ITALY - Italian schemes are increasingly reviewing their asset allocation and looking to offer lifestyling arrangements to their members in the wake of the losses incurred during the crisis, Towers Watson managing consultant for Italy Fabio Carniol said.
Speaking to GP on the sidelines of the conference Salone della Gestione del Risparmio held in Milan, he added these two concerns were already clear priorities for the pension funds for employees of Italian banks, while for the other second pillar schemes they were becoming more and more important.
He also said first pillar schemes (Casse di previdenza) were lately looking to implement risk control systems as well as acting on their governance mechanisms in order to improve schemes' oversight on investments and risks.
In a session focused on the Italian pension system, he noted the number of companies offering a pension as part of the benefits' package was growing.
However, Towers Watson data show Italian employees are less satisfied with their companies' benefits than their European peers. Carniol said a survey on companies with over 1,000 employees found only 33% of Italian respondents were satisfied with companies' benefits, while in Europe the same data stood at 45%.
Speaking at a different session, UBI Pramerica head of institutional sales Maria Grazia Sonzogni said pension funds and institutional investors would benefit in the current market environment from a stock picking approach which privileges high dividend equities.
She said: "In times of market volatility, such as ours, we consider dividend as a safety net when there are negative market rebounds."
However, she said not all high dividend companies were necessarily a good pick. She explained: "For us, sustainable dividend, which is what investors need look for, equals to financial discipline. We invest in companies which will pay a dividend but which have good cash flows, are not too indebted and which operate in sectors broadly uncorrelated to the markets."
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