World Pension Summit: Expected Lessons, Opportunities

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As global experts gather in Abuja for a world pension summit, Iyobosa Uwugiaren looks at the expected lessons and benefits for Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari and his economy team will surely be excited as global experts on pension innovation, leaders of thought and key practitioners gather in Abuja between September 27 and 28 to brainstorm on issues very dear to the President’s heart: key elements of developing and structuring a sustainable pension system for Nigeria and other African nations.

To be sure, in a 12 year period, the pension sector in the Nigeria has experienced remarkable growth, from a deficit of N2trillion in 2003 to total pension fund assets of N5.73 trillion as at the end of June 2016.
And the huge pool of funds that the Contributory Pension Scheme has accumulated since inception, according to the Director-General, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, is a glaring testimony to the sound investment regime which emphasises on safety and fair returns. The pension funds have also provided a firm backing to the Nigerian economy.

According to Anohu-Amazu, ‘’PenCom has been able to develop a unique Contributory Pension Scheme that is anchored on the separation between management and custody of the pension funds. The duly licensed Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) open Retirement Savings Accounts for employees, invest and manage the pension funds in accordance with the Commission’s Investment Regulations.

‘’I am excited at the opportunities that the World Pension Summit Africa Special presents in providing solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing pension investment challenges.’’
She said that this year’s summit promises to deepen the discussions around ensuring that pension funds are invested in the real sector for visible and measurable impact on the economy, while boosting retirement benefits.

A technocrat determined to modernise and diversify the economy and society, Anohu-Amazu is the first woman to lead PenCom. Arguably, she is part of a new generation of leaders in Nigeria, and part of the team of experts that nurtured the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), which has seen a dramatic turnaround in the performance of pensions in Nigeria today.

With the theme: “Pension Innovations: The African Perspective”, the summit, as designed by the PenCom in partnership with the Pension and Investments/World Pension Summit, Amsterdam, will focus on innovations in the pension industry in Nigeria and Africa. Global professionals and thought leaders, together with key practitioners, will debate and exchange key fundamentals of developing and structuring a sustainable pension system for African nations.

The DG of PenCom, a strong advocate of the need to develop secure investment vehicles for pension funds to boost efforts to reduce Nigeria’s infrastructure gaps for many countries, she told THISDAY that creating a new pensions structure means that there is time to share the expertise, learn from best practices and fit the lessons learned into the specific culture of a the country.

The World Pension Summit “Africa Special” is the platform to exchange knowhow, supporting professionals in social security and in all aspects of pensions to gain the expertise. It is also about taking the pragmatic essential steps to professionalise pensions and make them ‘future proof’.

The DG of PenCom said the summit which is well-packaged to attract professionals around the world, is aimed at exchanging expertise between all pension professionals in Africa and to stimulate pension market developments and pension innovation.
In particular, this edition of the Summit is expected to focus on key areas and experiences on relevant topics and developments such as: pension innovations; the dynamics of pension investment (ALM, new asset classes, infrastructure investments); ESG for pension funds & impact investing; financial inclusion covering financial literacy, micro pensions & social security; the impact of new technology on communication; actuarial valuation and their impact on benefits, policy & governance.

Experts said the summit in Nigeria is timely—especially at a time the country is in economic recession, saying the summit would provide the needed technical-knowhow to address some of the critical issues in the economic sector.
Apparently challenged by the infection of economic recession, President Buhari recently challenged his economic team to think out-of-the-box as a way of tackling the trials.
“The challenges we face in the current recession require out-of-the-box thinking, to deploy strategies that involve engaging meaningfully with the private sector, to raise the level of private sector investment in the economy as a whole’’, Buhari stated.

“We are confident that the level of private investment will grow as we are determined to make it easier to do business in Nigeria by the reforms we are introducing under the auspices of the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business.”
The global pension summit may just help. To be sure, in order to stimulate and encourage African scheme owners and funds to work on professionalising retirement practice in Africa, the summit has also planned to host the second edition of the Africa Pension Awards.

‘’The awards ceremony is an integral part of the Summit. It is the ultimate reward for excellence, and a huge stimulus to ensure that Africa’s pensions industry remains innovative’’, the organisers said.

The inaugural Awards in 2015 saw RBA Kenya, NAMFISA Namibia and PenCom Nigeria being honoured for their various roles in the development of the sector on the continent. And the 2016 Awards is aimed to recognize innovations in risk management and communication strategy for improved customer service delivery, socio-economic impact of contributory pension systems, extension of contributory pension coverage and best corporate governance practices.
The summit will attract many key speakers including, Chris Battaglia, the CEO WorldPensionSummit and Vice President /Group publisher of Pensions & Investments (P&I).

