Following the successful completion of an initial development stage in 2012-13, IPE  has now announced the full European roll-out of the Pension Fund Perception

Programme (PFPP) – the largest research project on pension funds’ perceptions of asset managers in Europe.

The programme is unprecedented in scale and scope and involves over 2,000 pension funds in 16 countries across eight European regions.

The programme was set up following a major consultation exercise with European pension funds. Investors said they wanted a truly independent research programme on pension funds’ experiences of asset managers, one that is completely controlled by the funds themselves.

One of the key objectives has been to address the problem that all pension funds face – endless requests to participate in asset manager surveys initiated, sponsored, or ultimately influenced by providers.

The PFPP has been developed with European pension funds and is independently facilitated by IPE. As a result, and for the first time, control of information is moving from asset managers to asset owners.

This programme will also provide participating pension funds with meaningful and detailed intelligence on some 189 managers – including both those they employ and those they do not.

The PFPP is conducted in multiple languages and is operated through eight PFPP research-network regions. There is no cost for participating pension funds.

The programme is now being supported by every pension fund that has already been briefed and invited to join the programme, as well as by European and national pension fund associations.

The PFPP is also completely confidential – reporting by funds is never published or shared with third parties, and participating pension funds are not identified to one another.

A total of 189 leading asset managers operating in the European market have been nominated by pension funds to be reported on and, as such, are also eligible for membership of the programme. As members, asset management companies are able to access confidential reporting on them by their pension fund clients.  

Membership charges are kept low so that the programme is accessible for all nominated managers. This is very important for pension funds, who told us they are keen to ensure that all nominated managers, not just the largest, are able to join and to pro-actively address issues that the research has highlighted, driving up service standards as a result. Managers are also able to benchmark their clients’ assessments of themselves against those of other managers.

Some 300 pension funds with assets over €1trn participated in the development phase in 2012-13, which formed the basis of the current programme. A total of 2,210 pension funds across Europe are now being briefed in a series of private meetings in 44 cities in 16 countries.

The purpose of these briefings is to explain to all pension funds involved why and how this industry programme was put together; how it addresses all the issues that all pension funds face; how it delivers everything that pension funds have said they require from a manager research programme; and exactly what information and intelligence pension funds can expect to receive.

A considerable investment has already been made to put this programme together, including substantial input from hundreds of pension funds around Europe.

“There has been almost universal support for the PFPP from pension funds, and from pan-European and national pension fund associations that represent pension funds across Europe,” says Tim Brown, director of the PFPP.

“A PFPP Pension Fund Board is now being appointed to ensure the continued independence of this important industry programme.”

This board will be chaired by Joep Schouten, a well-known and highly-respected figure who was formerly chairman of the Dutch pensions provider Cordares, now part of APG.

“We are continuing our extensive briefing programme and are bringing pension funds into the programme in a carefully managed process,” Brown adds. “We are investing whatever time and resources are necessary to ensure that the programme is properly understood, and that pension funds derive the maximum benefit from their programme.’

The 2013-14 period for reporting on managers will be completed by July 2014 with output made available to participating pension funds shortly thereafter. The PFPP also includes profiles and contact data sheets for all 189 managers nominated for reporting. These are in a standardised format and enable pension funds to obtain basic data on asset managers and identify relevant contacts in each country and region in Europe.

Preliminary briefings on the programme have already been given to most asset managers that were nominated by pension funds to be reported on, and the programme agenda has been strongly endorsed by most managers, with many already joining the programme. Confidential briefing packages on the PFPP 2013-14 reporting period are being sent to all nominated managers on 15 April.