From The Sunday Times, February 18th, 2018.
Steve is a Finance student at Queen’s University Belfast who joined Acuvest in June 2019 as the company’s first Investment Intern on a year-long placement. He hopes to graduate with a Bsc Finance in 2021.
Judy has been with Acuvest since October 2018, acting as Head of AdvisorPro Customer Experience Team. She provides valuable backup to the team in addition to having responsibility for Communications, Client Services and Marketing.
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John joined Acuvest in January 2019. Prior to joining Acuvest he worked with State Street as a Derivatives Operations Specialist, involved in the processing and valuation of OTC derivatives.
John holds a BSc Energy and a MSc Financial Services, both obtained from the University of Limerick.
He is currently studying for the Professional Diploma in Financial Advice (QFA).
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Mr. Moloney has extensive top management and board level experience internationally and domestically in the dairy,meat and nutritionals sectors, covering processing, manufacturing and distribution. He is a former Group Managing Director of Glanbia plc. He worked with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry as well as in the meat industry in Ireland. He is a former council member of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation. He is Chairman of Coillte Teo (the Irish State Forestry Company) and a non-executive director of Greencore Group plc, Smurfit Kappa plc and a number of private companies.
Ken has over 22 years’ experience with over 13 years in leadership positions in the digital sector. Since June 2013,Ken has been CEO of the Digital Marketing Institute. The Digital Marketing Institute is a global leader in the provision of certified and accredited education for digital marketing. The business is growing fast and is now operating in over 25 countries across four continents.From Nov 2010-May 2013, Ken was CEO of Simply Zesty, which is one of the largest full service digital marketing agencies in Ireland and the UK. Clients included Vodafone, Sony, and UNICEF. Ken led a successful sale of the business to UTV Media just 17 months after joining (in March 2012).In 2008 Ken had set-up his own management consultancy which advised a number of domestic and international companies. Projects included advising on almost 50 online investment/trade sale/acquisition opportunities on behalf of clients, completing cost reduction plans for 3 companies and launching a new a B2C e-commerce product for a clientWhile running his consulting business, Ken took an executive position with one of his clients, for a year, when becoming CEO of Weddingsonline.ie, Ireland's largest weddings marketing business (Nov 09-Oct 10).From 2000-2008, Ken worked with Saongroup.com. Saongroup is a global online recruitment business operating in 16 markets across 5 Continents (and was recently acquired by German media company, Axel Springer). Ken started with Saongroup as Marketing Director with Irishjobs.ie (2000-2003) developing it into the largest recruitment website brand in Ireland. He then became MD of their software business, Candidate Manager (2003-2006), establishing this as Number 1 in Ireland and successfully launching it into the UK and US. Finally, he was Group Chief Executive of Saongroup.com (2006-2008) and was responsible for expanding the group internationally. During his tenure, Ken oversaw the completion of 9 acquisitions, 5 start-ups, and 7 new market entries and staff numbers grew to over 800.Prior to this, he held various Marketing Manager Positions with Irish Life Assurance plc. Ken holds a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree (1st Class Hons) from Dublin City University.
Jim O’Hara is a veteran of the high tech industry having served Digital Equipment Corp for 17 years in a variety ofsenior management positions in Europe, US and Asia. Jim joined Intel Corp in 1991 to lead the companies first semiconductor investment in Europe. Prior to his retirement in 2010 Jim spent the previous 10 years as Vice President of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group and General Manager for Intel Ireland. Jim recently chaired a government taskforce on research prioritisation and has taken up several board positions in publicly quoted companies. He is chairman of a number of high tech start-up companies. Jim was awarded ICT Ireland business person of the year in 2007 and in 2009 Business and Finance business person of the year. He is a fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineers and holds an honorary doctorate of science from National University of Ireland.
Mr. Ronald J. Helow, also known as Ron, founded New Course Advisors in 2008 and serves as its Managing Director. Mr.Helow served as the Chief Technology Officer at NxtStar Ventures, LLC from 2001 to 2008 and founded Registry Systems Corporation in 1990. Mr. Helow has many years of experience in the insurance and financial services industries. He has been a Director of Horace Mann Educators Corp. since September 29, 2009 and serves as Chairman of the Customer Experience and Technology Committee of the Board. Mr. Helow also serves on the Advisory Board of Belvedere Advisors, a California-based money management firm. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, a J.D. from the University of Florida, and a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Mary Walsh is a chartered accountant and chartered tax adviser. After a 35 year career as an international taxpartner with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dublin, she now works in an advisory capacity for a number of public sector, private and not-for-profit organisations. In the public sector, she recently completed a term as a board member of the Pensions Board and currently serves as an independent member of the National Economic and Social Council. She is a non-executive director of a number of private companies. She has recently been appointed by the European Commission to serve on an Expert Group on Taxation of the Digital Economy.
