Romanian second-pillar pension funds surge in size, profitability

first_imgRomania’s second-pillar pension funds have surged in asset size and profitability this year.According to data from the Private Pension System Supervisory Commission (CSSPP), the pension regulator, the total net asset value of the eight second-pillar funds totalled RON12.8bn (€2.9bn), a year-on-year rise of 45.6% in Romanian currency terms.Over this period, the number of members grew by 3.2% to 5.95m.Most of the asset increase is due to the government’s maintaining this year’s planned rise in the contribution rate, from 3.5% of gross wages to 4%. Catalin Ciocan, executive secretary of the Romanian Private Pension Funds Association, said: “Out of the RON4bn increase in net assets, 73% represents the contributions directed to the second pillar, and the difference (RON1.05bn) is explained by the investment performance of the funds.“The total performance since the system’s inception remains very strong: the funds posted a net annualised average return of 11.7%, meaning a net gain (net assets minus gross contributions) of RON2.28bn since their inception in 2008.”Current legislation for the second pillar – which since 2008 has been mandatory for those up to 35 years old and voluntary for those between 35 and 45 years – envisages yearly increases in the contribution rate.The government has still to finalise the 2014 Budget.“In the short term,” Ciocan added, “the most important action to support the continuation of these very good results would be to increase the contribution rate to 4.5%, and we are waiting for official confirmation from the government.”According to CSSPP, the weighted annual average return rose over the year from 6.2% to 10%.The strong performance of the funds is largely due to their heavy investment in state bonds – an average 76% as of the end of September – which saw prices rise significantly this year.Profitability has also been impressive.As of the end of June, total profits grew by 43% year on year to RON440.4m.ING, with the biggest fund by assets and membership, recorded the highest profit, of RON146.7m.In the case of the smaller, third-pillar pension fund system, in operation since 2007, assets grew by 35.2% to RON750.1m and membership by 8% to 305,796 as of end September.Returns for the balanced funds rose from 5.3% to 9.6%, and those for the higher-risk dynamic funds from 5.3% to 10.5%.The total profits of the 10 funds grew by 7.8% to RON22.4m as of end June.last_img read more

Read More Romanian second-pillar pension funds surge in size, profitability

Dutch schemes at risk of applying conduct code too hastily – Towers Watson

first_imgMargot Scheltema, chairman of the new monitoring committee for the Code, added: “Applying the code is an evolving process, and it could take a couple of years before we have a proper picture.”She said the code could be “compressed” whilst conceding that pension funds’ interpretation of its open norms could cause problems in future.Scheltema added that the new committee did not yet have a clear picture exactly how the monitoring process of more than 350 pension funds would be carried out.Separately at the congress, the Association of Internal Supervisors in the Pensions Sector (VITP) – established in 2012 – presented its new code.The VITP Supervisory Code is meant to serve as a “moral compass” for the association’s 135 members, explained Erik Klijn, a board member at VITP.He said the code’s application was not mandatory, but that VITP expected its members to apply its norms framework.Klijn described the supervisory code as a “work in progress”, which would continue to evolve as experience was gained. Dutch pension funds are in such a hurry to implement their new code of conduct they run the risk of implementing it incorrectly, Towers Watson has warned. Speaking at the Euroforum congress in Amsterdam, Paul de Koning, senior consultant for compliance and governance at Towers Watson, cited the many and often changing rules as the biggest challenge facing pension funds’ boards.“They think they can never finish the job,” he said.Introduced on 1 January, the Pension Fund Code – initiated by the Pensions Federation and the Labour Foundation (StAr) – consists of more than 80 rules.last_img read more

Read More Dutch schemes at risk of applying conduct code too hastily – Towers Watson

