In January, in this column, I highlighted areas to watch for 2018. In the spirit of holding myself to account, it’s time to see how they panned out.
• Dutch reform. At times this year the discussions between the various parties over a new pension system felt like a high-stakes chess match. No side was keen to give up much ground on their demands, while frustrated pension funds and their members felt little more than pawns in the to-and-fro discussions. The game isn’t over yet, but at least one party in the negotiations will likely have to rethink its strategy.
• Consolidation. UK local authority funds are well on the road to consolidation, despite teething problems. Commercial consolidators have yet to announce their first clients, but have promised much-needed innovation. Other countries are also looking to pool their resources in different ways: Italian industry schemes have just launched a collaborative project to invest in alternatives, for example.
• Defined contribution (DC). Ireland’s wide-ranging reform, announced in March, included an auto-enrolment regime that aimed to bring more than 400,000 people into the pension system for the first time. However, Germany’s attempt to introduce a DC-type system stalled when its biggest union said last month that it wouldn’t make a decision on supporting pension funds without guarantees until the autumn of 2019.
• Regulation. MiFID II has bedded in without much fuss, although the effect on the coverage of small cap companies, for example, has yet to be fully explored. Of far more importance to our readers is IORP II – look out for in-depth coverage in our next issue.
All four of these areas will continue to dominate the pensions landscape in 2019. Further afield there are the small matters of the end of quantitative easing and Brexit with which to contend. Suddenly a game of chess seems much simpler.
Nick Reeve, News Editor