Mercer Global Investment Forums

LONDON10 - 11 October 2017

Mercer Global Investment Forums – London, 6–7 October, 2017

Forum Agenda

Contains links to presentations and related publications

MONDAY, 9 OCTOBER

15:45–16:30Fund Manager Session Registration

19:00–21:00Welcome Reception and Buffet Dinner

TUESDAY, 10 OCTOBER

07:45–08:45Breakfast

Fiona DunsireMarket Leader and CEO, UK

08:50–08:55MC

James BrundrettSenior Investment Consultant

The global economy is starting to reflate, with stronger growth and higher inflation expected. We are also seeing the potential for increased volatility in financial markets. We believe investors must seek to identify and understand some of the key drivers of change in today's world. Global fragmentation, an abundance of capital, a shift from monetary to fiscal stimulus and understanding structural changes are four themes we believe will shape and influence the investment environment for the years ahead. In this session, we explore how different types of investors can respond to these themes to seek practical investment opportunities, improve their portfolio outcomes and meet their objectives.

Deb ClarkeGlobal Head of Investment Research

Wayne DavidsonSenior Investment Consultant

JP CrowleySenior Investment Consultant

James LewisSenior Investment Consultant

Low yields, low credit spreads and increasingly stretched equity market valuations pose a significant challenge to the average UK defined benefit scheme. Coupled with the increasing maturity of schemes, and the prospect that the overwhelming majority will be experiencing negative cash flow within the next five years, it is time to rethink investment and funding strategies.

In this session, we explore asset classes and strategies that have a high probability of consistently beating their discount rates while, at the same time, controlling the risk of capital loss. Under such arrangements, schemes may find that the prospective environment provides an opportunity to bridge deficits and reduce reliance on sponsors more rapidly than a conventional approach to asset allocation.

George FowlerSenior Investment Consultant

Wayne FitzgibbonSenior Investment Consultant

10:05–10:15Mind Games — Navigating Alternate Realities 1

Like Alice in Wonderland, the audience is transported through a looking glass to alternate futures. In this three-part interactive game, the audience is asked to create optimal portfolios based on different scenarios. After conferring with their tablemates, everyone in the audience submits a portfolio individually. All submissions are tabulated on a leaderboard. The person who submits the portfolio with the highest value after three rounds is declared the winner of Wonderland. The moderator briefly discusses the winning and optimal portfolio.

Emma PardoSenior Investment Consultant

10:15–10:45Coffee Break and Networking

10:45–11:45Keynote Address: From Globalisation to a Fragmented World – The Risks of Anglo-American Retreat

Britain and America shaped the age of globalisation over the past 35 years but are now relinquishing their leadership role. Britain in particular risks missing out on worldwide growth due to self-inflicted political uncertainties, while America, the underwriter of the international order, is going through an isolationist phase. The future of globalisation hinges on whether other countries take up the burden of defending trade and open markets, especially China, India, and a revitalised Franco-German alliance. If not, we could see the fragmentation of the world economy, and the case for trade having to be made all over again.

Janan GaneshBritish Journalist, Author, and Political Columnist

11:45–11:55Lightning Talk: Death of a Stock-picker – The Impact of Technology on the Role of the Fundamental Analyst

Suzanne LubbeSenior Research Specialist, Equity Boutique

11:55–12:20Mythbusters: Alternative Risk Premia

Investors are looking to address the challenge of relatively unattractive risk/return trade-offs across traditional asset classes by seeking a greater contribution from alternative strategies. Many beta-heavy hedge fund and multi-asset strategies have failed to deliver meaningful diversification to justify their fee structures, and some investors are considering whether alternative risk premia strategies could offer more meaningful diversification at a more attractive price. In this session, we look at what alternative risk premia strategies are, their attractive features and associated risks. We also consider the outlook for these strategies and how they can be used in a portfolio context.

Kishen GanatraResearch Specialist, Hedge Fund Boutique

Garvan McCarthyCIO — Alternatives, Delegated Solutions, Europe

12:20–12:30Mind Games — Navigating Alternate Realities 2

Like Alice in Wonderland, the audience is transported through a looking glass to alternate futures. In this three-part interactive game, the audience is asked to create optimal portfolios based on different scenarios. After conferring with their tablemates, everyone in the audience submits a portfolio individually. All submissions are tabulated on a leaderboard. The person who submits the portfolio with the highest value after three rounds is declared the winner of Wonderland. The moderator briefly discusses the winning and optimal portfolio.

Emma PardoSenior Investment Consultant

12:30–13:45Lunch

Tom SnapeResponsible Investment Analyst

13:55–14:15Creating a Culture of Social Impact Investment

Brian HendersonDC and Financial Wellness Leader

The raison d’être of the Crop Trust is to save humanity: their seed banks will ensure that future generations can feed themselves. Thus, ensuring their endowment pays sustainable returns is mission critical. With their finger on the pulse of global risks facing the world – climate change, migration, geo-political tension, technological advances – the Crop Trust has taken steps to make sure that whoever was managing their endowment assets was also taking these risks (and related opportunities) into account. In this session, we discuss the increasing focus investors are putting on these global mega trends, and how endowments – and other investors – are taking steps to ensure their investment approach is aligned to the future they expect, and want, to see.