Monty has extensive international experience in Investments, Life Assurance and Banking. He qualified as an actuaryin 1966. Monty was CEO of Liberty Life (South Africa) before moving to Australia where he joined Westpac Banking Corporation. He started Westpac Life and also headed up Westpac’s Investment Division.His expertise in the Multi-Manager business led to the creation of a joint venture with Irish Life & Permanent.Monty retired from the Board of Irish Life and Permanent plc in 2003.He is a founding Director of Acuvest.
Agnieszka moved to Ireland in 2004 and worked in the Hospitality and Retail Sectors (Dunnes Stores) in management positions for over four years.
Having a strong aptitude for business and finance, she studied Business Studies and achieved a FETAC 6 Advanced Certificate in Administration and Finance.
Enjoying a career in accounts in the Financial Services and IT Industry, Agnieszka joined Acuvest in September 2014 as a temporary member of staff and became a permanent employee in January 2015 in the role of Accounting & Reporting Assistant.
Agnieszka holds a B.A. in Political Science from Melchior Wankowicz College of Journalism in Warsaw, Poland.
After completing a degree in Psychology and Economics, Candia joined Scottish Life in 1995 and qualified as an actuary in 1998. She remained with the group until 2003, working in DC administration and latterly becoming responsible for developing and promoting Scottish Life’s pension fund range.
Candia is based in Edinburgh and now works both as an independent pension trustee for defined benefit and defined contribution clients, and as a consultant on pension and investment matters. She has also been an Examiner for the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries.
Samantha is an experienced assistant with over 15 years of experience in legal, property and pharmaceutical industries in South Africa and Ireland.
Samantha worked with Baxter Healthcare Ltd, a multi-national healthcare company for five years before joining Acuvest in 2007 as Office Manager, where her responsibilities include Office Management, Executive Assistance, Client Services and Marketing.
Kieran joined Acuvest in January 2016 as an Investment Analyst.
Before joining he spent over three years working as a Management Consultant in Mazars - specialising in the areas of financial modelling and data analysis.
Kieran holds an honours degree in Financial Mathematics and Actuarial Science from University College Cork.
He has passed all three levels of the CFA examinations and holds the Professional Diploma in Financial Advice (QFA).
Elaine joined Acuvest in November 2015 as an Investment Analyst.
Prior to that, she spent three years working in Investment Manager Research at Cambridge Associates LLC, based in London.
Before that, she spent two years in Stockholm working for Enterprise Ireland as a Marketing Executive.
Elaine holds a first-class honours degree from Trinity College Dublin in Business Studies and Economics. She is a CFA charter holder.
Chris was Managing Director of Bank of Ireland Asset Management and subsequently led that business through itstransition to new ownership under SSgA where he assumed the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, Fundamental Equities. Earlier in his career Chris held numerous economist and investment strategist roles in both Ireland and the UK. A portfolio manager with over 30 years' experience in investment markets Chris joined the Acuvest Investment Committee in 2014.
Jim is an experienced manager with over 25 years’ experience across many industries, including 18 years working in America. There, he worked for a Chicago-based law firm, as Financial Controller for the US division of a manufacturer of diabetes monitoring and healthcare worker safety solutions, and subsequently as Financial Controller for a San Francisco-based IT company.
Upon returning to Ireland in 2005, Jim spent several years working in finance and operations roles in the property sector. He joined Acuvest as Finance & Operations Manager in April 2010.
Michael is an actuary and has over 40 years’ experience in investment markets.Michael gained his initial investmentexperience with Irish Life, where he became head of fixed income in 1978. He then worked in London between 1980 and 1991 in a variety of investment roles with Citibank, Charles Fulton (IDB) and Bank of Ireland Asset Management.In 1991 Michael became director and head of investment at New Ireland Investment Managers. From 1997 to 2006 he was an associate director of BIAM (Bank of Ireland Asset Management) and a director of BIAM (US) where he worked in a client servicing and business development role.Michael joined Acuvest in 2007.
