Voya Investment Management Head of Asset Allocation Barbara Reinhard was on CNBC discussing how optimism and a touch of complacency are driving current market gains, especially in the face of coronavirus fears. Reinhard cited ample global liquidity as one of the primary macroeconomic conditions helping propel markets higher, saying, “there’s a central investment decision that you have to make – do you believe that what has happened over the last several weeks dislodged the 5-6 months reacceleration that you’re seeing in the rest of the world?” Reinhard believes there is not enough data yet to accurately answer that question, with concerns about when Chinese factories reopen a key data point to watch.
Bloomberg reports U.S. equity markets rose for a third consecutive day on Wednesday as markets believe the economic impact of the coronavirus will be limited. Voya Investment Management Chief Investment Officer of Equities Michael Pytosh said of the overall sentiment, “The market is shrugging it off. You can see that the effort is there and the market is saying that this isn’t going to break out into a pandemic. It’s not going to cause some cataclysmic medical problem in the world.”
Bloomberg has named Voya Financial to its annual ranking of companies most committed to gender equality, “a distinction awarded to companies around the world that demonstrate their commitment to equality and advancing women in the workplace.” The index “measures equality across five pillars: female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, sexual harassment policies, and pro-women brand.” Voya Financial Chairman and CEO Rodney O. Martin, Jr., said in a statement, “We are proud to again be recognized on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, which reinforces our unwavering commitment to fostering a culture of inclusion. Voya’s longstanding dedication to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce is a business priority and a key enabler to the success of our company.”
Fortune has named Voya Financial to its annual ranking of the World’s Most Admired Companies for 2020. Voya was ranked #4 in the Financial Services sector. In a statement, Voya Financial Chairman and CEO Rodney O. Martin, Jr., said, “We are extremely honored to have once again been named a World’s Most Admired Company by Fortune. In addition to our strong financial performance over the past several years, we have placed equal importance on advancing the character of our brand, including a number of the reputational attributes that are considered in earning the World’s Most Admired Companies designation. For example, at Voya, we have placed a high importance on building a strong culture, meeting the needs of our customers, advocating for people with special needs and disabilities, and advancing diversity, inclusion and equality – both within and outside of our organization. This recognition from our peers and others in our industry is something that all of us at Voya are extremely proud of achieving.”
Financial Advisor IQ cites new research from Voya Investment Management showing that “the biggest challenge for plan sponsors ... is increasing employee participation and contribution levels.” According to Voya, “some 28% of sponsors of both small- and medium-sized plans polled said participation was their biggest challenge, while 27% of large plan sponsors agreed.” Second on the list was educating employees about retirement and investment issues, “an area where good financial advisors can stand out from the crowd.”
Voya Investment Management Managing Director and Head of Insurance Solutions John Simone was quoted throughout a Best’s Insurance News & Analysis article about the shift towards holding private and other alternative assets in the search for higher yields. Simone notes that risks in public markets are on the rise, especially a potential downgrade in BBB-rated corporate debt which could cause “a capital impact to insurance companies.” To help reduce volatility and secure stronger returns, Simone says that many in the insurance sector are moving towards private assets, specifically infrastructure debt. Simone points out that “investors need to be careful in making sure they are getting paid for the risk they are taking. But there’s definitely opportunities within that market that we’re being very selective around.”
Voya Investment Management Chief Investment Officer of Fixed Income Matt Toms spoke with Yahoo! Finance about the 2020 election, which recently saw Democratic presidential candidates pushing back against current economic policies during their most recent debate. Looking at the overall economy, Toms said that “the pressures [the candidates] are hitting upon in the debates are really global in nature. They’re true in the U.S. and they’re true in places like Hong Kong and Chile and the Brexit debate as well. There is a headwind and uncertainty created by income and wealth inequality that is creating political uncertainty. That uncertainty will continue and will cap some upside [to economic growth] but it does look stable to us.”
Voya Investment Management Chief Compliance Officer Kevin Gleason writes in CIOReview that technology “is a key component of asset management, integral to many aspects of the investment process including: compliance, risk management, client service, research, trading, and operations.” Forward-looking companies have taken the next step, investing in artificial intelligence, machine learning and distributed ledger technology. Gleason writes that these new technologies can also impact the role of the chief compliance officer, as they become more efficient and effective by automating manual processes, managing third part oversight, improving audit trails and better maintaining records. Gleason cites four key areas where tech can improve compliance: portfolio compliance, vendor oversight, books and records and regulatory change oversight. By using technology to improve these key areas, compliance officers can move from being reactive to taking a more proactive stance.
The Commercial Observer (NY) reports covenant lite loans have returned to the bond market as competition for debt heats up, with borrowers successfully “pushing back on the protective covenants that keep lenders sleeping easy at night.” At a recent industry event, Voya Investment Management Head of Real Estate Finance Greg Michaud joined other panelists discussing the rise of covenant lite deals, which has resulted in some investors losing out on deals because they were uneasy about the lack of safeguards. Michaud said that Voya has been actively pursuing deals in the multifamily housing sector, though competing against companies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has proven challenging.
Pensions & Investments reports that philanthropy has long been part of the asset management industry, as a recent poll by the publication has found that a commitment to “community service and volunteerism is nearly ubiquitous” across the sector. In addition to the social benefit, however, “money managers are finding that a philanthropic culture is an increasingly important factor in employee recruitment and retention.” Voya’s Christine Hurtsellers said that the company’s “extensive philanthropic program is making a favorable impression on its investment management clients,” with employees donating 42,000 hours to charity last year and the company offering 40 hours of annual paid time off for volunteerism. “I want people to get out of their offices and work on projects like building houses for Habitat for Humanity or Covenant House, a national agency that helps homeless youths,” Hurtseller said. “I want people to get to know each other.”