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Newsletter June 2018

Message from the Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Paul Dooley

Last year the 64th UN Pension Board gave the Fund Secretariat clear instructions. Following the introduction and continuing stabilization of the new enterprise resource planning system (Integrated Pension Administration System or IPAS) the Board called on the Fund to build on the foundation, which the system provides.

As the Fund continues to grow, the demand for information increases and technology engenders higher expectations. The Fund will continue to address the fundamental aspects of quality service delivery while adapting new processes to make best use of the potential of IPAS in meeting those expectations.

Today the Fund is in a strong financial position. It is processing 80% of initial benefit cases within the same month that it receives the necessary documents. It has implemented a new call centre which is able to answer the majority of requests. It is currently responding to all death-related calls within 24 hours. This month the Fund is rolling out new telephone contact numbers for participants and beneficiaries (in 28 countries) making it possible to call the Fund without long-distance charges. If this first phase is successful, the Fund plans to expand this service to most, if not all, of the countries where the Fund has beneficiaries and the service is available.

Two years ago the Fund launched its member self-service (MSS) portal and dashboard and today more than 90,000 participants and beneficiaries have registered. This tool allows members to change their address (not on two-track); it gives access to all Pension Fund forms; it allows beneficiaries to download, print and sign their Certificate of Entitlement (CE) from anywhere in the world (not on two-track). The portal allows separating staff members to see when the Fund received separation documents and lets active participants consult their Annual Pension Statements. This important tool gives members direct access to the Fund. It also gives the Fund access to its members, even if they leave their job or change their address. It is important that all UNJSPF members register in this portal. This will help you and will also help the Fund.

Last year, the Fund established its first liaison office in Nairobi, making it possible for the UN Office and the many UN entities and retirees based in Kenya to have direct access to Fund expertise and for the Fund’s member organization administrators to be trained and informed about the Pension Fund’s processes, rules and regulations. The Fund is now working to expand this model into other hubs and global service centres. The UN General Assembly supported this expansion, which has proved to be an efficient and useful way to help the Fund’s stakeholders and clients.

Communications and Outreach

The Fund has built and launched a new, more accessible and comprehensive website. It has created dozens of instructional videos which are on the website and on the Fund’s YouTube page. Both tools were developed to be accessible by people with all levels of comprehension and understanding of the Pension Fund. The set of 24 whiteboard videos, released in English and French, are now being reproduced in the other four UN official languages (Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish) making it possible for more members to have a quick and easy introduction to the Fund’s procedures, regulations and deadlines.

At the same time, the Fund is aware of the needs of beneficiaries without access to technology and will continue to produce and distribute hard-copy documents and guidance tools as needed.

The new website makes it possible for any user to download and print the most recent copies of all of the Fund’s information booklets. The Fund continues to produce and publish new booklets for specific requests, including most recently the beginners guide to MSS, a comprehensive and pictorial guide to the CE process and specific tutorials on how to fill out Fund forms.

The “Contact Us” page on the Fund’s website continues to be refined to make it easier for individuals to serve themselves before writing to the Fund, and allows the Fund to administer thousands of monthly mails and to respond to them more efficiently. This tool directs emails to Member Organizations and/or to specialists concerning the type of query and information being sought.

The Fund is presently working on fully integrating its Client Services tools into IPAS and the MSS system.

The Fund continues to expand its outreach activities by making multiple in-person visits to regions of Africa and to UN offices in Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Haiti and Budapest. The Fund visited the headquarter offices of most of its 23 Member Organizations in the last six months.

The Next Pension Board

Next month the 65th UN Pension Board will begin. Hosted by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome, it will take place from 26 July – 3 August. Many important issues will be addressed, including the actuarial valuation of the Fund as of 31 December 2017, membership of the Committee of Actuaries, Investments Committee, Audit Committee, Assets and Liabilities Monitoring Committee, and the Budget Working Group for the review of the 2020 Budget. This Board will consider changes to the UNJSPF Regulations and Rules, the impact of currency fluctuations on UNJSPF pension benefits, will decide on new membership applications, the recruitment of the new Deputy CEO, and will be presented with recommendations of an Office of Internal Oversight Service audit on the governance of the Fund, as requested by the UN General Assembly in 2017. A summary of the important decisions made by the UN Pension Board will be in the Fund’s September 2018 newsletter.

Key Statistics

Between 1 March and 31 May 2018, the Pension Fund processed 3,438 new initial benefits. Since the beginning of this year the Fund has processed more than 1,100 new benefits each month. At the end of the first quarter of 2018 the Fund had 77,820 beneficiaries living in more than 200 countries and territories, 125,230 participants and a market value of 64.1 billion dollars. The Fund’s financial statements for 2017 were audited by the United Nations Board of Auditors (India) and will be presented to the 65th UN Pension Board at the end of July. Today 299 staff work for the Fund, 80 for the Investment Management Division and 219 for the Fund’s secretariat.