Willie Holmes spent 37 years working for Irish Life, the last 20 of which served as General Manager.
An actuary by profession, he worked across a range of areas in Irish Life including sales, investments, marketing and administration.
He is currently chairman of Intesa Sanpaolo Life and holds a number of other non-executive directorships. He is a founding member of the Sales Institute of Ireland and has had many roles in LIMRA, the international trade association of some 800 Financial Services Companies, including Chairman of LIMRA Europe and Main Board member of LIMRA International. He is a recent Past President of the LIA, which provides training to the financial services industry.
He reviews all Pensions, Investment and Life Assurance textbooks produced by the LIA for their Qualified Financial Adviser (QFA) course, and also the Professional Diploma in Retirement Planning Advice (RPA) course, which covers all technical issues involved with pensions in the private and public sector.
Rebekah is a CFA charter holder who has 14 years of experience in the investment industry. Beginning her career as a Risk & Asset Allocation Analyst with the €20bn National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF), in 2008 Rebekah joined Acuvest’s Investment Analysis and Research Team.
As head of the department, her focus is on investment innovations, market research and client management.
Rebekah works predominately with pension funds and religious congregations and sits on Acuvest’s Investment Committee.
She is a director of the CFA Society Ireland.
David Kingston is a maths major from Oxford University and a Fellow of both the Faculty of Actuaries and the Society of Actuaries in Ireland. He joined Irish Life in 1968, having worked in pensions and investments with Scottish Widows. David led a number of divisions in Irish Life including investment management, pensions and marketing before becoming CEO, a position he held for fourteen years until 1998. During this time David led the company’s move from Government ownership to Stock Exchange flotation.
Since he retired form Irish Life in 1998, David has acted as a non-executive director for a number of companies in the financial area. He was Chairman of the Irish Stock Exchange from 1998 to 2007 and is currently a director of four insurance companies and two fund management companies. He was instrumental in the founding of Acuvest as an investment and pensions consultancy and has been actively involved ever since. He is currently chair of both the Board and the Investment Committee.
David has been Chairman of the Financial Services Industry in Ireland and of the Irish Insurance Federation (now Insurance Ireland). He has been President of both the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland.
Gráinne has over 20 years’ experience in the investment industry. From 2003 to 2009, Gráinne was a Senior Relationship Manager with BIAM (Bank of Ireland Asset Management) looking after large Irish institutional clients.
Prior to that, she spent four years working as a Portfolio Specialist in their investment team working with clients in North America, Europe and Australasia.
Before this Gráinne spent five years in London, initially working with SBC Warburg where she provided Institutional Investor Relations services to clients which included FTSE 100 listed companies. She then joined Henderson Global Investors as Head of Institutional Marketing, where her experience included the establishment of their North American Retail Distribution operation.
Edward joined Acuvest in 2015 and has been leading pension management activity for various corporate clients since then, in addition to providing financial and investment advice on a range of pension related topics to individuals. Edward is also a member of our Investment Analysis and Research Team.
Before joining Acuvest, he worked with Irish Life Investment Managers (ILIM) and prior to that, Edward worked in retail banking in both Ulster Bank and EBS.
He holds a primary degree in International Business and completed a MSc in Investment Treasury and Banking from Dublin City University in 2015.
Paul joined Acuvest in 2012 from Arnotts Ltd where he was the Pensions Manager of their significant defined benefit pension scheme for six years. Paul has over 25 years' experience in financial services. Prior to Arnotts, he worked with the EBS Building Society establishing their PRSA business and he also worked in Irish Life plc (Corporate Business – Group Pensions & Risk), AIB Finance & Leasing and Coyle Hamilton (now Willis). Paul is a graduate of both UCD and DCU. He is a former Chairman of the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland where he served on both the Operational and the Audit Committees of the Council.
Edel has 20 years of experience in marketing and communications in senior roles. A former head of marketing and communications for Ulster Bank, she was responsible for all marketing activity across personal, small business and corporate banking.
Edel’s earlier career saw her head up the marketing and communications department for Esat Digifone and O2 for 7 years, where she was instrumental in the company’s rebrand. In the newly named O2, Edel held the role of communications director and served on the executive management team.
She holds an MA in Spanish and German from Trinity College Dublin and is a post-graduate of the University of Ulster in International Communications and Marketing.