Battaglia is of Pensions & Investments (P&I)-the pre-eminent international newspaper of money management, and business insurance. He currently serves as Vice President / Group publisher publication serving executives responsible for risk management, insurance, benefits, and brokerage in the global insurance and reinsurance arena.

Battaglai is responsible for managing the brand’s businesses including the biweekly newspapers, digital and conference, data and research products. In this role, he has earned a reputation for innovation, cultivating new business opportunities globally, while expanding the digital platforms of www.pionline.com and www. businessinsurance.com, and launching a variety of custom-publishing initiatives, including the formation of P&I Custom Media and the P&I Research Center.
From his profile, Mr. Battaglia joined Crain Communications in 1991 as an advertising sales representative responsible for US and UK/ European business development. Since then, he has held the offices of advertising sales director, associate publisher, and was promoted to publisher of Pensions & Investments in 2006.

Another speaker is Harry Smorenberg, Founder, World Pension Summit. He previously worked at Banque Paribas and ABN AMRO and wasa director at two leading strategic consultants. He is a financial services marketing and positioning strategist.
He is a leading contributor to innovation in both the retail and corporate payments and transaction space. He has also been actively involved in developing solutions in financial planning, international pensions and ‘social innovations’. Smorenberg’s strength is in catalysing institutions into developing vision and strategies, and in identifying and implementing client-centric solutions.

He is excited about the summit: ‘’There is a need for a platform where experts from all over the world can exchange expertise and best practices to further essential development in social security innovation and pensions.
‘’More and more key budget component as housing, healthcare and pensions are becoming key to citizens of the world and securing sufficient provision is becoming a joint challenge for government, employers and the individual. WPS Africa Special is the place to exchange key developments and solutions and learn from each other.“

Mr. Eric Eggink, the CEO of Eggink Van Manen/ Co-founder World Pension Summit, will also speak the global summit. He started his career as a TV Producer at AVRO TV and hosted a weekly radio program about studied Dutch literature and Communications Management literature. He first stepped into the corporate world when he was appointed head of the In-and-external Communications department of the Sociale-Verzekerings bank in Amsterdam. He switched jobs after three years and became partner at the BBDO-PR branch, part of the Omnicom Group.

For the last twelve years Eggink is CEO of Eggink Van Manen communication consultancy. His agency works for large companies as TNT, Manpower, Ministry of Economic Affairs (Netherlands), Overtoom, CenterParcs, PON and McDonalds. Eggink is also a specialist in Employee Communications. He is the author of “The Handbook of Internal Communications”. Mr. Eggink is often consulted by companies in large transformation/reorganization processes and for reputational issues.
He said, ‘’The World Pension Summit Africa Special is most eager to be the platform of learning and getting inspired. We think that new developments can only be fostered with meeting and sharing information and expertise.“

The DG of Pencom will also share her versed experience in the management of pension with the global audience at the summit. She served on the Pension Reform Committee set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose work led to the enactment of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2004, the first of the two major legislations that have reformed the Nigerian pension sector.
She was honoured with a presidential commendation for her work on the Committee. After a period working as a consultant for non-governmental organizations and the private sector, she commenced her public sector career with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and was the pioneer Commission Secretary/Legal Adviser of PenCom.

At the expiration of the tenure of the Executive Committee, she became the Acting Director General of PenCom in December 2012. She completed a major review of the PRA 2004 which culminated in the enactment of the Pension Reform Act 2014. Following her nomination by the President, she was confirmed in the position by the Senate in October, 2014.
Under her watch, pension fund assets have experienced remarkable growth from N3.2trillion in December 2012 to N5.7 trillion as at the end of the second quarter of 2016.

Anohu-Amazu has also consolidated the Commission’s links to pension regulators and professional bodies around the world, such as the World Pension Summit, Amsterdam; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and the International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPS).

She is a strong advocate of the need to develop secure investment vehicles for pension funds to boost efforts to reduce Nigeria’s infrastructure gaps. With this goal in mind, and has prioritised the Micro Pension Scheme, which is designed to assist Nigerians in the Informal Sector, who constitute the majority of the working population, to save for their old age.

A Law graduate from the University of Nigeria, she is also a member of the Nigerian Bar and holds a Masters degree in Telecommunication & Information Technology Law from the London School of Economics. A member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London, she has also attended several Executive Education programmes in Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.
She said, ‘’This year’s summit promises to deepen the discussions around ensuring that pension funds are invested in the real sector for visible and measurable impact on the economy, while boosting retirement benefits.’’

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