Wednesday people roundup

first_imgKAS BANK UK, Marzotto SIM, Schroders, Punter Southall, Old Mutual Global Investors, BlueBay Asset Management, SL Capital Partners, AXA Investment Managers, Seneca Investment Managers, CandriamKAS BANK UK – Christopher Sier has been appointed managing director as part of the company’s “strategic refocus” on institutional investors. According to KAS, Sier was responsible for a “range of knowledge transfer, research and thought leadership activities across the institutional investments sector”, with particular emphasis on pension funds. Before then, he worked for a number of management consulting companies, specialising in advising both buy- and sell-side clients on strategic, operational and technology issues. His remit will be to help UK pension funds better understand their costs. KAS BANK is a custodian but also produces data on fees and costs for schemes in its native Dutch market.Marzotto SIM – Antonio Chiarello has been appointed chief executive and general manager at the Italy-based asset manager. He succeeds Gianbattista Duso, who has left the company to pursue other opportunities. Chiarello joins from Antirion SGR, where he was a founding partner and chief executive. Before then, he worked at UBS Global Asset Management, Italy, where he was general manager of UBS Alternative Investments SGR and head of the institutional and alternative business.Schroders – Schroders Portfolio Solutions, part of Schroders’ Multi-Asset Business, has appointed Philip Howard as LDI solutions manager. He will join from Mercer, where he has been a part of the consultancy’s Financial Strategy Group for seven years. Howard will succeed Daniel Morris, who will transfer to New York at the beginning of 2015. Punter Southall – Colette Christiansen has been appointed principal and head of de-risking solutions. She joins from Towers Watson, where she advised a number of buyout and longevity swap transactions. Before then, she was part of Mercer’s financial strategy group responsible for longevity risk and de-risking solutions.Old Mutual Global Investors – Allan MacLeod has been appointed head of international distribution. He spent 21 years at Martin Currie in a variety of senior roles, including eight years managing money. He set up and ran the hedge fund business and was a member of the executive committee and a main board director. He left Martin Currie in 2011 and joined Ignis Asset Management in 2012 as head of global accounts.BlueBay Asset Management – Roberto Valsecchi Oliva, partner and head of sales for Southern Europe, has been appointed to manage BlueBay’s new office in Zurich, Switzerland. David Keel, director of sales for Switzerland, will lead the Swiss-orientated business development efforts out of the new office.SL Capital Partners – The private equity and infrastructure specialist has made two senior hires. Robert Kellermann will lead efforts in the German, Austrian and Swiss regions as head of DACH. He joins from Feri Trust Germany, where he was head of institutional clients. Before then, he worked at Pioneer Investments KAG Munich, where he was head of consultant relations for Germany and Switzerland. Alan Coffey will focus on efforts in the UK and Continental Europe, including the Nordic market. He joins after almost a decade at Goldman Sachs AIMS Group, where he worked as a private equity specialist.AXA Investment Managers ­– Gregory Venizelos has been appointed senior credit strategist to the Research and Investment Strategy team. He joins from BNP Paribas’s Fixed Income division, where he was a senior credit strategist. Before then, he worked at RBS.Seneca Investment Managers – Peter Elston has been appointed global investment strategist. He joins from Aberdeen Asset Management, where he was head of Asia Pacific strategy and asset allocation.Candriam – William Jaworski has been appointed as senior medical technology analyst. He joins from Riverside, where he focused on investments in healthcare and medical companies and most recently led the European research team. Jaworski started his career at Merrill Lynch in London.last_img read more