Damian Cooper is Acuvest’s Director and Chief Operating Officer having joined the firm in 2006. Prior to that, Damian held senior roles with Bank of Ireland and PricewaterhouseCoopers and was a director of Glassco Recycling.
Damian is a leading member of Acuvest’s Investment Analysis and Research function with over 20 years of experience in providing investment advice to institutional investors and individuals. His knowledge also extends to assessing the financial position of companies from the perspective of various stakeholders, including corporate investors, lenders, auditors and reporting accountants.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and is a CFA charter holder.
The Client Challenge
Our Insurance sector client wanted to eliminate a portion of balance sheet volatility, which was impacting capital and growth, whilst maintaining their reputation as a best-in-class employer. With the existing DB scheme closing to future accrual they needed an exceptional DC solution considered by members to be on a par with their existing scheme and also a clear communications plan to transition staff through this period of uncertainty.
In collaboration with our client, Acuvest developed a best-in-class investment strategy for the new Defined Contribution scheme, sought the best administrator in the market at the best price and negotiated ultra-competitive fees with fund managers on their behalf. We also clearly demonstrated how we would provide an oversight going forward to ensure the solution would protect the future interests of all members, and could be communicated in a positive way to employees.
Legal deeds were prepared and approved by both revenue and the pension authority in 8 weeks and the new scheme was up and running within a further 6 weeks. Taking a member-centric approach, the product started with five fund options, distinguishable by their objectives and covering the range of most likely member needs. Our solution also included designing and delivering a clear communications plan through a nationwide interactive presentation that demonstrated the best-in-class features of the members’ new DC scheme.
In an incredibly tight timeframe, Acuvest delivered a tailored and branded DC scheme that was recognised by both employer and employees as best-in-class.
A 90% take up of the ETV significantly reduced balance sheet liabilities for the employer, securing the long term viability of the company and providing them with a strong competitive advantage. With proactive, independent management, strong administration and optimal employer contribution rates, the new scheme also delivers excellent value to employees, enhancing engagement with the company and is now a valuable part of employees’ total reward package.
What the client said:
“We found Acuvest to be highly professional and competent in delivering a best-in-class DC scheme in incredibly tight timeframes and presenting the benefits to our employees nationwide. Their ultra-competitive solution helped us reduce DB liabilities and, equally importantly, was welcomed and adopted by the vast majority of our employees”.
The Client Challenge
With the historic backdrop of a poorly structured and managed multi-employer DB scheme now closed to future accrual, our state sector client was under pressure to deliver a solution that could rebuild trust, turnaround the negative association with pensions amongst members and reduce the risks of potential industrial unrest. They required a DC scheme that employees and unions could engage positively with and one that would deliver an outcome on a par with the best in the marketplace.
To ensure a member-focused solution that would deliver the best outcome for all parties, we first engaged with each stakeholder group. We met with unions to listen to their proposed solution and also analysed the different groups of member data to understand their differing needs and expectations.
Combining our full range of advisory capabilities with our market leading expertise in data analytics, independent active asset allocation and fund management, we transitioned our client from the exposure of a single fund, single manager pension to a custom designed solution that gave access to a better choice of funds at lower cost. We combined passive elements with higher risk elements to match the requirements of different member groups, with the sole target of adding value to all member outcomes. This highly innovative product was delivered by a bespoke team of specialists in an extremely efficient open investment platform. Our solution facilitated active management at very low cost and with active monitoring at every level we ensured both better asset management and better governance.
The average member will see a 10% improvement over the lifetime of their investment, as they now benefit from a better choice of funds at lower cost, quantified at 25 basis points lower per member.
With strong member participation, extremely positive feedback from employees and most critically, the backing of their unions, our client now enjoys the benefits of a best-in-class flexible, client branded solution that has removed much of the uncertainty and negative legacy associated with pensions and is aligned with both their future business strategy and employee interests.
What the client said:
“Acuvest has created a highly innovative product that delivers a 30% saving on the overall costs of running the scheme, plus the peace of mind of active management at every level. Their position of independence and willingness to meaningfully engage with and listen to all stakeholders during the design phase was critical to member buy-in and ultimately the success of the scheme”.
The Client Challenge
Having inherited a less-than-optimal legacy situation of all services, from actuarial to administration, being reported on and delivered by a single provider, the trustees of our financial services client had no independent benchmark or ability to independently assess performance and risk.
