DNB said MN’s new IT upgrade “didn’t yet instill confidence”In 2014, MN had started an ambitious €70m plan for operational improvement, called MN 3.0. Three years later, it became clear that MN had written off €15m on the project as it had largely failed to deliver.At the time, both metal schemes said they were satisfied with the provider’s decision.PMT and PME have more than 2.2 million participants, pensioners and deferred members in total, affiliated with 35,400 employers.MN also services the €4bn industry-wide pension fund for the merchant navy (Koopvaardij).In a response, an MN spokesman said the introduction of the new mid-office had been delayed due to an “additional complexity of linking new and existing systems”, and that the provider expected to deliver the upgrade no later than early next year.He said that MN would start developing the back office upgrade this year, and highlighted that it was a multi-phased project that would take up several years to complete.He added that the project would be assessed for the impact of the new pensions agreement while it was being carried out.MN declined to provide details about the project’s budget.ReturnsSeparately, PMT said it returned 18.4% on investments in 2019, largely thanks to the 16.1% yield on its large fixed income holdings of 61.5% of its assets and a 24% profit on its equity portfolio of 29.4%.However, it noted that the effect of declining interest rates on its liabilities was damaging, as its funding level had dropped by 4.7 percentage points to 97.6% at year-end.It said its investment returns reflected an underperformance of 2.8 percentage points. Its investment policy targets additional returns of 1.5 percentage points relative to its liabilities.The surplus yield – 1.4% on average since 2014 – is primarily destined for indexation, but has been used for improving the scheme’s financial buffers during the past years, PMT explained.It said its inflation compensation in arrears had increased to more than 20% for active participants.As for PME, it posted an annual return of 18.3%. Its 47% matching portfolio generated 15.3%, with long-duration government bonds and investment grade emerging market debt delivering more than 10% and 5.9%, respectively.It said it had decided on a new strategic investment policy for the period 2020-2025, aimed at decreasing its fixed income holdings from 50% to 40% in favour of high yield and real estate investments, which are to be increased to 15% and 10%, respectively.It will also gradually raise the interest hedge of its liabilities from 40% to 60%.The pension fund added that it had started building a portfolio for short-duration government bonds and credit, meant for “quick and cheap” availability of liquidity for collateral as well as temporarily absorbing surplus liquidy.PME also said it will increase its allocation to real assets from 1.3% to 5%, in part through investments in clean energy. It already has stakes in forestry and infrastructure.The metal scheme closed the year with a funding level of 96.9%, falling further to 95% at the end of March.Both metal schemes could avoid rights cuts this year, following social affairs’ minister Wouter Koolmees’ decision to grant pension funds with a coverage ratio of more than 90% a temporary exemption from a mandatory pensions reduction in 2020.Looking for IPE’s latest magazine? Read the digital edition here. However, PMT noted that, despite a successful test in October, no new functionality had become operational yet.The €80.3bn pension fund for the metal-working and mechanical engineering industry, said it was thoroughly monitoring the progress as well as the quality of the upgrade.It added that it had intensified its contacts with the provider about the delivery of the final products, risk management as well “MN’s ability to actually carry out the upgrade”.Last year, PMT paid MN €43m for pensions management.According to the metal scheme, supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) had also announced that it would step up its supervision of the upgrade process.The €52bn PME, in turn, said it was “seriously worried” about MN’s ability to deliver, adding that it deemed affiliated risks as “high”.The scheme for metal and electro-technical engineering said DNB had concluded that the IT upgrade “was still short of expectations, and didn’t yet instil confidence in a controlled and sound pensions administration”. PMT and PME, the Dutch pension funds for the metal sector, said they were worried about the development and timely delivery of a new system for pensions administration by MN, their joint provider and asset manager.In their respective annual reports for 2019, the schemes indicated they weren’t entirely convinced whether MN would be able to successfully complete the project, a slimmed down version of a much grander scheme that failed to deliver three years ago.Since then, MN has started developing a fundamental upgrade aimed at an agile and modern system for tailor-made services for both pension fund participants and employers.The first part – a “mid office”, with systems for basic administration – was scheduled to be launched this summer. It is to be followed by a new back office in the coming years.
