Letters From...

  • Superannuation statistics
    Features

    Letter from Australia: Coalition mulls super hike

    June 2021 (Magazine)

    There are arguments both for and against a rise in compulsory superannuation contribution rate as Australia emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic . 

  • The attractive performance of cryptocurrencies is raising interest in their use as an alternative investment strategy
    Features

    Letter from US: The rise of the new alternatives

    June 2021 (Magazine)

    Pension funds and other institutional investors used to invest in hedge funds aspiring to outperform public stock and bond benchmarks. Now, after years of disappointing performances, they have changed their attitude. They still invest in hedge funds, but the new expectation is simply to get a few percentage points above the return on zero risk investments. 

  • Gender Imbalance
    Features

    Letter from Australia: A question of gender imbalance

    May 2021 (Magazine)

    Statistics offer a snapshot into the real world and they reveal a depressing picture of gender inequality in Australia’s superannuation system. 

  • Alicia Munnell
    Features

    Letter from US: Aid without reform set to resolve the multi-employer pension plan crisis

    May 2021 (Magazine)

    Until March, The prospective collapse of multi-employer pension plans meant that over one million retired truck drivers, shop assistants, builders and other members of 186 schemes were at risk of losing their retirement benefits. 

  • Impact on capital city prices of allowing withdrawals up to A$40,000 from super for a house deposit
    Features

    Letter from Australia: Should super savings fund homes?

    April 2021 (Magazine)

    A post-COVID-19 housing boom has made the future of Australia’s A$3trn (€2trn) superannuation savings pool a hot topic.

  • Emily Swenson Brock
    Features

    Letter from US: Pension bonds raise concerns

    April 2021 (Magazine)

    The resurgence of interest in pension obligation bonds (POBs) is one of the effects of the pandemic on the US pension funds industry. Indeed in 2020 POB issuance reached its highest level in a decade, exceeding $6bn (€5bn), according to Municipal Market Analytics (MMA), an independent research firm focusing on the US municipal bonds.

  • End of an era - Australian retail super funds keep shedding market share
    Features

    Letter from Australia: Retail super funds in distress

    March 2021 (Magazine)

    Australia’s once-dominant retail super funds are witnessing the end of an era as they wrestle with loss of consumer confidence in their brands. Hastening change has been the rise of industry supers, which benefitted from damaging evidence provided to the Hayne Royal Commission in 2018. 

  • Corporate America is facing a series of resolutions related to climate change and social justice at its AGMs
    Features

    Letter from US: COVID and racial justice to the fore

    March 2021 (Magazine)

    The 2021 proxy season’s hot issues are human capital management related to COVID-19 and social justice. Several large US public pension funds are at the forefront of these campaigns together with non-profit shareholder advocacy organisations like the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and As You Sow, a non-profit foundation that promotes corporate accountability.

  • Early access genie escapes the bottle
    Features

    Letter from Australia: Early access genie escapes the bottle

    February 2021 (Magazine)

    In March 2020, as the Australian economy went into COVID-19 lockdown the government unlocked the national superannuation pool, seeking to ease the financial stress on individuals. 

  • Kevin McKechnie
    Features

    Letter from US: HSAs set to build on popularity

    February 2021 (Magazine)

    The Health Savings Account (HSA) is becoming increasingly popular as a retirement savings vehicle in the US. The new Biden presidency and the now Democrat controlled Congress are likely to accentuate this trend in 2021 and beyond.

  • Beth Ashmore
    Features

    Letter from US: Don’t anticipate radical reform

    January 2021 (Magazine)

    The new Joe Biden administration is unlikely to revolutionise US pension plans, but it could broaden the base of workers able to join defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s. It may also cancel recent rules and return to the previous regulations set under Barack Obama.

  • Substantial tail of underperforming accumulation choice options
    Features

    Letter from Australia: Reforms not super for default funds

    December 2020 (Magazine)

    A string of government reforms due to come into effect from July 2021 has caught the superannuation sector off-guard.  

  • Jon Pliner
    Features

    Letter from US: COVID-19 places new demands on university endowments

    December 2020 (Magazine)

    COVID-19 has hit a special category of institutional investors in the US hard – college and university endowments. In fact, higher education institutions are facing a decline in revenues because of fewer students enrolling and paying tuition, as well as current students asking for more financial aid. Colleges and universities are withdrawing substantial amounts from their endowments to cover these extra expenses. How is this affecting endowments’ investment strategies? 

  • Sam Sicilia
    Features

    Letter from Australia: Funding the future world

    November 2020 (Magazine)

    A handful of Australian superannuation funds are committing their members’ savings to the future world in terms of energy, water, technology and ideas. There will be successes and failures as ideas are developed and marketed.

  • Gold investment returns to favour
    Features

    Letter from US: Gold investment returns to favour

    November 2020 (Magazine)

    “Negative real interest rates and unconventional monetary policies have been the catalyst of the new-found interest in gold,” says Jim McKee, a gold expert at Callan’s alternatives consulting group. 

  • Juukan Gorge - Aboriginal heritage site that was destroyed by Rio Tinto
    Features

    Letter from Australia: ESG stirs some ancient ghosts

    October (2020) Magazine

    In May this year, Rio Tinto blew up one of Western Australia’s most significant Aboriginal heritage sites.

  • CalPERS’s headquarters in Sacremento, California
    Features

    Letter from US: All eyes on CalPERS as CIO quits

    October (2020) Magazine

    The $405bn (€342bn) California Public Employee’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is the bellwether of US public pension funds. 

  • Letter from Australia - Pooling for savings and strength
    Features

    Letter from Australia: Pooling for savings and strength

    September 2020 (Magazine)

    The government, the regulator and economic fallout from COVID-19 have combined to pressure Australia’s large and unwieldy pool of super funds towards consolidation. 

  • Angela Miller-May
    Features

    Letter from US: Diversity in asset management rises

    September 2020 (Magazine)

    “It is a part of your fiduciary duty to invest the fund’s assets in a prudent manner. Investing with diverse asset managers that demonstrate outperformance and deliver strong returns is more than prudent, it is wise.” 

  • Scott Morrison
    Features

    Letter from Australia: Paltry pickings in the political pie

    July/August 2020 (Magazine)

    As deficits mount in a post-COVID-19 world, politicians and bureaucrats are again eyeing national pension savings – hundreds of billions of dollars they can capture at the stroke of a legislative pen.