Mercer Investment Consulting has thrown its weight behind the trend for age-based – or ‘target date’ (US) or ‘glide path’ (UK) – default options for pension funds, notwithstanding the limitations of such strategies. The significance of this is that, unlike its big competitor, Russell Investments, Mercer does not have a ‘product’ to push.
Target-date funds were developed in the US in the 1990s and spread to Europe over the last few years. They have even been “recommended” by the OECD. Their appeal is that they seem to make a lot of sense at a simplistic level.
Mercer produced a client note in Australia early this month and has conducted a Linked-in discussion on the subject. The myriad of new regulations currently facing Australian super funds include the compulsory offering under what is known as ‘MySuper’ for a low-cost default option. Aged-based investment strategies are allowed – and discreetly encouraged – under MySuper.
The good thing about the Mercer note, overseen by Sydney-based Partner, Graeme Mather, is that it recognizes the short-comings of aged-based defaults. And the Mercer consultants have encouraged open discussion on the subject.
This is what they said: “ We acknowledge that there are more innovative whole-of-life investment approaches than aged-based default strategies that are being developed. These involve creating individual member strategies based on a number of factors specific to their circumstances. However, these strategies have a number of practical hurdles around implementation and require member-specific information such as other assets, other super balances etc. These are currently only really appropriate for members who are sufficiently engaged to provide additional information. Whilst a whole-of-life strategy that is tailored to an individual should be the ultimate goal, we believe that a whole of life aged-based default strategy is appropriate for disengaged members.”