USS chief defends scheme performance against ‘polarised agendas’

first_imgGroup CEO Galvin said views of USS had been “pulled to and fro by the 2017 valuation and commentators with polarised agendas”.“At various points we were accused of being reckless for taking too much risk in our investment strategy, or of being recklessly prudent for our plans to invest more in ‘safer bonds’,” he added.Objective observers, argued Galvin, would find neither of these statements to be true, just as they would with regard to accusations the scheme was “creating ‘smokescreens’ to hide bigger funding problems” or “manufacturing” deficits.Compared with many other private pension schemes, USS was “an excellent pension plan” and “doing a good job in difficult circumstances”, he said.The figuresUSS’ funding deficit fell from £12.6bn (€14.1bn) to £12.1bn as at 31 March, on a monitoring basis using 2014 valuation assumptions. The scheme has not yet completed its 2017 valuation due to the disagreement between universities and members. The ongoing 2017 valuation has reported a £7.5bn deficit (89% funded).Its assets grew by £3.9bn to reach a total £64.4bn, the vast majority of which are assets in the DB section (£63.6bn).Investments supporting the DB section of the scheme gained 6.2% over the year under review and 10.6% per annum over five years, which amounted to an outperformance of 1.4% and 0.8%, respectively.The DB fund also outperformed UK government bonds by £5.6bn over five years to the end of March.USS also highlighted its performance on value for money, noting that an independent assessment found it was able to achieve its five-year investment performance at a cost £61m less than that incurred by comparable pension funds in the latest 12-month period assessed.Investment in internal investment capabilities, which was partly behind a £2.1m increase in staff wages, helped reduce overall investment costs, as a proportion of assets under management, to 31bps, 16bps lower than in 2013/4, according to the scheme. The chief executive of the UK’s largest pension scheme – the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) – has expressed alarm at the “confusion, concern and distrust” generated among its members as a result of commentary about the scheme’s funding position.Commenting on USS’ annual report and accounts for 2017, Bill Galvin said that “whatever the contributions of others might have been in that outcome, we clearly failed to communicate simply enough, convincingly enough, or from a basis of sufficient trust, to make the key messages clear”.USS would therefore review its process for the scheme’s valuation with employers, in particular “the early discussions regarding their risk appetite and capacity,” he said.The 2017 valuation of USS led to the scheme proposing to close its defined benefit (DB) section to future accrual, which in turn led to strike action across UK universities and heated debate about the scheme’s approach to the valuation.last_img read more

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Alec’s Utopian vision is a winner

first_img14 Apr 2016 Alec’s Utopian vision is a winner Golf club owner Alec Fernihough doubled his membership with a Utopian scheme – and his vision has won a top England Golf award. Alec, of Gaudet Luce Golf Club in Worcestershire, was presented with the Membership Award at a gala dinner last night at the England Golf annual conference, which celebrated the golfers and golf clubs who make the game great and inspire others to play. The award recognises Alec’s innovation in introducing Utopian Golf, a flexible membership package which is based on a points system, but has no annual fee.  “I am delighted to receive this award,” said Alec. “The way that people live their lives has changed hugely over the past few years and I believe that golf club memberships need to reflect this. “We wanted to make sure that our flexible membership was as flexible as possible for our customers. We believe that Utopian membership provides this.” The scheme offers full membership benefits and has had widespread appeal, attracting newcomers to the game as well as time-challenged 20-40-year-olds, juniors and older players who want to continue their membership but are reluctant to pay full seven or five-day fees. In the two years since it was introduced the club membership has doubled from around 400 to just over 800. Utopian members include new father Mike Hyde who said: “I joined early last year just after the birth of my first child and it was the perfect solution. I play mostly off-peak and it’s great to have membership options that allow people in my situation to carry on playing the game they love.” Mark Laing, the England Golf County Development Officer for Hereford and Worcestershire, commented: “It’s crucial that we have clubs like Gaudet Luce, creating lots of new members, year on year. Utopian membership has played a major part in their success.” Alec’s initiative supports the England Golf’s strategic plan, ‘Raising Our Game’ which calls on all who care about the sport to work together to create a brighter future for the game, including more members, more players and stronger clubs. Alec Fernihough (left) receives his award from Morten Backhausen, Danish Golf Union Chief Executive (Image © Leaderboard Photography).last_img read more

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Thriving at Home: Aiding Your Post-Surgical Recovery

