The European Central Bank’s (ECB) decision to reduce deposit rates and extend its quantitative easing programme is likely to have a limited impact on the average Dutch pension fund’s coverage ratio, consultancies have said.In the wake of the ECB’s announcement, the 30-year swap rate – Dutch schemes’ most important criterion for discounting liabilities – increased from 1.48% to approximately 1.6%.At the same time, however, equity markets fell, with the AEX and the Stoxx 50 losing 1.6% and 1.8%, respectively.Dennis van Ek, an actuary at Mercer, said: “The short-term effects on pension funds’ coverage are positive because of the rate increase, but they are negative following dropping equity markets.” He said Dutch pension funds with small interest-risk hedges and limited equity holdings could expect a modest funding improvement.Schemes with extensive interest hedges and relatively large stock portfolios, however, are likely to have the “opposite perspective”, he said.On balance, Mercer believes the rate increase’s impact on Dutch pension funds’ coverage ratios will slightly exceed that of falling equity markets.Neither did Geert-Jan Troost, an investment consultant at Towers Watson, expect Dutch schemes’ coverage ratios to be affected significantly.But Troost noted that those pension funds recently reducing their interest hedges – permitted by regulator DNB as a one-off opportunity to increase their risk profiles – were now at an advantage.Corine van Egmond, ALM consultant at Aon Hewitt, highlighted that the effect of the ECB’s measures would depend on where pension funds’ stock holdings were concentrated.“The funding of a scheme with a relatively large stake in the US will be less affected, as equity markets over there have been relatively stable,” she said.“On the other hand, the rate increase will have a negative impact on euro-denominated government bonds, which will affect the funding of schemes with an extensive fixed income portfolio.”Mercer concluded that the ECB aimed to keep interest rates low for at least the next year.“Pension funds should, therefore, not expect their funding to improve as a consequence of rising interest rates,” Van Ek said.
A European parliamentarian has spoken of the “pretty big row” brewing over European Commission attempts to designate IORPs as ‘financial services providers’, after the language was roundly rejected by both main committees scrutinising the revised IORP Directive.Thomas Mann, a German centre-right MEP and member of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL), nevertheless said he was hopeful parliamentarians would get to vote on a finalised version of the Directive before the summer recess, predicting the law would be finalised by June at the latest.Speaking at the annual conference of the German pension fund association, aba, Mann said he hoped the work done by the EMPL committee and the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON), of which IORP II rapporteur Brian Hayes is a member, would not be in vain once the trialogue negotiations between the Parliament, European Commission and member states concluded.Mann was upbeat on the trialogue negotiations despite conceding there was still appetite on the part of the Commission to use delegated acts to finalise aspects of IORP II – an approach rejected by EMPL and ECON due to the risk, as Mann saw it, of the acts being used as a “Trojan horse” to introduce capital requirements for pension funds. He also alluded to a “pretty big row” over the definition of ‘pension funds’, with attempts to re-insert the Commission’s preferred language branding them ‘financial service providers’.Mann explained that retaining language referring to funds as institutions with a social purpose – backed by member states and, to a lesser extent, Parliament – was very important.“ECON chose a slightly vaguer phrase, and I know some have a hard time living with the wording,” the MEP said of the final version of Hayes’s report, stressing the need for compromise.Hayes’s final report replaced a reference to IORPs as ‘financial service providers’ with one noting they “[served], first and foremost, a social purpose”.The MEP nonetheless seemed hopeful a finalised version of the Directive could be put to vote during the European Parliament’s plenary session in May.He added: “I hope that, by the end, we’ll be able to say the effort, all the detailed negotiations, were worth it.”