Jane AmbachtsheerChair, Global Responsible Investment Business

Marie HagaExecutive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust

DC Plans: Are They Poised to Deliver Value?

In this breakout session, we consider the main components of value in defined contribution (DC) plans. We explore also whether DC plans are delivering good value for members and what employers, decision-makers, regulators and the market need to do to improve the value delivered tomorrow. In presenting the challenges to value and potential value-improving measures, we consider DC plans at each of the three stages of their lifecycles — the "input", "throughput" and "output" stages.

Jim DoranSenior Investment Consultant

Stephen BudgeSenior Investment Consultant

DC Master Trusts: Ensuring Your Master Trust Solves Today's DC Dilemmas

There is now no doubt that Master Trusts are the primary vehicle for future DC savings. Trustees, companies, providers, investment managers, and advisors have critical roles to play in delivering retirement outcomes but the ultimate beneficiaries – the members – have been left without a voice. This session will discuss the dilemmas faced by DC members and challenge all stakeholders to break down the barriers that exist to securing those better outcomes. It will provide all parties with an insight to the steps they need to take to ensure the industry rises up and tackles its DC dilemmas.

Rebecca PotashnickGovernance and Oversight Manager, Mercer Workplace Savings

Phil ParkinsonSenior Investment Consultant

For many pension fund trustees and sponsors, the ultimate aim is to buy out the benefits with an insurance company. Several key questions need to be answered:

  • How far away is this target and what is a realistic timescale?
  • How do I keep track of this?
  • How can I achieve this target as efficiently and quickly as possible?

The answers to these questions lie in a number of actions, including buyout monitoring, investment strategy (including longevity swaps) and member options. In this breakout session, we explore these issues and look at some case studies on how other pension schemes have acted to address these questions.

Suthan RajagopalanSenior Strategy Consultant

Patrick LloydSenior Strategy Consultant

Dealing with the DB Downside – Equity Options

Investors have enjoyed almost 10 years of high equity returns, with markets increasing between 150% and 300% since the depth of the 2008/2009 crash. Equity markets appear to have now reached all-time highs, and there is a risk of a sudden or gradual decline in prices. Many investors have not protected their equity portfolios and thus are fully exposed to market movements. Notwithstanding active management, if equity markets do not perform well, you can expect your equity portfolio to struggle. In this breakout session, we deep-dive into equity risk and explore ways you can manage it.

Hemal PopatSenior Strategy Consultant

Julien HalfonSenior Strategy Consultant

DC Plans: Are They Poised to Deliver Value?

In this breakout session, we consider the main components of value in defined contribution (DC) plans. We explore also whether DC plans are delivering good value for members and what employers, decision-makers, regulators and the market need to do to improve the value delivered tomorrow. In presenting the challenges to value and potential value-improving measures, we consider DC plans at each of the three stages of their lifecycles — the "input", "throughput" and "output" stages.

Jim DoranSenior Investment Consultant

Stephen BudgeSenior Investment Consultant

DC Master Trusts: Ensuring Your Master Trust Solves Today's DC Dilemmas

There is now no doubt that Master Trusts are the primary vehicle for future DC savings. Trustees, companies, providers, investment managers, and advisors have critical roles to play in delivering retirement outcomes but the ultimate beneficiaries – the members – have been left without a voice. This session will discuss the dilemmas faced by DC members and challenge all stakeholders to break down the barriers that exist to securing those better outcomes. It will provide all parties with an insight to the steps they need to take to ensure the industry rises up and tackles its DC dilemmas.

Rebecca PotashnickGovernance and Oversight Manager, Mercer Workplace Savings

Phil ParkinsonSenior Investment Consultant

For many pension fund trustees and sponsors, the ultimate aim is to buy out the benefits with an insurance company. Several key questions need to be answered:

  • How far away is this target and what is a realistic timescale?
  • How do I keep track of this?
  • How can I achieve this target as efficiently and quickly as possible?

The answers to these questions lie in a number of actions, including buyout monitoring, investment strategy (including longevity swaps) and member options. In this breakout session, we explore these issues and look at some case studies on how other pension schemes have acted to address these questions.

Suthan RajagopalanSenior Strategy Consultant

Patrick LloydSenior Strategy Consultant

Dealing with the DB Downside – Equity Options

Investors have enjoyed almost 10 years of high equity returns, with markets increasing between 150% and 300% since the depth of the 2008/2009 crash. Equity markets appear to have now reached all-time highs, and there is a risk of a sudden or gradual decline in prices. Many investors have not protected their equity portfolios and thus are fully exposed to market movements. Notwithstanding active management, if equity markets do not perform well, you can expect your equity portfolio to struggle. In this breakout session, we deep-dive into equity risk and explore ways you can manage it.

