The £11.6bn (€15.7bn) West Midlands Pension Fund outperformed its benchmark by 1.7 percentage points last year, citing strong performance from its private equity and other alternatives holdings.
The UK local government pension scheme (LGPS), however, reported losses across nearly all equity holdings, the notable exception being its North American portfolio, reflecting an overall decline in stock markets during the 2015-16 financial year.
The fund’s equity portfolio overall underperformed its benchmark by 2 basis points, losing 2.67% in value over the course of the year, with particularly steep losses of 7.5% from emerging market holdings.
The scheme’s global equity portfolio, which grew by £500m last year after it decided to actively manage a portfolio internally, lost 2.2% compared with a benchmark loss of just 0.49%.
West Midlands hailed the in-house move as part of an attempt to be more cost-effective.
In the forward of the scheme’s draft annual report, Geik Drever, head of the pension fund, said: “[The] restructuring of our portfolio has continued during the last year, including the introduction of an in-house, actively managed global equities portfolio.
“This, along with other changes to the portfolio over the last few years, has yielded ongoing savings of almost £25m per year.”
The remaining developed-market equity holdings were largely passively managed.
The best performing asset class was private equity, which returned 15.8%, followed by an 11.3% return on property and a 9.9% return on real assets and equity holdings.
The fund’s 2.4% return was significantly down from the 2014-15 return of 15.5% and also below its 10-year annualised return of 5.6%.
Because inflation stood at 1.5% last financial year, however, the fund still managed an absolute return of 0.90%.