LED by half-centuries from Amir Khan and Manjrekar Bhola, the Everest Cricket Club were able to defeat Police Sports Club by 56 runs in the first semi-final of the Georgetown Cricket Association (GCA) NBS Second-Division 40-over competition on Saturday at the DCC Ground.Although Khan and Bhola played their hand, it was a batting collapse by the Lawmen under lights in the day and night fixture which undermined their chase.Everest won the toss and opted to take first strike. They were in a spot of bother early after losing openers Ronaldo Renee (11) and Dwayne Adams (09), but Khan and Bhola joined forces and added 92 runs for the third wicket, which proved the catalyst for a first innings score of 238 in 39.3 overs.Bhola, batting at three, struck 10 fours and a six in a score of 56, while Khan, who preferred the aerial route, finished with five sixes and four fours.Both batsmen were dismissed by off-spinner Kelvin Leitch, which gave the Lawmen momentum. The pendulum swung in their favour in the latter part of the innings as the last six wickets fell for 44 runs.If former national U-19 all-rounder Richie Looknauth had not batted himself in before playing a few shots, the team could have folded for a lot less. Looknauth scored 45 (4x4s, 2x6s) before he was run out.Leitch, who took a wicket in his first over, finished with 3-40 off eight overs, while opening pacer Raun Johnson finished with 2-39 from eight overs.EXCELLENT STARTAndrew Lyght Jr. then fired Police ahead with a 111-run first wicket partnership with Kevon Boodie. Lyght, who struck nine sixes in a top score of 72, was the aggressor. He demolished Everest’s opening bowlers. In the first over, he belted Looknauth for 13 runs, before he struck Raylex Payne for 34 runs from his first two overs. In Payne’s second over, Lyght blasted three sixes.At the other end, Boodie (10) was a spectator to the hitting, but he rotated the strike. Lyght’s wicket, which was the first of three for skipper Adams, started a chain reaction that resulted in Police’s 10 wickets falling for 71 runs (111-1 to 182 all out).Kemol Savory, who played a few shots in a score of 27 batting at three, and Johnson who scored 20 batting at 11, brought sanity to the innings.Adams finished with 3-13 from six overs, while Khan finished with 2-7 from six overs and Payne, who bounced back with wickets in his second spell, took 2-49 from 4.1 overs.
Blake wants to cruise in an RV across Australia. Lachlan thinks the idea is dreadful. Lachlan loves listening to Taylor Swift. Blake thinks she’s awful. The Edwards brothers are two of USC’s top aquatic athletes. But though they share a love for the sport and for each other, they couldn’t be more different.Blake is a 23-year-old junior transfer from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Lachlan is a 20-year-old sophomore who was recruited by USC straight out of high school and spent last year playing for the Trojans.The two have spent many years playing water polo together. They grew up by the pool, as their mother and father represented Australia in swimming and water polo, respectively.Blake started playing water polo as a 12 year old, when his older brothers began their careers, and Lachlan started at the same time as an 8-year-old. The two are the third and fifth brothers in a family of aquatic athletes.Five of the brothers started for the same Melbourne Collegians club team in what was a season unlike anything most athletes or siblings could ever hope to experience.“For me, it was one of my most memorable water polo experiences — that camaraderie that we developed from knowing each other,” Blake said. “It was just a really rewarding experience to be out there and to share something with your brothers.”Both brothers are members of the Australian National Team, so they have been able to travel to many places in Asia and Eastern Europe. However, one place water polo had never taken the Edwards’ before USC was the United States.Their perception of America was taken straight from Hollywood. Blake confessed he loved watching the TV show The O.C.“My dream is to have a girl on the back of my bike, riding on the boardwalk,” he said.Not only are the two countries’ cultures different, but both brothers also acknowledged that the transition from Australian universities was very challenging because the student body is much more disengaged and the learning more theoretical on their home continent.“I find that the way it’s set up here with everyone on campus sets up more opportunities to network and meet people,” Blake said. “The learning is much more engaging and enjoyable.”Though the brothers are good at coexisting in the pool, they aren’t so used to being forced to do so outside of it. Currently, Blake and Lachlan are sharing a room, something they haven’t had to do since before they were five.“We fought a lot more back home. Usually he is the grumpiest man back home, and I’m always annoying him … now that we’re in the same room, he hasn’t really got a choice,” Blake said. “We’re still in the honeymoon stage.”Even the honeymoon stage of a relationship has its tense points, though. Blake described a wrong turn he made in L.A. that gave him an eye-opening look at some of the more interesting parts of Los Angeles. Lachlan shook his head and expressed how happy he was that he missed out on that quasi-adventure.And though the brothers share a room, they do not share a taste in music.“You listen to all crap, like all ’80s stuff,” Lachlan said to Blake. “There’s a time and a place for that, and he cannot pick when that should be played.”Blake responded disapprovingly by telling his brother that he listens to a lot of teenage girl music.“It’s the best stuff,” Lachlan replied.When their time at USC comes to a close and the brothers are back down under, both would like to spend time seeing more of Australia, however Blake’s desired surfing road trip in an RV isn’t for everyone.“That’s where we’re the opposite,” Lachlan said. “It’d be good to see that stuff, but a year in a truck with him, I don’t know about that.”In the meantime, the brothers said their biggest goal is to win a national championship for USC, something they said their connection might help them to do.“I seem to find him a lot easier,” Blake said. “I don’t know if it’s because of the size of him but that’s the way it’s always happened. I understand him and his abilities a lot more, and he understands mine as well.”The brothers will continue their water polo career together, both in and out of the pool. They will look to lead USC to another national title, something they say shouldn’t be too hard.“There’s no one closer than your family, so when I’m successful and able to share it with him, it’s something I can’t describe,” Lachlan said. “Seeing him be successful and play well, you get the same feeling if it was you doing it.”