The investment industry continues to grow courtesy the private pension industry. Nearly Ghs14 billion, of pension funds has been thrown into the private investment space. It could however be noted that the influx of funds though beneficial to the investment industry has also placed a demand on the industry in terms of capacity, volume of operations and the depth of the asset market.
It seems that fund managers are struggling to find the right assets to place funds with. Though the regulator has outlined about seven major asset classes for funds to be invested in, only three to four of the asset classes have been invested, with the Government of Ghana (GOG) instruments in the lead having the chunk of the funds of most schemes, sometimes beyond its 60% limit. Trustees have exhibited a response to the banking closures which rocked the industry in 2018 and are therefore still holding their cards to the chest in caution, in terms of investing in non-government assets. The result is a continuous lumping of funds into both long and short-dated GOG instruments. The NPRA responded by temporarily permitting schemes to invest up to 70% of their funds in GOG instruments to help scheme manage risk of loss. However, this was for a short-term up to 31 March 2019, which has since elapsed. Fund managers and their trustees should be in a position to look into other assets apart from banks’ fixed deposits.
In a discussion with a fund manager, he noted that, ‘the investment space is constrained for building a truly diversified portfolio in its real sense’. He added, ‘trustees have been too risk averse and hence the difficulty in presenting other asset classes for approval for investment into them, but that is very understandable considering the past and recent upheavals in the market and also the narrow investment terrain’.
At this stage, a lot depends on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to work towards deepening the investment industry to provide trusted avenues for pension funds to be invested. Until then trustees and fund managers would keep requesting for the NPRA to permit 70% limit for GOG instruments. If this trend continues other sectors of the economy would not benefit from the Pension funds which can serve as long-term funds for developments.
However, until the NPRA extends the 70% limit date, schemes should be back to their 60% GOG asset class limit.