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Monday 21 September 2020


Tuesday 22 September 2020

  • 8:45 am – 8:50 am   |   Opening Remarks

    Sylvia Pozezanac, CEO, UK

  • 8:50 am – 9:00 am   |   Welcome

    Fran Browne, Senior Investment Consultant

  • 9:00 am – 9:20 am   |   It’s a Matter of Time: Themes and Opportunities

    Themes and Opportunities 2020
    European Asset Allocation Insights 2020
    Beware of inflation

    Deb Clarke, Global Head of Investment Research
    Nick White, Global Strategic Research Director

    Executive summary

    Investors need to be clear on their time frames, prepared for more ‘business as unusual’ and positioned for climate change — all of which requires a clear understanding of how related risks and opportunities could develop over time. In this session, we outline these themes and discuss the potential opportunities and risks investors should take into account in order to succeed over the next few years.

  • 9:20 am – 9:45 am   |   The Future of Energy in the Transition

    Jillian Reid, Senior Responsible Investment Specialist
    Rob Bailey, Director, Climate Resilience, Marsh and McLennan Advantage, Insights
    Amarik Ubhi, Global Head of Infrastructure, Alternatives

    Executive summary

    The UN is labelling this the “decade of delivery”, when we respond to the science-based warnings and implement “a better and more sustainable future for all”. There is debate around the timing, methodology and portfolio implications for different “transition” approaches, but the starting point is generally agreed: the energy sector. Energy fuels so much of our economy, and it is now facing the greatest disruption. So where are the known risks and where might the surprises lie? How can we successfully connect the risks with the opportunities? A successful transition in the decade ahead will require navigating both and finding the investable solutions across asset classes.

  • 9:45 am – 10:00 am   |   Liability Hedging at Near-Zero Yields

    Wayne Davidson, Senior Investment Consultant

    Executive summary

    At near-zero yields, hedging strategies may underperform liabilities and be less effective than intended. Furthermore, the balance between rates and inflation hedging may no longer be appropriate. This market environment could persist for many years, and periods of negative yields cannot be ruled out. The next 10 years are critical for defined benefit schemes. Investors should understand how to manage their keys risks in this environment. 

    In this session, we explore the issues with liability hedging at near-zero yields and offer insights into how investors should construct risk-efficient liability-hedging mandates in this environment.

  • 10:00 am – 10:05 am   |   A Timely Check-in

    Fran Browne, Senior Investment Consultant

  • 10:15 am – 10:35 am   |   Coffee Break and Table Topics

    1. Insurance Linked Strategies – A Unique Diversifying Asset Class
    2. Vintage Diversification
    3. ODD: What Will Be the New Normal?
    4. Is Securities Lending Compatible with an ESG Investment Philosophy?
    5. Insurance
    6. Defined Contribution
    7. Defined Benefit
    8. Wealth Manager Solutions
    9. Analytic and Research Tools
    10. DS Investment Solutions
    11. Asset Allocation
    12. Finding Your Perfect Match – Manager Selections
    13. Equities
    14. Where Is the Value in Traditional Fixed Income These Days?
    15. Real Estate
    16. Hedge Funds
    17. Private Markets
    18. Emerging Markets
    19. Alternatives
    20. Responsible Investment
    21. Financial Wellness
    22. Diversity
    23. Defined Benefit Consolidation

  • 10:40 am – 11:10 am |   A Conversation with Keynote, Geoff Mulgan: Insights into the Social, Political and Economic Themes Dominating the Global Landscape

    Geoff Mulgan, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation, University College London

    Jo Holden
    , Chief Investment Officer, UK Wealth

    Executive summary

    2020 has not only seen the acceleration of a number of significant themes due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it has also been witness to an unprecedented level of social unrest. The geopolitical landscape is as complex and fragile as ever, and the spectre of protectionism winning out over globalisation remains. Personality politics continue to dominate the global stage. But will that be enough to get economies back on track after COVID-19? 

    Our keynote speaker, Geoff Mulgan, in conversation with our UK CIO, Jo Holden, shares his views on the current political environment and the key social and economic themes dominating the global stage.

  • 11:15 am – 11:45 am   |   Breakouts

    Breakout 1: Accessing Illiquid Assets in DC

    Phil Parkinson, UK DC Leader
    Nick Rosenblatt, Proposition Leader

    Jenny Doyle,
    Head of Fiduciary Management, Universities Superannuation Scheme 
    Giles Payne, Independent Trustee at Capital Cranfield

    Executive summary

    Although defined benefit (DB) pension schemes can and do invest in illiquid asset classes, defined contribution (DC) schemes in the UK have relatively little exposure. Our panellists share their experiences of DC schemes that have invested, or have considered investing, in private markets. They debate whether the investment merits outweigh the additional costs as well as operational and risk considerations.

