Devils Advocates Panel – Morning Session
Adrian Furnell, UK Pensions Manager, Uniper
Alexandra Noble, Independent Adviser, Noble & Associates
Mark Thompson, Independent Adviser

08:45 – 08:50
Welcome & Opening Remarks

John Harrison
Interim CIO
BA Pensions

08:50 – 09:15
Presentation: The Investment Outlook for the Defined Benefit Sector

Magnus Spence
Managing Director – Global Distribution Solutions
Broadridge Financial Solutions

Jonathan Libre
Principal – EMEA Insights
Broadridge Financial Solutions

Broadridge will present key data and analysis from their comprehensive annual report on investment trends in the DB pensions sector. There will be particular emphasis on key developments and opportunities in the following areas:

  • Fiduciary management: how has the market evolved post-CMA, will there be a flurry of activity in re-tendering mandates, and if so, who will be the winners and losers?
  • ESG: With the new regulations, what does best practice look like in terms of integration? How are managers responding in terms of product development?
  • Multi-asset: It is a difficult environment for DGFs, but are there any still winning? What are the characteristics of those that continue to do well?
  • Multi-sector fixed income: The multi-sector fixed income universe comprises multi-asset credit, diversified fixed income, and absolute return fixed income, with many strategies seeming to span multiple categories. What are the characteristics of the strategies that are in demand, and how are they being used by schemes?
  • Specialist fixed income: Structured Finance has proven popular recently, recovering from the reputational damage suffered during the financial crisis. What are the characteristics of the strategies that have done well, and how are they being used by schemes?
  • Alternatives: Managers are launching new vehicles to facilitate access to smaller schemes, but what has been the take-up so far?
  • End-game solutions: how can asset managers work with schemes to facilitate their transition to the endgame, be that buy-out, or in the design of self-sufficient run-off portfolios?
  • Consolidation: what are the prospects for the private-sector consolidators? what lessons can be learned from the LGPS?
  • Fees: fees will be a key area of focus in this year’s report. The US has seen zero-fee mandates; what are the implications for the UK market?

09:15 – 09:55
Panel: What Is the True Funding Position for DB Schemes?

Sarah Smart (Moderator)
Independent Member, Investment & Funding Committee
Unilever Pension Scheme

Caroline Allensby-Green

Norbert Fullerton
Chief Institutional Client Strategist
Janus Henderson

Derek Scott
Chairman of Trustees
Stagecoach Group Pension Scheme

Frazer Thomson
Pensions Financial Management Lead
RBS Group Pension Scheme

Opinions vary on the most accurate way to value a DB fund. Any significant variation in methodology can have momentous implications for the sustainability of the scheme and its endgame strategy, not to mention the allocation of investments.

09:55 – 10:15
Presentation: EM Debt in a Low Yield World

Andrew Keirle
Portfolio Manager
T. Rowe Price

The amount of global debt trading at negative yields has more than doubled since October last year to $13.75 trillion. With the negative yield environment likely to persist, where can pension schemes find attractive income? Our speaker will explore the changes that long-term institutional investors should consider for their asset allocation mix and how Emerging Market Local Debt can offer rewards in the form of income, liquidity, potential growth and diversification of risk.

10:15 – 10:55

Panel: Overcoming the Tougher Regulatory Environment

Henry Tapper (Moderator)
Founder & Editor
Pension PlayPen

Fred Berry
Lead Investment Consultant
The Pensions Regulator

Krzysztof Lasocki
Senior Investment Analyst
Royal Mail Pension Plan

Fiona Miller
Chief Operating Officer
Border to Coast Pensions Partnership

Callum Stewart
Investment Consultant
Hymans Robertson

There is now an even more demanding regulatory environment comprising, among other things, the new DB funding code of practice, the CMA Review, and guidance on responsible investing, governance and consolidation. Smaller DB schemes in particular are challenged to comply with a greater regulatory burden and to maintain their independence in many cases. Our panel will debate how DB plans, both large and small, most effectively comply with new regulation in the most efficient manner.

10:55 – 11:20
Coffee Break

11:20 – 11:40
Case Study: The Evolution of Best Practice Governance at the Lloyds Bank DB Scheme

Ian McKinlay
Chief Investment Officer
Lloyds Banking Group Pension Schemes

Our speaker will present how governance structures at the Lloyds DB plan have evolved in order to better deliver the overall objectives of the fund. He will explore the key decisions taken and discuss the crucial link between good governance and superior investment performance. In particular, he will discuss the following:

  • How LBG brought five large schemes for £50bn under one common trustee
  • How investment governance was transformed to a fully ‘delegated CIO’ model
  • What the business case looked like, and what the outcomes have been

11:40 – 12:10
Roundtable Discussions: Governance and Consolidation Trends

Chris Pond
Lending Standards Board

Drawing on ideas set out in the preceding two sessions, we will invite delegates to compare notes at their tables on what they consider best practice governance for DB schemes and how consolidation trends are affecting investment strategies and member outcomes.

