The increasing complexity of pension fund strategies and the merging of advisory and implementation roles is introducing greater risk of disputes with clients and even legal liability, according to some of Europe’s leading pension consultants.At the same time, the need for more bespoke, scheme-specific solutions is improving the competitive landscape for consulting, especially in the UK, where the market is both highly important to the pensions industry and highly concentrated in the ‘big three’ of Mercer, Towers Watson and Aon Hewitt.The opinions come from the latest annual survey of consultants conducted for the regular special report that appears in the March 2015 issue of IPE.The report looks into these questions in greater depth, and contains further comment from the survey on regulation of the industry across Europe. Not all consultants perceive there to have been an increase in disputes and misunderstandings as a result of the growing complexity of pension fund management, but even those who do not see a problem, such as Lukas Riesen, a partner at PPCmetrics, Martijn Euverman, a partner at Sprenkels & Verschuren, and Stephen McCourt, managing principal at Meketa Investment Group, recognise the importance of a “clear understanding of expectations, obligations, guidelines, goals and visions” to maintaining a “cohesive relationship”.As Euverman put it: “It is our philosophy to reduce complexity, keep it simple and be to-the-point. This also helps us in preventing misunderstandings.”Others strike a much more cautious note.“The risk of misunderstanding increases with complexity and tight timelines for decisions,” said Tim Giles, partner at Aon Hewitt.Alex Koriath, head of UK pensions practice at Cambridge Associates, agreed that “risks have increased” as pension funds have adopted more complex strategies such as LDI or investing in private markets.“Successful outcomes from these strategies require closer and clearly defined working relationships between investment consultants, lawyers, other advisers and the scheme’s trustees,” he said.“Without a clear implementation plan that is fully understood by all parties, complex strategies that look good on paper can become a nightmare in terms of additional costs and implementation errors.”Great complexity of solutions has often led to the recommendation of more delegated governance approaches such as implemented consulting and fiduciary management, and some respondents pointed to this as a potential source of dispute risk.“I do think the risks have increased, in that lots of consultants are also managing clients’ money,” said Patrick McCoy, a partner at KPMG.“This is a completely different task, and, if clients go down this route, they should be very careful how the contract is negotiated.”Pascal Duval, chief executive of EMEA at Russell Investments, said that, as the lines between advice and execution had “blurred”, investors’ expectations for how responsive their advisers could be to changeable markets increased unrealistically, not least because the change in governance approach had often been adopted precisely to cut back decision-making time.“It’s been a frustration for many that advice has not been rapidly executed, and that advisers have not taken full accountability for that,” he said.“In fact, the dominant driver of poor returns, poor outcomes and increased pension deficits has become ‘implementation leakage’. It starts from inadequate governance at investors’ level first, and goes down the food chain from advisers to managers.”The trend for fiduciary management and other delegated governance structures also came up when consultants operating in the UK were asked to comment on the state of competition in their market.Trustees should re-evaluate their current investment consultant on a regular basis and consider third-party overseers, said McCourt at Meketa, especially in the light of the “shift in focus by some large UK pension consultants to act as asset managers and develop investment products”. McCourt added that “specialisation” in advisory services would help to stimulate competition from smaller consultants – and these themes of the positive impact on competition of increasing scrutiny under fiduciary management arrangements, and the growing demand for bespoke solutions, was echoed by other respondents.“From what we see, the level of competition is healthy and growing,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, director in investment consulting at Redington.“As pension funds have moved from a generic ‘asset-only’ to a specific asset-liability context over the last decade, we have seen a greater demand for an approach that is more customised to the client’s individual situation – it’s funding objectives, its covenant, its capacity for risk. “This has led to clients seeking a consultant that is the best fit for them, rather than just one of the largest firms, leading to a level ground from a competitive perspective. The other factor is the innovation in technology, both ALM processing and the software and tools offered to clients that a number of consultancies now offer.”Nonetheless some, such as McCoy at KPMG, still think pension fund trustees “tolerate poor service and quality of advice for too long before undertaking a review”, and even some who see improvement in market competition, such as Koriath at Cambridge Associates, report trustees saying that “it is hard to get a good overview of the adviser market and the strengths and weaknesses of the different competitors”.More views from the survey, as well as in-depth analysis of both these contentious issues, can be found in the latest edition of IPE
The letter – noting that the BPP did not require the “detailed disclosure” of all relationships – added: “The practice introduces unavoidable questions about the independence and integrity of the resulting analysis and recommendations provided to investors.”NBIM said that, due to the lack of adequate self-regulation set out in the BPP, further regulation was “warranted”.“The nature of regulation may be binding if it then falls into the realm of [EU] or nationally supervised activities,” it said.Frank Curtiss, head of corporate governance at the UK’s RPMI Railpen, said it would be “premature” to draw any conclusions only a year after the BPP came into force.He said there were “encouraging early signs” of improvements to transparency around identifying, disclosing and managing conflicts of interest.Eumedion, the Dutch corporate governance body, said it stood by previous assessments that conflicts of interest would be “appropriately addressed” by the Shareholder Rights Directive and the BPP.,WebsitesWe are not responsible for the content of external sitesLink to consultation responses on BPP A voluntary code for the proxy research industry has failed to address concerns around conflicts of interest and the independence of advice, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has warned.Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), asset manager for the Government Pension Fund Global, told the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) it was unhappy with the scope of the Best Practice Principles for Providers of Shareholder Voting Research (BPP), drafted after the supervisor ruled out further regulation of the proxy adviser market.Responding to ESMA’s consultation on the BPP’s impact, NBIM said the industry code lacked detail in “key areas”, such as mitigating conflicts of interest.In a letter, NBIM’s head of active ownership Gavin Grant and CIO of equity strategies Petter Johnsen said: “Specifically, we continue to see clear risk of conflict of interest when voting advisers sell services to both shareholders and issuers.”
