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Newsletter Edition 1, MArch 2018

Welcome

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2018. In order to keep the participants, retirees, beneficiaries and stakeholders better informed, the Senior Management of the Fund aims to publish quarterly, four- to five-page newsletters. They will be distributed in March, June, September and December 2018. This first newsletter of 2018 covers a number of important topics; the General Assembly resolution A/RES/72/262, adopted in December 2017, changes and news about the leadership of the Fund, an update on the investments of the Fund, news on technical workshops, client service outreach initiatives and more.

General Assembly resolution A/RES/72/262

The 2018-19 budget requested by the 64th Pension Fund Board was supported with minor modifications. The General Assembly resolved to reduce non-post resources for the administration of the Fund by 5%. It also decided to establish four additional posts out of the six requested by the 64th session of the Board; (Deputy Chief of Operations, Client Service and Outreach Programme Officer, Chief of Accounts Section and Chief of Payroll Unit) . The General Assembly decided to postpone a decision on the proposed reclassification of three posts until next year. The resolution welcomed the recommendations of the Board of Auditors and called on the Fund to “ensure the timely and accurate processing of benefits” and to develop a “grievance redressal mechanism”. The General Assembly called on the Office of Internal Oversight Services to undertake an audit of the governance structure of the Pension Board including a review of the “checks and balances between the Board and the leadership of the Fund”. The General Assembly welcomed the establishment of the UNJSPF regional service centre in Nairobi and requested that the Fund present a comprehensive strategy to bring service centres in other regions to full functionality. The resolution also re-emphasized the importance of the Fund meeting its long-term real rate of investment return of 3.5 per cent, and called on the Secretary-General to seek to ensure that investment performance continued to improve.

Market Value

The assets of UNJSPF were valued at some USD 64 billion as of 31 December 2017 (based on preliminary unaudited data). Annualized returns on the assets have comfortably exceeded the Fund’s Long-Term Objective of 3.5% real (net of inflation) in USD terms for short-term periods and the 15, 20, and 50 year periods ending 31 December 2017. Measuring returns over long time-periods (15 years or more) is the most appropriate for pension funds, not only because pensions are paid out over a very long time, but also, because markets may be quite volatile from one year to the next. It is in the best interests of beneficiaries that pension fund investments maintain a long-term focus. UNJSPF is financially healthy and is in a good position to meet all its obligations to its beneficiaries.

Fund Leadership

On 2nd January, 2018, the Investment Management Division welcomed the new Representative of the Secretary-General (RSG) for investment of UNJSPF assets, Mr. Sudhir Rajkumar of India. The Secretary-General is entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility for investment of the assets of UNJSPF, in accordance with Article 25 of the General Assembly Resolution 248 (III) of 7 December 1948, and Article 19 of the UNJSPF Regulations. The Secretary-General has delegated his fiduciary responsibility for investment of UNJSPF assets to the RSG. The RSG is supported by staff of the Investment Management Division, and advised by the Investments Committee. Additional resources include consultants and nondiscretionary advisors. The Representative of the Secretary-General (RSG) reports directly to the Secretary-General.

Mr. Sudhir Rajkumar RSG, UNJSPF

Mr. Rajkumar has 29 years of broad-based global investment experience with the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, covering formulation and implementation of investment policies, and hands-on experience with global bond markets, private equity and project finance transactions, and corporate finance and privatization advisory engagements. Mr. Rajkumar was previously head of the global pension investments advisory program at the World Bank Treasury, a role in which he provided advisory services to some of the largest pension funds and other multi-asset class, long-term investment institutions globally. He has served as a senior advisor to several funds and institutions seeking to build global investment operations. Mr. Rajkumar holds an MBA from University of Chicago, a M.Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics, a B.Sc. in Engineering from the University of Delhi, and a CFA charter. He is co-editor and an author of the book Governance and Investment of Public Pension Assets: Practitioners’ Perspectives published by the World Bank.

During his first months in office, Mr. Rajkumar met with members of the UN Staff Pension Committee, the Assets and Liabilities Monitoring Committee of the Pension Board, and many other stakeholders. In his initial meetings, Mr. Rajkumar has expressed his commitment to maintaining harmonious, proactive and open, two-way communication with all stakeholders. As he stated himself in one of his first meetings: “I want to assure everyone that I take my fiduciary responsibility for the investment of the assets of the UNJSPF, delegated to me by the Secretary-General, very seriously. I will strive to discharge these responsibilities in a manner that is prudent and optimal, and enables UNJSPF to meet its obligations to the more than 200,000 active and retired staff of the United Nations and the other 22 Member Organizations around the world.”

Mr. Sergio Arvizú CEO, UNJSPF

Since August 2017 the CEO of the Fund, Mr. Sergio Arvizú, has been away from the office on extended sick leave. In his absence, the Deputy CEO, Mr. Paul Dooley, has managed the office (in accordance with the relevant provision of Article 7 of the Fund’s Regulations). Mr. Dooley and his team have led the Fund and have sought to continue to provide quality services to all of its stakeholders.

Mr. Paul Dooley Deputy CEO, UNJSPF

Deputy CEO Dooley announced in September 2017 that he would not seek a second term as Deputy CEO and would be retiring at the end of August 2018. The Chair of the Pension Board has begun the process to replace him and has facilitated the establishment of a search committee. The vacancy announcement was published in the UN careers website (Inspira) and in a number of international publications.