Read More Wednesday people roundup

Denmark’s ATP set to axe some risk classes

first_imgDenmark’s DKK770bn (€103.2bn) supplementary labour-market pension fund is on the verge of revamping its long-held investment portfolio structure of five risk classes in a move that is likely to see some of those classes abandoned.Under chief executive Carsten Stendevad, who took the helm at the fund two years ago, ATP has sped up the process of reviewing the risk-class system because of concerns it is no longer providing the diversification originally assumed, or the spread of risk the pension fund now needs.In an interview with IPE, Stendevad said: “It is quite likely our division of risk classes will change in a year.”ATP’s bonus reserves, worth around DKK100bn at the end of March, make up around 20% of its total net assets, with the bulk of net assets held in the much larger hedging portfolio (valued at DKK671bn), designed to back the pension guarantees the fund makes. ATP’s bonus reserves are invested in a separate investment portfolio with an absolute return target, which is meant to maintain the purchasing power of pensions in the future.It is structured according to the principles of risk allocation – a portfolio management approach focusing on a balanced allocation to different risk factors rather than on allocation of capital, with the aim of being better diversified and thereby creating better risk-adjusted accumulated returns.ATP divides the investment portfolio into the risk classes of equities, credit, interest rates, inflation and commodities. Stendevad said this system, put in place back in 2006, had served ATP well in the management of its investment portfolio.“But now we ask ourselves, are those five risk classes really distinct, or are there, in fact, fewer?” he said.As interest rates have fallen over the last few years, values of bonds, equities and other assets within the five risk classes such as property, have risen simultaneously, a development that suggests the risk categories are not as well diversified against each other as initially thought.“We do believe in the benefits of diversification, but in the past couple of years, global QE (quantitative easing) and the massive drop in rates has been driving up the prices of almost all assets across ATP’s risk classes,” Stendevad said. “It’s great on the way up, but if we don’t have the benefit of diversification on the way down, that would be a problem.”Because of these concerns, he said ATP was now in the process of reassessing, still in the spirit of balancing risk, whether it had the right bucketing in its investment portfolio.The investment team has been allowing the portfolio to deviate from its current risk-parity approach over the last couple of years because of the way the financial markets are, Stendevad said, adding that this had accelerated over the last year.“One has to be constantly sceptical and critical of one’s own processes,” he said.“Looking back, we will probably always say we didn’t get it quite right. For us, it has been a constant process to develop our investment model, and that will continue in the future.”Stendevad defended ATP’s focus on protecting itself against the impact of sudden increases in inflation over the next 20 years at a time when it is the risk of deflation that is seen as more imminent.He said a sudden rise in the rate of inflation presented a huge risk to the value of pensions.“For me, that’s an example of how we invest,” he said.“We take a long view and want to have something for all scenarios.”In the fourth quarter of 2014, when interest rates and inflation expectations fell, the inflation caps and swaptions within ATP’s inflation risk class made a mark-to-market loss of DKK6.4bn. In the second quarter of 2015, however, in which interest rates and inflation expectations suddenly increased, ATP said inflation protection delivered the expected positive financial performance. “The real benefit of that position, however, would occur should a large inflation regime change happen some time within the next 15-20 years,” Stendevad said.last_img read more

Read More Denmark’s ATP set to axe some risk classes

Wednesday people roundup

first_imgAmundi – Fabrice Bay has been appointed as a senior portfolio manager on a global equities strategy at the French asset manager. Bay will now report to Nicholas Melhuish, head of global equities. He joins from Martin Currie. Before then, he worked at GLG Partners as a hedge fund manager and had roles with Deutsche Wealth and Asset Management in equity portfolio management. He will be based in London.Investec Asset Management – Matthew Oakeley has been appointed as chief technology officer, joining from rival manager Schroders. Oakeley will develop the company’s technology used by clients. He will report to COO Kim McFarland.LCP – Caroline McGowan has joined the UK consultancy as a senior consultant in its defined contribution (DC) business. McGowan joins in September from rival Hymans Robertson, where she was principal of DC provider relations. McGowan will help build LCP’s DC solutions business, focusing on member interaction.Kames Capital – Carly Norris has been appointed institutional relationship manager at the asset management firm, joining from Janus Capital International. Norris will join the eight-person institutional business team and be responsible for maintaining client and consultant relationships and business development. At Janus, she was consultant relations manager on its institutional sales team. JP Morgan Asset Management, Russell Investments, Grant & Eisenhofer, APG, Insight Investment, Mediolanum Asset Management, Amundi, Martin Currie, Investec Asset Management, Schroders, LCP, Hymans Robertson, Kames Capital, Janus Capital InternationalJP Morgan Asset Management – Sorca Kelly-Scholte is to join the asset manager at the end of the month as head of pensions solutions and advisory for the EMEA. Kelly-Scholte joins from Russell Investments, where she was managing director of client strategy and research. At JPMAM, she will be responsible for a London-based team focusing on advising institutional investors and conducting research on investment issues.Grant & Eisenhofer – Guus Warringa has joined the investment law firm after leaving Dutch pension fund manager APG. Warringa was instrumental in lawsuits by ABP – APG’s client – against Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse over the alleged mis-selling of collateralised debt obligations. He spent seven years at the firm, leaving as general counsel. Prior to this, he was general counsel at Euronext in Amsterdam.Insight Investment – Lloyd Thomas has joined the asset manager as a multi-asset portfolio manager, joining from Mediolanum Asset Management. He joins the London office and will work on the multi-asset strategy group’s ‘broad opportunities’ strategy. He spent six years at Mediolanum before moving to Insight and will report to Matthew Merrit, head of multi-asset.last_img read more