“We were not able to agree about that, and so we reached an agreement that means Morten has resigned with immediate effect,” he said.“This is completely natural given the central position he has had at PFA, and I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to Morten for a good, significant and loyal period of service at PFA.”He said it had not yet been finally decided how communications and public affairs should be organised within PFA.Polack himself is new to PFA, having taken the helm in April, after being poached from Nordea Asset Management, where he was chief executive.In May, PFA was hit with the loss of PFA Asset Management’s joint managing directors Poul Kobberup and Jesper Langmack, when the two were hired by Danica Pension as part of its new investment strategy, conceived by CFO Jacob Aarup-Andersen.In September, PFA found a new co-head for its investment team in Henrik Nøhr Poulsen, who had been heading up investments at the DKK134bn fund Industriens Pension.Observers have put the wave of personnel changes down to heightened competition in the Danish pensions sector, which Danica Pension’s change in strategy reflects. PFA’s director for group communication and public affairs, Morten Jeppesen, has quit suddenly after talks with the group’s chief executive ended in a disagreement, the Danish pensions provider has announced.The departure comes during a phase of many staff changes at Denmark’s biggest pension funds.Allan Polack, chief executive of the DKK552bn (€74bn) pensions firm, said: “We are in the middle of a strategy process looking ahead to 2020, in which we are taking a more thorough look at how PFA should be in the future.”In this connection, he said he been having a discussion with Jeppesen about his future role at the company.
AP4, Granit Funds, ILG, TKP Investments, Corestone, Altis, Robeco, Arabesque, Silverfleet, Neuberger Berman, Coller Capital, Hamilton Lane, PineBridge, Aberdeen, BNP Paribas, Unigestion, ShareActionAP4/Granit Funds – Ulf Erlandsson , senior portfolio manager at Swedish buffer pension fund AP4 , will move to Swedish asset management boutique Granit Funds in August. At AP4 he built the SEK334bn (€34.2bn) fund’s green bond portfolio. He will become Granit Funds’ head of fixed income, and will look to launch a new hedge fund for the firm, focusing on climate change and green bonds.Investment Leaders Group – Roelie van Wijk-Russchen has been appointed chair of the Investment Leaders Group, a group of 10 leading pension funds, insurers and asset managers convened by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership . Van Wijk-Russchen is CEO of TKP Investments , a €25bn subsidiary of Aegon Asset Management. She has held the position since 2006. Her most recent previous role was chair of the non-executive board within the one-tier board of the Dutch railway pension fund. She is a board member of the Dutch Fund and Asset Management Association.Corestone/Altis – Swiss fiduciary management specialist Altis has lost more staff, with Robert Kende and Sandro Caluori moving to Corestone Investment Managers , based in the Swiss city of Zug. Caluori joins the manager selection team, having previously been a senior portfolio manager at Altis. Kende was head of technology at Altis, and moves to Corestone’s technology team. In February, Kempen hired four senior staff from Altis. The Swiss firm has begun rebuilding with the hires of Martin Sanders and Kees Verbaas from Univest and Blue Sky Group respectively. Robeco – Bas Knol is leaving the asset manager, where he has been an active owner specialist since June 2015, to pursue other career opportunities. His departure is effective 1 June. Robeco’s active ownership team engages with listed companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Before Robeco, Knol was the interim sustainability manager for investments at ABN Amro Private Banking. He was communications manager for Aegon Global Pensions for seven years before moving to ABN Amro.Arabesque Asset Management – Anja Mikus , chief investment officer of the quantitative ESG manager, has been seconded for six months to the German government’s €23.6bn nuclear phase-out fund. She will be interim CEO and CIO.Silverfleet Capital – The European private equity firm has hired four staff to its investment team, to be based across three European offices. Johan Boork has joined from UBS Investment Bank as an associate, based in London, and will work with the newly appointed co-head of Nordic region Karl Eidem. Jan Kux has also been named as an associate, having joined from JP Morgan, and will work from Silverfleet’s Munich office. Also joining the Munich office is Guntram Kieferle , who is an analyst, having started at Silverfleet last year as an intern. Finally, Constance d’Avout has joined the firm as an associate based in Paris. She was previously a member of EQT Partners’ credit funds team.Neuberger Berman – The US asset management firm’s private equity arm has appointed Philipp