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Actuarial association calls for relaxation of IORP full funding requirements

Cross-border pension funds should not be subject to full funding requirements, the Actuarial Association of Europe (AAE) has argued.

Releasing its position paper on the revised IORP Directive, the association repeatedly sided with MEP Brian Hayes but questioned the IORP rapporteur’s attempts to extend more stringent funding requirements to all new schemes launched.

The paper said it supported the parliamentarian’s notion that “unnecessary obstacles” holding back the launch of cross-border pension funds should be removed but argued that requiring funds to cover liabilities at all times was one such obstacle.

“We would note that the requirement to be fully funded caused [the] closure of the many existing cross-border arrangements when the Directive came into effect,” the paper added, citing examples of cross-border provision between Ireland and the UK.

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It also noted that Hayes had, in his initial report to Parliament from July, suggested an expansion of such full-funding requirements to all new or additional schemes.

“Again, we are supportive of being fully funded at all times as an ambition,” the association said.

“We need to be realistic and understand there will be situations where there is an underfunding.”

It later suggested cross-border funds should be treated no differently than their domestic counterparts, and be allowed to submit funding proposals.

Where underfunding occurs, schemes should determine if it was the result of decisions made by management or other, external problems, and then implement a recovery plan.

The AAE suggested that, where underfunding was found to be the result of mistakes by management, then the recovery plan should stipulate measures to ensure better management is put in place.

Hayes in October distanced himself from amendments for the funding of “new or additional [cross-border] schemes”, submitting revised wording that will be put to vote by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) next week.

European parliamentarians have also been urged to vote in favour of a number of responsible investment provisions when meeting on 1 December.

In a letter by Eurosif, the UK’s ShareAction, 2 Degrees Investing, WWF and other NGOs, the signatories urged MEPs to reinstate provisions requiring pension funds to conduct risk assessments of climate and environmental risks.

“The European Parliament has the opportunity to take a leadership role in seeking to protect pensioners’ financial futures through promoting a culture of responsible investment,” the letter said.

It also urged MEPs to back any one of three similar resolutions by ECON members Anneliese Dodds and Paul Tang, UK and Dutch members of the Socialists and Democrats, or Bas Eickhout, a Dutch MEP and member of the Greens.

These resolutions argued that a beneficiary’s best interest and environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters were not incompatible.

The letter said studies by the Principles for Responsible Investment and the UK’s Law Commission had shown that the duty was often interpreted as requiring a short-term focus on returns, excluding long-term, ESG considerations.  

“As such, MEPs must use the opportunity presented by the revision of this Directive to clarify the law in this regard,” it said. 

The successful passage of one of the amendments would once again raise the issues of fiduciary duties, less than a month after the UK’s “extremely disappointing” decision against amending domestic law.

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