Read More Wednesday people roundup

Private debt assets hit record high as dry powder piles up

first_imgAssets in private debt have tripled since December 2007 to hit a record $638bn (€594bn) as of the end of June last year, according to data provider Preqin.It did not yet have data for the second half of 2017, but said information so far indicated 2017 could end up being a record year for capital distributions to investors.In H1 2017 managers returned $71bn, which raised the prospect of the industry distributing more than $100bn through the year for the first time.The record so far is shared by the years 2015 and 2016, when more than $90bn was returned to investors in each year. The net flow of capital to investors was negative in those years, however. Private debt funds returned 18.4% in the year to June 2017, Preqin said. The asset class produced 10.9% a year on average over five years.Just over 50% of investors had a positive view of private debt, and 42% planned to commit more to private debt this year than they did in 2017, according to Preqin.The flood of capital into the asset class meant private debt managers had more dry power than ever before – nearly €250bn – as of the end of 2017, according to Preqin.Ryan Flanders, head of private debt products, said this had created pricing pressure.“[T]here are dangers that come from growing too fast too quickly,” he said, “and fund managers and investors alike are alive to concerns that the influx of capital to the asset class might make for a challenging deal making environment.“Both fund managers and investors cited valuations as their top concern for 2018, and if fundraising continues at its current pace, these conditions are likely to intensify.”At Blackstone, investor appetite for private debt meant its credit business overtook real estate as the alternatives fund manager’s largest business line.Its total real estate assets under management rose from $102bn in Q4 2016 to $115bn at the end of 2017, but its credit business grew faster – from $93.3bn to $138bn.The manager attributed much of the growth of its credit business to inflows from its new Blackstone Insurance Solutions platform, and its acquisition of Harvest Fund Advisors.Its total assets, including private equity and hedge funds, rose from $367bn to $434bn. Blackstone came in 48th in IPE’s 2017 Top 400 asset manager ranking.last_img read more

Read More Private debt assets hit record high as dry powder piles up

Analysis: First estimates of UK equality ruling costs emerge

first_imgThe GMP relates to compensation paid to scheme members in relation to state pension reform. It took years for the courts to decide whether the payments – which are based on the state pension but paid by individual schemes – were subject to EU equality rules.Counting the cost Dixons Carphone, owner of the Currys PC World chain, estimated a £15m GMP equalisation billDefence technology company QinetiQ said in its interim results statement, published on 15 November, that it anticipated GMP equalisation would “increase liabilities by approximately 1-4% of the scheme’s gross liabilities”.As of 31 March 2018, QinetiQ’s UK defined benefit (DB) schemes had combined liabilities of £1.7bn, meaning GMP equalisation could push up its obligations by roughly £17m-£67m.Compass Group, a hospitality services firm, estimated the cost at 1-2% of its £2.4bn of liabilities.“The effects of the [GMP] ruling will be recognised in the next financial year when the obligation to amend the plan’s benefits has arisen,” the company said in its annual report, published on 17 December.In its half-year report from 21 November, chemicals company Johnson Matthey stated: “As there are still a number of uncertainties with respect to the period over which the benefits should be equalised, the group cannot provide a definitive estimate of the income statement impact at this date, although the amount may be up to £30m.”As of 31 March 2018, Johnson Matthey’s DB pension liabilities amounted to £1.8bn.Increasing deficits Transport firm Stagecoach predicted a £24.2m increase in liabilitiesWhile the above three schemes were all in surplus according to their latest figures, other sponsoring employers to have estimated the impact of GMP equalisation faced adding to their DB pension shortfalls.Dixons Carphone, which runs a chain of high street technology retailers, put its estimated GMP cost at £18m. However, according to its 2018 annual report, its DB scheme was just 70% funded with a deficit of £470m, as of 28 April.Transport group Stagecoach estimated its GMP equalisation cost at £24.2m.“We have worked with our actuarial advisers to understand the implications of the judgement for the schemes in which the group participates and the £24.2m pre-tax exceptional expense reflects our best estimate of the effect on our reported pension liabilities,” the company said in its half-year report on 5 December.As well as having its own UK pension fund, Stagecoach participates in the Railways Pension Scheme and the Local Government Pension Scheme.DS Smith, a packaging provider, predicted a £15m cost, equivalent to roughly 1.5% of its DB liabilities. De La Rue, printer of UK banknotes and passports, said it believed GMP payment changes would cost roughly £2m (0.2% of liabilities), while Pennon, a water and waste management company, estimated a £4m cost (0.4%).Other employers have warned investors of potential increases to DB obligations, but have yet to publish estimated costs.Further readingInsurers ‘may have to restructure de-risking deals’ after GMP rulingUK schemes in race against time to deal with GMP rulingcenter_img UK companies have begun to report the estimated impact of October’s pension payment equality ruling on their liabilities.In interim or half-year reports published in November and December 2018, a handful of listed firms estimated that the landmark ruling would raise liabilities by between 0.2% and 1.9%.Since October’s ruling, eight UK listed companies with combined pension liabilities of more than £14bn (€15.5bn) have reported the estimated impact of GMP “equalisation” on their schemes, IPE research has found. The figures are preliminary and will be confirmed later this year once full calculations have been completed.The UK High Court ruled in October that “guaranteed minimum pension” (GMP) payments accrued between 1990 and 1997 must apply equally to men and women, meaning schemes faced having to revisit 30 years’ worth of records and potentially pay billions to members who missed out.last_img read more