Patschkowski as a principal in its European business. He will focus on expanding the group’s European operations. He joins from Coller Capital where he was most recently a principal with responsibility for investments, co-investments, and fundraising with a focus on Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.Hamilton Lane – Another US alternatives manager hiring in Europe is Hamilton Lane. The group has appointed three staff: Carolin Blank (principal, relationship management team), Ahmed Khalil (vice president, relationship management team), and Lali Sichinava (vice president, business development team). Blank joins from Alvarez & Marsal Europe, where she was a senior director of relationship management for private equity. Khalil was previously a vice president at BlackRock Private Equity Partners while Sichinava joins from BNP Paribas where she held a number of positions.PineBridge Investments – Klaus Schuster has been appointed managing director of its UK office and head of Europe. He has worked at the $80bn (€71.9bn) manager for 16 years, most recently as head of business development for Europe. Anthony King , regional CEO for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, has decided to leave the company.Aberdeen Asset Management – Paul Mehta has been appointed global head of loans, as part of an expansion of the UK-based manager’s resources in this asset class. He joins from BNP Paribas ’s loan and distressed debt team where he was a senior trader. He has also worked in sales for the French group’s leverage loan, distressed and high yield sales team.Unigestion – The Swiss asset manager has hired Robert Kosowski as head of quantitative research for its equities team. He is – and will remain – associate professor of finance at Imperial College Business School in London. He is also a research fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research and an associate member of the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance at Oxford University.ShareAction – The responsible investment campaign organisation has created two new roles, head of research and analytics, and head of campaigns and advocacy. Toby Belsom has been appointed to the former, effective 19 April, and Nitin Sukh to the latter, effective 2 May. Belsom has 10 years’ experience as a UK equity portfolio manager at Aviva Investors , and another seven as an analyst in the socially responsible investment teams at NPI, Henderson Investors and Aviva Investors. Sukh recently moved back to the UK after spending some 10 years working in India for Yes Bank , working on the group’s sustainability practice, developing green financial products, and leading low carbon public policy engagements.
Underfunded schemes included the €396bn civil service scheme ABP and the €189bn healthcare pension fund PFZW, which reported a policy funding of 99.3% and 96.7%, respectively, at the end of the third quarter.At the time, the €68bn metal scheme PMT and its €46bn sister metal pension fund PME said their coverage ratios stood at 98.9% and 98.4%, respectively.Pension funds that have had a funding shortfall for five consecutive years can no longer postpone rights cuts. For most schemes with continued underfunding, discounts will be inevitable in 2020 or 2021.Since a significant drop in coverage ratios last year – largely due to falling interest rates – funding of Dutch pension funds has gradually increased, due to a combination of rising interest rates and improving stock markets.Earlier this week, pension consultants Mercer and Aon Hewitt said that pension funds’ policy funding had increased to 105% on average during the course of October.In other news, DNB said it would also start publishing pension funds’ allocations to equities, property, hedge funds and commodities, as well as how much interest rate risk they have hedged.It said it would also report the level of “contribution coverage” for each pension fund, which indicates whether the premiums are sufficient to cover new pensions accrual.DNB already publishes a range of data relating to pension funds, including: assets; costs of administration; asset management costs; transaction charges; nominal, real and required coverage; and quarterly returns. Two-thirds of Dutch workers and pensioners are still at risk of future rights cuts despite steadily improving coverage ratios, newly released figures from supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) show.The regulator said that during the last quarter the schemes’ “policy funding” ratio – the average coverage over the past 12 months, and the main criterion for rights discounts and indexation – had risen 2.6 percentage points to 104.5%.The legally required minimum funding is approximately 104.2% for most pension funds.However, the watchdog also noted that 63 pension funds – with 3.7m active participants and 2.1m pensioners – were still short of the required minimum. This amounted to 29% of all schemes, but 68% of active members and 65% of pensioners.
