The PenCom boss, who was represented by Deputy Zonal Head, National Pension Commission (PenCom), Sola Adeseun, spoke at the Annual Conference of Insurance and Pension Journalists at the Four Points in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme: Promoting Bankable Investments Portfolio for Insurance and Pension Sectors, she noted that the commission along with pension operators are desirous of ploughing some of these funds into the real sector.
She noted that investment of the funds in the real sector will create more job which means more people will be employed and come under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and will further grow the asset under management.
She said: “The pension industry has pooled funds of over N11 trillion in the last 14 to 15 years. This is impressive and an enviable feat but what will be more appreciated is how we can deploy such funds into the real sector.
“The commission itself is desirous of ploughing some of these funds into the real sector because we believe it will be a win-win situation for everybody. It will create more jobs. This means that more people will come under the scheme as contributors and will further grow the asset under management. We have been working with partners, agencies of government, private sector participants and even multilateral organisations to deepen the investment horizon in the country.
“PenCom as the regulator in the pension space in Nigeria has a guiding regulatory philosophy. Our primary objective in our oversight function is that the safety of funds is very key while fair returns on the investment is also something we look at. So, it’s from this perspective that we came up with regulations that guide the investment of pension funds in the investment space. These regulations are always looked at in conjunction with stakeholders.
She, however, disclosed that the commission is working with stakeholders at how they can work with the investment regulation to suit the peculiarities of our time.
“Right now, I can tell you that there are a lot of untapped potentials in the funds that we have in the pension industry because we don’t have this tangible instrument that can really ensure that the philosophy of safety and fair returns is maintained. That’s why you see that most of the investments being done by the licensed pension operators are skewed towards those fixed income instruments that are relatively safe and guarantee some good return investment.
“But of course, we know this uncertain time where investment rate is going down but historically; we know that those are safe havens for pension assets. We hope to involve more instruments. I can say that we have reliable investment classes that tilts towards the real sector in the investment regulations of the commission but they have not been accessed because investors have not been able to meet the criteria that the pension funds require in terms of safety.
“Infrastructure funds and bonds are asset classes under which investment of the pension fund can be applied but interested parties so far have not been able to meet the criteria that the pension funds require in terms of safety. We have up to 20 percent of the total asset under management that can be accessed via investment in this critical real sector but we don’t have instrument that will be able to make us access such”, she added.