Read More Analysis: First estimates of UK equality ruling costs emerge

​ATP’s geared portfolio dives 9% in last quarter of 2018

first_imgBo Foged, acting CEO, ATPFoged said that since ATP had enjoyed high returns in recent years, it was to be expected that these could not continue.“But our long-term investment horizon and balanced risk approach provide a solid foundation for preserving the real value of our members’ pensions, although we expect returns to be moderate in the coming years,” Foged said.At the end of October, ATP reported that it had made a 5.8% return on the investment portfolio in the first nine months of the year. However, in the fourth quarter, ATP’s annual results showed this return was wiped out by a DKK9.1bn loss.However guaranteed benefits – or the hedging portfolio – grew to DKK693bn, from DKK651bn at the end of 2017. ATP’s total assets therefore rose to DKK785bn, from DKK769bn.Leverage increasedATP increases the firepower of its investment portfolio by borrowing assets from the hedging portfolio at market rates, as well as by using derivatives.This meant that, at the end of 2018, the portfolio had a market value of DKK307.5bn – 3.34 times its actual value in ATP’s accounts of DKK92bn.Hyldahl told IPE at the end of August that the portfolio’s gearing had been around 200% two years ago.With its current high leverage, the investment portfolio return figure is not comparable to overall investment returns published by most other Danish pension funds.According to the Danish FSA’s key “N1” investment return figure, which allows comparability between pension fund results, ATP made a 3.7% return in 2018, up from 2.5% in 2017. Denmark’s biggest pension fund lost nearly a tenth of the value of its investment portfolio in the last quarter of 2018, setting it up for a calendar year investment loss of 3.2%.ATP, the country’s giant statutory pension fund, reported that the investment portfolio’s value fell to DKK92bn (€12.3bn) at the end of December, compared to DKK118bn a year earlier.The investment portfolio consists of ATP’s bonus reserves, whereas the bulk of the DKK785bn pension fund’s money is contained in its hedging portfolio, designed to guarantee its pension promises.ATP recorded an overall DKK25bn loss during the year, mostly because of a DKK20bn adjustment it made at the end of June to cover the impact of a change in its longevity assumptions. Bo Foged, who has been acting CEO since Christian Hyldahl resigned in November, said: “After several years of stable, positive returns, the financial markets, especially towards the end of 2018, were marked by negative returns in the global equity markets and rising interest rates in the US.”Listed international equities and inflation-related instruments were the two biggest detractors from investment profits in 2018, losing DKK6.6bn and DKK5.4bn respectively.Government and mortgage bonds, however, posted a DKK3.6bn profit during the year. Private equity generated DKK3bn and real estate and infrastructure jointly added DKK4.8bn to the pot.last_img read more

