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World’s Biggest Pension Fund Loses $64 Billion

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Pension

The world’s biggest pension fund posted its worst quarterly loss since at least 2008 after a global stock rout in August and September wiped $64 billion off the Japanese asset manager’s investments.

The 135.1 trillion yen ($1.1 trillion) Government Pension Investment Fund lost 5.6 percent last quarter as the value of its holdings declined by 7.9 trillion yen, according to documents released Monday in Tokyo. That’s the biggest percentage drop in comparable data starting from April 2008. The fund lost 8 trillion yen on its domestic and foreign equities and 241 billion yen on overseas debt, while Japanese bonds handed GPIF a 302 billion yen gain.

The loss was GPIF’s first since doubling its allocation to stocks and reducing debt last October, and highlights the risk of sharp short-term losses that come with the fund’s more aggressive investment style. Fund executives have argued that holding more shares and foreign assets is a better approach as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to spur inflation that would erode the purchasing power of bonds.

“Short term market moves lead to gains and losses, but over the 14 years since we started investing, the overall trend is upwards,” Hiroyuki Mitsuishi, a councilor at GPIF, said at a press conference in Tokyo. “Don’t evaluate the results over the short term, as looking over the long term is important.”

Passive Investments

GPIF had 39 percent of its assets in Japanese debt at Sept. 30, and 21 percent in the nation’s equities, according to the statement. That compares with 38 percent and 23 percent three months earlier, respectively. The fund had 22 percent of its investments in foreign stocks at the end of September, and 14 percent in overseas bonds.

The retirement fund’s stock investments are largely passive, meaning returns typically track benchmark gauges. GPIF’s Japan equities slid 13 percent, the same decline posted by the Topix index, as China’s yuan devaluation and concern about the potential impact if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates roiled global markets. The fund lost 11 percent on its foreign equity holdings. Shares have rebounded since Sept. 30, with the Topix climbing 12 percent.

The fund can hedge its foreign-exchange risk if needed, Mitsuishi said, while declining to comment on whether GPIF had, or plans to start doing so.

Japanese Bonds

GPIF’s 0.6 percent return on Japanese debt compares with an 0.9 percent advance on a Bloomberg gauge of the nation’s sovereign bonds during the period. The fund’s foreign debt investments lost 1.3 percent during the quarter, as the yen strengthened 2.2 percent.

GPIF hadn’t posted a quarterly loss since the three months through March 2014. The most recent results included returns from a portfolio of government bonds issued to finance a fiscal investment and loan program, with GPIF providing such figures since 2008. If those are stripped out, the drop was the fund’s third-worst on record, exceeded only by declines in the depths of the 2008 global financial crisis and the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund lost 4.9 percent in the third quarter, with equity investments sliding 8.6 percent, its manager said on Oct. 28.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board delivered a 1.6 percent gain in the same period, with the fund’s President Mark Wiseman crediting diversification across assets and geographies for the result. It held about 51 percent of its portfolio in public and private equities, 29 percent in fixed income and about 20 percent in real estate and infrastructure investments.

“Compared to our past portfolio, swings in returns have become wider,” Mitsuishi said. “But in the long-term view, we see there’s less risk of failing to meet pension payouts with the new portfolio.”

Bloomberg

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Banking Sector

CBN Sets January 2023 Deadline for Financial Institutions to Strengthen Their Cyber Defenses

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday released the Risk-Based Cybersecurity Framework and Guidelines for Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), following the recent increase in the number and sophistication of cybersecurity threats against financial institutions.

The central bank has set January 1, 2023, as the effective date for full compliance with the provisions of the guidelines.

The bank said the directive became mandatory for institutions to strengthen their cyber defenses if they were to remain safe and sound.

The circular dated June 29, 2022, and signed by Nkiru Asiegbu, Director of OFIs Department, was addressed to all OFIs under the regulation of the banking sector regulator.

The apex bank added that the guidelines represented the minimum requirements to be put in place by all OFIs.

The regulator stressed that the safety and soundness of OFIs required that they operate in a safe and secure environment, hence the platform on which information is processed and transmitted should be managed in a way that ensures confidentially, integrity and availability of information as well as the avoidance of financial loss and reputation risks among others.

The CBN noted that considering the reliance of financial institutions on information and communications technology (ICT) to operate their business and the rising incidences of cyber threats and attacks targeted at financial institutions, it became necessary to implement cybersecurity measures to mitigate against those risks.

The bank specifically noted that threats including ransomware, targeted phishing attacks and Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) had become prevalent, demanding that financial institutions boost cyber resilience as well as take proactive steps to secure their critical information assets to ensure their safety and soundness.

The objective of the guidelines is to among other things create a safer and more secure cyber environment that supports information system security and promotes stability of the OFI sub-sector.

It also seeks to promote and maintain public trust and confidence in the sub-sector as well as contribute towards the prevention and combating of cybercrime in the OFI sub-sector.

Essentially, the framework provides a risk-based approach to managing cybersecurity risk and consists of six parts including Cybersecurity Governance, and Oversight, Cybersecurity Risk Management System, Cyber Resilience Assessment, Cybersecurity Operational Resilience, Cyber-Threat Intelligence and Metrics, Monitoring and Reporting.

The document also explained the roles of the board of directors in relation to cybersecurity as well as the appointment and responsibilities of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) among others.

