Conexus forms retirement body as PIMCO takes on Challenger

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Conference producer and specialist publisher Conexus Financial plans to launch an ‘institute’ to study retirement incomes products and strategies. The firm has advertised for someone to lead the new body, to be funded by the privately owned firm and its chief executive, Colin Tate.

The job advertisement, on Seek.com, says the Conexus Institute is a philanthropic endeavour which will try to discover what Australia needs to do to reinvent its retirement system, advice sector and the provision of life insurance.

“This philanthropic endeavour is around an acknowledgement that today’s politics has a limited capacity for great and innovative and perhaps, in times past, luxurious thinking,” the advertisement says.

The move comes at a time when the retirement incomes sector is set for a shake-up with the entry of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond manager, into the direct market in association with its parent, the insurance giant Allianz. PIMCO and Allianz will be taking on the local dominant player in annuities, Challenger. Various smaller providers, plus most big super funds, are also looking at providing new services into this growing market segment.

In its announcement in May this year, PIMCO said the new joint venture business, called ‘Allianz Retire+ Powered by PIMCO’, aimed to deliver the “next generation” of retirement income solutions. It is the first co-branded business from the two companies anywhere in the world. Allianz manages about 650 billion euro (A$1.06 trillion) in insurance money and PIMCO about US$1.77 trillion (A$2.5 trillion) in funds globally.

Adrian Stewart, PIMCO’s Australian chief executive, said at the time that the new business would create more than 50 Sydney-based professional jobs in distribution, technology, actuarial, legal, operations, compliance, marketing and customer experience over the next year. Stewart led the development of the business since inception in 2015 and was acting chief executive until Matt Rady, a former senior Macquarie Bank executive and head of the IRESS systems company was appointed in June, along with a board including three independent directors. The independent directors are former Labor MP Bernie Ripoll, Patria Mann and David Plumb, as chair.

Stewart, who remains a director of the new business, said: “The industry has an obligation to work harder to solve the Australian retirement income challenge, and last week’s federal budget announcement demonstrates the government’s commitment to developing a system that better supports Australians at all stages in their retirement.”

– G.B.

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