Dutch Pension Funding Ratios Drop By 5 Percent in January


The funding ratios of Dutch pension funds have fallen on average by 5 percentage points in January on the back of low interest rates, according to Mercer and Aon Hewitt.

More from Investments & Pensions Europe:

Average funding, according to estimates by Aon Hewitt and Mercer, fell by 5 percentage points over the period, due to persistently low interest rates, the criterion for discounting liabilities.


The consultancies also attributed the sudden drop in funding to a new accounting method for calculating coverage ratios.

Since 1 January, when the Netherlands introduced its new financial assessment framework (FTK), schemes’ funding has been based on actual interest rates while applying the ultimate forward rate (UFR), rather than the three-month average of interest rates plus UFR.

In addition, the new FTK came with a ‘policy funding ratio’ – meant as a criterion for rights cuts and indexation – consisting of the average coverage of the previous 12 months.

According to Aon Hewitt, policy funding stood at 109% at January-end, while Mercer placed the figure at 109.6%.


[Aon Hewitt chief commercial officer for retirement and financial management Frank] Driessen said the ECB’s recently announced quantitative-easing programme had led to a further slide of interest rates and predicted that rates would remain low for “a long time”.

The average funding ratio of Dutch pensions stood at 103 percent at the end of January, according to Aon Hewitt.

Canada Pension Buys Big Stake in San Francisco Office Tower

Golden Gate Bridge

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is buying a major stake in a popular San Francisco office tower, the fund announced on Thursday.

The rest of the property is owned by Hudson Pacific Properties, Inc.

From Bloomberg:

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board agreed to pay about $219.2 million for part of a San Francisco office building where ride-sharing company Uber Technologies Inc. and mobile-payment provider Square Inc. have their headquarters.

The pension fund plans to buy the 45 percent stake in 1455 Market St. from Hudson Pacific Properties Inc., the companies said today in a statement. Los Angeles-based Hudson Pacific has owned the 22-story tower since December 2010 and will continue to oversee management and leasing.

The purchase is the Canadian pension’s first direct investment in San Francisco, where office rents have soared 88 percent in almost five years, according to Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (JLL) Demand for office space has been buoyed by annual job growth of 3.6 percent in the city, outpacing the U.S. by one percentage point, the brokerage said in a report this week.

San Francisco is “one of the best-performing U.S. office markets and a key strategic market for CPPIB in that country,” Peter Ballon, head of real estate investments in the Americas for the pension, said in today’s statement.

The 1.03 million-square-foot (95,300-square-meter) property, formerly a Bank of America Corp. data center, was built in 1976 and has ground-floor retail.

Read the press release here.


Photo by ilirjan rrumbullaku via Flickr CC License

CalSTRS: Financial Risk of Climate Change “Very Real” For Institutional Investors

smoke stack

CalSTRS has been one of the most active (and vocal) pension funds in the world this year when it comes to exploring the financial risk of climate change.

The fund announced last month it was joining forces with Mercer and a handful of other pension funds to study the market impact of climate change.

Now, CalSTRS has commented on a new report showing the “profound lack of preparedness” for climate change among the nation’s insurance companies.

The pension fund calls for institutional investors to be “more mindful of market exposures to environmental risks.”

From a CalSTRS release:

The Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey Report & Scorecard: 2014 Findings & Recommendations was released today by Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability organization mobilizing business and investor leadership on climate change and other sustainability challenges, ranks property & casualty, health, and life & annuity insurers that represent about 87 percent of the total U.S. insurance market. Ceres found strong leadership on the issue in fewer than a dozen companies nationwide.

“Environmental, social and governance risks and issues such as climate change are very real for CalSTRS. This new report enables large institutional investors to be more mindful of market exposure to environmental risks through our insurance investments,” said CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehnes. “More importantly, the report gives us better perspective on how well, or not, insurance companies are responding to climate change risk.”

The report states, “… insurers are on the veritable ‘front line’ of climate change risks, and there is compelling evidence that those risks are growing. Rising sea levels and more pronounced extreme weather events will mean increasingly damaging storm surges and flooding. Hurricane Sandy alone resulted in over $29 billion in insured losses.”

“Meaningful change in the recognition of climate risk to the investment portfolio will come from an alignment of interests, and who better to take leadership this effort than the insurance industry,” added Ehnes. “The foundation of the insurance model is based on risk analysis, so ignoring the risk of climate changes seems most imprudent. Clearly, more action on the part of the insurance sector is needed.”

Last month, CalSTRS announced plans to double down on its clean energy investments.

CalSTRS, Others Bankroll Study on Economic Impact of Climate Change

smoking smokestack

To date, there have been zero state-level pension funds that have heeded public calls to divest from fossil fuel-dependent companies.

But that doesn’t mean some pension funds aren’t interested in learning the impact climate change could have on their investments in the future.

Several of the world’s largest pension funds, including CalSTRS, have joined with Mercer to conduct a study forecasting the impact of climate change on markets over the next 40 years. From Chief Investment Officer:

The study aims to map out potential climate scenarios and their impacts on economies and markets, with forecasts stretching out to 2030 and 2050.

It follows a weekend of marches across the world calling for action on climate change, as the United Nations prepares to meet for a Climate Summit in New York on September 23.

Among the pension funds signed up to the study are the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), New Zealand Super, and Sweden’s AP1. In total, Mercer said asset owners representing $1.5 trillion were backing the survey.

Jane Ambachtsheer, head of Mercer’s global responsible investment team, said the survey’s objective was “to help investors make robust, well–researched investment decisions that factor in a consideration of climate change”.

“New data points and scientific evidence are now available, including the topical subject of the potential risk posed by so-called ‘stranded’ carbon assets,” she added. “Ultimately, it’s about enabling institutional investors to adapt over the longer-term.”

Brian Rice, portfolio manager at CalSTRS, was among those welcoming the launch of the study. “The multi-scenario, forward looking approach to this study makes it unique,” he said. “Investors will be able to consider allocation optimisation, based on the scenario they believe most probable, to help mitigate risk and improve investment returns.”

A few days ago, CalSTRS announced plans to triple its investments in clean energy.


Photo: Paul Falardeau via Flickr CC License