Jay HooleyState Street Corporation – Jay Hooley will retire as the financial services giant’s CEO by the end of 2018 after more than 30 years with the company, it announced this week. He will remain as chairman throughout 2019. State Street’s directors have appointed Ron O’Hanley as president and chief operating officer – he was previously vice-chairman of State Street and president and CEO of State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the group’s asset management business. He succeeds Mike Rogers, who retires at the end of this year. In addition, O’Hanley will succeed Hooley as CEO in 2019. Cyrus Taraporevala has been named president and CEO of SSGA. He joined in 2016 from Fidelity Investments. O’Hanley, Taraporevala and Rogers manage the transition process over the next two months, the company said in a statement. This will involve, among other moves, Liz Nolan becoming CEO of State Street’s global services business in the EMEA region. State Street, Ilmarinen, Etera, Bonus Pensionskasse, RPMI Railpen, Amundi, MSCI, Eaton Vance, Aegon, Robeco, bfinance, NN, AAE, Generali, FIR, Universal, Research Affiliates, Edmond de Rothschild The changes follow a management reshuffle of SSGA’s EMEA business earlier this year, as revealed by IPE in July.Ilmarinen/Etera – Mikko Mursula has been appointed as the executive group member for investments at the company that will result from the merger of Ilmarinen and Etera at the beginning of next year. Mursula has been CIO at Ilmarinen since April 2015. The board of directors at Ilmarinen approved this appointment and those of other members of the new company’s executive group.As previously announced, Ilmarinen’s president and CEO Timo Ritakallio will continue as president and CEO of the new company until he transfers to his new position as head of OP Financial Group in March 2018. Ilmarinen said a search was underway for his successor.The board also approved the appointment of Stefan Björkman, Etera’s chief executive, as deputy to the president and CEO, responsible for finance, HR, IT and integration. Ilmarinen’s current deputy CEO Sini Kivihuhta will continue in her position at the merged company alongside Björkman, responsible for pension insurance and development. The post-merger executive group will also include Jaakko Kiander, in charge of communications and public relations; Hillevi Mannonen, responsible for actuarial function and risk management; Pekka Puustinen, in charge of client relations and work capacity; and Leena Siirala, who will head up legal affairs and compliance.Bonus Pensionskasse – After having bought the Victoria-Volksbanken Pensionskasse (VVPK) last year, the Austrian multi-employer Bonus Pensionskasse has secured the services of the VVPK’s former head of asset management, Claudio Gligo. He has been appointed CIO for Bonus Pensionskasse as well as for the provident fund Vorsorgekasse. In total, the Bonus group currently manages €2.5bn in assets. After leaving VVPK, Gligo worked for Union Investment for a year.RPMI Railpen – The industry-wide pension scheme for the UK railways sector has continued the restructure of its leadership team with the appointment of Paul Sturgess as managing director for its administration arm. He joins from Equiniti where he was a director responsible for the company’s private sector services.In addition, deputy CEO David Maddison has been appointed managing director for the scheme, tasked with leading support for the trustee board. Julian Cripps is the managing director responsible for RPMI Railpen’s investment arm, a role he has held since joining last year. RPMI Railpen’s CEO Chris Hitchen is stepping down from his role in the near future, once a successor has been appointed.Amundi – Asset manager Amundi has appointed Rutger Maenen as head of institutional in the Netherlands, tasked with further developing the market segment. Maenen joins from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, where he was responsible for the institutional markets in the Benelux. Prior to this, he worked at BlackRock as director institutional sales for the Benelux region.MSCI – CD Baer Pettit has been named as the index provider’s new president. He was previously chief operating officer. MSCI has appointed Laurent Seyer as chief operating officer alongside his current role as chief client officer.Eaton Vance Management – The US asset manager has hired Kiran Inamdar as consultant relations director for the UK and Ireland, a newly created role. She joins from American Century Investments where she was business development director for the EMEA region for seven years. She has also worked at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, GAM and Reuters.Aegon Asset Management – Sven Becker has joined the Dutch investment manager as country head for Germany. He was previously responsible for fixed income sales for Barclays’ German institutional clients, and has also worked for ABN AMRO Bank.Robeco – The €152bn Dutch asset manager Robeco has appointed Christoph von Reiche as head of global distribution and marketing. He will be responsible for Robeco’s global sales strategy and organisation as well as overseeing sales teams in 15 countries, consultant relations efforts, direct retail distribution in the Netherlands and global marketing. Von Reiche joins from JPMorgan Asset Management in London, where he was head of European institutional business. Between 1995 and 2014 he worked at Goldman Sachs in Frankfurt, where he held various