The Asia Pacific Association for Fiduciary Studies will be hosting the 5th Annual Pacific Region Investment Conference — a forum on “Retirement Systems: Redefining Models and Performance Standards ” on Nov. 3 and 4 at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.
The two-day event will focus on different types of retirement plans for plan-sponsored pension funds said Gerard Cruz president and chief executive officer at Community First Federal Credit Union one of the sponsors of the event. Cruz is also the chairman for the Board of Governors of APAFS a non-profit organization established in 2003.
Cruz said he expects 250 to 300 trustees of government-sponsored plans from the region to attend including trustees from the Federated States of Micronesia Palau and affiliate members from the Philippines and Asia.
“We’re trying to bring Wall Street to Micronesia — assembling a good list of individuals who have working knowledge of retirement plans pensions and trust funds in general to speak about issue that are hot topics of the industry ” Cruz said.
The Government of Guam retirement fund is the elephant of the group Cruz said. Aside from being the largest fund in the region it has experience migrating plans — having switched from a defined-benefit plan to a defined-contribution plan in 1995. Bringing a real working model to the table will be valuable Cruz said in terms of sharing what has worked with the plan as well as the shortfalls that have been experienced.
The agenda topic “Government of Guam Retirement Fund — Case Study of a Public Employee DB to DC Plan Implementation ” will present the Government of Guam Retirement Fund’s conversion to 401a and 457 defined-contribution plans.
With fiscal resources what they are Cruz said trustees need to re-think whether defined-benefit pension plans are fiscally responsible or whether they should transition to defined-contribution plans. Under defined-benefit plans retirees look forward to specific benefits upon retirement. In defined contribution plans members contribute a certain amount governments make matching contributions and benefits are determined by the amount of contributions and the investment returns.
While defined-contribution plans may be more cost-effective for government retirement plans Cruz said trustees need to consider the costs of implementing plan changes as well as the impact on retirement benefits to employees.
“From a fiduciary standpoint we need to ask ‘Will individuals be able to survive on the plan?’ We don’t want to have a situation where someone with 30 years in the plan doesn’t have enough to survive ” Cruz said.
A featured speaker will be Louis Boulanger who will make presentations on “Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans — Benefits & Drawbacks ” “New Zealand as a Case Study of Evolving Public & Private Sector Retirement Plans ” and “Global Investment Performance Standards.”
Boulanger is an independent investment adviser who regularly speaks to the media and at local and international conferences on prudent investment planning and specialist investment performance matters. From 1997 to 2004 he was chief executive of Mercer’s New Zealand operation. Representing New Zealand he also participated in the development of a global professional standard now recognized as best global practice for how investment firms should present their investment performance when competing for new business.
Another featured speaker is Connie M. Mullis vice president of marketing and communications of the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America a national non-profit association of companies that sponsor profit sharing and 401(k) plans for more than 3 million employees. The 57-year-old organization with its legislative office in Washington D.C. is a nationally recognized authority on defined-contribution plan issues. Mullis will address the following issues: “The Current State of DC Retirement Plans in the U.S. and Micronesia ” and “The Importance of Participant Education and Other Current 404c Issues.”
Other agenda items include “Outlook for the Fixed Income Markets” and panel discussions “Defining Equity Investment Styles ” and “Outlook for the Non-U.S. Capital Markets.”
David John president of ASC a regular event sponsor credits the conferences for training hundreds of fiduciaries over the past five years on the importance of transparency of fees structured investment policies and the importance of not only acting in a fiduciary manner but making sure there are not even illusions of impropriety.
“The conference is really a great idea ” John said. “Many of those who have attended would not be able to receive this sort of training without the regional venue of the conference. I have been to many conferences stateside and I would put the Pacific Region Investment Conference on par with any of these conferences.”
For registration information visit www.apafs.org or send email to: [email protected]
Gold-level sponsors for PRIC are ASC Citigroup Global Davis Hamilton & Jackson Associates First Hawaiian Bank and Metropolitan West. Silver sponsors are Atlanta Sosnoff Franklin Templeton Institutional and Great Lakes Advisors Inc. Bronze sponsors are Invesco Lynch Jones & Ryan Citigroup Asset Renaissance Richmond Capital Management Milliman and Marianas Business Journal.
Over the past five years PRIC has become known for its VIP guest speakers like Joe Hideo Morita eldest son of the late Akio Morita founder of global business empire Sony Corp. who spoke in 2002; and Dr. Fareed Zakaria managing editor of Foreign Affairs at the time. PRIC has covered issues like corporate governance globalization insider-trading and strategic allocation of funds. MBJ