Read More ​ATP’s geared portfolio dives 9% in last quarter of 2018

UK minister ups the ante on pension funds and climate change

first_imgThe UK pensions minister took the opportunity of London Climate Action Week to reinforce his views that the country’s pension funds both can and must play a role in “tackling climate change”.Addressing delegates at an event on Monday, Guy Opperman suggested pension fund trustees holding oil and gas securities may be doing so because they doubted the government’s commitment to emissions reductions – and they would be wrong to do so.“Perhaps they suspect that governments aren’t serious, that we won’t meet our targets and that we’ll carry on with large net carbon emissions to 2100 and beyond,” he said. The consequences of that, however, would be “dismal”, he added.“There absolutely is the political will to address this climate emergency from both the government and all the opposition parties,” Opperman continued. “If those of you in the room ever doubted your individual or collective power, I encourage you to realise it now. “There absolutely is the political will to address this climate emergency from both the government and all the opposition parties”Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion“It doesn’t let you just set the target, it requires that once you set the target you set a pathway to get there and you put in place the policies in order to deliver it,” he said at another London Climate Action Week event.“It is now law that the secretary of state for energy must bring forward a policy package in order to meet the net-zero target. This is not just some wishy-washy goal.”The driving force of regulationDuring his speech on Monday, Opperman also highlighted new and proposed regulation affecting pension schemes. He said: “I don’t want to hear any more that ‘climate change is important, but we leave it to our investment managers’.”Pension funds’ statements of investment principles had for “too long… been formulaic, generic and detached”, he said, adding that he intended to use transparency to change this.Under new regulations adopted this year, defined contribution (DC) schemes have to publish their investment policies and report on them annually.Opperman also said the legislation he had introduced to transpose the updated Shareholder Rights Directive also obliged defined benefit schemes to publish their policies on climate change. Credit: Ralf Vetterle Addressing the UK’s carbon output ‘will require a shift in policymaking’According to the CCC’s Thompson, the government’s approach to climate change was “far too siloed” and that a “pretty fundamental shift” was required in the approach to policymaking.“We’ve got too many departments… who just haven’t made the progress that we need,” he said. “This has to be owned by the new prime minister [and] the chancellor. They have to be corralling all the secretaries of state to put this front and centre of policymaking in every department.“All the major decisions that are made are going to have to go through a net-zero filter if we’re going to get to this target.”Fossil fuel divestment Neatly bookending London Climate Action Week, two royal institutions today announced divestment of shares in fossil fuel companies. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine cut the investments from its £1.3m endowment fund, according to a statement, and the Royal Society of Arts did the same for its £17m portfolio.Yesterday the National Trust, a conservation charity, announced it would sell out of all fossil fuel companies over the next three years in its investment funds, in addition to increasing engagement with asset managers to encourage them to improve their environmental performance, and seeking out opportunities to support green start-up businesses. “This legislation commits the UK to a path that pension funds must play a massive role in.”Last week the UK became the first major economy to adopt a law to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.According to Mike Thompson, head of carbon budgets at the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which recommended the government adopt the target, the Climate Change Act “is probably the strongest piece of climate legislation in the world”.center_img The UK has brought forward some of the most ambitious global warming targets in Europe, according to commentators“Many defined benefit schemes are de-risked, but the £1.5trn [€1.65trn] of assets means even small percentage allocations have a significant impact on where investment is directed,” he said.Opperman also brought up government proposals for larger DC schemes to disclose and report on a “clear” policy on infrastructure investment and other illiquid assets, saying he was considering the next steps “and would personally like to go much further”. The proposals were unveiled in February, with a consultation running until the beginning April.Opperman also highlighted new governance regulations “that require trustees both to have an effective system of governance, including consideration of [ESG]; and to document how they assess risks from climate change and risks from the low carbon transition”.The UK government this week published its green finance strategy, which revealed that, together with The Pensions Regulator, it had set up a working group to produce guidance for pension schemes about carrying out and reporting a climate risk assessment, with a view to this feeding into a governance code with “statutory footing”.“I take this very seriously,” said the minister, “and I am very aware of the consequences on not addressing the long-term climate emergency. I hope you look in the mirror and look at what role you can play.”Helping pension funds to helpAccording to the organisers of the event – Sustineri, Pensions for Purpose and Accounting for Sustainability – Opperman and other policymakers in attendance also heard from pension funds about what would help them to deliver on climate goals.The event was held under Chatham House rules, but according to a report by the co-hosts, one of the main discussion points was that investors needed a more joined-up approach across government and regulatory regimes. The need for a coherent renewables policy and stronger carbon pricing was mentioned. Credit: © National Trust Images/Andrew ButlerA National Trust site in Cambridgeshire, EnglandPeter Vermeulen, National Trust’s chief financial officer said: “Many organisations have been working hard to persuade fossil fuel companies to invest in green alternatives. These companies have made insufficient progress and now we have decided to divest from fossil fuel companies.”Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor of London for environment and energy, welcomed the organisations’ decisions.“London is the global hub of the divestment movement and it is vitally important to divest pension funds from fossil fuels to help address our climate emergency,” she added.There is a big debate about whether divestment or engagement with companies is the best way to effect change. In a recent report, UBS Asset Management said the threat of divestment, together with shareholder votes, were “direct and powerful tools that can be used to put pressure on corporations because they place incentives at the heart of their raison d’être – generating value for shareholders”. Legal & General Investment Management recently announced it would cut ExxonMobil from its Future World funds as part of its “engagement with consequences” programme, while the Church of England has set a deadline of 2023 for its engagement programme with fossil fuel companies.Earlier this week a trio of senior figures working for UK occupational pension schemes signed a pledge to recommend to their boards and investment committees to “insist” on asset managers actively engaging with corporate boards to disclose a clear business plan to transition to a low carbon future.Earlier this year, more than 300 investors backing Climate Action 100+ were urged to adopt “a consistent, outcomes-focused and transparent escalation process” for their engagement with companies.last_img read more