positions, including country head of Germany.bfinance – The investment consultancy has opened its first US office, in Chicago, and has appointed Jason Pomatto as its US managing director. In a statement, the company described the move as an “extension and enhancement” of its work with US pension funds and a “significant step in the firm’s global expansion”. Pomatto joins from Driehaus Capital Management, where he worked for more than 20 years.Nationale-Nederlanden – Wim de Bundel has been named as director of marketing and sales at the new combined pensions business of Nationale Nederlanden. He will be responsible for marketing and sales for pensions at Nationale Nederlanden, Delta Lloyd and BeFrank. The brand Delta Lloyd will be phased out next year. De Bundel held the same role at Delta Lloyd until recently.AAE – Falco Valkenburg has been appointed on the board of directors of the Actuarial Association of Europe (AAE) for a two-year period. Valkenburg – an independent actuary – is also a member of the stakeholder group for corporate pensions of European supervisor EIOPA as well as supervisor at the €8.4bn Dutch sector scheme for disabled people working in sheltered accommodation (PWRI) and the €2bn industry-wide scheme for public libraries (Openbare Bibliotheken).Generali Group – The Italian financial services group has hired two senior staff as part of a major restructuring. Bruno Guiot joins from AXA Assicurazioni and is head of the Generali Individual Savings Solutions unit, while Carlo Trabattoni joins from Schroders and will lead the Generali Investments Partners unit, the group’s distribution arm. Generali has also reorganised its investment arm into three sections: head office, asset management, and wealth management. This includes the creation of a “multi-boutique platform” for its investment strategies, overseen by Trabattoni.Forum pour l’Investissement Responsable (FIR) – The French responsible investment association has elected four new vice-presidents: Héléna Charrier (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations), Laurène Chenevat (Mirova), Philippe Dutertre (AG2R La Mondiale), and Bertille Knuckey (Sycomore Asset Management). In addition, Caroline Le Meaux of Ircantec was elected chair of the investor relations committee, while Lise Moret of AXA Investment Managers is president of the association’s research committee.Universal-Investment – Katja Müller has been appointed to the board of directors at the German asset management group. She is head of the company’s sales and relationship management division and has worked for Universal for three years. She was previously global chief operating officer at Deutsche Bank’s corporate tax department.Research Affiliates – The investment research specialist firm has hired Campbell Harvey as a partner and senior adviser. He is a professor at Duke University in North Carolina, US. He will focus on strategic research, product development, and thought leadership, the company said. Harvey has received several awards for his investment research work.Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management – Gad Amar is the asset manager’s new global head of business development, based in Paris. He joins from BlackRock where he was head of client distribution for France, Belgium and Luxembourg. He has also worked at Fidelity in Canada and JP Morgan Asset Management in Paris.
M&G has launched a private and illiquid debt fund that aims to achieve a positive social or environmental impact in addition to financial objectives.The fund manager has raised £44.5m (€51.6m) of capital for its fund from M&G Prudential, Big Society Capital and The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research.The group also claimed it was the first fund of its kind. A spokeswoman for M&G said it had not come across any other private debt impact fund that invested across different sectors and aimed to achieve institutional scale.“To us this is a 10 to 20 year project and the ambition is for this to grow into a multi-billion pound fund,” she said. Several asset managers have announced new impact-oriented funds in recent months as they seek to capitalise on growing interest among institutional investors for their investments to bring about social or environmental benefits in addition to financial returns.Examples of new funds include a public equity strategy launched by Hermes, an impact fund launched by Swiss private equity manager Partners Group, and a multi-asset class pool launched by Kempen. The majority of the latter’s investments are expected to be in private and illiquid asset classes, but not just private debt. M&G has already invested in a regeneration project and several housing associations in the UK, as well as solar power in the US.“These deals will directly help build houses, provide employment and reduce CO2 emissions,” the manager said in a statement.A methodology to assess and measure the environmental and social impact of the fund’s investments was developed with Sustainalytics and the asset manager will produce an annual report on these.Evita Zanuso, financial sector and investor engagement director at Big Society Capital, said: “We are very excited M&G has launched this long-term debt fund that puts social and environmental impact at its core and has great potential to scale and replicate.