Pensions & Investments' WorldPensionSummit on Thursday recognized four initiatives for excellence in retirement across four categories in its 2021 Innovation Awards.
Presented during the annual WorldPensionSummit conference, which was held Oct. 12-14, the awards recognized innovation in communication, plan design, technology and investment.
The winners are:
- QSuper, Brisbane, Australia, was honored for innovation in plan design. In March, QSuper, which has A$140 billion ($102 billion) in assets, launched a new tool called Lifetime Pension aimed at giving the fund's plan participants a more flexible retirement income for life. Lifetime Pension allows for participants' retirement savings to be combined with the savings of other participants at retirement to form a pool that pays out a biweekly tax-free income. The strategy is market linked so it can provide higher rates of income than a traditional annuity or an income drawdown would. Lifetime Pension also provides financial planning strategies, giving participants income protection.
- Kenya's CPF Financial Services was honored for innovation in communication. CPF Financial, which oversees 80 billion Kenyan shillings ($718 million) in pension assets, launched a micro pension solution that is aimed at increasing the pension coverage among the country's working population. CPF is addressing this gap through Save As You Spend, or SAYS, which helps individuals save money as they make purchases. The concept leverages mobile wallets and credit card platforms to let workers save a specific amount into individual pension accounts as soon as they conduct a transaction.
- Employees Provident Fund, Kuala Lumpur, was honored for innovation in technology. EPF discovered that many small- and medium-size employers do not have a proper payroll management system to assist with mandatory contribution and deduction payments. To help alleviate the challenges faced by these companies, the 941.8 billion ringgit ($225 billion) fund developed a free payroll solution known as the EPF e-Payroll and rolled it out to all employers in Malaysia, subject to registration with the fund. The solution has helped to improve the pension coverage and assisted in the government's digitalization efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- National Employment Savings Trust, London, was honored for innovation in investing. The £19.4 billion ($26.3 billion) NEST is the first U.K. defined contribution plan to directly invest in private infrastructure equity through Octopus Renewables, CBRE Caledon Capital Management and GLIL Infrastructure. NEST will deploy £3 billion of the fund's assets into infrastructure equity globally by 2030. Octopus Renewables, on NEST's behalf, will deploy capital into renewable energy projects and infrastructure in the U.K. and Europe, while CBRE Caledon and GLIL Infrastructure will make investments directly, negotiating deals and managing construction assets.
The judges also recognized runners-up in each category:
- A collaboration between Canadian credit union Vancity, Maytree, Hamilton Community Foundation, Metcalf Foundation and Common Good Plan Steering Committee, for innovative plan design.
- State University of New York, for innovative communication.
- Chilean pension fund manager AFP Capital, for innovative technology.
- Spain's Caixabank's pension fund, Pensions Caixa 30 FP, for innovative investing.
The awards were presented by Chris Battaglia, CEO of the WorldPensionSummit and president and publisher of P&I; Don Ezra, P&I advisory board member and former co-chairman, global consulting at Russell Investments; and Nikki Pirrello, chief operating officer at P&I.
Also, during the conference, P&I's WorldPensionSummit recognized an initiative in its Brightest Idea Award category.
The award went to DWS Group for its new proxy voting tool that allows investors in pooled funds to vote. The tool was developed in response to greater pressure being placed on asset owners by regulators to demonstrate the impact of their stewardship efforts. DWS partnered with open-architecture platform AMX and proxy voting agency Minerva Analytics' VotePlus platform to create the tool.
The winners were decided by conference delegates. Four firms pitched their ideas for the award.
Award judges were members of the WorldPensionSummit advisory board.