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Banking Sector

Fitch Upgrades Fidelity Bank’s Issuer Default Rating from ‘B-‘ to ‘B’

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Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, MDCEO of Fidelity Bank Plc

Fitch Ratings has upgraded Fidelity Bank Plc’s long-term issuer default rating (IDR) from ‘B-‘ to ‘B’, reflecting the bank’s increased creditworthiness. The rating agency also upgraded Fidelity’s National Long-Term Rating to ‘A(nga)’ from ‘BBB+(nga)’.

According to the global rating agency, the upgrade is a result of the Bank’s improving business profile and resilient financial metrics. The agency added that the improved rating reflected the bank’s increased creditworthiness relative to other issuers in Nigeria, emphasizing that, “Fidelity’s Long- and Short-Term IDRs are driven by its standalone creditworthiness, as expressed by its Viability Rating (VR) of ‘b’ ”.

The agency further stated that the VR reflects healthy asset quality, good business profile and reasonable capitalisation and liquidity. These are balanced against high sensitivity to Nigeria’s challenging operating environment as well as higher credit concentration as a percentage of equity and weaker profitability than larger domestic-rated peers.

Commenting on the upgraded rating, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, stated, “Receiving this upgrade at a time when the global economy is faced with a myriad of challenges, speaks to the strength of our business model, the efficacy of our risk management culture and the commitment of our staff towards creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.  As a bank, we will continue to execute our growth strategy in a prudent manner that allows us to take advantage of emerging opportunities in our various markets”.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

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Banking Sector

Fidelity Partners ImpactHER to Empower 1,052 Female Entrepreneurs with Sales Skills

Fidelity Bank, a leading financial institution in Nigeria, has collaborated with ImpactHER to support 1,052 female entrepreneurs across the 36 states of Nigeria in addressing the challenges they face in their small and medium-sized businesses.

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Fidelity Bank, a leading financial institution in Nigeria, has collaborated with ImpactHER to support 1,052 female entrepreneurs across the 36 states of Nigeria in addressing the challenges they face in their small and medium-sized businesses.  Through diverse training on digital skills and direct business support, beneficiaries from two cohorts have been able to improve visibility for their businesses and consequently, increase sales.

The training, which commenced in January 2022, has had two cohorts that lasted for four weeks each, covering a myriad of topics such as Digital  marketing, building your brand and selling online, etc. The participants were also assisted in putting their businesses on Google Maps, thus allowing customers and the global market to easily find and transact business with them.

Commenting on the partnership, Osita Ede, Divisional Head, Product Development at Fidelity Bank Plc said, “It has become  imperative that female entrepreneurs in Africa are empowered to  overcome the lack of digital literacy which impedes them from fully  reaping the benefits of the digital transformation underway across  Africa, and the world. We believe providing them this access will help them to thrive in their different businesses.”

According to Efe Ukala, Founder of ImpactHER, “Statistically, women  and girls are 25 per cent less likely to leverage digital technology for  basic purposes, 4 times less likely to know how to programme  computers and 13 times less likely to file for technology patents. This  therefore highlights the importance of equipping African women with  digital skills that could be leveraged to scale their businesses. Let’s not  forget that data shows that Africa can add 180 billion Dollars to its  GDP by 2025 if we close the e-commerce digital gap.”

This intervention is critical as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor for  2019/2020 highlighted that millions of women worldwide have started businesses over the last five years alone: the highest percentage of  these women live in Africa, with approximately 26% of female adults  engaged in entrepreneurial activity yet the World Bank confirms  through data collected in ten African countries that on average,  male-owned companies have six times more capital than female owned enterprises, resulting in monthly profits of female-owned  enterprises that are, on average, 38% lower than male-owned  businesses.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

The bank boasts of a robust bouquet of products designed to help female-led small businesses run successfully including digital loans and HerFidelity -a proposition comprising exciting features such as capacity development initiatives, access to finance, recognition and networking events, health and wellness programmes, etc, all designed to speak to the yearnings of women.

Clementina Uzogor, the Programs Director at ImpactHER, highlighted  the importance of helping women with skills like this to take their  businesses to the next level. “At ImpactHER, it is our mission to ensure  that we equip these women with tools for their businesses to thrive”,  she explained.

She also appreciated Fidelity Bank for working with them to ensure the  programme was successful and impactful. “It is important to let you  know that this is not the end of this training. We will be deepening our  partnership with Fidelity to train and support 5,000 more women-led  small and medium sized businesses in the country before the year runs  out”, she divulged.

An excited participant from the second cohort, Ms Akinyemi  Oluronke, a fashion designer from Lagos underscored the benefits of  joining the training for her business, “I’ve been able to build an online  presence, people now know my business exists and I get a lot of calls  from people who found my business online. I am very grateful for this  platform and the overall increase in sales I now enjoy.”

According to Carine Nneka Achokwu, another participant from the  January 2022 cohort and CEO of Carine Bakery, a company that  produces pastries and cakes in Lagos, Nigeria, “I have been able to  increase sales by 40% after using the tools that was provided to me  such as “Google My Business” and people have been calling to order  from me and I’ve also been able to reach more customers. I am  thankful that I can get people to patronize my business just by tapping  my phone based on the knowledge I acquired at this training.”

ImpactHER is an impact-driven nonprofit organization that empowers  African female entrepreneurs by bridging the gender business  financing gap so as to assist them in realizing their full economic  potential. ImpactHER has since its inception trained, directly supported with investor-readiness and  business scalability skills & tools to over 44, 275 women across 53 countries in Africa.

This partnership also provides follow-up training and support for the  participants and is one of the ways ImpactHER and Fidelity Bank help  these women scale up their offerings.

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