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Thierry Verkest from Aon on Pan-European Pensions GBV Interview Attracting Top Performers is Key to Employee Benefits in the Middle East Susan Panicker What the Flu Does to Your Body Laura Haynes The Search for a Universal Influenza Vaccine Ian Setliff, Amyn Murji Duty of Care to an International Workforce – A Primary Responsibility David Healy CBBA-Europe Conference Report Worldwide Broker Network – WBN Chairman Jim Watt GBV Interview

It’s a globalized world, and corporations are increasingly multinational, with multiple locations and evermore mobile employees. As pension burdens increasingly weigh on public finances, retirement is not only the responsibility of the state, but also of employers. The time has come for a more global HR policy on pensions. Due to their diversity and complexity, pension schemes often have been set up locally, without neither a common bene­fits policy at the group level nor efficient monitoring and cost control by the parent company. This approach, while practical, is not without risks: counterparty risk in case of default by a service provider; reputational risk if the pensions paid out are insufficient; and above all, financial risk if the company must compensate for the inadequacies of local schemes. The transfer of Defined Benefits to Defined Contributions reduces the financial commit­ment burden on companies. Unmonitored DC plans in countries where regulations provide for guaranteed returns (such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany) can transform DC schemes into a new form of DB, as guaranteed rates often remain the responsibility of the sponsor company.

GBV: Please tell us about your appointment as Chairman of WBN, what does this entail? Jim Watt: I am going to be assuming the chairmanship of Worldwide Broker Network in April of this year (2018) and I’m excited about the opportunity because I really believe in the network and in the global aspects of business commerce.

The inaugural meeting of the Cross-Border Benefits Alliance (CBBA) on December 6 could be described as a classic meeting of the minds, featuring such authorities as the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and other private and public-sector organizations coming together to promote cross border pensions as well as find a way to address the legislative and judicial issues that surround them.

Duty of Care is a generally accepted principle in many countries around the world. It’s an important factor in building trust and reinforcing commitment toward employees, and in some countries, it’s enshrined in legislation. An employer can be deemed to have breached its duty of care if it fails to do everything reasonable to keep employees safe from harm.

The current 2017-18 flu season is a bad one. Hospitalization rates are now higher than in recent years at the same point, and infection rates are still rising. The best line of defense is the seasonal influenza vaccine. But H3N2 viruses, like the one that’s infecting many people this year, are particularly hard to defend against, and this year’s shot isn’t very protective against H3N2.

Global insurance brokerage Hub International in March 2018 announced that it has acquired the assets of Spectra Management. Headquartered in Sandy, Utah, Spectra specializes in helping companies create employee benefits packages that ‘achieve the delicate balance between financial goals and company culture’. Through its retirement division, Spectra provides 401(k) retirement services, fiduciary risk management services, investment due diligence, plan and compliance review, provider services and benchmarking, and wealth management.

Middle East countries are making fast-paced regulatory reforms to the health insurance industry for half a decade, and healthcare sectors and insurance industries have seen a surge in mergers and acquisitions activity.

GBV: Let’s start our discussion with the highlights of your career, and your focus on global pensions. Thierry Verkest: Aon is the leading global professional services firm providing risk, retirement, and health solutions. I am based in Brussels; I’ve always worked in Belgium, and for more than 25 years I’ve helped international organizations manage the design and financing of their pension funds. We have offices all over the world

Global consulting and actuarial firm Milliman in March 2018 announced that Samie Moore is joining the company’s Health & Welfare group as a life, absence, and disability (LAD) consultant in the U.S. Moore, formerly of Mercer and Hewitt, is a nationally recognized expert in LAD with 14 years’ industry experience consulting to Fortune 500 companies, with deep subject matter expertise in Family Medical Leave (FML), vacation, Paid Time Off

A pioneering study from Source Global Research and published in March 2018 by Odgers Connect, shows evidence of a growing ‘professional gig economy’ of highly-skilled, independent workers that is flourishing in both the U.K. and Europe. This growth is driven by companies that have cut back on core staff and which increasingly rely on outsourced professionals. Brexit and new regulations are the two factors that favor independent consultants because

According to the OECD’s Interim Economic Outlook released in March 2018, the pace of expansion over the 2018-19 period is expected to be faster than in 2017, as robust investment growth, an associated rebound in trade and higher employment drive an increasingly broad-based recovery. At the same time, tensions are appearing that could threaten strong and sustainable medium-term growth. The OECD projects that the global economy will grow by 3.9

In a paper published in March 2018, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK’s anti-trust authority, has raised concerns about the level and nature of information provided by consultants and fiduciary managers, indicating that investment consultants and fiduciary managers are not clear enough about fees and performance, which suggests a lack of effective competition. The findings echoed those of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which initially referred the

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company’s (MassMutual) international insurance holding company MassMutual International in March 2018 sold 85% of its wholly owned subsidiary MassMutual Japan to Nippon Life. MassMutual Japan, formerly known as Heiwa Life, was acquired by MassMutual in 2001. MassMutual will receive approximately USD 935 million in cash (JPY 104 billion) and retain approximately 15 percent ownership in MassMutual Japan. The transaction is expected to close in the first

Global insurance brokerage Hub International in March 2018 announced that it has acquired the shares of GMS Insurance. Based in Kitchener, Ontario (Canada), GMS Insurance is an independent benefit consulting firm that services clients in Southwestern Ontario and the greater Toronto area. GMS’s consultants address companies ranging from small start-ups to large national or international corporations. GMS Insurance will join Hub Ontario and Jonathan Shantz, President of GMS Insurance,

Generali Global Assistance in February 2018 published a white paper titled The Impact of Cybersecurity Incidents on Financial Institutions, which provides financial organizations with critical information on today’s cyber and identity threat landscape, the potential impact on those threats, and existing solutions that can mitigate risks and fallout from these threats. Financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and credit card companies were among the most impacted in 2017, which

The Pacific Research Institute in February 2018 released a study, Breaking Down Barriers, that examines the economic impact of duplicative licensing regulations for independent claims adjusters and underscores the need for increased licensing reciprocity among U.S. states. According to the study, the average claims adjuster holds between ten and twelve different state licenses, which can cost as much as $1,000 each. These burdensome requirements make it more difficult for

A new ESIS whitepaper published in February 2018, Why Employers Should Consider Integrated Medical Programs to Manage Workers Compensation Costs explores how companies may reduce their workers compensation medical costs by implementing a centralized approach to claims management while ensuring optimal claims outcomes. ESIS, a wholly owned subsidiary of property and casualty (P&C) insurer Chubb, provides claim and risk management services to commercial clients. According to ESIS, with medical

Men and women of all age groups have been visiting, a free website launched in September 2017 by independent nonprofit FAIR Health that enables New York State residents to plan their healthcare costs. The site offers cost lookup tools, powered by FAIR Health’s billions of private healthcare claims records, that allow consumers to estimate in-network and out of-network costs for thousands of medical procedures in their geographic areas,

Defined benefit (DB) pension plans’ inevitable demise is a long-held truth. Or is it? RBC Investor & Treasury Services in February 2018 revealed that Canadian defined benefit pension plans ended 2017 in positive territory, posting an annual return of 9.7 percent. In addition, a recent RBC Investor & Treasury Services poll of Canadian defined benefit pension plan sponsors showed their median funded status stands at 96 percent. The poll,