Varma, Climate Asset Management, Law Debenture, PLSA, Octopus Investments, Storebrand, Elo, Hymans Robertson, PGIM Real Estate, Raiffeisen

The Netherlands – Carola Schouten  will become the Netherlands’ first minister specifically dedicated to pensions after the inauguration of the country’s new government, which is expected for next week.

Schouten, who has been the Netherlands’ agriculture minister for the past five years for the small ChristenUnie party, will officially be named Minister for Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions.

Previously, the pension dossier had been the responsibility of the minister for social affairs, Wouter Koolmees, who announced his retirement from politics several months ago.

Party leader of ChristenUnie Gert-Jan Segers thanked Schouten for the “courage to take on the great responsbility” of implementing the pension accord agreed in 2020. He said: “I think it’s very special she will devote herself to ensuring solidarity between young and old when it comes to fair pensions.”

Varma  – The Finnish pension insurer has promoted Markus Aho  to the role of deputy head of unlisted investments. He has worked for Varma for over eight years, most recently as its head of private equity and infrastructure, and is replacing current head of unlisted investments Mikko Koivusalo.

The firm, one of the main providers in Finland’s earnings-related pension system, said Koivusalo would continue to be responsible for special projects, and would stay on as a member of its investment management team.

Both Aho and Koivusalo took up their new roles from 1 January, according to Varma, and report to CIO Reima Rytsölä.

Rytsölä said the importance of unlisted investments in Varma’s portfolio had grown year by year, and it was great for the firm that Aho would continue his “groundbreaking work”.

“I also believe that the controlled generational change in management will strengthen the positive image of Varma as an employer,” he said.

Climate Asset Management – The partnership between HSBC and Pollination has appointed Amy Merrill as senior legal counsel.

Merrill has most recently been a senior lawyer at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), advising on economic instruments, the transparency regime, compliance processes and on general counsel matters. For the past decade and most notably at the recent COP26 in Glasgow, she led the UNFCCC secretariat’s support to successful conclusion of negotiations on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. She was also the legal adviser to the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board and served as secretary to the Paris Implementation and Compliance Committee and the Kyoto Protocol Compliance Committee.

Law Debenture – Vicky Paramour has been named managing director of its pensions practice, having joined the firm in 2015 as a trustee director.

As managing director of the pensions practice, she leads a team of more than 50 pension professionals, working across 200 schemes, governing pensions for 10% of the UK’s population. She is responsible for Law Debenture’s full pensions business, which includes Pegasus, Law Debenture’s independent outsourced
pensions executive services team.

Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA)  – The PLSA is calling for experts from the pensions sector to apply for roles on its policy board and policy committees. The PLSA executive consults both the policy board and policy committees for their views on all relevant policy matters.

After appointing John Chilman, CEO of Railpen, as the new policy board chair in October 2021, the PLSA is now looking to appoint four policy board members and is seeking senior and experienced pension experts from within the PLSA’s membership.

The policy board will meet four times in 2022, with the first meeting taking place on 23 March 2022. The policy committees will each meet three times during the year.

The policy board will focus on adequacy, pensions dashboards, investment and stewardship, defined benefit (DB) funding, defined contribution (DC) decumulation and strategic LGPS issues in 2022.

The PLSA is also recruiting for between 15 and 26 PLSA members to join its policy committees: the DB committee, the DC committee, the master trust committee, and the local authority committee.

Octopus Investments  – Jennifer Ockwell  has been hired as head of institutional. She will be responsible for co-ordinating Octopus Investments’ global institutional strategy as it continues to expand its offering to institutional investors.

Based in London, Ockwell will lead Octopus’ institutional funds distribution team, strengthening its engagement with new and existing investors across pension funds, insurers, sovereign wealth funds and family offices in regions that include the UK, Europe, Asia, US and the Middle East. She will report into Jonathan Digges, Octopus’ chief investment officer.

Ockwell joins Octopus with a 20-year track record in institutional fundraising, including working at Franklin Templeton and Janus Henderson, where she served as head of UK institutional. Most recently, She was head of institutional at Triple Point, an investment manager focused on purpose-led investments in areas such as social housing, digital infrastructure, energy and venture capital. During her career, Ockwell developed a strong passion for impact investing and encouraging institutional capital into the growing sector.

Storebrand Asset Management (Sweden)  – The asset management business of the Norwegian financial group has appointed Johan Hedengren and Susanna Kaas von Mentzer as new members of its Swedish fixed income management team, as part of its efforts to strengthen the operation.