“Big Society Capital is keen to support M&G in bringing impact investment to institutional investors and that’s why we have invested £15m from our Treasury portfolio as an early seed investor in this fund.”GIIN monitors impact investing performanceM&G’s announcement of its new fund came shortly before the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), a non-profit organisation working to promote impact investing, published a report on the financial performance of private debt impact funds run by specialist fund managers focused on impact investing.The report, which was produced with Symbiotics, an emerging market investor, focused only on “independent investment vehicles” that allocated on average more than 85% of their portfolios to private debt.The sample was made up of funds with a median size of just below $100m (€81m) and included some funds that intentionally targeted below-market-rate returns. Only a few of the funds invested directly in projects and companies. The majority of the sample funds focused on the financial services sector (including microfinance), followed by funds that invested in arts and culture, education, energy, and food and agriculture.According to the report, compared to other asset classes, the risk-adjusted, market rate-seeking private debt impact funds registered relatively low but stable returns. They generated lower returns than emerging market bonds (2.6% versus 5.4%) over five years to the end of 2016. They outperformed the three-month US dollar Libor more than five-fold, with almost equivalent volatility. The May edition of IPE magazine will include a special report on impact investing
In contrast, NOW: Pensions’ analysis showed that Smart Pension’s 0.75% annual charge would mean the member would pay £6,636 in fees and accumulate just over £70,000.Adrian Boulding, director of policy at NOW: Pensions, said the “auto-enrolment cost comparison index” showed the “devastating effect” of fees.“We hope our analysis will encourage employees to shop around for the AE provider that suits them best and look at fee structures over the long-term to ensure they are getting the most out of their hard-earned money,” Boulding added. “We also recommend that all savers consolidate their funds, to benefit from economies of scale where providers offer these.”BacklashHowever, the analysis prompted stinging criticism from some of NOW: Pensions’ rivals named in the analysis.A spokeswoman for Smart Pension said: “This is an artful piece of propaganda taken at such an acute angle so as to throw the best possible light on NOW: Pensions – and it should only be viewed from this perspective.“If you look at any piece of recently published independent performance analysis, net of fees, NOW is firmly at the bottom.”Romi Savova, CEO of PensionBee – which NOW: Pensions claimed was the second most expensive provider on the market – also criticised the analysis, highlighting that PensionBee was not an auto-enrolment provider.Savova added: “It is absurd for NOW: Pensions to suggest they are a cost-effective pension provider, and the wider industry response to their auto-enrolment cost comparison index demonstrates this.”Citing a letter sent earlier this year to the UK parliament’s Work and Pensions Select Committee, she argued that NOW: Pensions “routinely erodes the value of their members’ pensions to £0 – an outcome that is inconsistent with the objectives of auto-enrolment”.Frank Field, chair of the committee, wrote to NOW: Pensions’ Boulding on 22 February asking how many of the master trust’s members had experienced “costs higher than returns”, and how many had savings of more than £4,000.NOW: Pensions has yet to respond publicly to the questions.The provider is currently waiting for the results of its application for authorisation from the Pensions Regulator. It received an extension to the 31 March 2019 deadline for submitting its application following its acquisition by Cardano in February.NOW: Pensions is the pension provider for IPE International Publishers. Leading UK master trusts have hit out at a cost analysis from NOW: Pensions that claimed it was the lowest-cost auto-enrolment provider on the market.The provider – which runs more than £1.3bn (€1.4bn) in defined contribution (DC) assets – published a press release last week in which it stated that its charging structure would have the lowest effect on members’ savings over a 20-year period, compared with seven other providers.The analysis was based on a hypothetical pension fund member earning £28,000 a year – the average wage in the UK. Over 20 years saving 8% of salary, the auto-enrolment minimum, NOW: Pensions assumed 2.5% annual wage growth and a 5% annual investment return.After two decades saving with NOW: Pensions, the member would have accumulated more than £73,000 and paid £2,956 in charges, the provider claimed. It charges 0.3% a year plus a £1.50 per month administration fee.
