Institute of Retirement Funds Africa's (IRFA) conference

Fiona Reynolds

Fiona Reynolds

Keynote speaker Fiona Reynolds, chief executive of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), will explore the concepts of individual and collective power within the retirement ecosystem. The PRI is a UN-supported organisation with more than 2 200 signatories, who collectively represent over $82-trillion in assets under management.

Reynolds is ideally placed to take the conference through the symbiotic nature of our ecosystem where actions can be reciprocal or associated, impacting either negatively or positively on the retirement ecosystem as a whole. The PRI is the major global organisation for responsible investment practices and leadership and the integration of environmental, social and governance issues across the investment chain. Its mission is to create a sustainable global financial system, and the organisation aims to bring responsible investors together to work towards creating sustainable financial markets that contribute to a more prosperous world for all.

Pension fund adjudicator Muvhango Lukhaimane will on the first day of the IRFA conference share insights on how delegates can influence the ecosystem positively. Lukhaimane was adjudicator in July 2013, having previously acquired first-hand experience and expertise in pension fund matters as research consultant and legal adviser at Sanlam Employee Benefits and Liberty Personal Benefits. She is an admitted advocate of the High Court.

Pension fund administration is the critical factor in sustaining ecological integrity and will be the focus of a key panel discussion hosted by Geraldine Fowler. She will moderate a panel on this critical and often-overlooked topic at the conference. She will explore the here and now of why and how administration goes wrong, what trustees can do to recognise red flags and how the industry can streamline administration to ensure best outcomes. Fowler is recognised for her administrative excellence throughout the industry and this is a subject she advocates strongly. Panelists Krishen Sukdev, Takalani Lukhalmane and Mia Geringer will reinforce the importance of administration to sound governance and fund health, and the debate will be a lively one.

The day one keynote presentation by Reynolds on the topic “Retirement Ecosystem: You have the Power”, will be followed by a panel discussion on the topic “Exploring the potential of the Ecosystem”, by panel members Langa Madonko (Savca board member), Jan Mahlangu (retirement funds co-ordinator for Cosatu) and Wayne Hiller van Rensburg (IRFA president).

This will be followed by the following topics:

  • The Retirement Ecosystem: why diversity is needed for success, by thought leader Nene Molefi
  • The ABC of the New World of Investing: Asia Beyond China helps steady the global economy, which will be presented by Michael Power (Investec Asset Management)
  • Protecting member’s benefits through insurance: this will be presented by Treasure Mabunda (3SIXTY Financial Services Group).
  • The highlight of day two will be a series of breakout sessions, but before that will be a panel discussion on the topic “It is critical: Pension Fund Investing”, with panel members Raazia Ganie (board member, CFA Society South Africa); Henry Kyanda (Kenya Pension Funds Investment Consortium, KEPFIC) andNdabezinhle Mkhize (Eskom Pension & Provident Fund).

    Process plays its part

    Kirshni Totaram, global head of institutional business at Coronation, says: “At Coronation, our culture and values are important factors in delivering our commitment to be the best stewards of our clients’ assets, and we understand that we have been granted a social licence to operate. On a basic level, when we do well for our clients as investment managers, the additional returns that we produce for them over and above the relevant benchmark is of social benefit. But it goes further than that, and the consideration of ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors in the investment process play an increasingly significant role in achieving sustainable economic growth.

    Kirshni Totaram, global head of institutional business at Coronation 

    “We believe the term stewardship is appropriate as it encapsulates our long-term ownership philosophy, which focuses on assessing the strategic direction and culture of investee companies, the capital allocation skill of management teams and the level of alignment with shareholders. We don’t believe that return and sustainability are conflicting objectives.

    “Currently, the rate at which social activism and awareness of ESG issues is developing is simply outpacing the speed at which the industry can adapt. This is certainly a challenge and we expect processes and frameworks to evolve over the next few years as we continue to improve our thinking around these complex issues. At a time when the world urgently needs to see a better kind of capitalism emerging, investing for the long term requires a more thoughtful approach than ever,” she says.

    It is for this reason that in 2007 Coronation was one of the first 10% of asset managers globally to become signatory to the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

    “At Coronation, our ESG analysis is performed in-house, as we believe that it is our relationships with the boards and management teams of our investee companies that help us to engage effectively. Looking out into a world in which governance scandals abound, we are ever deepening our understanding of ESG factors at both company and sector levels. This will help us to ensure that we are managing our clients’ money in a truly long-term and sustainable manner,” says Totaram.