automatisation of work processess, as well as the option of hiring capacity for temporary projects, MN said it wanted to reduce its workforce of 1,250 staff to a “rational scale”.It added that staff reduction would be carried out in cooperation with the unions and the company’s works council, and that the focus would be on education and relocating redundant staff elsewhere in the organisation.Michiel Cleij, spokesman for MN, said it unclear in which departments exactly staff cuts would be made, or whether there would be forced redundancies.MN is the provider for the large metal schemes PME and PMT, as well as the €3.5bn pension fund for the merchant navy.It carries out the pensions administration for almost 2m people affiliated with 36,000 employers in the Netherlands and the UK.MN’s UK operation would be equally affected by the restructuring, according to Cleij, who could not provide further details.Earlier, the large asset managers and pension providers APG and PGGM announced similar changes to their organisation, including significant staff reduction. The €100bn asset manager and pensions provider MN has announced it would embark on a four-year restructuring programme.During the process – aimed at cutting costs and adjusting its services to changes in the pensions system – the company is to shed more than 200 fulltime jobs, it said.In a statement, it said, to maintain its position as one of the largest asset managemers and pension providers in the Netherlands, it needed to anticipate the trend of consolidation, changes to the pensions system, new pension plans and flexible labour.It said its clients not only demanded a smooth incorporation of new legal rules, modern management of pension schemes and social plans, but also wanted increasingly efficient processes and adequate communication.
Despite the -8.6% return from its equity portfolio, accounting for close to 60% of assets, the GPFG had only seen its year-to-date return slip to 0.79%, aided in part by a 3% return from its property holdings – now comprising 3% of assets – and a 0.9% return from its fixed income holdings.When measured in kroner, property was the best-performing asset class with a year-to-date performance of 18.5%, ahead of the 9.8% return from fixed income and the 7.5% return on equity – achieved despite two negative quarters of returns.Breaking down equity returns, NBIM said Asia and Oceania had seen the worst results, returning -12.9% and accounting for a fifth of the equity portfolio.China, which accounted for almost 3% of the equity portfolio, lost 21.3% of its value over the quarter.The manager said concerns over Chinese growth saw its exposure to emerging markets, around 9% of equities, return -16.6%, while commodity price weaknesses saw the basic materials sector return 16.9%, the worst-performing sector of all.Measured in international currency, not a single of the fund’s 10 equity sectors – encompassing financials, oil and gas and utilities – saw a positive return, with the latter the best performer at -2.9%.“These companies’ stable cash flows were viewed as a safe haven in a turbulent market,” NBIM noted in its quarterly report. “The sector was also favoured by low interest rates.”Across the fixed income portfolio, only government-related bonds saw a loss, and corporate bonds – accounting for one-fifth of fixed income – were the strongest holdings, returning 1.5%. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has seen volatile equity markets lead to a NOK273bn (€28.5bn) quarterly loss, its second consecutive month of investment losses.The Government Pension Fund Global’s (GPFG) -4.9% return was its third-weakest since inception, with Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) chief executive Yngve Slyngstad blaming the slowdown in the global economy and the decline in global equity markets.Slyngstad specifically singled out the Chinese equity market but sought to emphasise the long-term nature of the NOK7trn fund and its ability to “ride out” short-term market changes.“We have to expect fluctuations in the value of the fund when there are large movements in the market,” he said. “With the fund as big as it is today, this can have a considerable impact in the short term.”
A number of countries have developed codes governing the approach of investors toward engagement – including the code for external governance drafted by the European Fund and Asset Management Association and a guide to voting drafted by Switzerland’s Ethos FoundationHowever, only Japan and the UK have seen their codes drafted by regulators, with the Stewardship Code published by the Financial Reporting Council in 2010.In the wake of its release, the European Federation for Retirement Provision – now PensionsEurope – suggested the creation of a Europe-wide code.The Japanese equivalent, backed by the Financial Services Agency, formed part of prime minister Shinzō Abe’s reform programme, and came as part of a push to place a heavier emphasis on return on equity by Japanese listed companies.Read more about the Japanese approach to stewardship The International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN) is drafting a global stewardship code building on similar initiatives in Japan and the UK.Outlining its policy goals for 2015-16, the body representing $26trn (€23.5trn) in assets said it would focus on the promotion of long-term investment while ensuring minority shareholder rights were preserved.It also said it would look at how to make stewardship “a reality to support sustainable financial markets”.George Dallas, the organisation’s policy director, said: “The Priorities help place into context key policy initiatives we are working on, including the development of a global stewardship code and our work in challenging differential ownership rights in markets around the world.”