Published on February 10, 2016 at 11:08 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] Paul Flanagan’s message to his team last week was to play a complete 120 minutes of hockey. Syracuse did just that, earning two wins against Penn State in the SU’s first sweep of an opponent in a single weekend.This week, the direction is the opposite.“We’re just focused on Friday night,” Flanagan, SU’s head coach said.That’s because the Orange (14-13-4, 10-4-2 College Hockey America) would clinch a first-round bye in the CHA tournament with a win over conference foe Robert Morris (14-11-5, 6-6-4) on Friday or Saturday.Top-seed Mercyhurst currently leads the Orange in the conference standings by two points with four games left in the regular season. Meanwhile third-ranked RMU trails SU by six points and Penn State, Lindenwood and RIT are all too low in the standings to make a push for a first-round bye.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA win over Robert Morris on Friday or Saturday would prevent the Colonials from moving into second place and earning the only other first-round bye. And while either day would suffice to beat RMU, Flanagan insists that his team gets the job done on Friday night.“The task at hand is getting those two points,” Flanagan said. “Our mindset is all about Friday night. Let’s get those two points and see where we go from there.”If the team ends up with the No. 2 spot in the conference, SU would have to travel to Mercyhurst for the CHA final if both the Orange and Lakers make it to the championship round. After never beating Mercyhurst in program history prior to last season, Syracuse has defeated the Lakers both at home and on the road this year.Flanagan said he thinks his team is better than the current top-seed Lakers this season. But he was worried about his team’s ability to find ways to win games, as SU hadn’t won back-to-back contests against the same opponent.That changed last weekend, when the Orange won both against the Nittany Lions. Jessica Sibley’s overtime goal sealed a victory on Friday, while Syracuse maintained a 2-1 second-period lead to win on Saturday.“In a couple games, we’ve gotten ahead and we’ve laid back,” defender Heather Schwarz said. “That wasn’t true this time around. When we got ahead, we kept pushing.”While Flanagan is stressing earning the clinching win on Friday night, his players, including defender Morgan Blank, want to build on the confidence established last weekend and earn the top seed.“I know no one wants to settle for second,” Blank said. “Everyone’s looking to get first, to beat Mercyhurst. I’m really hoping Mercyhurst loses this weekend and we can take that momentum into the playoffs.”If Mercyhurst loses once this weekend and Syracuse sweeps Robert Morris, the two will be tied for first place in the CHA standings heading into the final weekend of the regular season.But SU may have problems with Robert Morris’ impressive power-play. The Colonials have scored on 24 percent of its power-play opportunities, a high percentage compared to SU’s 14-percent conversion rate. Three of the last eight goals surrendered by the Orange have been power-play goals.“I don’t know the referee assignments, I’m a little nervous,” Flanagan said. “They’ve got a dynamic power play. They’ve scored a high percentage of their goals on the power play. Our (penalty kill) needs to be ready.”But Schwarz says improved chemistry on SU’s four lines — and the team’s overall development — give Syracuse an advantage over Robert Morris’ defense.“We weren’t consistent with moving our feet and being defensive against (RMU),” Schwarz said. “Since the season has gone on, that’s gotten a lot better.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team returned from the West Coast with a win and a loss after they beat Colorado College (3-8-0) Friday night before falling to No. 2 Denver University (9-2-3) on Saturday in an 11-goal thriller. UW now improves to 7-5 on the year and is one game away from their season total of eight a year ago.The Badgers opened their weekend off in Colorado Springs, where they hadn’t won since the 2011 season, losing five straight games before ending the drought Friday.Men’s hockey: Badgers dominate offensively on the road, improve to 4-2The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team impressed in upstate New York this weekend, sweeping their two-game weekend against No. Read…Despite dominating the first period and outshooting the Tigers 14-3, the Badgers were down 1-0 after a breakaway goal halfway through first period. The goal was the only blemish for goalkeeper Jack Berry, who stopped all of the other 11 shots he faced.Momentum swung later in the period as Wisconsin drew a penalty with 13 minutes left in the period. The Badgers capitalized on the opportunity as they’ve done so many times already this season, tying the game at one on a shot from sophomore Will Johnson.Just over a minute and a half later, the Badgers took the lead on a redirected puck by Grant Besse. The goal proved to be the game winner as Wisconsin stifled the Tigers offense the rest of the way.The win over Colorado College was their third of the last four games, something they’ve done only three times this season. After the victory Friday, the Badgers headed north to play a dominant Denver squad at their home in the capital of the state.Wisconsin opened the scoring 12 minutes into the game when Seamus Malone’s shot took a fortunate bounce off of a Denver defenseman before going in.Men’s hockey: Badgers split series against Merrimack 1-1, continue impressive startIt was a tale of two nights as the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team returned to action this weekend Read…The lead didn’t last long, however, as the Pioneers scored two straight to give them the lead going into the second period.Wisconsin lashed back just 16 seconds into the second period, with a power-play goal from sophomore Luke Kunin. The Badgers’ captain one-timed a pass from Grant Besse past Tanner Jaillet to tie the game at two.Just as a penalty helped the Badgers tie the game up, a penalty against Wisconsin helped Denver take the lead and never look back. The Pioneers capitalized on a man advantage with 13 minutes left in the second period to take a 3-2 lead, which they only continued to add to. Denver added another goal 30 seconds later and a third with two minutes left in the period to give Denver a 5-2 lead going into the third.The Badgers fought back valiantly in the third, trading goals with Denver to start the period before Wisconsin capitalized twice on a major power-play to bring the score to 6-5 with 7:30 left. Denver changed goalies after UW brought the score within one, a move that payed off as the Badgers were unable to put one past him to equalize.The high scoring thriller with the second ranked team in the nation is a sign of drastic improvement for a Badger squad looking for a marquee win to push them into prominence. Wisconsin received four votes to be ranked in the NCAA top 25 this week, a mark that the program hasn’t reached in well over a year.Wisconsin returns to the Kohl Center next weekend as they face off against Omaha University. The games are set for 7:30 p.m. CT Friday and 8:00 p.m. Saturday.