Addressing Outstanding Workflows

In December 2017, using existing staffing resources, the Fund embarked on a data review and clean-up exercise involving some 15,000 open, non-actionable “Entitlements Workflows” in the IPAS system. These workflows were deemed “non-actionable” because they were missing key separation documents, that is, either the Payment Instructions (PI) form from the former participant or the Separation Notification (PF/4) from the Member Organization, or both.

Initial analysis of the 15,000 workflows revealed the following: 171 (or 1%) were death cases. Some 7,200 (47%) were missing both the PI and PF/4, 6,300 (42%) were missing the PI and 1,500 (10%) were missing the PF/4.

UNJSPF Illustration/ John DiGiorgio

By 1 February 2018, the Fund had completed the review of approximately 4,000 workflows. All 171 death cases have been reviewed and followed-up. Within the group missing both the PI and the PF/4, almost 64% of the cases reviewed could be closed because the participant re-entered the Fund or the workflow was opened in error due to duplication, or the benefit had already been paid but the workflow remained open, or other administrative errors. For the “missing PI” group, some have been deemed to have elected a deferred retirement benefit, some were set-up as Accounts Payable, and others were voided. Finally, for those missing the PF/4, listings were sent to the member organizations for their action (further to earlier reminders).

UNJSPF Illustration/ John DiGiorgio

The Fund will continue to review the remaining cases and is introducing updates to IPAS to tighten the controls and interface logic so that the opening of redundant workflows is minimized if not altogether eliminated. The data review for the initial 15,000 will be completed by June.

Monthly Reports from the Fund

In 2018 the Fund will deploy a Business Intelligence reporting tool and publish its key performance statistics directly to the UNJSPF.org website. These numbers will appear on the homepage under Stats & Numbers.

Fund Audits

The Fund continues to implement the recommendations made by the Board of Auditors and the Office of Internal Oversight Services or OIOS in their various reports.

UNJSPF Illustration/ John DiGiorgio

To address the most critical audit recommendations, the Fund enhanced and introduced new client servicing mechanisms to ensure client queries are addressed in a timely fashion. All walk-ins to the Fund (four days a week in Geneva and New York) are served immediately, and the Fund is answering almost 90% of telephone calls and is responding to 80% of emails within the benchmark of 15 business days. The percentage of pension benefits processed within 15 business days increased from 21% in June 2016 to 58.3% in December 2017, and more than 80% of separation cases were processed within 20 business days.

At the same time, the Fund has increased the processing of recalculations and more complex cases, including local currency track benefits under the Two Track system.

These actions are supported by the introduction of better case-load management tools and reports that address various audit findings related to the monitoring and dissemination of statistics regarding benefit processing.

The Fund remains focused on addressing the audit recommendations and ensuring they are considered in the implementation of various projects and initiatives. A Business Intelligence Dashboard was implemented in 2017, which is now available to both internal and external users (and will soon be made available to the general public through the Fund’s website).

Strengthening IT Security and Availability

At an internal level, the Fund continued to strengthen the security and availability of its information systems through periodic tests and improved controls. Following the formal achievement of the ISO 27001 Information Security certification in 2016 and the ISO20000 IT Service Management certification in 2017, the Fund has started to expand the coverage of these certifications with new ICT assets and services being gradually added to their scope.

With regard to IPAS, the Fund has engaged the company Oracle that develops and markets the “Database” of its IPAS system, to perform a technical assessment of the performance and provide recommendations for the fine-tuning of the technical environment. The Oracle Team monitored and assessed IPAS and is helping the Fund improve its availability and response time.

Technical Workshops

In January, the Fund held a technical workshop with its Member Organizations on the pension estimate tool that is available to Pension Fund members through the Fund’s Member Self-Service portal. The workshop was designed to explain critical issues affecting this tool, recent modifications and how Staff Pension Committees can work around these issues while awaiting for permanent solutions to be implemented. A second technical workshop will be held in mid-March 2018 to provide an update concerning the Fund’s Mobile Office portal.

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Vacancies @ the Fund

As of 1 March 2018, 24 (8.6 %) of the Fund’s posts were not encumbered. Of the 24 non-encumbered posts, 17 have been advertised through job openings, with recruitment efforts at various stages. The remaining seven are being prepared for posting, but require either the classification of a new post or reclassification. It is expected that the recruitments against these posts will be finalized within six months.

Since the beginning of the year, the Fund has completed five recruitments through Job Openings and six through Temporary Job Openings. Additionally, the Fund has completed eight recruitments against General Temporary Assistance funded posts in task-forces in the Pension Entitlements Section and the Financial Services Section.

UNJSPF Geneva Client Services

UNJSPF Geneva Client Services provides advice to participants who are employees of Member Organizations based in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and retirees /beneficiaries whose residential address is in the EMEA region. The activities of the Unit cover a wide range of services to Active Participants, Retirees and Member Organizations including: Verifying the Eligibility to Validate, Restore or Transfer; Providing Estimates for active staff; Two-Track Estimates for retirees, the Present Value of Deferred Pension for those who have deferred their benefit, Survivor’s benefit, and Spouse married after separation from service estimates for separated staff; Responding to phone calls (11,515 calls for 2017); Responding to emails (22,521 emails received in 2017); Holding individual appointments, and welcoming clients who “walk in” to our offices (1,925 visitors in 2017).

In 2017 the Geneva Office conducted over a dozen meetings and presentations covering general Pension Fund information, pre-retirement planning, in-retirement matters, and one-on-one and focus group meetings from Senegal to Hungary (See photos below).

UNJSPF Client Service visits to Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Burkina Faso / UNJSPF Photos
Group photo with WFP staff in Senegal / UNSPF Photo
Created By
Adelfa Hernandez UNJSPF Communications
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