Roundtable Moderators
Howard Bluston, Independent Adviser,
Roger Buttery, Trustee, Johnson Matthey Employees Pension Scheme
Bob Compton, Managing Director, ARC Benefits
Tony Filbin, Chairman, Capital Cranfield Trustees
Alexandra Noble, Independent Adviser, Noble & Associates
Jo Ray, Head of Pensions, Lincolnshire
Pam Taylor, Group Pension Manager UK & Ireland, BASF
Bola Tobun, Pensions & Treasury Manager, Enfield Pension Fund
Bridget Uku, Group Manager – Treasury and Investments, Ealing Pension Fund

12:10 – 12:30
Presentation: Factor Investing – The New Battleground of the Active vs. Passive Debate

Thomas Kieselstein
Chief Investment Officer
Quoniam Asset Management

Factor investing is built on foundational research from over 50 years ago, though later developments have provided investors with a set of tools that has changed portfolio management forever.
Our speaker will explore the defining moments of factor investing, describe the value proposition of various factor strategies and provide some practical guidelines on how to utilise a factor strategy in the 21st century.

12:30 – 12:50
Presentation: Absolute Return Fixed Income Strategies: Is There a Better Way?

Flavio Carpenzano
Senior Portfolio Manager

In recent years, high hopes for absolute return fixed income strategies have given way to disappointment for many UK investors. Our speaker believes that much of this disillusionment stems from confusion about the structure of these strategies and their underlying risk factors. In this session, he will seek to demystify these strategies and analyse what went wrong with them, while exploring some alternative fixed income solutions that may be more effective in the current environment.

12:50 – 13:40

Devils Advocates Panel – Afternoon Session
Jo Ray, Head of Pensions, Lincolnshire
Fraser Smart, Chief Executive Officer, BA Pensions
Pam Taylor, Group Pension Manager UK & Ireland, BASF

13:40 – 14:00
Presentation: Disruption and Implications for Emerging Markets

Regina Chi
Lead Portfolio Manager – Emerging Markets
AGF Investments

Disruption is transforming and redefining economies and industries at an accelerating pace. This presentation will examine the challenges facing companies, and how they can actively assess and embrace disruption to stay ahead of the disruptive curve.

14:00 – 14:20
Presentation: The Promise of Agriculture Investments – Real and Stable Returns for DB Funds

Matthew Corbett
Partner, Agriculture
Fiera Comox

On the face of it, agricultural investments present a highly attractive return and risk profile. A growing world population means that food production and demand can only increase, while investors in agriculture projects can benefit from inflation protection and returns that are both attractive and stable. However, specialist knowledge, diversification and accessibility are critical in reaping the rewards of these investments. With institutional ownership of agricultural assets no higher than three percent globally, there remains a steep learning curve for many investors while, on the flip side, there are significant inefficiencies remaining in the market. Our speaker will describe the unique nature of the asset class, the access routes, and the opportunities that agriculture investing can bring to DB funds.

14.20 – 15.00
Panel: The Role of Alternative Investments for DB Schemes Under Challenging Market Conditions

William Bourne (Moderator)
Independent Chair
Lancashire and LPFA Pension Boards

Odi Lahav
Chief Executive Officer
MJ Hudson Allenbridge

Jonathan Ord
Investment Director
London Pension Funds Authority

Nigel Tinsley
Industry Partner
Arjun Infrastructure Partners

Final speaker to be announced

Many DB schemes are emphasising illiquid alternatives as returns from equity markets appear to be slowing and risks increasing. These include Alternative Credit and Direct Lending, Private Equity, Infrastructure, and Synthetic derivative-based strategies. Is this the right thing to do? Is the timing right? What are the risks? Which alternative investments are appropriate in the current market environment? How should trustee bodies ensure that they are equipped to evaluate these more complex investments?

15.00 – 15.20
Case Study: Solving Fiduciary Problems Across Multiple Fixed Income Assets

Jason Lejonvarn
Managing Director, Investment Strategy

Given the predominance of fixed income in DB scheme investments, our speaker will present a topical case study on how a major UK fiduciary manager developed efficient, low cost solutions across all assets in the beta segment of their fixed income portfolio.

15.20 – 16.00
Panel: The Merits of Real Estate Investments

Dawn Turner (Moderator)
Independent Adviser

Russell Chaplin
Chief Executive Officer
Intrinsic Value Real Estate Advisers

Mark Long
Head of Investment Strategy
Orchard Street Investment Management

Arron Taggart
Head of UK Real Estate
Cheyne Capital

Bola Tobun
Pensions & Treasury Manager
Enfield Pension Fund

An expert panel will discuss how property investments may bring enhanced return and stable cash flows to a DB scheme portfolio. Speakers will explore the merits of both equity and debt strategies and instruments, the key drivers for pension plans investing in this sector, and the proof of the pudding as evidenced by their experience to date.

16:00 – 16:30
Coffee Break

16.30 – 16.50
Presentation: To be advised

16.50 – 17.30
Panel: The Climate Change Imperative for DB Plans

Jeff Houston (Moderator)
Head of Pensions
Local Government Association

Caroline Le Meaux
Head of ESG Research, Voting and Engagement
Amundi Asset Management

Michael Marshall
Head of Responsible Investment
LGPS Central

Julia Pyke
Nuclear Development Director
EDF Energy

Mark Thompson
Independent Adviser

An expert panel will debate the commitment of DB funds to tackling climate change, the methodologies and strategies they are employing, whether they anticipate excess returns from climate-friendly investments, and how climate change considerations will affect overall asset allocation strategy and manager selection.

17.30 – 17.35
Closing Remarks

17.35 – 19.00
Drinks Reception

19.00 – 22.00
Dinner at FishWorks Restaurant