Overview Agenda Meet the speakers Registration and fees Venue and accommodation Important notices


Monday 20 September 2021

MC: Alexandra Maher, Senior Investment Consultant

*Times are in UTC+1 London

  • 9:55 am – 10:35 am   |   Investing post-pandemic: What should we be doing differently?

    What will asset owners do differently and what do we expect from consultants and asset managers?

    Facilitator: Helen Hope, Head of UK Client Relations, Investment Solutions

    Susan Anyan, Professional Trustee and Pensions Governance Expert, Capital Cranfield
    Rene Poisson, Managing Director, Poisson Management Ltd.
    David Vickers, Chief Investment Officer, Brunel Pension Partnership Limited

    The pandemic has changed the way we live and work, and some of these changes are expected to have permanent repercussions. What do investors think about the future that has been reshaped by recent events? We talk to three asset owners and hear their views, including their expectations for both asset managers and consultants.

  • 10:35 am – 10:50 am   |   Inflation — post-reopening phenomenon or something more structural?

    Sinéad Twohig, Senior Investment Consultant

    Alongside new patterns in online shopping, technology and consumer habits, an unprecedented wave of monetary and fiscal stimulus has helped us through the pandemic. Will this lead to a prolonged rise in inflation? Or is the current inflation a temporary spike caused by the reopening of the economy? In this session, we present our views (setting out alternative scenarios), with recommendations for how to factor this into your portfolio construction.

  • 10:50 am – 11:05 am   |   Investing in China: Emerging market allocations for the new world

    Gareth Anderson, Senior Equity Research Specialist

    As we grapple with the complex dynamics of the new world, how should we view China’s evolving role across the global investment landscape? How can you position yourself to meet challenges and capitalise on opportunities that lie ahead in an uncertain geopolitical and macroeconomic future? Ignore these questions at your peril; the stakes are high for critical aspects of portfolio diversification, access to valuable sources of return and risk mitigation. We help you answer these and other questions with our latest guidance on emerging market allocations.

  • 11:30 am – 12:10 pm   |   From zero to hero: Planning a sustainable journey

    Jo Holden, Global Head of Investment Research
    Niall O’Sullivan, AMEA Chief Investment Officer, Investment Solutions
    Don Gerritsen, Head of Principles for Responsible Investment, The Netherlands

    The next 10 years will be a “decade of delivery”. The latest reports from the IPCC and the upcoming COP26 summit will focus investors and regulators alike on climate change and environmental issues. There is also increasing momentum around the social and governance elements of ESG and the need to incorporate them into portfolios.

    This session discusses how Mercer and our clients think about ESG within a total portfolio framework. It includes some practical insights from our PRI speaker on ways to think about asset allocation. Following our Responsible Investment Total Evaluation (RITE) assessment of all Mercer’s UK clients, we also share a state-of-the-nation perspective on how investors are addressing ESG.

  • 12:10 pm – 12:55 pm   |   How to build a portfolio for impact

    Deborah Wardle, Alternatives Investment Director
    Hill Gaston, Senior Sustainable Investment Specialist

    What is impact investing? Is it any different to sustainable investing? In this session, we set out what we mean at Mercer by impact investing, demonstrate what an impact-investing framework looks like and show how to build an impact portfolio in practice. We discuss the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and how they can be used to support impact investing. We also discuss the key challenges with an impact fund, such as “greenwashing”, and cover effective measurement and reporting as well as the asset classes and impact themes available for investment.

  • 3:05 pm – 3:35 pm   |   Breakout sessions – round 1

    1. Should all asset owners set net-zero targets?
      Vanessa Hodge, UK Sustainable Integration Lead
      Ian McKnight, Chief Investment Officer, Royal Mail Pensions
      Mark Thompson, Executive Chair of the Investment Committee, UBS UK Pension Scheme

      The IPCC’s Code Red warning brings home the urgency of addressing climate change, and there are calls for pension schemes to commit to a net-zero target on carbon emissions. In this breakout session, we explore the role of institutional investors in helping to reduce climate-related risk exposures and whether a net-zero target is appropriate for all pension schemes.

