WINDHOEK- Local pension umbrella fund, Benchmark Retirement Fund has announced its 2016 results where Principal Officer Kai Friedrich said investments held by the Fund’s members grew by N$164 million during 2016, and assets under management of its 8,778 members, hit N$2,155 billion
Of the 8,778, Friedrich said, 657 were individual members and the remaining 8121 were members under participating employer groups. The Fund also provides umbrella fund Alex van Wyk solutions to employer groups who are not large enough to warrant or prefer not to incur the expense of private fund administration and the associated governance obligations.
The Fund has 216 pensioners who received about N$22.5 million in pensions during the year. Benefit payments, including withdrawals, retirement lump sum payments and conversion of member shares into pensions amounted to N$451 million.
At the same event, South African investment expert Glenn Silverman spoke about five global megatrends impacting investments.
He stated that investment managers have to be step up to the plate to ensure that investments take into consideration climate change and mitigate its impact. Currently there is a marked global shift away from investments in carbon emitting technologies, in favour of renewable energy. He particularly cautioned that fund managers should strike a balance between cutting edge technology and old technology to optimize investment potential and avoid ‘stranded assets’, such as coal-fired electricity generation plants, which will yield limited returns as they become redundant.
The second megatrend Silverman discussed was demographics. The growth in the aging segment of the global population, he projected, will place strain on the younger generation who are expected to support them. This, he mentioned will lead to later retirement ages, but the impact can be offset with better health for the aging population.
Talking about the power shift in global economies, the third megatrend, he noted a power-shift away from western nations towards Asia. Silverman went on to say that African countries present opportunities for real growth, however issues of poor infrastructure and weak institutions need to be addressed.
Technology, the fourth megatrend, will be the basis of a socio-economic revolution. Among other factors that need to be contended with are massive job losses due to technology.
The fifth and final megatrend that Silverman identified is over-regulation of the financial sector, or ‘financial repression’ as he prefers to call it. He noted that over-regulation leads to lower returns on capital, but liberalization of financial regimes leads to capital inflows. He went on to say that sovereign debt should be capped, and that excessive sovereign debt creates long-term inefficiencies.