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In the wake of the October Asia Roundtable, we have assessed the success of the event by completing a written evaluation based on participants’ feedback. The survey results were overwhelmingly positive with many underscoring the robustness and diversity of participants, outside-the-box content, and particularly the utility of the roundtable app. We will use feedback from the roundtable to inform the 2016 program agenda.
We will shortly release the Insights Report on the 2015 Executive Seminar and Asia Roundtable. As with the 2015 Winter and Summer Roundtable Insight Reports, this one will also be used to brief potential members on the nature and scope of PPI’s program discussions.
Preparations for the 2016 Winter Roundtable continue. The theme is “Navigating the Global Slow-Growth Environment,” and will focus on the implications of a near- and medium-term investment environment marked by increased volatility and lower than expected returns. Discussions will hone in on how institutional investors are seeking returns in this challenging environment, as well as methodologies for communicating lower returns to stakeholders. The roundtable will also feature conversations around geopolitical issues related to Europe, Russia, and ongoing tensions in the Middle East and the Gulf region.
This roundtable will emphasize non-commercial member-led conversations, diverse perspectives, and robust audience interaction. PPI staff is doing considerable outreach to members of the Program Committee, the broader Board of Directors, and members at large to ensure that the content is relevant and timely.
The PPI-Asian Development Bank workshop "Strengthening Public Pension Funds in Asia” in Thailand, September 3-4, was well received by the delegation of 31 participants from the social security systems of Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. The program featured 1.5 days of discussions of demographics in Southeast Asia, lessons and best practices from Europe, pension scheme design, fairness and sustainability, and lessons learned from Korea's pension reform. The World Bank and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific were also represented at the program. PPI has since received $30,300 for delivery of the program and subsequent delivery of an inception report. With the submission in November of the draft summary report, Kris is now completing the milestones related to the first program for a final tranche of $20,000. The second program is planned for spring 2016 in Fiji. This program and related milestones could generate an additional $50,000 in revenue in 2016.
As previously announced, we are recruiting for the new position of Senior Program and Knowledge Director, and have received several responses from qualified candidates. Interviews will commence in early January, with a view toward selecting the new senior director during the first quarter of the New Year. This senior staff addition, as promised, will augment our substantive and programmatic reach, as well as broaden and deepen our international membership development and engagement.
Since my last report, we have achieved considerable progress on the membership front. Non-commercial invitee British Columbia Pension Corporation has accepted plan sponsor membership. After two years of focused engagement, the Minnesota State Board of Investment, represented by Mansco Perry, has submitted payment for membership. On the commercial membership side, Bridgewater has joined PPI's ranks, and we just learned from Jeb Burns that Carlyle may follow suit this week.
The Asia Roundtable yielded Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Provident Fund, Cbus Super (Australia), Development Bank of Japan/DBJ Asset Management, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), The Norinchukin Bank, as new prospective non-commercial members approved by the Membership Committee. The Carlyle Group and IFC Asset Management were also approved as new commercial prospects. Formal invitations to each organization were extended last week. We have already received from Toru Wada, Global Head of Alternative Investment Division, Norinchukin Bank and Shigeki Kimura of JBIC and indication that they will be joining.
Previous invitations still pending on the plan sponsor side are the New York City Retirement System, and former member, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. Scott Evans, CIO, of the New York system, indicated this week that he is ready to join PPI in January. Kris is in regular communication with ADIA, and we expect their membership payment very soon. There are outstanding commercial member invitations to BlackRock and TIAA CREF. For BlackRock, Kris has asked for Board support to help push that firm over the finish line. TIAA CREF has promised payment before the end of the year. In recent weeks, we have received a number of suggested prospects from the Board and Kris has been in touch with information and invitations to our 2016 programs.
Communications & Technology
Branding: Bob Burlingame of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP reported recently on the progress of our applications to register "Pacific Pension & Investment Institute," "A Powerful Perspective," and the sphere logo design. He is managing the process well and helping us to navigate the obstacles. "A Powerful Perspective" is moving through without issue so far. The sphere design required more description than was provided originally and should be moving forward, now. The USPTO raised a couple of issues regarding "Pacific Pension & Investment Institute," but Bob said they are hurdles we can overcome. The issues have been addressed, and already we have made progress in moving forward again with that application.
PPI Member App: Our new mobile app was a hit at the Asia Roundtable in Tokyo. Attendees were sharing photos and comments on sessions, commenting on other attendees' posts to the Activity Feed...and also having a little fun. The PPI Members app offers the same features for interacting with one another, and we hope that the board will take the lead in making the year-round PPI membership experience through the app just as dynamic as during a program. Mark can help you with the app if you have not yet tried it. In preparation for the board meeting in Rancho Palos Verdes in February, Mark will be creating parts of the PPI Members app for the board and staff. Interactions within these areas will not be visible to others.
We have contracted with Professional Computer Services (PCS), our new Information Technology (IT) vendor. PCS will support a significant upgrade of PPI’s IT capabilities, while freeing up valuable PPI staff time previously devoted to this function.
Financing for Future Growth
We are projecting a net surplus of approximately $200,000 by year-end. The robust membership pipeline, in conjunction with continuous relationship management by staff and Board members have been critical. This positive engagement translated to the overall favorable registrations for the three roundtables and the Executive Seminar.
Consistent with the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan and Vision, we are formulating a 2016 operating budget that continues firm expense control, while strengthening revenue diversification to support augmentation of the Program and Knowledge staff. Each component with be supported by clear, strategic justification that supports goals agreed in the Plan and Vision.
Strategic Planning for the Future
The February 24, 2016 Board meeting will feature an operations report on implementation of the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan and Vision. The February 26-27 Board of Directors Retreat, immediately following the Winter Roundtable in Los Angeles, will focus on strategic considerations of PPI membership. I have asked Dr. Martha Summerville, who worked closely with us earlier this year to shape the Plan, to facilitate the retreat.