The 69th session of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board opened today in a virtual setting, due to COVID-19. The session will last until 30 July 2021, with a range of important issues on the Board’s agenda, including governance matters, assumptions for the next actuarial valuation and the Fund’s 2022 administrative budget.
The Board elected a new Chair, Mr. John Levins, from the World Food Programme, who previously chaired the Board in 2018-2019. Mr. Levins thanked the outgoing Chair, Ms. Martha Helena Lopez, for her dedicated service in leading the Pension Board over the past year and congratulated the Fund’s management and staff for their hard work through this difficult period of COVID-19.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Rosemarie McClean, UNJSPF Chief Executive of Pension Administration, stated that “this has been a year like no other”, with staff working remotely since March 2020. Despite this challenge, “the Fund’s performance in 2020-2021 has been the best ever, with over 90% of new separation cases processed within 15 business days”. All pensions were paid on time, Ms. McClean added, and the Fund initiated several modernization efforts, including digital transfers of separation documents and the launch of the digital Certificate of Entitlement.
Pension Administration’s workload is anticipated to increase in the next two years, both in terms of separations and clients’ queries, Ms. McClean explained. To address this and to serve better the Fund’s clients, “the 2022 budget priorities are to invest in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that will dramatically modernize the Fund’s interactions with participants and retirees/beneficiaries, and to strengthen the Fund’s client services with additional staff”, said Ms. McClean.
Turning to the Fund’s investments, Mr. Pedro Guazo, Representative of the Secretary-General for the Investment of the Assets of the UNJSPF, highlighted that the Fund had seen a tremendous increase in the value of its portfolio over the past year, reaching USD 87.2 billion as of 16 July 2021, against USD 72 billion at the end of 2019. The long-term annualized rate of return for the 15-year period was 4.84%, well above the minimum 3.5% required to fund the Fund’s actuarial liabilities, Mr. Guazo stressed. Other achievements in 2020-2021 included ISO certifications for information security and business continuity, the recruitment of a new Chief Investment Officer, and new ambitious targets in terms of sustainable investing.
“We have undertaken a transformation of the Office of Investment Management (OIM) to address any conflict or perceived conflict of interest, and change our leadership culture”, Mr. Guazo underlined. For the 2022 budget, “the OIM needs additional human resources to supervise and manage the Fund’s growing portfolio”, he concluded.
The Pension Board is a subsidiary organ of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The Pension Board is responsible for the administration of the Fund and it protects the best interests of participants and beneficiaries by setting strategic goals and policies, providing general oversight and monitoring of the Fund’s operations.
The outcome of the Board session will be communicated to the UNGA. The UNGA will review the Board’s report, taking into account the views of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. The UNGA will then make final decisions on pension matters with a resolution expected in December 2021.