More than half of the £3.8bn in assets is invested in property, with £600m each in private equity and hedge funds.The CIV said a further £200m was invested in infrastructure, and £300m in unspecified other illiquid assets.However, the CIV added that a further £7.5bn invested in life policies – equivalent to nearly 26% of assets – would also now remain outside of the CIV, after the government decided to grant an exemption from the requirement to pool the asset class.“Whilst recognising that a proportion of these can continue to be held at a local level as life policies,” the CIV’s consultation response to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said, “the CIV at a pool level will provide the management and reporting for these assets.”The consultation was submitted to DCLG in mid-July, bringing to an end months of planning by English and Welsh LGPS to set up eight asset pools as large as £35bn.The CIV’s consultation also touched on projected staffing levels, saying it was budgeting for 12 full-time equivalent staff members.“However, it is recognised that, as assets under management grow and the complexity of those assets increases, there will be additional resourcing requirements that could see staffing at least double over the next few years,” it said.It noted that, based on research by CEM Benchmarking, once it began overseeing all assets held by the 33 LGPS, it would be in line with the pensions industry to hire 10 investment staff and a further 18 staff in support and governance roles. The London CIV, the pooling vehicle for the UK capital’s 33 local government pension schemes (LGPS), expects expects that more than one-third of its assets will be held outside the pool as it pushes ahead with its collaboration.Outlining how the collective investment vehicle would manage assets for its member LGPS, the pool noted it had already begun setting up a number of dedicated sub-funds for its members, a move that has already seen more than £6bn (€8.5bn) transferred away from existing mandates.However, it noted that a significant amount of member assets – largely illiquid investments – would remain outside the pool, at least until it was able to establish fund structures able to hold them.It said that, until an Authorised Contractual Scheme – a UK tax-transparent fund structure – was established, illiquid assets amounting to 12.6% of overall AUM, or £3.8bn, would remain outside the pool “in the short to medium term”.
The German regulator’s warning last year on the financial instability of Pensionskassen was “a wake-up call” to the sector, according to Götz Neumann, chairman of the board at the €2.5bn Pensionskasse for Wacker Chemie.Speaking at the Handelsblatt occupational pension fund conference in Berlin this month, Neumann described BaFin’s warning as tantamount to “a beneficial shock for some companies”.In May last year the regulator’s announcement that some of Germany’s 130 Pensionskassen were in poor financial health sent shock waves around the industry, with some accusing BaFin of scaremongering and causing uncertainty among pension savers.At the time, Frank Grund, head of the BaFin department overseeing Pensionskassen, highlighted the major impact that low interest rates had on pension vehicles with guarantees, warning that “without additional capital some Pensionskassen will no longer be able to operate at full capacity”. Wacker Chemie’s Neumann said at the conference: “We had to react spontaneously that afternoon to explain the situation to our members. So for us it was more of an irritation as we have a strong sponsor company with which we are in continuous talks about the financial situation.”However, he added that not all of his peers were that lucky, and that some companies or other plan sponsors “who had known about the crisis but did not take action”. Götz Neumann of Wacker Chemie’s Pensionskasse addresses the 2019 Handelsblatt occupational pensions conference“Many smaller Pensionskassen were able to take the BaFin’s warning to their sponsors to put pressure on them,” he said.At the end of last year, BaFin took the unprecedented step of closing the Caritas Pensionskasse to new business because of solvency issues. It subsequently confirmed that 54 Pensionskassen were under “close watch”.Since then, this number has come down to around 30, with some still having to report quarterly to the supervisor. Neumann said this reduction in Pensionskassen at an immediate risk could be in part because of BaFin’s warning.Meanwhile, Neumann also criticised the regulator’s approach to limits on allocations to so-called risky assets or illiquid investments.“We know better than the BaFin how asset allocation works and we could increase our returns if we had more leeway,” he argued.Neumann added that, with a strong sponsor backing the asset allocation, some Pensionskassen should “be given the chance to earn money on the market rather than the company having to issue cash injections”.
The Aviva Staff Pension Scheme (ASPS) has agreed a £1.7bn (€2bn) buy-in with its own sponsor company, Aviva Life & Pensions UK.The deal covers 5,800 members of the defined benefit (DB) scheme – 1,500 pensioners and 4,300 deferred members. There are 50,000 members in total.The buy-in is the scheme’s first bulk annuity deal, and in a statement, the company said it was the scheme’s “strong financial position” that had led the trustee to complete the transaction as part of a long-term plan to de-risk the scheme.However, ASPS has previously completed a longevity swap, a £5bn deal effective in early 2014. It transferred the longevity risk for 19,000 scheme members to three reinsurers: Swiss Re, Munich Re and SCOR Global Life. At the time it was the biggest-ever pension scheme longevity swap on a global basis. Brian Bussell, chair of the trustee of ASPS, said: “The trustee is delighted to have entered into this first buy-in to help secure the benefits due to our members, working closely with our advisers and Aviva to do so. Combined with the existing longevity swap, this buy-in means that the scheme has now hedged a material amount of longevity and investment risk.”The scheme trustee was independently advised by Hymans Robertson, Linklaters and Redington.Michael Abramson, partner, Hymans Robertson, said: “Despite political uncertainty and market volatility, 2019 has already proven a record year for the bulk annuity market, with total transaction volumes in excess of £36bn. Buy-ins such as these show how insurance can be a meaningful part of the de-risking strategy for even the largest pension funds.”Earlier this week the supermarket chain Asda announced a £3.8bn buy-in with insurer Rothesay Life for the Asda Group Pension Scheme.