Storebrand said it was continuing to grow in the Swedish market.

Gustaf Linnell, who took over as head of the Swedish fixed income team at Storebrand in November – having worked at the Norwegian group since 2011 – said that in making the two appointments, the firm had focused on finding people who could complement the team’s existing strategy and management philosophy.

Hedengren joins the firm from his most recent role as a maths and physics school teacher, before which he worked in the financial industry for Swedish and international banks such as Nordea, Barclays and Morgan Stanley, with a focus on government and mortgage bonds, according to Storebrand. Hedengren is to start work in his new role from 2 February.

Kaas von Mentzer, meanwhile, is joining Storebrand from her current role as a trader focusing on foreign exchange derivatives and repos at Swedbank. Prior to that, she worked for AP3 as a quantitive risk analyst. She is set to start her new job from 31 March.

Elo  – The Finnish mutual pension insurance company has appointed Taina Antila as its new chief compliance officer and member of the executive group, and Tuukka Lahkela as head of internal audit.

The firm said Antila, a lawyer with court training, would be responsible for its risk management and compliance, adding that this was a newly-created role. Elo said she had previously worked in a number of financial service companies, having been responsible for developing compliance activities before. 

The pension provider said Lahkela was joining from his most recent role as chief audit executive at Business Finland. Prior to this, he worked within internal audit and risk management at Nordea and, before that, at the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority.

Elo said Antila and Lahkela took up their positions on 1 January.

Hymans Robertson  – The pensions and financial services consultancy has appointed Iain Pearce to head of alternative risk transfer solutions. He will lead the firm’s advisory service supporting defined benefit pension scheme trustees and sponsors and market participants considering new and emerging risk transfer options. These include superfunds, capital backed solutions and alternative insurance products.

Since joining Hymans in 2007, Pearce has worked within the risk transfer area and focussed on helping trustees and sponsors work towards their endgame strategy. He has advised on a wide range of ground-breaking risk transfer projects, including buy-ins and buyouts, innovate longevity solutions, longevity swap conversions, and security structures ranging from £30m to £5bn. Most recently, he has provided advise on a range of market participants on superfund and capital backed solutions.

PGIM Real Estate  – Julie Townsend  has bee named ESG lead for Europe and Asia Pacific, based in London and effective immediately. PGIM Real Estate is the real estate investment and financing business of PGIM, the $1.5trn global investment management business of Prudential Financial.

Joining PGIM Real Estate’s global ESG team, Townsend will oversee the ESG strategy and implementation across the European and Asia Pacific regions and is tasked with building upon the firm’s ambitious sustainability goals and targets. Ahe will report to Christina Hill, global head of ESG and head of Americas asset management.

Townsend joins PGIM Real Estate after spending 15 years at CBRE, latterly as head of environmental consultancy. She will work closely with PGIM Real Estate’s local investment teams to implement and manage corporate and asset level ESG strategy as well as leading ESG reporting and assessments.

Raiffeisen Mandatory and Voluntary Pension Funds – The pension fund company in Croatia has named Gordan Šumanović, its current chief investment officer, as the new chief executive officer of Raiffeisen Mandatory and Voluntary Pension Funds (RCPFHR).

He is replacing the previous CEO, Damir Grbavac, who is about to retire. Grbavac is a veteran of second and third pillar pension system in Croatia since the beginning of pension reforms in 2000. He joined RCPFHR in 2004 to become a company CEO, leading the company for almost two decades and helping it to grow steadily to an asset management company that manages €5.5bn in mandatory and voluntary pension funds with membership that is almost a third of the Croatian working population.

Bojan Vuković, current CIO of Raiffeisen Invest in Croatia, a sister company of RCPFHR that manages UCITS funds, was named CIO of RCPFHR.

Finance for Biodiversity FoundationSonya Likhtman of the international business of Federated Hermes and Emine Isciel of Storebrand Asset Management are the new co-chairs of the Foundation’s public policy advocacy working group. Within this working group, financial institutions will advocate for an ambitious and effective outcome of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 in 2022, with an emphasis on aligning financial flows with global biodiversity goals.

The foundation is an official observer member of the CBD, which means that the working group can make interventions during the meetings of the convention and its protocols and make text suggestions for the Global Biodiversity Framework.

In 2022, the public policy sdvocacy working group will also look into best practices and strategies for public policy engagement on reversing nature loss this decade.

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