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Registration and Breakfast
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Opening Remarks
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The Pension’s Gambit: Mastering the Macroeconomic Chessboard

In July, although inflation started to decrease, market interest rates remained mostly steady. However, there's growing optimism that developed economies will avoid recession, whilst persistent inflation is decreasing, and economists predict we're nearing the end of the Bank of England's rate hikes. This marks a new phase in the current economic cycle, bringing opportunities and challenges for pension schemes and their trustees. It is now a critical time for pension scheme trustees to make strategic decisions.

This session will address:

  • Where are we now and where do we go from here with inflation, interest rates and bond yields?
  • What are the factors that could change the future trajectory?
  • What should UK pension schemes be most concerned about from a macro perspective?
Speaker
City veteran and chief economist of market research and economic intelligence consultancy
(g+)economics
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Session Sponsored by Linklaters

Content TBC

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Private Matters: Embracing Private Markets in A New Financial Landscape

Private markets are evolving, promising opportunities and challenges for the industry. Rising interest rates have contributed to decreased liquidity across capital markets and posed financial headwinds across diverse asset classes. However, the government has embarked on a journey to foster investment from pension schemes into private markets through initiatives such as: the Patient Capital Review, Long-Term Asset Funds (LTAFs), and the recently introduced Mansion House Compact.

Historically, pension schemes have favoured equities when constructing their portfolios, but with the emergence of innovative fund structures and investment vehicles, such as LTAFs, barriers to private market investing are falling away. None the less, the end of the "easy money era" requires new approaches to private market investing. So, how should pension schemes adapt their strategies to effectively embrace private markets in this new financial landscape?

This session will address: 

  • The pros and cons of private versus public markets
  • Should pension funds allocate more to private markets?
  • How should schemes react to government initiatives designed to boost pension fund's private asset investment?
  • How have the Mansion House Reforms affected private markets?
Speaker
Portfolio Manager
Morgan Stanley
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Lunchtime

This is your chance to mingle, connect, and replenish your energy amidst the Investment Conference's vibrant atmosphere. Join us in savouring a spread prepared to elevate your midday experience. Whether you're networking, sharing insights, or simply taking a moment to unwind; Take a plate, and enjoy!

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Money Talks: How Value for Money Has the Power to Enhance Pensions

Member expectations for customer service are steadily rising, and it's imperative that pensions meet these evolving standards. The government's response to the consultation on a VfM framework for DC schemes, released on July 11th, marked a significant development. The framework, launched in January, solicited input on proposals mandating the disclosure of crucial metrics, standards, and data as part of the VfM framework, allowing member centric VfM comparisons.

With a focus on enhancing the value of DC pensions to yield improved retirement outcomes, this framework introduces an array of comparable metrics, presenting an immense opportunity to empower both pensions professionals and savers alike.

This session will address:

  • How can we expect the VfM framework to evolve over time as the market and savers expectations change?
  • How will VfM work with the industry towards our new pensions landscape?
  • How can comparability of investment performance be benchmarked efficiently?
  • What are the dangers of letting VfM become another cumbersome compliance document?
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Crystal Ball Pensions: Looking into The Future of DC Investment

Recent market volatility and economic difficulties have triggered adjustments in investment choices and reduced contributions among some DC members. This volatility has prompted several schemes to contemplate revising their investment approaches. Furthermore, in the wake of the Mansion House Compact, the UK's largest DC pension providers committed to allotting 5% of their default fund assets to unlisted equities by 2030.

This move potentially translates to a total allocation of up to £50 billion toward "high growth" companies by 2030. Given the prospect of millions in the UK facing retirement prospects less favourable than those of their parents' generation, the DC market is compelled to adopt innovative strategies to ensure positive outcomes for its members.

This session will address: 

  • How are schemes redesigning investment strategy following the Mini Budget crisis last year?
  • How have the Mansion House Reforms affected DC investment strategy?
  • What new asset classes are there for DC and who are these appropriate for?
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Kicking Into High Gear: Navigating the Crossroads to The Future Trajectory of DB

The impact of the gilt crisis continues to reverberate across financial markets, leaving a distinct mark on DB schemes. Trustees now grapple with the task of managing illiquid assets in their portfolios, prompting strategic evaluations of whether to divest assets, accept discounted offers, or extend holding periods. As more schemes approach buyout funding levels, de-risking has become a buyer's market.

