Voya Investment Management LDI Strategist and Senior Actuary Oleg Gershkovich discusses “the challenges and opportunities that pension fund managers are facing today” in a video interview posted on the website of Pensions & Investments. During the interview, Gershkovich said that “the biggest challenge” to pension management in the next year “is resisting the temptation to rerisk in the pension plan.” Even though “we are seeing valuations at an all time high,” Gershkovich says that “plan sponsors need to exhibit a lot of caution before they decide to rerisk into their pension plans.”
Voya Investment Management Managing Director and Insurance Solutions Group Head John Simone, in a piece for Insurance Investor wrote, "Although private placements and commercial mortgage loans have long been 'core' allocations for life insurance companies, we are seeing demand from non-life insurance companies picking up significantly." According to Simone, "the hunt for high-quality yield due to historically low and lower rates is here to stay given the pandemic and the resulting central bank actions globally to keep rates low and apply a plethora of liquidity tools to ensure markets are functioning normally (i.e., TALF, buying publically traded corporate debt to name a few)." Simone added, "For selective investors, the market has provided attractive spreads to similar rated public corporate bonds and the quality of the deal flow, as measured by rating, has increased. This combination offers investors an attractive combination of increased spread with higher average credit quality."
Yahoo! Finance reports that the U.S. Department of Labor’s “proposed rule tightening requirements for socially-conscious investments in 401(k)s or other employer-sponsored plans shouldn’t be implemented, according to one expert.” Voya Investment Management CEO Christine Hurtsellers, in a recent segment on Yahoo’s The Final Round program, said, “When we surveyed our clients, 76% want their employer to consider ESG” principles in the 401(k) plans they offer. During her appearance on The Final Round, Hurtsellers also said, “When you think about ESG investments, as well, they’ve performed very well.” She added, “They’ve been in Europe for literally tens of years, and we have over ten years of data on how these assets or these investments have performed when you think about ESG.” According to Hurtsellers, “If you have a quality ESG find...it does outperform the broader market.”
Markets Media reports, “Tony Campos, director of ESG Americas at FTSE Russell, said in a blog that the index and data provider’s 2020 survey found that 63% of asset owners in North America said that they were either implementing or considering ESG, up from 39% in the last two years.” The surge of interest “in sustainable investment comes as the” U.S. “Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed preventing Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan fiduciaries from investing in ESG vehicles unless they represented ‘economic risks or opportunities that a qualified investment professional would treat as material economic considerations under accepted investment theories.’” In July, “Voya Financial ... submitted a comment letter to DOL expressing concerns that the proposal ignores the needs of retirement plan savers and would likely make it more difficult for plan sponsors to consider ESG factors in their evaluation of plan investment options.” Voya Investment Management CEO Christine Hurtsellers, in a statement, said, “Contrary to the DOL’s assertion, recent experience has shown that ESG investments can outperform broader markets, particularly in times of market stress. If adopted as proposed, we believe the proposal would have a chilling and negative impact on ESG investment activities that would otherwise benefit retirement plan savers.”
Pensions & Investments reports Voya spokesperson Kristopher Kagel confirmed that Voya Investment Management Managing Director and Head of Product Management and Development Bill Golden assumed Stephen Dougherty’s responsibilities as a managing director and head of structured assets and alternatives. Pensions & Investments mentions that “Dougherty was named global head of product at Aegon Asset Management.”
Bloomberg TV What’d You Miss? featured an interview with Voya Investment Management CEO Christine Hurtsellers, who discussed her thoughts on stock market performance and macroeconomic trends. According to Hurtsellers, the U.S. “still has a long way to go before” the economy returns to its pre-pandemic level, especially as the unemployment rate remains above 10%. However, Hurtsellers said that the “underlying fundamentals and momentum” of the economy “are actually quite good,” with “retail spending rebounding,” and more activity on the restaurant-reservation platform OpenTable. When asked about the relative strength of the stock market, and if the Fed’s liquidity actions are obscuring some risks to investors, Hurtsellers answered, “I would say, for the most part, no,” adding that “when you peel back the covers and look deeper into the market ... we are still seeing a tale of two cities, meaning that” some sectors, such as commercial real estate “have really lagged.”
Pensions & Investments reports that Voya Investment Management named Tom Frost as Managing Director and Head of EMEA Insurance and Pension Solutions. Voya spokesperson Kristopher Kagel confirmed the move in an email. A Voya news release issued Tuesday says that Frost “delivers ‘asset management solutions to insurance, pension and sovereign wealth fund clients in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.’” The article adds that Frost will be based in London and report to Voya Senior Managing Director and Head of Distribution Charlie Shaffer and Voya Managing Director and Head of Insurance Solutions John Simone. Frost last worked for Interritus Advisory.
Connect Media reports that, in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and subsequent economic downturn, both investors and lenders believe that the real estate sector is likely to face headwinds as the economy recovers at different speeds in areas across the country. Voya Investment Management Managing Director and Head of Real Estate Finance Greg Michaud said he believes the recovery will be “idiosyncratic,” saying, “You’re going to have to pick your spots on where relative value is, and go to the markets where you want to be.”
Ignites reports Jane Conway recently joined Voya Investment Management as its new Head of Distribution Enablement and Intelligence. In her new role, Conway “is responsible for leveraging Voya’s data capabilities to help the firm’s sales, marketing and client service teams be more efficient and effective.” In a statement, Voya Head of Distribution Charlie Shaffer said that Voya is looking to take a more data-driven approach to its distribution capabilities to engage clients “at the right time in the channel they want to engage with us.” Conway is expected to help further those efforts, with Shaffer saying, “Jane brings a tremendous amount of expertise and we look forward to working with her to advance our various initiatives in this space.”
Voya Investment Management Head of Real Estate Finance Gregory Michaud recently appeared on ABS in Mind, a Debtwire podcast presenting “the latest issues affecting asset-backed securities markets and the loans they finance.” In the interview, Michaud “details how insurers are taking advantage of dislocations created by COVID-19 and discusses where they’ve become more selective.” Voya’s new strategies “include backing away from lending on retail properties, steering clear of hospitality and sticking with office buildings,” though Michaud notes that it has become more selective in its building choice. Additionally, Voya “continues to fund multifamily loans – in part because of signs the sector will perform well despite rising unemployment, and also because it enjoys deep support from the government sponsored enterprises.” In the near term, Voya is busy helping CMBS borrowers who have found themselves in trouble, specifically those left in limbo as markets seized in March. “We’ve been doing a lot of stranded loans” Michaud said.