UK defined contribution provider NEST has said its comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) risk management and mitigation plans have helped prepare it for the challenges of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.According to its recently released annual report, NEST Corporation – the provider’s trustee – saw its executive team meet daily from 24 February to review the latest information from governments, health authorities and the markets about the effects of the virus, and to consider their evolving approach to the highly dynamic situation.BCDR plans were reviewed and assessed against likely scenarios, such as the possibility of organisation-wide work from home (WFH) for both NEST Corporation and the scheme’s service providers and suppliers.Its executive team identified areas where further contingencies were needed, for example in procuring additional IT servers, it said. The impact of the pandemic has also required several changes to the way NEST delivers its services, it added. Following the government’s guidance, it closed its head office and implemented corporation-wide WFH on 17 March.It has worked closely with administrator Tata Consulting Services (TCS) to ensure the firm could deliver services to customers during an emergency. During the week of 16 March NEST approved TCS’s plan to carry out all of the scheme’s contact centre and back office services on an entirely remote basis.Investments and marketsIn the immediate face of the crisis, cash flow for companies and individuals was a main concern. In response the UK and US governments took steps in early March 2020 to shore up credit markets.Otto Thoresen, chair of NEST Corporation, said shorter term investment performance in 2019/20 suffered due to the pandemic-related market volatility in March 2020.“Although we fell short of our goal of outperforming inflation by 3% after all charges in the growth phase of our default funds, returns on these funds over five years have continued to outperform inflation after all charges. This is a testament to the resilience of our investment strategy,” he explained.The scheme claimed its diversified investment strategy continued to help reduce the impact of market volatility on members’ money.NEST’s credit portfolios are constructed to balance investments in more liquid markets with those in less liquid markets. The scheme is also strongly cash-flow positive, with strong annual inflows, the annual report disclosed. The trustee, therefore, has no current concerns about liquidity, it added.Thoresen said: “As long-term investors we believe there are opportunities for members to benefit from the additional returns available from ‘illiquid’ – that is, less easily bought or sold – assets. Our allocation to private credit, such as infrastructure debt, is consistent with that.”As for equity, the povider has a strategic equity weighting of 55% for its growth phase, with the capacity to have this weighting be higher within the scheme’s reference portfolio framework when appropriate. To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. Source: NEST CorporationThis is relatively low among UK DC schemes, many of which are 70-100% equity weighted in their default funds, and puts its members’ funds in a stronger position going into the crisis, it added.Before the COVID-19 crisis, the trustee had made several strategic decisions to position scheme members’ investment portfolios for the future. It set up and gained Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorisation for its wholly-owned subsidiary NEST Invest to support the evolution of the scheme’s investment approach into more sophisticated areas.The scheme is already in the process of seeking managers for new private infrastructure equity mandates as well, including direct allocations to green energy and UK infrastructure assets.It believes these investments can offer stable, long-term returns even in difficult market conditions, gaining from the economic shift away from fossil fuels and contributing positively to global efforts to tackle climate change.“NEST has made good progress over the last year. The ongoing growth and development of the scheme and the effects of the pandemic will demand continued strengthening of our capabilities across the organisation,” Thoresen said.NEST 2019/20 annual report facts (as of 31 March 2020)NEST managed £9.5bn (€10.3bn) on behalf of 9.1 million members and 803,000 employers (compared to £5.7bn, 7.9 million members and 720,000 employers for the same time last year).The Nest 2040 Retirement Date Fund has achieved an investment return of 4.6%.Fourty seven per cent of NEST members are female, 53% are male.The NEST scheme saw average inflows of £400m per month in new contributions for 2019/20.Nine thousand new employers joined NEST on average each month.NEST invested more than £1.3bn in the Climate Aware Fund, up from £600m in September 2018.
In the premises of BiH Football Federation, semi-finals pairs of BiH Cup were drawn, and Željezničar will play against Zrinjski, Sloga Doboj will play against Široki Brijeg.First semi-final matches will be play on 13 and 15 March at 6 p.m. while the second round will be played on 3 April.The current winner of BiH Cup is Željezničar who defeated Široki Brijeg in last year’s finals.
Rockets star James Harden started trending on Twitter Thursday night, and it wasn’t because he entered the NBA bubble.Harden was seen wearing a mask that featured the United States flag with a blue line and a Punisher skull on top. The blue line is labeled as the “thin blue line” and is used as a sign of support for the Blue Lives Matter movement. The blue line refers to the blue color of uniforms worn by many police departments. James Harden: “It was just something that covered my whole beard. I thought it looked cool. That was it.” Harden said he’s in process of determining how he will voice his support for the Black Lives Matter while in NBA bubble, including whether he will have a message on jersey.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 17, 2020James Harden on mask he wore yesterday: “I wasn’t trying to make a political statement..I wore it b/c it covered my whole face,my beard. .As I clearly talked about yesterday,me finding a way,whether it’s my jersey name or another way,to show my support for the Black Lives Matter” pic.twitter.com/2BMyH51peM— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) July 17, 2020Harden also spoke with reporters Thursday and said he was in favor of the nationwide protests that followed George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.The Rockets begin their season restart July 31 in a game against the Mavericks. The Punisher skull has also become a popular symbol within the same movement. Mask Up📸 @NBA pic.twitter.com/PFsIuJybYb— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) July 17, 2020MORE: A list of players opting out of 2020 NBA seasonThe mask Harden was wearing is called “Blue Line Patriot” and the company that makes it says in the description, “Just when you think you’ve seen all we had to offer those who protect and serve. Remember those who have fallen with our new Thin Blue Patriot design.”Many saw Harden wearing this mask as support for the Blue Lives Matter movement at a time when police brutality has been the subject of protests around the world, and he was heavily criticized as a result.”This certified clown s—,” rapper Trey Songz tweeted about Harden. “I’ll say it for everybody who scared to. FOH.”Harden addressed the controversy in a Zoom call with reporters Friday. The Rockets star said the mask was not meant as a political statement, and that he only wore it because it’s a long mask that covers his beard.
− withholding of passports questionedA Police Prosecutor was reprimanded by a City Magistrate after indicating to the court that he has no objections to three Cubans being released since the prosecution will be withholding their passports as evidence.The three Cubans were charged for forging Guyana Immigration stamps in their Cuban passports.The Police Prosecutor indicated that the prosecution will be in custody of the passports belonging to the Cuban Government since the passports are the items in question.However, the Magistrate immediately questioned the basis on which the Prosecutor was holding on to the Cuban Government’s property.The City Magistrate then ordered the Police Prosecutor to read the fine print in the passports, but the Prosecutor explained that he was unable to do so, given the language barrier. The Prosecutor said they will seek advice on their next move. The City Magistrate told the three Cubans, through a Spanish translator, that the court will keep the passports in safe custody until the Cuban Ambassador is available to pick them up. The Magistrate added that the Cuban passports should have been lodged at the Embassy of Cuba.The three Cubans – Alvin Rodrigues, 44; Andez Rodrigues, 38; and Alleen Abask, 34; were each granted $80,000 bail for forging Guyana Immigration stamps into their Cuban passports.It was alleged that on October 9, 2016, at Moleson Creek, Corentyne, with the intent to defraud a Police Constable of three Republic of Cuba passports in favour of themselves, the trio forged Guyana Immigration stamps purporting to show the same to ranks of the Immigration Department at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, knowing same to be false.The men are scheduled to make their next court appearance on October 25, before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan for assignment and statements.