They identified the need for an independent oversight to deliver an unbiased qualitative and quantitative assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the service they were receiving.
With strong financial experience, we were in a position to deliver a unique insight into the sector and provide the independent voice and oversight they needed. This enabled us to assist in asking the right questions, identify any risks and highlight inefficiencies, or situations where they were overpaying for some services.
Combining our strengths in advisory, data analytics, portfolio construction, product innovation and project management, we advised a complete DB wind-up, disaggregated bundled services and re-tendered each individually. This enabled us to achieve active monitoring at every level, ensuring we delivered far more stringent governance and maximized value for money for both members and the company. It also delivered greater access to markets and a wider choice of funds at lower cost.
In extremely tight timeframes, the company moved from the risk of being over-reliant on a single service provider providing a DB scheme no longer fit for purpose, to a truly independent, member-focused solution that delivered better governance and better outcomes for both our client and their people at lower cost.
What the client said:
“Acuvest advised on and delivered a member-focused solution that enhanced our confidence that things are being run as well as they could with better governance, better outcomes and the reassurance that our key object of risk management has been met”
The Client Challenge
With a complex operating model in place including old DB, new DC and hybrid option, our charity client wanted to diversify some of the risk and reduce the funding challenges and costs associated with multiple pension systems being delivered by multiple providers.
They required a much simplified and better DC solution that would deliver the best possible outcome for all member groups and also address any potential inequality between long term and newer members.
Using our strength in member analytics to gain key insights into the existing model, we identified the risks to different member cohorts of underfunding associated with the DB scheme. Based on this analysis, we upgraded the DC scheme for future accrual, ring-fenced members’ share of DB assets and transferred to the DC scheme with company top-up.
We then guided our client through the legal and actuarial processes and communicated to all stakeholders how our much simplified and more accountable DC scheme would benefit different groups of members and their outcomes as they migrated across.
The new simplified operating model of one scheme for all people eliminated the financial and reputation risks associated with DB, gave members certainty of retirement savings cost, and delivered an efficient, well-run savings scheme that provided the best outcome for both the charity and their people.
What the client said:
“We found Acuvest to be truly independent and on our side of the table. They helped us look at the pensions challenge from a people point of view and we now have less risk along with more options and flexibility for our people around use of savings at retirement than ever.”
The Client Challenge
Having dealt with just one single institution since the 1960s, who managed all aspects of service from trustee to actuarial and administration, our pharmaceutical client didn’t have the independent oversight to identify whether or not they were delivering on their promise to employees of providing the best pension scheme available.
With a global directive to close their DB scheme to future accrual, the challenge was to provide the best possible replacement option. An additional complication arose whereby the global group had a master trust in place for their DC scheme. As unions required representation on the DC board and this couldn’t happen in a master trust, they needed another solution.
Our analysis showed that the existing scheme was not optimal, so to meet the key strategic goals of our client a highly innovative and lower cost new product offering was proposed and a company steering committee put in place to establish the new structures.
In short timeframes, we established a new scheme, got revenue approval and appoint a new administrator. Using our full range of capabilities we introduced a new suite of fund offerings which gave access to many more markets, in a far more cost efficient manner and delivered greatly improved member outcomes over the lifetime of the investment. We client branded the solution and delivered a suite of smart communications to explain the benefits to staff in plain English, along with providing additional and more extensive one-to-one support to those closer to retirement.
With generous contributions offered to existing members of 15% employer, 5% employee, and contributions to new members of 10% employer, 5% employee, there was extremely strong participation in the new scheme.
A notable improvement in the services delivered has been observed and our client has also achieved the objective of the best possible scheme in terms of administration and investment choices. The scheme has made significant savings for the company and governance is now at the high end of the scale and eligible for a merit award from IBF.
What the client said:
“Acuvest are the go to people for pensions advice and have given us, through their independence and expertise, the confidence in our believe that we have the best possible DC scheme. Additionally, there has been a notable improvement in the service delivered by the administrator since their involvement.”
With over 30 years of experience working in the financial services industry in Ireland and America, John is a leading expert in company pension plans and independent investment advice.
His early career was with Irish Life in Dublin and America where he held several senior financial management and M&A positions. In 2003, John put his experience into a leadership role as a founding director of Acuvest. Since then, Acuvest has grown into a successful advisory business with a strong reputation in the corporate marketplace and in providing individual advice.
John is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants and a Chartered Financial Analyst.