GLOBAL - A clear majority - 70% - of respondents to a recent Global Pensions survey said they considered the increasing homogenisation of the global pensions industry to be "a good thing".
Only 30% of respondents said a more local focus would be beneficial, with one panel member commenting: "What is required is: global expertise, local focus."
However, some key figures from the consulting world were quick to disagree.
"The forces that lead to homogenous pension funds are some of the worst and [most] dangerous things that have ever happened in the pensions industry," stated Guus Boender, chairman and non-executive director of the Netherlands' ORTEC.
His colleague John van Markwijk continued: "[Homogenisation] is a problem when you want competition, like in the Netherlands with the z-score; a very complicated indicator of pension fund performance. When the z-score was introduced, all the pension funds started buying index funds. The fear of negative performance dominated the ambition to outperform.
"When you want to outperform in an absolute way, for example with alternatives, you have to be a first mover to make the difference. But there are less and less pension funds who have the guts to be a first mover."
Timothy Barron, president and CEO of Rogerscasey in the US, said: "Standardisation on a global basis of accounting standards, performance measurement, and product distribution should certainly be viewed as a positive development in terms of enhancing due diligence, investment selection and fiduciary oversight.
"This is especially beneficial across the developing markets. These positive elements notwithstanding, one should not confuse common standards with homogeneity of the investors, whose return needs and risk appetites will likely to continue to vary greatly.
"It is also important to note that 'globalisation' as a theme for institutional investors is likely to be overshadowed by the valuation and credit methodologies which are now under stress due to the ongoing credit crunch."
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and will listen to the experiences of steelworkers when transferring their pensions away from the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) next week in Port Talbot.
Just Group has acquired a 75% stake in the holding company of Corinthian Pension Consulting in a bid to strengthen its professional defined benefit (DB) advisory services.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has exercised its production order power under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for the very first time as part of a fraud investigation.
The ITN Limited Pension Scheme has named Trafalgar House as its administrator for an initial term of five years.