Hemal PopatSenior Strategy Consultant

Julien HalfonSenior Strategy Consultant

15:55–16:25Coffee Break and Networking

16:25–16:45Our Clients, Managers and Mercer: Joining the Dots

Mick DempseyBusiness Leader, Delegated Solutions and Specialist Segments, Europe

Hooman KavehGlobal CIO, Delegated Solutions

16:45–16:55Lightning Talk: Believing Impossible Things

Much has been written in recent years regarding extreme events occurring more often than is assumed, and having impacts that are not initially obvious. In this lightning talk, we briefly consider the benefits of preparedness and pre-thinking in responding to such events. The context is a defined benefit pension plan, but the principles explored apply to all investors.

Nathan BakerSenior Investment Consultant

16:55–17:40Debate: The Bond Bubble Is About to Burst

In this session, we debate whether yields are to continue for the foreseeable future at their current low rates or whether they will rise back to more “normal” levels. We discuss as an audience and you decide where you stand on this crucial subject.

Divyesh HindochaSenior Investment Consultant

Rupert WatsonHead of Asset Allocation, Delegated Solutions

17:40–17:45Final Remarks

James BrundrettSenior Investment Consultant

18:30–23:00Drinks and Offsite Dinner

Please meet in the hotel lobby at 18:30 for bus pick-up.

WEDNESDAY, 11 OCTOBER

08:00–09:00Breakfast

09:00–09:05MC

Deborah WardleAssistant Portfolio Manager, Delegated Solutions

09:05–10:05Investing in Success

Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, outlines how the Great Britain Olympic Team made such a dramatic rise up the medal table, from 36th at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to 2nd at the Rio games, beating China along the way.

In order to fulfil their mission of inspiring the nation through Olympic and Paralympic Sport, UK Sport invest in, drive, and showcase medal success.

This targeted approach requires some tough decision making and Liz's talk covers how UK Sport make those big decisions to facilitate Olympic and Paralympic glory and ultimately to inspire the nation.

Featured Speaker: Liz Nicholl CBEChief Executive - UK Sport

Delve deeper into a person’s age to unearth what it may tell you about his or her experiences, the different economic, socio-cultural and world events that have shaped the individual’s views and how he or she interprets the world. Similar to gender and ethnicity, age can be a powerful proxy of diversity. When building investment teams, leaders should be cognisant of any concentration in age profile and the benefits that an intergenerational approach can bring. In this lightning talk, we explore these factors, including the impact that age can have on our willingness to take risk.

Anthony CorriganSenior Research Specialist, Equity Boutique

10:15–10:45Achieving Success in Active Management

Against the backdrop of an ongoing shift in assets away from active managers towards lower-cost passive approaches, this session examines the role active management can play within an equity portfolio and identifies the pre-conditions for success. In particular, we assess what reasonable expectations for active management might look like and shift the spotlight away from asset managers and focus instead on the asset owners themselves and what they can do to enhance the probability of positive outcomes.

Rich DellGlobal Head, Equity Boutique

Phil EdwardsGlobal Director of Strategic Research

10:45–11:15Coffee Break and Networking

11:15–11:40The Future is Bright, The Future is Real: Why Real Assets Are Integral to Future Success

Real asset classes offer real benefits in what could be an uncertain and a volatile time. The real assets environment has been changing rapidly over the past decade, and opportunities in this space continue to present themselves. This session explores what we mean by real assets, why clients would benefit from including them in their portfolio and also how best to implement a real assets strategy. We challenge asset owners and asset managers to adapt to this new environment and create better long-term outcomes as a result.

Matt AbbottSenior Research Specialist, Real Estate

Dave WillersSenior Consultant and UK Alternatives Leader

11:40–11:50Lightning Talk: How Behavioural Science has Improved Member Engagement

Annual pension benefit statements are seen as that “one opportunity” to communicate to your members. Each area of business has input into “what” to communicate to the member. Legal and compliance ensure certain terms are used, disclaimers and disclosures are inserted to ensure responsibility points elsewhere, and all words are translated into the Martian language, which only helps to muddle members even more. In the end, your engagement team gives you statistics relating only to “web hits” and “number of log-ins”, and nobody really knows whether your members are engaged.

It’s now time to look into the science behind a really successful engagement solution.

Peter CareyProduct Development Manager, DC and Financial Wellness

11:50–12:00Mind Games — Navigating Alternate Realities 3

Like Alice in Wonderland, the audience is transported through a looking glass to alternate futures. In this three-part interactive game, the audience is asked to create optimal portfolios based on different scenarios. After conferring with their tablemates, everyone in the audience submits a portfolio individually. All submissions are tabulated on a leaderboard. The person who submits the portfolio with the highest value after three rounds is declared the winner of Wonderland. The moderator briefly discusses the winning and optimal portfolio.

Emma PardoSenior Investment Consultant

12:00–12:25Finding Robustness in an Unpredictable World

In this session, Niall recaps some of the key ideas and themes of the Forum. He looks at some of the lessons from history and looks at what the practical implications are for both asset allocation and product design, so that you can meet your goals with a plan in hand!

Niall O'SullivanCIO, Delegated Solutions, Europe

12:25–14:00Lunch

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