Changing Dutch accrual rates needs more attention, says Shell scheme
Shell’s Dutch scheme lost 0.6% on its investment portfolio last yearThe Shell scheme posted a 0.6% loss on investments in 2018, according to the annual report. This would have been a 2.2% decline without its interest rate hedge position, the scheme said.Private equity holdings and matching assets were Shell’s best performing asset classes, with returns of 13.4% and 14.9%, respectively. Real estate delivered 3.7% through positive revaluations as well as rental income.In contrast, listed equity holdings fell 8.7%. Shell attributed a 4.1% loss on fixed income to rising risk premiums for emerging market debt and risk-bearing credit.It described the 0.9% loss on hedge funds as disappointing, given its long-term return goal for the allocation was Libor plus 3%.In its annual report, the Shell pension scheme also said it had decided to raise its allocation to Dutch residential mortgages by €1bn.The board explained that, despite the asset class’s limited liquidity, the investment offered an attractive return, adding that mortgages’ long duration matched the scheme’s long-term liabilities.It reported asset management and transition costs of 0.58% and 0.1%, respectively. Administration costs amounted to €267 per participant.At year-end, the Shell scheme had 7,685 workers, 18,665 pensioners and 7,280 deferred members. Discussion about pensions reform in the Netherlands are paying insufficient attention to the potential impact of the transition from average to degressive pensions accrual, according to the Dutch pension fund of Shell.In its annual report for 2018, the €27bn SSPF argued that a new pensions contract – which is subject to negotiation between the government, employers and unions – was not relevant to every pension fund. However, the government’s decision to abolish the current pension accrual method would affect all Dutch schemes.“Compensating older workers for the negative effects of degressive accrual through a new pensions contract won’t be feasible for many pension funds,” the closed pension fund said.It concluded that, if the government’s plans were implemented, the scheme’s contribution rate of 23.5% last year would have to rise significantly, without delivering a better pension. Therefore, the Shell scheme advocated granting schemes sufficient legal leeway in the transition to a new way of pensions accrual, to enable closed schemes to carry on with their existing pension plan.Separately, the pension fund said it planned to decrease its investment risk when its funding was improving, and vice versa, based on a new asset-liablity management study.As a consequence, it had reduced its allocation to return-seeking assets by 10 percentage points to 5.1% in 2018, while increasing its interest rate hedge from 10% to 25% of liabilities.At year-end, the pension fund’s coverage ratio stood at almost 128%, enabling the scheme to grant a full 1.6% inflation compensation.Private equity offsets listed losses
Injury bug still relevant
Sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee, back at practice after missing Saturday to compete in — and win — the long jump at the Trojan Invitational, continued to shine. Lee ran crisp routes, made diving catches and continually shook off defenders with ease in both drills and scrimmaging.Scrimmage frenzy · Though the list of injuries is still significant, the Trojans’ offense is starting to look comfortable. – Chris Pham | Daily Trojan“He’s playing every position now. He now has a year of experience under his belt, and has improved every detail of his game, especially becoming a better technician on the field,” wide receiver coach Tee Martin said.“He’s a really unique individual. Coming out here and running springs, just 48 hours after winning the long jump, he just goes forever,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said.ωWhile junior Robert Woods is sidelined for spring with an ankle injury, his absence has given other wideouts an extended look. In addition to Lee, redshirt junior wide receiver De’Von Flournoy has been getting additional reps and took advantage of his opportunity, being named player of the day.Redshirt freshman wideout Victor Blackwell also displayed solid hands in drills, looking like another impressive part of a wide receiver group that is looking to be deeper than initially thought.Still, the injury bug remains on everyone’s mind. Sophomore wideout George Farmer has been dealing with a hamstring injury all spring and sat out Saturday, participating in some drills but not in the scrimmage.Throughout practice, Farmer slipped while making cuts and seemed exhausted while participating in one-on-one drills.“I can run and I can catch, but when I try to be explosive, I’m not that explosive. … I tried to plant my foot and make an exaggerated cut, but couldn’t,” Farmer said.ωAs for updates on the backup quarterback situation, Kiffin was mum, simply replying “They both do things well,” when asked about the competition between redshirt freshmen Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. There was no discernible favorite on the field either, as each quarterback took their fair share of reps.Additionally, Kiffin, in his third year at USC, gave an interesting revelation about the goal of spring ball right now.“[It’s] more about individual and skill set development,” Kiffin said.This is hopefully a good sign that the team’s cohesiveness is already established to a comfortable level.After injuring his back on Saturday, redshirt freshman fullback Soma Vainuku was out again.ωAdditionally, redshirt sophomore tight ends Xavier Grimble (toe) and Randall Telfer (hamstring), redshirt freshman cornerback Ryan Henderson (concussion) and redshirt freshman running back Javorious Allen (hamstring) were out. Senior center Khaled Holmes was limited after not practicing Saturday, not participating in most of the scrimmage.Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Cody Temple is scheduled to have surgery on his ankle and will be out for the rest of spring practice.