IRELAND - The Irish Pensions Board is looking for a new actuary following the promotion of Brendan Kennedy to replace Anne Maher as chief executive.
Apart from providing actuarial advice to the Pensions Board, the position also involves "actuarial input into formulation and drafting of legislation and effective representation of the interests of the Board with relevant external parties at national and EU level," the job ad states.

Meanwhile, Mercer Investment Consulting has published a survey among 150 Irish pension funds on their investment aims showing that funds are dissatisfied with their active managers.

Some 88% of respondents said that investment managers have a tendency to "hug" benchmarks. Mercer said in its report that this finding may be an explanation for a growth in passive management in the Irish market.

"The response also possibly reflects the disappointment of trustees and employers to the poor levels of out-performance achieved by active managers over the past number of years."

Another trend that was confirmed by the study is the shift to specialist international managers. 38% of DB schemes had over 60% of their assets managed by international managers.

Mercer says that this trend has first been experienced among the bigger pension funds but is now "filtering down to all sizes". For the local investment community this means that "the challenge of increased specialisation in areas of true skill becomes even more pertinent."

With regard to alternatives the findings show that currently about 2.5% of the respondents' scheme assets are invested in alternatives. As a main barrier to investment in this asset class 66% of the pension schemes said that they lacked the knowledge or the information. 16.7% said that the suitable product was not available. Only 11.1% said they would choose hedge funds as an alternative asset class with 33.3% going for tactical asset allocation, 27.8% for emerging markets, 18.8% for private equity and 9% for small cap equities.

Over 68% of schemes were below full funding status but only 9.4% of all schemes showed a funding level below 80%.