Our special report starting on Page 1 of this issue takes stock of an important milestone for Pensions & Investments and our readers: Roughly one year ago, lockdowns sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we all know it.
Retirement plans came through the market turmoil of 2020 in remarkably good shape by following the asset allocation plans they had in place and adapting to market conditions. New investment opportunities, particularly in logistics and pharmaceuticals, have since emerged. And employees have taken to virtual tools to keep communication flowing and work proceeding apace.
But the continuum of uncertainty launched by the pandemic is ongoing. There is a growing divergence between the markets and the real economy, with central banks, politicians and policymakers having unprecedented influence and creating ongoing challenges for investors across the spectrum of assets.
The challenge, too, of preserving a workplace's unique culture has emerged as a question weighing heavily on everyone's minds, as work from home seems likely to continue in some form even in a post-pandemic world. The question isn't an academic one — strong workplace cultures built on both formal and casual in-person interactions are credited with achieving strong returns.
As Franklin Templeton Investments' Subash Pillai told P&I reporter Douglas Appell, he's acutely aware of the challenges of a virtual workplace facing younger colleagues because "they don't just learn from instruction and direct feedback. They learn from observation," something he called a key to his professional development early in his 30-year career in the industry.
Institutional investors and the money managers and consultants that work for them are responding to the challenges raised by the pandemic with a variety of workplace tactics and investment strategies as detailed in our report.
A year from now, it's not too much to hope that we will have emerged with a better understanding of how best to preserve our unique cultures, mentor the up-and-comers, and make our workforces and portfolios stronger.