first_imgFacebook19Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Sarah Lane for FirstLight HomeCare Two years ago, my husband had surgery to repair an abdominal injury.  These days, most elective procedures, as well as many medically necessitated ones, are either done as out-patient procedures or patients are sent home after very short hospital stays.Following his surgery, there was no way my husband could take care of himself after returning home.  For nearly a week, he was confined to bed and needed assistance with all basic needs.  Preparing food, changing clothes, showering, physical therapy – he simply could not have done any of these activities on his own.Fortunately for us, I was able to take a few days off from my job to help assist his recovery.  Since we both grew up here in Olympia, we had many family members close by who were also willing and able to help.Caregivers can help with not only basic needs at home, but assist with transportation to and from rehabilitation and physical therapy appointments as well as performing exercises at home to gain strength.But many aren’t fortunate enough to have a strong support system nearby.  FirstLight often receives calls from frantic sons and daughters who live out of town, away from their aging parents who need emergency surgery or were hit with an unexpected illness.  Others are adults who live alone and are just returning home from surgery. They have become overwhelmed by all the responsibilities, are having a difficult time recovering, or realize they could use some help in order to recuperate more rapidly.That’s where home care can be a huge help.  FirstLight HomeCare’s experienced caregivers provide the personal care required to help you or your loved one recover quickly to the healthy and active lifestyle you enjoyed before surgery.  The assistance our caregivers provide also greatly reduces the risk of complications like infections or re-injury that require a return to the hospital.After Medically-Necessitated SurgeryWhenever surgery is performed, there are logistics in getting to and from the hospital, picking up prescriptions and transportation for post-operative visits. There is also the recovery time at home when you or your loved one shouldn’t be alone, shouldn’t lift or shouldn’t drive. Plus, don’t forget all the discharge instructions that must be followed meticulously to help speed recovery. The first 24 hours after the day of surgery can be critical, and our trained caregivers can provide the support you need to reduce your stress.For older adults recovering from a heart attack or stroke, recovery time may be more prolonged. The simple truth is that hospitals want to discharge patients as soon as possible, whether or not they are ready to go home, but our caregivers can be right there helping with daily needs. We can also keep family informed while coordinating the post-surgical care plan with doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists or other healthcare professionals involved.After Orthopedic SurgeryFirstLight HomeCare’s trained caregivers can help when you return home after surgery with limited mobility and needing assistance with even the smallest basic needs.As hip and knee replacements become more common, so too does the concern about sending patients home when they have limited mobility. Safety is a big issue with knee replacement post-operative care or hip replacement post-operative care. Our caregivers are experienced in helping people bathe and dress, grocery shop, prepare meals, do laundry and more. The goal of FirstLight HomeCare is to reduce stress and discomfort during a time that is already stressful and potentially painful.After Eye SurgeryWhether it’s LASIK, cataract or other eye surgery, patients need to relax afterwards with their eyes closed. They can’t read, drive or lift heavy objects anywhere from days to weeks. They need to follow a very strict regime with eye drops and eye medications to prevent infections and post-operative complications.  Our trusted caregivers can give you or your loved one the attention you need to help expedite your recovery with our cataract post-operative care program.Recovering from surgery or an illness is fraught with anxiety and challenges. At FirstLight HomeCare we’re here to make the recovery time as quick and painless as possible. We have extremely flexible home care plans that are hourly, short-term or long-term.Sarah LaneWe’re there for as little or as long as you or your loved one need us, because your health and well-being is most important.Sarah Lane is a certified Home Care Aide and owner of FirstLight HomeCare — South Sound.  To learn more about home care, respite care, dementia care, or any of the non-medical home care services offered by FirstLight HomeCare, give Sarah a call at 360-489-1621 or go to www.southsound.firstlighthomecare.com.last_img read more

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Westport Winery earns “Outstanding” rating on Message In A Bottle

first_imgFacebook11Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Westport WineryIn the summer issue of Wine Press Northwest, Westport Winery earned an “Outstanding” rating on Message In A Bottle, the latest vintage of their rosé of Sangiovese. This was the largest evaluation of Northwest blush wines in history with 122 entries. Of those, 30 were honored with an “Outstanding” defined by the magazine as having “superior characteristics and should be highly sought after.”Director of Winemaking, Dana Roberts, attributes much of this wine’s success to the grape grower, Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA outside of Wapato, Washington. Roberts said, “Working with Mike is a privilege. He’s a pioneer in the industry with such attention to detail that it makes my job a lot easier. The Grosso clone seems to be the perfect type of Sangiovese to create the ultimate Washington rosé.”The judges said, “Aromas of strawberry freezer jam and raspberry play out on the palate. There’s a drizzle of residual sugar on the entry, yet mouth-watering acidity akin to cranberry and blood orange makes for a zippy and delightful finish.”In 2016 Westport Winery was honored as one of the top twenty most-admired wineries in North America by Winery & Vineyard Management Magazine. It was named 2011 Washington Winery to Watch by Wine Press Northwest. They have been voted Best Winery by King 5 Evening Magazine six times. They were named the Best Washington Family Business Silver Medal winners in 2012, received the Grays Harbor Environmental Stewardship Award in 2015, and were name Best Winery, Best Wine Shop, and Best Boutique Winery for 2016 by South Sound Magazine.Family-friendly Westport Winery Garden Resort, is located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. The resort (including the restaurant, bakery, plant nursery and 15-acre display garden) is open daily or breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Westport Winery’s second store, TASTING @ Cannon Beach, is located at 255 N. Hemlock. The Oregon tasting room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information or reservations call 360-648-2224.Westport Winery Garden Resort1 South Arbor RoadAberdeen, WA  98520360-648-2224Westport Winery Tasting at Cannon Beach255 N. HemlockCannon Beach, OR 97110503-436-4411last_img read more

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