Garanti Pension and Life, the largest pension insurance company in Turkey in terms of the number of pension savers, is planning to launch new funds investing in commodities and international equities.
Cemal Onaran, managing director at the TRY4.6bn (€1.3bn) firm, told IPE the new funds would be launched within the next four years.
“Our foreign stock market investment fund will most likely invest in both developed markets such as the US and Germany, as well as in emerging markets like Brazil, China and Russia,” he said.
“This will respond to the need for alternative investment vehicles, provide tool for diversification away from the domestic risks and vulnerabilities.”
Most pension fund assets in Turkey are at present invested in T-bills and Turkish government bonds (59.83%), which lost 0.32% last year.
The remainder of pension portfolios are invested in other investment vehicles (17.97%), stocks (12.87%), reverse repos (7.08%), foreign securities (1.24%) and money markets (1.01%), according to Turkey’s financial regulator (SPK).
Turkish private pension investments pulled in an average total return of -0.76% last year.
Onaran believes that, although Turkish investors still strongly prefer fixed income investments, equities will be the most rewarding instrument for pension funds in the long term.
Garanti Pension has some 813,000 customers at present.
“Until 2008,” Onaran said, “interest rates in Turkey were quite high, at around 25%, so the optimal strategy was to invest in money market or government bond funds.
“From 2008 on, however, interest rates fell down to 7-8%, and investors started to demand higher returns.
“This, as well as growing knowledge and experience on financial markets, is increasing interest in alternative investment vehicles such as foreign equity funds.”
Garanti Pension is also planning to grow its overall exposure to equities, where it currently has some 13.5% of its assets.
In addition, some 68.8% of Garanti Pension’s assets are invested in local fixed income, 9.8% in reverse repos and 7.9% in time deposits, foreign exchange fixed income instruments and commodities.
“Already now, we allocate more funds to equities than the average firm in the market,” Onaran said.
“We are planning to increase our equity exposure further, up to 15% of all assets in 2-3 years, and to 20% in the long run.
“We will gradually increase the average equity ratio within our flexible and equity funds as the market prices test reasonably low levels.”