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Pension Funds DIY: State Street Report Points to Increasingly “Hands-On” Approach of Pension Funds Globally

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Pension funds globally say they intend to adopt a more proactive approach to managing their assets, according to a new report by State Street Corporation (NYSE:STT) . “Pensions Funds DIY: A Hands-On Future for Asset Owners,” highlights the key trends that are reshaping how pension funds manage their investments operating models and deliver long-term value to members. The report is based on a research survey of more than 100 pension fund executives conducted in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Driving this change is the challenge of building a holistic view of risk across a multi-asset portfolio while aggregating risk data from multiple managers, aligning interests and managing costs. “Pension funds’ desire to deliver strong investment returns to their participants coupled with improved oversight and governance and is leading to a need for more in-house accountability for asset and risk management,” said Martin J. Sullivan, head of Asset Owner sector solutions for North America, State Street. “However, this undertaking requires pension funds to carefully evaluate how to achieve a balance of in-house and external talent, tools and technologies.”

Some key trends that emerged from the research include:

  • A majority of pension fund respondents (81 percent) indicate they are exploring bringing more asset management responsibilities in-house over the next three years. This is due in part to cost concerns, with 29 percent indicating it is a challenge for them to justify the fees of their asset managers.
  • As part of this shift, a majority of pension funds (53 percent) are expecting to use more lower-cost strategies to achieve desired investment outcomes, as well as expanding the number of technology platforms and software solutions they employ (43 percent).
  • More than half (51 percent) of funds place a high priority on strengthening their governance over the next three years.

“While the largest and most sophisticated funds can handle most aspects of multi-asset class portfolios in-house, the majority of pension funds will need to make a choice about where to be a specialist and when a sub-contractor is needed,” continued Sullivan. “This shift underscores pension funds’ need for new, more collaborative partnerships with asset managers who can offer them transparency and effectively tailor investment ideas and solutions to their unique needs.”

On behalf of State Street, the EIU conducted a global survey of institutional asset owners during July and August of 2014. The survey garnered 134 responses from pension fund executives, spanning both defined contribution and defined benefit assets. Forty-two percent of respondents were from the Americas, 36 percent from Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and 22 percent from Asia Pacific. Just over half (52 percent) of respondents came from public sector pension funds, 31 percent from private sector pension systems and 16 percent from superannuation funds.

To learn more about the findings, click here.

About State Street Corporation

State Street Corporation (NYSE:STT) is one of the world’s leading providers of financial services to institutional investors including investment servicing, investment management and investment research and trading. With $28.47 trillion in assets under custody and administration and $2.42 trillion* in assets under management as of September 30, 2014, State Street operates in more than 100 geographic markets worldwide, including the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. For more information, visit State Street’s web site at www.statestreet.com.

* Assets under management include the assets of the SPDR(R) Gold ETF (approximately $30 billion as of September 30, 2014), for which State Street Global Markets, LLC, an affiliate of SSgA, serves as the distribution agent.

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