Read More UK minister ups the ante on pension funds and climate change

To the manor born

first_imgYou can lap up the luxury from every room in the house – and from the poolMrs Spencer personally chose many of the key features for the house, flying to Prague to pick out the chandeliers and visiting Bangkok to select the fountain and statues to line the driveway.Italian marble has been used throughout the home, with many of the walls treated by hand.The stunning claw foot bath was also a favourite piece of Mrs Spence, and is overlooked by two Venetian mirrors.“The wallpaper in the main bedroom suites is from France, as are all of the fabrics,” she said.The couple have now moved out their former family home, having downsized to a small Georgian-style house at Kangaroo Point. Additional premium extras include a four car garage, C-Bus System controlled lighting, airconditioning, CCTV security, extensive storage, a large workshop and garden shed, biocycle waste system and 4.5kW solar panels. Luxury features are featured throughout the houseOwners Craig and Christine Spencer built the seven-bedroom residence in 1998, drawing inspiration from their travels.Mrs Spencer said it had been a “work of art spanning 20 years”.“We drew inspiration from the Georgian-style homes in Atlanta, taking that neoclassical look,” she said. 652 London Road, Chandler Wow, just wow!SITUATED on a little over one hectare and just 15 kms from the Brisbane CBD, this Georgian-inspired home has the feel of a modern royal estate.Boasting a 901sq m interior — four and a half times bigger than the average new home — it is filled with ornate and luxurious touches including marble staircases, wrought-iron banisters and chandeliers.center_img French wallpaper adorns the wallsMrs Spence said she would miss decorating the Christmas tree, which was situated in the formal room and needed scaffolding to decorate. “It was a family home. We didn’t treat it like some showcase home. The kids could run around wherever they wanted,” she said. The couple are behind the Carter and Spencer Group, a third generation family-owned fresh fruit and vegetable firm.Entry to their sprawling estate is via a grand, manicured hedge-lined driveway with a tiered fountain and baroque statues, which leads to a grand porte-cochere.You then step inside to a gallery, open plan lounge and formal dining space, with a grand staircase leading to the upper floor.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus17 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market17 hours agoThe western wing of the ground level incorporates a family room, casual dining area and kitchen with European appliances, a walk-in pantry, cold room and custom built wine cellar. A six-seat home theatre, dance room, home office, games room, laundry, guest room and gymnasium are also located on the ground floor, which leads out on to the terraces, courtyards, patios and alfresco entertaining areas via french doors.Upstairs, there is a family retreat, four bedrooms, a guest room, two bathrooms and a master suite featuring an enormous walk-through robe, generous ensuite with bath and dual basin vanity, and access to two separate Juliet balconies.Outside, there is a 20m lap pool flanked by manicured lawns and paved sunbathing areas and a large pond.last_img read more

Read More To the manor born