Message from the Representative of the Secretary-General (RSG) for investment of UNJSPF assets

Sudhir Rajkumar

UNJSPF Financial Position and Sustainable Investing

I signed my Compact with the United Nations Secretary-General, in which I have pledged to faithfully discharge my fiduciary responsibility for investment of the assets of UNJSPF, delegated to me by the Secretary-General. I have also committed to making personal efforts to rebuild relationships with stakeholders representing various constituencies and governing bodies, and improve trust and credibility of and within UNJSPF, in service of the interests of the 200,000 plus active staff and beneficiaries of the United Nations and the 22 other Member Organizations, who depend on the Pension Fund for their retirement.

During the first quarter of 2018, we took important steps within UNJSPF Investments to improve communications, and institutionalize incremental improvements in investment, risk management, and operational processes. We have successfully closed a significant number of audit recommendations, and enhanced tracking of our HR processes for recruitment and on-boarding of new staff. I have initiated weekly meetings with my entire Senior Management Team, opened up our weekly investment meetings to all staff, initiated quarterly All-Staff meetings, established an Internal Investment Committee (IIC), and operationalized a Risk Committee (RC) and a Compliance Committee (CC). An anonymous survey of all Investments staff (69% response rate) revealed that 71% of staff felt “things were changing for the better since beginning of 2018”, and no staff felt that things were changing for the worse. We hope to build on this good beginning by regularly engaging in proactive, two-way communication with all staff.

Since taking office, I have emphasized the importance of incorporating “Sustainable Investing” practices in the Fund’s global investment portfolio, and making every effort to incorporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics and the UN Sustainable Development Goals into the Fund’s investment process wherever feasible. I have added resources to this effort. UNJSPF is in the process of evaluating additional measures to strengthen its efforts in this area under the leadership of the Director, Herman Bril. The approach is grounded in the belief that portfolios which integrate material ESG metrics into the investment decision-making process have the potential to provide returns that are superior to those of conventional portfolios, while exhibiting lower risk over the long term. You can find more details on the Fund’s Approach to Sustainable Investing at our website.

Market Value

Despite increasing market volatility since the beginning of the year, the Fund’s value remained stable. The assets of UNJSPF were valued at USD 64.1 billion as of 31 March 2018 (based on preliminary unaudited data). The Fund’s investment returns exceeded the policy benchmark’s investment returns during the first quarter of 2018. 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 March 2018. 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.

2018 Certificate of Entitlement Exercise is Underway

During the first days of June 2018 over 60,400 official barcoded 2018 CEs were dispatched to retirees and beneficiaries worldwide; the CE forms were mailed by postal mail or pouch to their official mailing addresses on file with the Fund, provided their benefit was in payment during the six months prior to 01 May 2018. Those whose benefit was not in payment during the six months prior to 01 May 2018 or whose May 2018 benefit was suspended due to CE reasons will not receive and do not need to submit the CE for 2018. CE forms should start reaching most retirees and beneficiaries in the course of June or July 2018, depending on geographical locations and efficiency of local mailing services.

All retirees and beneficiaries, whose benefit is NOT paid on the two track, have the option to view and print their barcoded 2018 CE form inside their Member Self Service (MSS) under the DOCUMENTS tab. This barcoded CE form is referred to as the “MSS CE” and is a valid CE form. To access or register for MSS, please follow the instructions provided on the MSS web page.

Should you choose to print the MSS CE form, please note that the physical form carrying your original signature and the signature date in blue ink must be mailed back to the Fund.

The Fund’s addresses are provided on the “CONTACT US” page. The Fund does NOT accept copies of the CE form.

For details on how to correctly complete the CE form, please refer to the Fund’s website and CE page as well as the Whiteboard video #5 explaining the CE Exercise.

The Fund requires that you return a bar-coded 2018 CE form by post, pouch or special courier before 2018 year end. You may return the completed CE form to either the New York or Geneva Office of the Fund.

Once you have returned the dated and signed barcoded 2018 CE to the Fund (either the one mailed to you OR the MSS CE, as only one duly dated and signed barcoded 2018 CE form needs to be returned to the Fund) you can track its receipt by the Fund online, in the “Proof Documents” tab in the MSS portal. Please allow for at least four to six weeks before checking CE receipt in MSS, given the huge volume of returned CEs and the work involved for the Fund. If your 2018 CE is not yet listed, check again a couple of weeks later, as the Fund continuously updates its records.

At the end of September 2018 the Fund will dispatch a second mailing of bar coded 2018 CEs to all those retirees and beneficiaries for whom the Fund’s CE tracker did not record a returned barcoded CE.

It is extremely important that retirees/beneficiaries sign and complete the bar-coded 2018 CE and return it to the UNJSPF. If no duly completed 2018 CE has reached the Fund by 31 December 2018, the subsequent benefit payment may be suspended. In that case, your benefit would be reinstated retroactively upon receipt by the Fund of the necessary and duly completed documentation.

As mentioned above, if your benefit is paid on the Two Track, you will not be able to view and download an online 2018 CE form from MSS. In line with audit requirements, the CE form for a retiree or beneficiary on the Two Track must be addressed by postal mail only to their current official mailing address on file with the Fund; this process serves as a verification that you continue to reside in the country of residence declared for two track purposes.

