Allianz - Oxford Pensions Conference 2015: Invited Seminar, 1-2 October 2015, University of Oxford

Navigating Pension Funds in Turbulent Times

Invited Seminar, 1-2 October 2015, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Financial repression and regulatory change dominate the agenda of pension funds throughout the developed world. Eight years of unprecedented monetary easing have fundamentally challenged the arithmetic of pension plan design. Long standing actuarial return assumptions applied to balance contributions and benefits are completely out of sync with achievable investment returns at given risk levels. Negative yields on safe-haven government bonds are merely the latest twist in a long tail of ballooning pension liabilities and eroding low-risk return sources while soaring equity markets cushion investment returns but stretch the risk-taking capacity of pension funds.

Pension funds attempt to escape this dilemma by moving up the risk spectrum and/or down the cost curve. Increased allocation to what has hitherto been considered esoteric asset classes, a shift towards passive investments and capitalising on better governance are among the strategies pension funds implement.

Simultaneously, the regulatory stance is toughening. Privatisation of pension provision has long become universal. We also observe a re-regulatory policy as governments increasingly interfere in privately sponsored workplace pensions. Improving the outcome of DC pension plans by regulating financial advice and imposing close cost control ranks high on the agenda in many countries.

Meanwhile, governments subtly intervene in pension funds' investment policies by supporting new ways for channelling funds into the ailing economies bypassing banks. New programmes and vehicles for infrastructure investment are being engineered and set up both in the EU and the United States.

At this year's Allianz-Oxford Pensions Conference we will present and critically discuss different pension policy options. We will scrutinise the robustness of retirement systems and engage in the formulation of alternative solutions. This year, we will also look closely into 'infrastructure as a financial asset class' and enquire the suitability of current models to bridge the interests of public entities in need of infrastructure and pension funds in need of yield. Finally, we will present case studies of best-practice investment and governance models withstanding turbulent times.


The Allianz-Oxford Pensions Conference is co-sponsored by Allianz Global Investors and the University of Oxford, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, a member of the School of Geography and the Environment. The conference will be led by Professor Gordon L. Clark, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford.


We invite pension funds and their consultants, regulators and academics. Participation is on personal invitation only. This international conference will bring approximately 70 guests to Oxford.

Registration for the conference has now closed.


The Allianz-Oxford Pensions Conference has built a reputation for active and often controversial discussions following formal presentations. The ground rules for success are simple: confidentiality, open discussion without attribution, a willingness to discuss based upon experience, and a commitment to articulating the lessons learnt thereof. Participants are expected to contribute their knowledge and experience through comments and interventions. The conference will not be open to the public and will be held under the Chatham House Rule.

Conference Information and Location

The conference starts at 12:00 on Thursday, 1 October 2015, and ends at around 13:00 on Friday, 2 October 2015. We offer optional lunch at the end of the conference. The conference will be held at Pembroke College.

Maps of Oxford with the location of the colleges are available from the Oxford University website.

Transport and Accommodation

We have secured a limited contingent of rooms at Oxford hotels and Pembroke College. We will provide booking details and travel information on registration.

Further Information

For further information please contact the conference director: Dr Dorothee Franzen (), School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, United Kingdom.