However, those lower down the priority list face delays and less favourable quotes, hindering the government's aspiration of fewer schemes to regulate and larger schemes to unlock more investment opportunities. The future trajectory of DB schemes stands at a crossroads, demanding nuanced decisions to navigate shifting markets, regulatory changes, and new investment paradigms.

This session will address:

  • How has the LDI crisis affected DB schemes one year on?
  • How do you get rid of illiquid assets in your portfolio as you move towards buyout?
  • How should schemes invest for buyout/endgame when this may still be several years away?
  • What does TPR's guidance for superfund deals mean for schemes further down insurers' priority lists for quotes to buyout?
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Networking Break and Refreshments

An ideal opportunity to connect with fellow delegates and relish refreshments provided by The Bloomsbury Hotel, for first class company and a second to none experience!

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LDI SOS: Rebuilding Portfolios in a Post-Crisis World

While 2022 might seem like a distant memory, the LDI crisis’ lasting impact has significantly reshaped how pension schemes and trustees approach their responsibilities. The crisis instilled market unease, yet pension schemes' LDI portfolios remained aligned with their obligations, mitigating interest rate and inflation risks. However, the uptick in yields prompted LDI managers to request added collateral from schemes to uphold these hedges. Nevertheless, rapid market shifts posed challenges for some schemes to promptly furnish the needed funds, leading to hedging reductions.

The utilisation of illiquid assets in DC schemes has progressively expanded, a trend anticipated to persist following the rollout of long-term asset funds. In this context, pension schemes are reconsidering their portfolios, factoring in LDI strategies, buffers, and liquidity.

This session will address:

  • What does investment strategy look like in a post LDI crisis world?
  • How should schemes invest and manage collateral following last year's mini-budget?
  • What is the future of LDI, and should we still be using it?
  • Is there another potential crisis round the corner and how can we best prevent this?
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Professional Vs Lay: The Great Pension Scheme Debate

Recent market volatility highlights how crucial expertise and experience in managing pension funds is. Professional Trustees play a pivotal role on the board, providing trusted and expert insights in navigating the increasingly complex landscape. Some argue that the current requirements for professional trustees lack rigor and that a clearer distinction between the criteria for lay and professional trustees is needed.

There is concern that changes to the accreditation process could place a heavy burden on lay trustees, potentially reducing board diversity. Lay trustees have contributed to the effective governance of UK trust-based schemes for decades, and schemes operate most efficiently when there are multiple trustees with varied backgrounds and perspectives. However, pensions and pension investments are complex, posing a significant challenge for some to effectively question their advisors, especially regarding investment decisions.

This debate will address: 

  • What does professional mean?
  • What is the contribution of a professional versus lay trustee?
  • What do professional trustees bring to the table that lay trustees may not, and vice versa?
  • Should all pension schemes be run by only professional trustees?
Speaker
Professional Trustee
Capital Cranfield
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Experts Assemble: Conquering Market Volatility in a Dynamic Pensions Landscape

As discussed throughout our Investment Conference, the pensions sector witnessed substantial advancements in 2023. Such as: the Mansion House Speech and Compact, revisions being made to TPR's DB superfund guidance, and with the ever-increasing reliance on admin in the sector, is the industry finally giving it the thought and attention it needs?

Having addressed numerous critical topics today, the moment has arrived for our industry experts to engage in discussions regarding the day's sessions and delve into pertinent matters affecting our industry.

This session will address: 

  • Is inflation here for longer?
  • How does a high interest rate environment affect investing and what does this mean going forward?
  • What can we take from the Mansion House Reforms and where do we go from here?
  • Are interest rate hikes sustainable and how will they affect bond yields?
  • How can good administration and data aid schemes going forward?
Speakers
President
BESTrustees
Investment Consultant
The Pensions Regulator
Director
Pensions Administration Standards Association
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Closing Remarks

Please note: programme is subject to change