    2. Transition, transition, transition — But how to benchmark?
      Sarika Goel, Global Head of Sustainability Research
      Tony English, Senior Investment Consultant
      Sindhu Krishna, Head of Sustainable Investments, Phoenix Group

      So you’ve made a commitment to a net-zero carbon goal. How do you benchmark what you want to achieve? This breakout session focuses on some of the practical aspects of implementing climate transition in your portfolio. We discuss some of the challenges asset owners have experienced, such as how they work with their providers (both active and passive) in decarbonising their portfolios and how they decide which indices to use. We also discuss the broader portfolio changes clients have made.

    3. Keeping it real: (Re)positioning real estate investment for the future
      Anne Koeman-Sharapova, Senior Real Estate Specialist, Europe
      Richard Levis, Senior Real Estate Specialist, UK
      Steve Turner, Senior Investment Consultant

      Can we say it’s different this time? The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has been the defining event of the last year and a half. This breakout session explores the impact of the pandemic on real estate markets and the potential lasting effects of this great disruption. We look at how investors should reposition existing portfolios or build out new ones and share our views on where the next opportunities are likely to arise.

    4. Show me the money — Liquidity in private markets
      Rekha Owen, Senior Private Markets Specialist
      Ciara O’Leary, Investment Consultant
      Craig McBride, Senior Investment Consultant

      Investors across the globe are increasing their allocation to private markets. Why is that? How are investors with divergent goals managing to find commonality in their appreciation for these asset classes? This session explores the benefits that private markets can bring to different types of investors. We will also consider what this means looking forward and discuss the future demand drivers for these illiquid asset types.
    5. Will your employees be ready to retire?
      Niall Alexander, Senior DC Investment Consultant
      Mick Howard, DC Investment Consultant

      A problem well stated is a problem half solved, but how best to define a good outcome is a question that has stumped the defined contribution (DC) industry for decades. Making DC good is optional for employers: It’s a discretionary spend. However, “good DC” doesn’t need to be expensive, complicated or exclusive to big schemes or paternal organisations. It can be done within a trust, contract or master trust. It just needs to target and govern against the right outcome. Hear how Mercer is using simple analytics to help DC schemes assess success in a way that puts members first, along with interventions to help improve the situation.

  • 3:45 pm – 4:15 pm   |   Breakout sessions – round 2

    1. Should all asset owners be setting a net-zero target?
      Vanessa Hodge, UK Sustainable Integration Lead
      Ian McKnight, Chief Investment Officer, Royal Mail Pensions

    2. Transition, transition, transition – but how?
      Sarika Goel, Global Head of Sustainability Research
      Tony English, Senior Investment Consultant
      Sindhu Krishna, Head of Sustainable Investments, Phoenix Group

    3. Keeping it real: (Re)positioning real estate investment for the future
      Anne Koeman-Sharapova, Senior Real Estate Specialist, Europe
      Richard Levis, Senior Real Estate Specialist, UK

    4. Private markets: An asset class for all seasons
      Rekha Owen, Senior Private Markets Specialist

    5. Will your employees be ready to retire?
      Niall Alexander, Senior DC Investment Consultant
      Michael Howard, DC Investment Consultant
  • 4:20 pm – 4:55 pm   |   Exploring digital finance and bitcoin

    Matt Scott, Senior Strategic Research Specialist

    The tentative institutionalisation of Bitcoin, a non-sovereign currency that has had a decade of parabolic, albeit bumpy, price increases, has had investors wondering whether or not to be amongst the first movers in the latest phase of adoption, or whether it’s a case of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. In this session we demystify Bitcoin and its competitors and introduce the arena in which they now sit: decentralised finance or DeFi, an exciting new financial services system native to the internet that caters to cryptocurrency users.

  • 5:10 pm – 6:00 pm   |   Asset owner networking event — Mercer’s analysis on the future of DB

    Andrew Ward, Head of Risk Transfer and DB Journey Planning

    There has been a significant tail off in the number of DB schemes over the last decade although asset values have conversely risen, largely due to falling yields. This session presents the results of Mercer’s research into what might happen in the coming decade...and how we as asset owners, managers or advisers need to react to stay relevant. As well as presenting the results of our analysis, there will be an opportunity for discussion and an exchange of views.




Tuesday 21 September 2021




Wednesday 22 September 2021

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