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."
A number of pension schemes have been prompted to lock in gains with a move into bonds after the estimated deficit across FTSE 100 DB pension schemes improved by £36bn, over the 12 months ending 30 June last year, JLT Employment Benefits found.
HM Treasury has agreed in principle to give NEST a £329m contingent liability guarantee in the event of the master trust's wind up or closure.
AMP Capital has set up a dedicated team to help institutional investors, including pension funds, invest in infrastructure through direct equity allocations.