As also mentioned above, you will not receive a 2018 CE form, if the payment of your monthly benefit has been suspended OR if payment of your regular monthly payments started AFTER 01 November 2017. In that case, no action is required from you for the 2018 CE Exercise.

For more detailed information about the Fund’s annual CE Exercise, its purpose, requirements, timelines, and what action you can take in case you did not receive your annual CE or cannot register at the MSS portal visit the CE topic page on our website.

It is important that your official mailing address is up to date in the Fund's records so that the Fund's mail reaches you. Please note that in case you changed your official mailing address and omitted to inform the Fund, you can update your address online in your Member Self Service (MSS) under the “ADDRESS” tab, provided you are NOT paid on the two-track and provided your former and/or new address are NOT an official pouch address. In case you cannot update your address online, please downloads form PF23/M from MSS or the Fund's website and return the duly completed, dated and signed original form to the Fund, so we can update your address on your behalf. For more detailed information about the Fund’s annual CE Exercise, its purpose, requirements, timelines, and what action you can take in case you did not receive your annual CE or cannot register at the MSS portal visit the CE topic page on our website.

Annual Pension Statements: Now Available on UNJSPF Member Self-Service

Each year the Fund issues Annual Pension Statements which provide each active participant with information regarding: his/her personal marital status; date of birth in the Fund’s records; length of contributory service; total contributions to the Fund; and pensionable remuneration (PR). Participants can access their statements at the Member Self Service (MSS) feature on the Fund’s website.

The Pension Statement, previously referred to as the Annual Statement, provides participants of the UNJSPF with details on their contributory service, their accumulated contributions and interest, and the Pensionable Remunerations used to determine their contributions. Additional details are provided for those participants who opted to validate a non-contributory service period or restore a prior contributory service period. The Pension Statement is normally published in early May and contains details for the previous calendar year.

For a line by line guide on how to read your Annual Pension Statement see whiteboard film No. 24.

Meeting with Staff Pension Committees

The Annual Meeting of the Staff Pension Committee (SPC) Secretaries was held in April, in the Geneva Office of the Fund. The SPC Secretaries play a pivotal role between the Fund and its member organizations. The meeting was followed by a further “training and information” day on updates to the Fund’s systems. Among other issues the Agenda for the 65th Board session (July 2018) the upcoming actuarial valuation, the reconciliation of contributions, the Secretariat’s operational performance with regard to the processing of the Fund’s inventory of cases (both initial benefit calculation and revisions and recalculations), the proposal for a new model of client service in the light of the General Assembly resolution last year (which recommended against the establishment of senior posts requested by the Fund) and, a review of the outreach capacity of the Fund were discussed.

Technical issues discussed on day two included business intelligence access, enhancements to the IPAS system, increased ICT support from the Fund to the SPC Secretaries and Member Organizations, updates with regard to data interfaces from the organization to the Fund, navigation within IPAS including pension status and finally, but most importantly, the running and verifying of estimates. During the meeting the SPC Secretaries were provided with Fund laptops and access tokens so that they would have efficient and protected access to a designated part of the Fund’s systems on an autonomous basis.

Committee of Actuaries

The Committee of Actuaries met in Berlin on the 11 – 13 June to finalize the Fund’s actuarial valuation as of 31 December 2017. The report from this Committee will be presented to the 65th UN Pension Board.

ALM Committee

The 15th meeting of the Pension Board Assets and Liabilities Monitoring Committee (ALM Committee) will take place on 25-26 June 2018 in New York. In accordance with its mandate of monitoring the solvency of the Fund and providing advice and recommendations to the Pension Board, the ALM Committee will review investments, asset-liability management and actuarial topics. A report on the work of the ALM Committee and related recommendations will be submitted to the 65th session of the Pension Board.

Internal and External Audit Status Update

Audit Committee

In line with its Terms of Reference, the Pension Board Audit Committee continues to provide assistance in fulfilling the Board’s oversight responsibility dealing with such areas as internal and external audit, financial management and financial statements, risk management and internal control framework. The Committee met in March 2018 and is planning to meet again in June to finalize its annual report to the Pension Board. In its recent meetings, the Committee has reviewed the proposed internal audit work plan and recent audit reports. The Committee also considered changes to the Fund’s financial rules and the main risks facing the Fund.

Board of Auditors

The field work of the Board of Auditors annual audit of the Fund was conducted from 9 April to 18 May 2018 in New York. A team of six auditors performed an in-depth review of the Fund’s financial statements and operations in the Fund secretariat and IMD.

The Fund’s management and staff provided responses to numerous requests for information from the audit team across all functional areas. The Fund also provided extensive information on the actions taken to implement previous recommendations made by the Board of Auditors.

The final report of the Board of Auditors will be issued at the end of July 2018, in time for its consideration at the 65th session of the Pension Board. Effective 1 July 2018, the Fund will be audited by the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Chile which was elected as a new member of the United Nations Board of Auditors.

Office of Internal Oversight Services

The Fund continues making progress in the implementation of the audit recommendations made by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in their various reports. Several audit recommendations were closed during the quarter, including one of the most critical audit recommendations relating to Client Services.

The next UNJSPF Newsletter will be published on 15 September 2018.

Created By
Regina Oliveira UNJSPF Communications
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