    Breakout 2: Credit Across the Spectrum – Tailoring Your Credit Exposure to Your Needs

    Opportunities in dislocated credit markets

    Joe Abrams, Private Debt Specialist
    Kirstin Irvine, Asset Class Specialist, Fixed Income

    Andrien Meyers,
    Head of Treasury and Pensions, London Borough of Lambeth
    Mark Thompson, Executive Chairman of the Investment Committee, UBS (UK) Pension and Life Assurance Scheme
    Rob Treich, Director of Investment Solutions, Coal Pension Trustees Investment (CPTI)

    Executive summary

    In this session, we talk to three panellists about their experiences of investing in a variety of credit strategies to fulfil their strategic objectives. We discuss some of the benefits and challenges associated with investing in less-liquid credit strategies, as well as the challenges of integrating environmental, social and governance considerations into credit exposures.

    Breakout 3: Is Value Dead …. And Other Considerations for Value Investors!

    Is there a case for value?

    Rich Dell, Global Leader, Equity Boutique
    Tony English, Senior Investment Consultant

    Anthony Petalas, Portfolio Manager, Border to Coast

    Executive summary

    Value investing has had a torrid time for many years, with value stocks significantly underperforming growth stocks over the past decade. Taking the perspective of an asset owner, we consider whether value investing has a place in a post-COVID-19 world focussed on technological development and climate transition against a backdrop of persistent low interest rates. In short, is value dead? Or have the rumours of its death been greatly exaggerated?

    Breakout 4: Why Bother with Active Management?

    Andrew McDougall, Head of Portfolio Management, Delegated Solution
    Jonathan Marshall, Asset Class Specialist, Equity Boutique
    Suzanne Lubbe, Asset Class Specialist, Equity Boutique

    Executive summary

    For years, the debate has raged on: active or passive? As passive options have evolved, perhaps it is time for active to throw in the towel. Or is it? In this session, Andrew MacDougall will referee as Jonathan Marshall and Suzanne Lubbe climb into the ring. They will address some of the key aspects of the debate, bringing a more practical perspective to the bout, as well as sharing some pointers on how your portfolio can roll with the punches.

    Breakout 5: Don’t Sweep Currency Under the Carpet

    Michael Cross, Senior Strategist, Delegated Solutions
    Matt Scott, Strategic Research Specialist

    Revisiting currency

    Executive summary

    We often find minimal attention is given to currency positioning in asset allocation discussions. Investors may take the view that currencies are too hard to call, or that the long-term impact will be minimal, and choose to adopt a “neutral” position.

    In our recent research, we have concluded that currency decisions deserve greater attention. To us, it is not even obvious what a “neutral” position is — so to have no view is not an option.  We have considered the impact of currency on risk and return — and how this has changed over time for sterling-based investors.

    In this session, we discuss these issues, we challenge received wisdom on currency positioning decisions, and we implore investors not to sweep currency under the carpet.

    Breakout 6: Addressing the ‘S’ in ESG

    COVID-19 elevates the value of responsible investing

    Lucy Tusa, Senior Investment Consultant

    Tracey Preece
    , Director of Finance, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

    Executive summary

    Recent years have seen an increased interest in sustainable or ESG strategies. Initial interest was driven by a focus on the environment, specifically climate change. The second area of ESG that has come to the fore in the COVID-19 crisis is the “S” — the social aspect of corporate governance — such as labour rights. 

    One of Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF’s) key priorities is helping people find a route out of poverty through work. The issue of good work, and what this looks like, is a particular focus for them at the moment. This discussion between Lucy Tusa of Mercer and Tracey Preece, Director of Finance at JRF, looks at how JRF engages with fund managers on this issue and shows how they are moving to an alignment of purpose and financial investments that go beyond traditional ESG.

  • 11:50 am – 12:15 pm   |   Timely Investment Insights

    Vanessa Hodge
    , Senior Investment Consultant

    Ian McKinlay
    , Chief Investment Officer, Lloyds Banking Group Pensions Schemes
    Colin Hately, Group Pensions Director for Associated British Foods plc

    Executive summary

    The first quarter of 2020 was a period of extreme market volatility and asset drawdowns. Trustees and scheme managers have had to respond quickly to help protect funding levels, and risk-management processes have been put to the test. In addition, the amount of regulatory disclosure for asset owners is increasing, requiring trustees and scheme managers to dedicate more time and resources to ensure compliance and to provide information helpful to their scheme members. In this session, two chief investment officers from UK pension schemes talk about their current investment priorities, share the lessons learnt this year and discuss how they are addressing the additional disclosure requirements.

  • 12:15 pm – 12:25 pm   |   Final Remarks

    Rich Nuzum, President, Wealth


Wednesday 23 September 2020

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Did you know?

Members of some professional bodies may be able to claim continuing professional development credits for attending Mercer's Global Investment Forums.