Marion Sheerman is selling her home in Hamilton, but plans to stay in the suburb. Image: AAP/Richard Waugh.BRISBANE is continuing to defy the downturn gripping the nation’s biggest housing markets, with new figures revealing more than 25 suburbs achieved double-digit property price growth in the past year.While home prices in Sydney and Melbourne have hit the skids, Brisbane’s are marching north, with new research finding the top 10 growth suburbs in the Queensland capital all achieved price increases of more than 15 per cent over the past 12 months.A total of 26 mainland Brisbane suburbs achieved growth of more than 10 per cent in that period, according to data from CoreLogic analysed by realestate.com.au.Five of the top 10 growth suburbs are on the city’s northside, including Sandgate (+22.4%), Hamilton (+20.9%) and Nundah (16.2%).The top 10 growth suburbs in Brisbane achieved home price increases of more than 15 per cent in the past year, according to CoreLogic. Image: AAP/Darren England.GET THE LATEST REAL ESTATE NEWS DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX HEREBut while prices are on the rise, property is still relatively affordable, with the median house price in all of those suburbs still under $1 million.Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said the suburbs that achieved the highest growth in Brisbane in the past year were in the middle to high price brackets, compared to Sydney where only the really cheap or really expensive suburbs were recording growth.“The $800,000-plus suburbs seem to be doing the best, which is quite unusual,” Ms Conisbee said.“If you look at Kangaroo Point (Brisbane’s top growth suburb), which is so close to the city, the fact you can still get something there for under $1 million — that’s pretty impressive.”Kangaroo Point achieved the highest property price growth in the past year, according to CoreLogic.Brisbane’s median house price is creeping higher though; increasing 2.6 per cent to $522,000 in the 12 months to the end of August.EVER DREAMT OF BEING A LORD OR LADY?Ms Conisbee said there was a lot of investor activity coming out of Melbourne and Sydney, with people realising now was a good time to buy in Brisbane.“Brisbane has been fairly flat over the last few years and we know the economy is doing better and there has been a return in mining and engineering roles, so it’s quite different to what we’re seeing in Sydney and Melbourne where it makes sense for people to hold out until things calm down,” Ms Conisbee said.“Brisbane is now looking more positive than last year, so if you are looking to get into the market, I think now is a good time.”Some Brisbane suburbs achieved double digit price growth in the past 12 months. Image: AAP/Darren England.It comes as the latest ABS residential property price index recorded its first annual fall in six years, led by the country’s two biggest cities.Home prices fell 1.2 per cent in Sydney and 0.8 per cent in Melbourne during the June quarter, while prices rose 0.7 per cent in Brisbane.Marion Sheerman is selling her three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Hamilton — one of the top growth suburbs — for offers over $1.149 million.BUMPER AUCTION WEEKENDThis property at 605/12 Parkside Circuit, Hamilton, is for sale.Mrs Sheerman said the only reason she and her husband were selling was to upgrade to a bigger property to accommodate their children, who were relocating to Brisbane.“We’ll stay in the same area,” she said.“We absolutely love it here.”The median house price in Hamilton is now $1.3 million — more than 20 per cent higher than the same time a year ago.“We’ve had good (price) growth in that house,” Mrs Sheerman said.“We’ve always wanted it as a ‘lockup and leave’ because of the kids being overseas, and it’s perfect for that.”This property at 605/12 Parkside Circuit, Hamilton, is for sale.Hamish Bowman of Ray White New Farm, who is marketing the property, said Hamilton and the inner and middle northern suburbs along the airport corridor were particularly popular with buyers.“A lot of people make the commute north of Brisbane, not just south, so that’s a big drawcard,” Mr Bowman said.“There are lots of good quality private and public schools in Hamilton and a lot of people pay more to be within a good school catchment.“We also get people who work at the airport and people who want to jump on the ferry to get to work, so it ticks a lot of boxes.”***TOP 10 GROWTH SUBURBS IN BRISBANESuburb – Median house price – % change in 12 months1. Lamb Island – $220,000 – 37.5%2. Kangaroo Point – $983,500 – 26.1%More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus16 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market16 hours ago3. Dunwich – $442,500 – 24.4%4. Sandgate – $758,750 – 22.4%5. Hamilton – $1,300,000 – 20.9%6. Chandler – $1,605,000 – 19.8%7. Paddington – $1,150,000 – 17.3%8. Coochiemudlo Island – $322,500 – 17.3%9. Corinda – $840,000 – 16.6%10. Nundah – $755,000 – 16.2%11. Alderley – $840,000 – 15.9%12. Sunnybank – $850,000 – 15.6%13. Point Lookout – $970,000 – 15.5%14. Gaythorne – $720,000 – 15.2%15. Shorncliffe – $868,500 – 15%16. Norman Park – $967,500 – 14.9%17. Brookfield – $1,125,000 – 14.2%18. Gordon Park – $880,000 – 12.8%19. Graceville – $950,000 – 12.3%20. Chelmer – $1,150,000 – 12.2%21. Ascot – $1,602,500 – 12.1%22. Greenslopes – $820,000 – 11.6%23. Ashgrove – $1,000,000 – 11.1%24. Yeerongpilly – $810,000 – 11%25. Thorneside – $535,750 – 10.7%26. Carina Heights – $725,000 – 10.7%27. New Farm – $1,545,500 – 10.4%28. Hemmant – $535,000 – 10.3%29. Fortitude Valley – $970,000 – 10.2%30. Cleveland – $625,000 – 10.1%(Source: realestate.com.au, CoreLogic, based on data to August 31, 2018)