A property open for inspection. Picture: Andrew Henshaw.THE smell of freshly cut flowers, some strategically placed cushions and soft lighting — it’s all just smoke and mirrors.These tactics are designed to seduce would-be buyers into falling in love at first sight with a home.Experts say buyers want to physically experience a property, and wise vendors work hard to turn that brief encounter into a lasting love affair.We asked Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev, Property Pursuit director Meighan Hetherington and Selling Houses Australia host Andrew Winter for their tips on getting the most of out of a property inspection:1. DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE DECOR“I have never bought a ‘staged’ home and never will,” Mr Winter said.“I like to know what the place will look like once all the staging has gone.”Mr Winter suggests concentrating on the actual fittings, especially in the kitchen and bathroom/s, as well as the condition of the building.“This should influence the level of any offers you make,” he said.“And unless you are buying a knock down, not taking notice of, or employing the right specialist to check, could be a costly mistake.”2. LET’S GO OUTSIDEMr Winter advises taking notice of the immediate area around the property during an inspection, such as the approach of the home or the vacant block next door.“Knowing what is happening in the locality allows you to more easily take control of the home and the area within your title as the surrounding space plays a role in the overall value of your home,” he said.Ms Hetherington agrees location is important.“We’ll check to ensure that the property isn’t on a busy road; too close to major roads or train lines; or too close to things like schools, shops, unit developments, and other commercial/industrial buildings,” she said.Block and house position are also important, according to Ms Hetherington.“Generally, we try to avoid odd shaped blocks and having the house positioned at the rear of the block, not allowing for any real useable backyard,” she said.“We also look out for ‘battle-axe’ blocks, where there is a driveway that runs down the side of the block to another property at the rear.” There are usually more open homes during spring selling season. Picture: Mark Calleja.ANDREW WINTER’S TOP 5 TIPS FOR BUYING1. Buy something you genuinely love2. Buy in an area you either know well, or, have undertaken considerable research about3. Focus on a limited geographical area, or a select number of suburbs4. Buy a property that works for you and is appropriate for the market5. Don’t be scared by bad taste decor, but be aware of structure and your immediate surrounds(Source: Andrew Winter’s Australian Real Estate Guide) A line of would-be home buyers at a property inspection. Image: AAP/Angelo Velardo.3. IDENTIFY THE RISKSCheck the flood maps! One of the first things buyer’s agents at Property Pursuit verify is whether the property is at risk of flooding.Then they check its zoning.“Ensure there are no developments under consideration or approved that would negatively affect the property,” Ms Hetherington said.4. LAYOUT AND ASPECTMs Hetherington believes the layout of a home is critical. “Typically, we’ll want to see good flow between the living spaces, kitchen and then to an outdoor space,” she said.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus16 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market16 hours ago“We also don’t want to see what we call a ‘back-to-front’ layout — where the living spaces are at the front of the house and the bedrooms at the back, which doesn’t allow for any natural flow from the home to the yard.”Also take note of room sizes.Ms Hetherington said the living space should be sufficient to comfortably accommodate a lounge and dining suite. She said the minimum bedroom size should ideally be 3x3m, not including the wardrobe.When it comes to aspect, a north facing rear is ideal to allow for plenty of natural light year-round. The least desirable aspect is a western facing rear — a house that is dark throughout is a real negative.5. BRING IN THE EXPERTSBuying a home is a significant, life-changing investment and one that involves relying on the work of others, according to Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev, who insists on getting a building and pest inspection before even considering purchasing a property.“The residential assessment service of Archicentre Australia provides an important point of difference, — architects ‘assess’ while building surveyors and paraprofessionals ‘inspect’,” he said.“An architect assessment adds to the constructional and build quality focus by considering lifestyle aspects that can only be introduced by understanding design and architectural/siting opportunities.“This is a complex area and architects are best placed to advise and assist — providing guidance on understanding the property in its Zeitgeist and neighbourhood context while being able to cast an eye into its future opportunities.”
