• Investing opportunities across the credit continuum - Pierre-Antoine Godefroy, Head of Structuring and Business Development - External Managers, Structured Finance, AXA Investment Managers
• Pension scheme investment governance - a toolkit for success - Hannah Simons, Head of Fiduciary Management , Schroders
• Problem? What problem? - Carl Hitchman, Head of Fiduciary Management Advisory, Stamford Associates
• Update from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) - Fiona Frobisher, Head of Policy, The Pensions Regulator
• Challenging conventional wisdom - Andrew Cole, Head of Multi Asset London, Pictet Asset Management
• More defensive approaches to equity market exposure - Michael Walsh, Senior Strategist, Director, UBS Asset Management
• Is insurer pricing really as good as everyone says? - Ken Hardman, Partner, LCP
08.30 - 08.55: Registration and refreshments
08.55 - 09.00: Chair’s welcome
Roger Cobley, Chairman, Stamford Associates
09.00 - 09.30: KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Update from The Pensions Regulator (TPR)
Fiona Frobisher, Head of Policy, The Pensions Regulator
Synopsis: Fiona Frobisher will set out TPR’s key priorities and focus for the coming months. As the pensions environment continues to throw up challenges for many in the industry, Fiona will set out clearly what the regulator’s expectations are, with a particular attention on governance. She will address TPR’s ‘Clearer, Quicker, Tougher’ approach and outline what that means in practice for those running pension schemes.
09.30 - 09.55: Challenging conventional wisdom
Andrew Cole, Head of Multi Asset London, Pictet Asset Management
Synopsis: In this session, Andrew Cole will offer his thoughts on risk and diversification.
09.55 - 10.20: Building a Cashflow-orientated Investment Strategy
Sorca Kelly-Scholte, Managing Director, Head of EMEA Pensions Solutions & Advisory, JP Morgan
Synopsis: Many defined benefit plans are in a negative cash flow position, paying out more in benefits than they are receiving in contributions. The need to service cash outflow is an additional burden for underfunded plans in a moderate growth, low return world in which rates grind slowly higher. Closed and frozen plans have an even more daunting task. Sorca will discuss how a cashflow-driven investing approach can help schemes meet their cashflow needs and funding challenges.
10.20 - 10.45: Member engagement
Robin Armer, Senior Business Development Manager, Nest
Synopsis: As part of NEST’s continued focus on improving the retirement of millions, member engagement has been a hot topic as it’s been shown that through member engagement we can improve contribution levels and tackle inertia. With the first stage of phasing introduced it is important that we support members and provide them with the information to understand the benefit of higher contributions and how pension schemes can practically apply behavioural nudges and communications in parallel to engage members. In this session, Robin Armer will address these issues and more.
10.45 - 11.10: More defensive approaches to equity market exposure
Michael Walsh, Senior Strategist, Director, UBS Asset Management
Synopsis: It has been just over nine years since the S&P 500, the US equity benchmark, hit its lowest point during the global financial crisis. From these lows, equity investors have made a very handsome return of almost 300%. While stocks enjoyed an almost serene rise in 2017, volatility has re-emerged with a bang in 2018. Suddenly, investors are asking - are we coming to the end of one of the longest bull markets in history? This increased uncertainty has led UK pension funds to reconsider the role equities will play in their asset allocation in the future, as the desire for long term growth contrasts with the need to manage short term volatility. We look at innovative ways investors can manage volatility within their equity portfolios, using strategies to increase focus on income or help reduce downside risk.
11.10 - 11.35: Coffee break
11.35 - 12.00: Investing opportunities across the credit continuum
Pierre-Antoine Godefroy, Head of Structuring and Business Development - External Managers, Structured Finance, AXA Investment Managers
Synopsis: As pension funds continue their search for yield, we explore how alternative forms of lending offer schemes the potential to access a diverse universe of opportunities and risk premia within credit to help achieve better risk-adjusted returns throughout the market cycle. Traditionally, most credit investors have focused on the public bond markets but these represent only a limited part of the credit universe. Since the crisis, structural changes have opened up new opportunities for investors to broaden their credit allocation beyond traditional bond investing. However, capturing the potential benefits of investing across the credit continuum requires a deep understanding of private heterogeneous transactions, efficient sourcing and implementation, and thorough monitoring. We take a look at some important considerations for successful implementation.
12.00 - 12.35: KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Pensions Inadequacy
Tim Sharp, Policy Officer, Economics and Social Affairs Department, Trades Union Congress
Synopsis: In the last year or two, there has been government work on DB pensions, on auto enrolment pensions and on state pensions. But we lack a sense of what outcomes we are seeking to achieve with overall pensions policy, or how these different aspects of pension provision will help today's workers achieve a decent standard of living in retirement. This presentation will look at how retirement policy has to be taken out of its silos to allow a focus on pensions adequacy.
12.35 - 13.00: Problem? What problem?
Carl Hitchman, Head of Fiduciary Management Advisory, Stamford Associates
Synopsis: There is a seemingly never ending stream of negative headlines about the finances of defined benefit pension schemes, whether this arises as a result of a corporate failure, increasing deficits (yet again) or concerns over the investment outlook. The recent DWP White Paper and ongoing review of investment consultants by the CMA has only added to the debate on the future direction of our industry. However, what is the reality of the situation? In this talk, Carl Hitchman draws on all these issues to provide a different perspective on pension scheme funding, the investment behaviours created by current pensions legislation and how he believes matters can be moved forward in a manner that gives greater confidence to members, trustees and scheme sponsors in addressing the challenge of delivering the member benefit promises.
13.00 - 14.00: Lunch
14.00 - 14.25: Is insurer pricing really as good as everyone says?
Ken Hardman, Partner, LCP
Synopsis: Buy-in and buy-out volumes are on track to reach a record-breaking £15bn in 2018. Despite the increased activity, insurer pricing has improved in early 2018, but is it as good as everyone says and how attractive are the opportunities for pension plans to de-risk? This session will cover: What are the key drivers of insurer pricing and how to make them work for you; Market supply and demand dynamics; How you can best prepare for a buy-in or buy-out transaction in the current environment.
14.25 - 14.50: Pension scheme investment governance - a toolkit for success
Hannah Simons, Head of Fiduciary Management , Schroders
Synopsis: The continually shifting landscape of the pension market has made it particularly difficult for many trustees and sponsors to fully fund their pension schemes. Low long term real yields have resulted in higher liabilities. Despite strong returns from growth assets the funding gap continues to widen. In an increasingly complex world where resource is often limited, trustees and sponsors need to focus on what matters most: securing members’ benefits through a clearly defined funding plan. In this session, Hannah Simons will explore ways in which trustees can set themselves up to make the decisions required to make their investment strategy thrive in order to more effectively support their long-term funding objectives.
14.50 - 15.20: Targets, engagement and all that
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: James Walsh, Policy Lead: Engagement, EU and Regulation, PLSA
Synopsis: Last year, the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) launched a consultation called ‘Hitting the Target’, proposing a new way of helping people to understand how much they should be saving for the retirement they want. Ahead of the next stage of the PLSA’s work, to be published in the summer, James Walsh will set out a vision of national retirement income targets and other proposals to get people more engaged with their pensions and help everyone achieve a better income in retirement.
15.20 - 15.30: Chairman’s round-up, Apple Watch draw and distribution of M&S vouchers
15.30: Close of conference followed by drinks reception