Friday, August 21, 2015

Pension payments on ice: Is it still not our business, Madam President? 21 August 2015

So, according to the message below from the UN Staff Union, the new IT system put in place by the Pension Fund to improve client servicing is instead doing the opposite by slowing things down.

I understand and appreciate the helpful spirit in which the Union is proposing that staff facing retirement accumulate leave and other reserves to tide them over for several months until their first pension payment arrives.  

Still, given the deleterious effects of this slow-down, and the new UN policy that the SG inaugurated by firing the head of MINUSCA over allegations of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, perhaps the SG needs to consider similar action against the bright spark who led the Fund to this point. According to the note, in an effort to mitigate the severe delays in pension payments,   “widows and  staff with disabilities” are being accorded priority in client servicing.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hedge Funds. Fatal Distraction. Pension schemes should avoid an expensive form of fund management. (10 August 2015)

Dear colleagues,

Pension funds and hedge funds – article ‘Calpers’, The Economist

I have just returned from a short holiday to read 'The Economist' newspaper for August 1 to 7, 2015.  One of the leading articles is about public sector pension funds and hedge funds, which may be of interest to us (link below). 

The leader observes that in recent years hedge funds have not been doing any better than ETFs (straightforward investments that any individual can make).  The article also observes that "Instead of aiming at the very wealthy, the hedge fund industry now targets institutions such as pension funds."  

The article adds that Calpers, the giant Californian public pension fund, "has concluded that putting money into hedge funds is not worth the bother."  The Economist evidently shares that conclusion, commenting: "For the pension schemes that are the hedgies' latest target, handing over cash makes no sense."

I can only imagine that our pension fund will be targeted in due course, if it has not already been targeted.

Best wishes,

Chris Ronald

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pension matters: Wolf in sheep's clothing! 6 August 2015

Matthew Chip Bhima Hogan

Pension matters: when the wolf goes after the fox! 6 August 2015

I’m taking a stab at making sense of the AFICS/FAFICS President’s  recent actions as set out in her letter to the Secretary-General dated 4 August 2015 and her  “Highlights from the 2015 Pension Board meeting” dated 5 August 2015 (both posted on the blog and on the AFICS website).

The AFICS/FAFICS letter to the SG sounds some of the right notes  -  notes that eerily evoke the tune some of us have been singing for quite some time and to which she seemed to turn a deaf ear up to now.

Granted, she says the issues she’s now ‘uneasy’ about have emerged from the Pension Board meeting. Perhaps if she’d listened to her constituents more closely, she could have had a head start before the meeting.  

AFICS/FAFICS President to constituents: MOU is my business, not yours!


5 August 2015
Highlights from the 2015 Pension Board
At the Pension Board meeting held in July 2015, FAFICS took positions and made interventions on behalf of retirees on critical matters of interest.
A paramount concern of FAFICS was the management of investments.  FAFICS pointed out that that the one-year terms proposed by the RSG for the members of the Investments Committee were at variance with the three-year terms specified in the Fund’s Regulations. The absence of a Chair since the resignation of the former Chair this past spring was also troubling.
Another area of concern was the drafting of new Fund-specific Financial Rules for the Pension Fund, scheduled for 2016.  FAFICS stressed the significance of having all parties agree to the draft Financial Rules and to any issues arising from them before they are submitted to the Pension Board.  It also recalled the bifurcation of the financial activities of the Fund and expected that Rules that would provide for a single framework in the financial

FAFICS President to SG: Uneasy about the RSG. Please correct promptly!

PALAIS DES NATIONS – CH-1211 – GENEVA 10 – SWITZERLAND Tel: 41-22-917-2225
Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
4 August 2015
I write on behalf of member associations of the Federation of Associations of Former International Civil Servants (FAFICS) and some 72,000 retiree members who depend on their United Nations pensions for their income in retirement from the member organizations of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF). Following the sixty-second session of the UNJSP Board held at Geneva from 20 to 24 July, our Federation wishes to draw to your attention some matters that have emerged from the Board discussions and which are of concern to us.
While the Pension Fund is apparently financially healthy at present, some longer-term aspects of the management and governance of the investments of the Fund, as well as the prospective new Financial Rules for the Fund make us uneasy.