Brae Homestead at 7 Brae St, Coorparoo.The couple bought the house to flip, and partnered with Front Porch Properties, the building firm that built their Camp Hill home. “The renovation took a year,” Mr Scott said. “It is the first reno we have sold. “It was a 1927 original so it was lifted, a ground-up reno really.” The property underwent a “ground-up” renovation.Belle Property agent Amanda Beckem, who sold the property, said the property had been popular with househunters, and was sold to an interstate buyer. “We had 88 groups through at the first open home, more than 300 groups through over the four week campaign, multiple offers,” she said. “It attracted a lot of interest from some successful people.”REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee said Brisbane was attracting a lot of interest from interstate.“Market drivers are pushing people to Brisbane, and the fact Melbourne and Sydney prices are going down and Brisbane is pretty stable,” she said. “Also, jobs growth is occurring in Brisbane, which is another factor allowing people to move to Brisbane.” REA Group / realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee Ms Conisbee said she expected Brisbane, and Queensland in general, to feature even more in the national top 20 in 2019.She said search activity was already showing a shift away from places like Sydney, pointing out that 50 per cent of interstate searches for properties in the Gold Coast came from people in Sydney.Going further, Ms Conisbee said she expected to see more activity from interstate buyers in the southeast Queensland prestige market.“If you look at someone who had bought in Sydney and has been a beneficiary of that massive upgrade in prices, Brisbane’s prestige suburbs are amazing value,” she said. “Also confidence in Queensland … the economy does seem to be doing pretty well (and) people are feeling more confident that if they buy an expensive home, they’ll do ok and be able to pay for it.” The Sunshine Beach mansion has spectacular ocean views. A HOUSE with its own 50m waterslide, one of Brisbane’s finest estates, and an entire town that sold for $550,000 were among the most popular property listings of 2018.But it was a house described as the “Hamptons of Brisbane” that took out the top spot in the Sunshine State, and was the second-most-clicked listing in the country. New data released by REA Group has revealed the most popular property listings by clicks for 2018, and, in Queensland, 7 Ashfield St at East Brisbane took out the crown.It was sold by NGU Real Estate Toowong on June 25, and had registered 83,975 hits on realestate.com.au by the time the ink dried on the contract.The property was bought by NGU agent Emil Juresic for $1.55 million in 2016, and then flipped for $4 million.It was beaten to the top spot by a Victorian equestrian estate at Narre Warren South, which drew on traditional building techniques used by blacksmiths, locksmiths and old world cabinet makers for its construction. 27 Piermont Place, Raby Bay Qld 4163Another NGU Real Estate property has found itself in fourth spot, with 34,937 clicks so far, and it is still on the market. Property data shows the residence has been on the market since February, and last sold for $1.2 million in 2003.Located at 349 Bridgeman Road in Bridgeman Downs, the seven bedroom home has been renovated and sits on a sprawling one hectare block just 30 minutes from the CBD. 23 Sunshine Boulevard, Broadbeach Waters.The town of Allies Creek (listed as 534 Mills Rd, Monogorilby) came in at seventh spot with 32,738 clicks. It was bought for $550,000 by Peter and Karyn Peeters, the Harley Davidson-riding grandparents on the cusp of retirement. The town has its own church, lake, sawmill, two whole streets of houses and four large sheds, with the couple planning on turning it in to a retro tourism mecca for their family and friends.Another crowd pleaser was 9 Parakeet Court at Warner, which was marketed as an “entertainers dream”, and sold for $1,100,500 in March.Besides the modern house, the property is packed with some of the coolest features, including a 50m water slide. REAL ESTATE: 349 Bridgeman Road, Bridgeman Downs It also has a resort-style with a cabana hut, a media room with multi-screen fit out and split level seating and a three-hole putting green. Also in the top 20 was 7 Brae St at Coorparoo. It was bought by Glenn and Rachel Scott for $835,000 in July 2017, renovated and recently went under contract. 7 Ashfield St, East Brisbane, before the redevelopment And after!The second most popular listing in Queensland was a former Yourtown prize home at 2 Hollyhock Crescent in Noosa Heads.It sold for $1.3 million in June. 2 Hollyhock Crescent Noosa Heads. Picture: realestate.com.auTaking out third spot was “Raby Bay’s Masterpiece”, a five bedroom luxury home with water views, a resort-style pool and its own jetty.It was also sold by NGU Real Estate Toowong for $3.5 million in October. The Top 20 Most Clicked on Property Listings QLD 2018 The sprawling estate at 652 London Road Chandler sold for $3.85 million. Picture: realestate.com.auOther properties to make the top 20 most popular properties in Queensland include a seven bedroom Sunshine Beach house that sold for a whopping $18 million in March, “country manor” at Oceanview that has its own fruit orchard and petanque court, a sprawling luxury estate that sold for $3.85 million in November and a architecturally-designed house constructed by Brisbane’s Graya brothers at Paddington. And this mansion at 21-23 Webb Road, Sunshine Beach, sold for $18 million. REAL ESTATE: 349 Bridgeman Road, Bridgeman DownsMore from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus15 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market15 hours agoIn fifth spot is a luxury home built on a canal on the Gold Coast.Sold for $2.2 million in September by Lambert Willcox Estate Agents, the 23 Sunshine Boulevard property at Broadbeach Waters had 34,309 hits after hitting the market in May.