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The Arab Pensions Outlook 2050 – Change and Opportunity

 

We are THE only platform in the MENA region that’s 'for and by' pension professionals. Bringing together regional pension funds and global financial organisations to create awareness and a lively pension debate, both at institutional and social levels. We discuss the long-term components of vital ‘social insurance and pension cross-roads’. Annually, the conference attracts a distinguished line-up of speakers from global think-tanks, government pension funds, regional financial institutions, actuaries, asset managers, insurers, and HR leaders.

The objective is to spread awareness on pension dynamics, structures and issues that affect the resilience, adequacy and sustainability of both private and public pension systems and their infrastructure in the MENA region.

The event covers pension modelling, scheme designs, investment, demographic trends and risk management, as well as the technologies needed for pension operations.

 

Endorsement

This year's conference is supported by the Egyptian government represented by its Ministry of Finance, Financial Regulatory Authority, National Organization of Social Insurance, and the Insurance Federation of Egypt. The Arab Pensions Conference 2022 will take place on the 28th and 29th September, in Sharm El Shaikh, Egypt.

 

Our Speakers

Our local and global speaker lineup includes leading minds in pensions, social insurance, actuary, wealth management, insurance, and human resources.

 

Our Sponsors

 







The Tale of Two Pension Worlds

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, we continue to live ‘the tale of two pension worlds’ – one that’s very much an 18th century Bismarckan government-run pension that’s the centre piece of the welfare state; and another that could be described as a liberal, diversified and private-sector driven pension industry. While the vast majority of developed and emerging economies have evolved into the second type of diversified, funded pension systems during the last 50 years, a large number of countries, including the entire Arab world, are adhering to the single-pillar, government run pension system.

What are the emerging trends/issues of these two worlds of pensions? Will they continue for long as two different worldviews? Which one is achieving more adequate and secure retirement income? And more importantly, which one is more sustainable?

Challenges and Reforms for the Delivery of Sustainable Pensions in the Arab World

Ensuring that public policies cater for sustainable, accessible and adequate retirement incomes now and in the future remains a priority for all Arab countries. While most of these countries share similar fundamental challenges, there are considerable differences in the timing of demographic ageing, their pension benefits design, the growth potential and in constraints on account of wealth and fiscal situations. However, the projected increase in public spending due to population ageing poses an important challenge to all countries both in health care and social protection.

Policy actions, whether in privatization, diversifying economies and increasing revenues, to improve the long-term sustainability of public finances while ensuring adequacy of pensions is crucial. What should be the priorities? And how should stakeholders be successfully engaged for reforms?

Going Beyond Equality to Equity

A session looking at what we mean by equity and why it is fundamental to creating a truly diverse and inclusive pension systems in the MENA region.
Only 40% of local MENA population is covered by the social security and social protection umbrella, while expat workers, especially in the GCC countries where they represent more than half of the workforce, are not covered by any adequate social insurance system.

How do we address these coverage and equity issues, and what it takes to include these significant demographies in our regional pension arrangements?

Impact of COVID-19 on social insurance systems

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on global economies, health systems and social insurance systems. Market and businesses have been globally interrupted, affecting labour markets and employee wages. The resilience and sustainability of other social protection programs were also put to the test as governments provided additional stimulus and support through various measures and incentives.

This session will look at the lessons learnt from the impact of the pandemic both globally and locally.

Pension Economics & Pension Spending by 2050

This session examines the outlook for pension spending over the coming decades, and options for reform. In many countries major rationalization of public spending, including on pensions, will in many cases be required to achieve significant fiscal efficiencies. In developing countries, the challenges are different. There, the key challenge will be to expand coverage in a fiscally sustainable manner.

Fortunately, the several pension reforms enacted by many countries in the past two decades offer valuable insight for the design of future pension reforms. It is therefore opportune to evaluate their likely impact on pension spending, assess associated risks, and consider options for deeper reforms should these be necessary. In many countries, it will also be a priority to ensure that reforms do not undermine the ability of public pension systems to alleviate poverty among the elderly.

IT Platforms for Social Insurance & Pension Schemes

Implementing information systems is extremely complex and finding solutions that fit the needs of social insurance and pension institutions can be challenging. Digital solutions help to address this complexity.
The IT solutions needed by social insurance organisations and pension providers should be configurable to manage various schemes, interoperable with existing systems, aligned with international standards, secure and have the support of a global community of implementers, developers, and users.

How are regional social insurance organisations going about choosing the IT systems they use? Have they been able to develop and deploy their inhouse systems? Is there a social insurance software industry in the MENA region?


The Art and Science of Actuarial Assumptions

Social insurance systems conduct periodic actuarial reviews to ensure the financial health and sustainability of their schemes. These reviews require investment and actuarial assumptions for projecting costs, and often involves collaboration between different professionals, including actuaries, economists, investors, and demographers. Many assumptions are correlated and part of an overall demographic and macro-economic perspective.

Additionally, actuaries need to incorporate the impact of emerging trends and risks in this assumption-setting process that is especially challenging given the length of the projection period and in certain cases, inadequate or incomplete data. This session will highlight the key questions, data and challenges involved in this process.

Post-Pandemic Investing - Where Now? US-China, Russian-Ukraine War and Geopolitics

Whilst many parts of the world continue to struggle with COVID-19, the world is ‘seemingly’ moving gradually into a post-pandemic phase. What will this mean for pension fund portfolios? How significant is the impact of a continued rising inflation on pension funds?

Further, geopolitics is back on the agenda for many institutional asset owners. Investment executives need to navigate portfolios and the long-term investment opportunity set. How’re the US-China relations and the Russian-Ukraine war affecting the asset allocations of pension funds?

Delivering Sustainability – Taking an active approach to ESG

Visibility and awareness of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues in the public mainstream is rapidly increasing. This session will look at how pension trustees and investment executives can address increased scrutiny on how their funds are invested.

When it comes to ESG investing, a proactive approach will perform better every time. As regulatory or social pressure continually brings ESG to the forefront of public concerns, the available products multiply. This session will demonstrate how taking an active approach to ESG can provide value for members and returns for investors while avoiding pitfalls such as greenwashed funds.

Should Pension Funds Search for Higher Yield?

Strong industry opinions on which assets should pension funds invest in have generally created two broad camps. First is the orthodox opinion led by institutions such as the OECD and World Bank that warn pension funds over ‘excessive search for yield’.

This session will look at the lessons learnt from the impact of the pandemic both globally and locally.

To them, the rising share of pension assets invested in hedge funds, private equity, high-yield corporate bonds and commodities “warrants vigilance” by regulators and policy makers.

On the other hand, asset managers and many economists believe that alternative assets have made pension funds safer, because they’ve generated higher returns that reinforced the funds’ solvency. They advocate that infrastructure and private assets should be integrated in the asset allocations of pension funds, in order to diversify portfolios and enhance returns. They also promote advanced products such as smart-alpha, smart-beta, and smart strategies.

As the Arab pension funds embark on their sixth decade of social insurance, this session will explore some of the key learnings from the asset allocations of the previous decades. To what extent have we learned lessons from the past, and what could the next 30 years bring us?