Wake up here … Top tips to maximise small space Home and business opportunity all in one?NOT only this a chance for a change of scenery — while getting a foot on the property ladder — it’s also a chance to make some serious coin.Who hasn’t ever stopped and dreamt for a moment of living on a houseboat, away from the hustle and bustle of city life? MORE NEWS Very Brady plan for The brady Bunch house Well, if you’ve got a spare $55k then you can do just that. And the bonus is that if you play your cards right you could have that money back in your wallet in less than 10 weeks.A Gumtree listing posted by gummie user Mark — titled Houseboat in the best fishing/crabbing river — presents just such an opportunity in the Norman River in the small Queensland town of Karumba. A business in the making.The boat is “already in the river with freezer, bed, fridge, shower, toilet” and Mark says it’s a perfect choice to “enjoy the most beautiful sunsets”.It’s “tranquillity and peace away from the hassle of the busy cities and rivers” we’re told.But all that aside, it’s also presented as an opportunity to make some cash — and perhaps pay off the boat.“With the possibility of setting your own very lucrative crabbing or fishing business with the flexibility and independence you long for,” Mark writes. “We averaged about 6000 dollas (sic) a week in six months when we were doing it.“No trick here just a good bargain.”Mark says he is selling because he needs to “go back to living in town”. The ‘worst thing about Australia’ Where is Karumba?More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus15 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market15 hours agoAs a point of reference — for those who haven’t heard of Karumba — it’s in the Gulf Country region of Queensland — about 10 hours to drive from either Cairns or Townsville.Prices for land in Karumba start at about $70k and go up to about $550k for a standard family house.So $55k for a place to sleep and a boat — all in one — is definitely a bargain.“Give yourself the luxury of living on a boat in the best fishing and crabbing river with practically no competition,” Mark writes in the ad. Location, location. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:38Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:38 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 Rate1xFullscreenTop 6 streets in Australia00:39
A historic rate cut next week is expected to spur on homeowners if passed on by financiers. Picture: Liam Kidston.A historic rate cut come Tuesday is expected to save thousands for some homeowners, with the market now locking in a fall to 1.25 per cent — and the potential for more to come.In the past week, the market has dramatically thrown itself behind a drop of 25 basis points, with ASX’s 30 Day Interbank Cash Rate Futures June 2019 contract trading at 98.72 — which it said indicated “a 100 per cent expectation of an interest rate decrease to 1.25 per cent at the next RBA Board meeting”.According to RateCity, the current lowest home loan rate – for one year fixed – was 2.99 per cent from Greater Bank, while the lowest variable rate was 3.29 per cent from Mortgage House. Potential rate cut savings on different loan amounts: Source: FinderFinder has been telling borrowers “if you don’t get the full rate cut, vote with your feet” by switching to a different mortgage.“A lower cash rate will spur even further competition within the market so it is the perfect time to weigh up your options as you have the bargaining power — the best value home loan rates right now start with a ‘3’.”Griffith University’s Mark Brimble and Noel Whittaker of the Queensland University of Technology were among the minority experts who believed the RBA would hold come Tuesday.“I am probably wrong but I think dropping would be a very bad policy — hope the bank realises that,” Mr Whittaker said. 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?00:58 Experts have swung behind a drop, with 32 of the 35 experts in the Finder Cash Rate Survey (91 per cent) now predicting a cut come Tuesday — with 60 per cent expecting it would bottom out at 1 per cent while a third believed it would go 0.75 per cent or even lower.Finder insights manager Graham Cooke said “we can be fairly certain of the direction the cash rate will take in June — the writing is on the wall”. MORE: $1.5m house that won’t be lived in Wotif you could escape to this heritage house? Mr Brimble said “bias is clearly to the easing, however the RBA may choose to wait for the new financial year for a range of reasons including the finalisation of the budget bills and how geo-political issues play out on the global stage and markets”.Nerida Conisbee of the REA Group was among those who’ve now switched to a decrease after holding out for a while.“I’ve gone against popular opinion and have held off calling a cut until now. I think this month will be it,” she said. “While there has been a lot of poor economic data coming out, it looked like the RBA were holding on to the low unemployment rate as a sign that things were about to improve. With the unemployment rate ticking up in April, I think this will be enough impetus to make a decision to cut.” Jobs figures were among the reasons RBA was said to have held out last month – something it can’t really justify this month according to REA Group economist Nerida Conisbee. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning.But he said the questions that needed answering were “how much will they cut by, and how many cuts will follow this one?”.Westpac expects three cuts by the end of the calendar year, a view that one in five Finder survey respondents (22 per cent) supported.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus12 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market12 hours agoAccording to Finder analysis, just one rate cut passed on could save someone on a $500,000 home loan more than $900 a year.“This snowballs to an annual saving of more than $2,600 should the three cuts come to fruition, with a reduced average variable rate of 4.16 per cent.” Thousands of agents flock to the Coast Baby boomer ‘house party’ goes off FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON TWITTER