Finnish Network Partner Ilmarinen has won the Best European Pension Fund 2006 award in a competition organized by Investment & Pensions Europe (IPE). Ilmarinen also scored top marks in three other European sub-categories: Best Industry-Wide Pension Fund, Commodities Investment, and Portfolio Construction/Management.
IPE presents awards every year to European pension investors. In 2006, prizes were awarded for the sixth time, and the event attracted around 400 pension funds and investors from 30 countries.

Addressing the award gala held in Paris at the end of November, IPE’s editor Fennell Bentson noted: “Whichever way you look at it, given the number of areas where Ilmarinen displays leadership and innovation, it could have entered many other categories and walked away with more than ‘just’ four IPE Awards.”

Victory for the whole investment team
Jussi Laitinen, Ilmarinen’s Chief Investment Officer, joked that one reason Ilmarinen received the prize was because the jury wanted to reward the company for its tenacity. Ilmarinen has been an entrant for many years and had already secured several smaller prizes before finally snatching the top award.

On a more serious note, he added: “Ilmarinen’s Board of Directors approves the annual investment plan, on which investment decisions are based. The investment division’s staff of about 60 employees are responsible for day-to-day investment activities. When preparing the plan, we consider both our long-term investment strategy and the never-ending competition with other pension insurance companies.”

Jussi Laitinen lavishes praise on all the members of his team: “In my view, the team has two major strengths: strong and experienced directors for asset classes, and young challengers who have a lot of theoretical competence.”

A good reputation spreads far and wide
Jussi Laitinen describes the importance of the prize for Ilmarinen: “We hope the award will show our customers that the people managing their pension assets are top-class professionals, whose aim is to achieve maximum yields. These awards also show that our investment people are on a par with Europe’s best investors.”

It is a well-known fact that a good reputation spreads far and wide. Positive publicity is one of the benefits brought by success. According to Jussi Laitinen, positive publicity will also prompt service providers to come to Ilmarinen with their best ideas: “This means that we will be among the first allowed to make comparisons between them, which will enable us to pick those that are best.”

Ilmarinen will not rest on its laurels
How will the investment team continue from here? Jussi Laitinen has a word of caution: “The IPE award is a momentary thing, and it rewards those who are in a strong growth phase. Thus, it is not an entirely objective indicator of the actual situation. After all, there are many pension investors in Europe that are extremely capable and bigger than us. So we really cannot just take it easy.”

“Taking part in the competition adds spice to what we do, but the fact remains that we don’t live on prizes alone. Our business is about beating domestic competitors year in year out. That is our main job, and the most important one.”

Facts about Ilmarinen’s investments
Ilmarinen seeks to gain the best possible return on assets funded for the payment of future pensions. Profitable investment activities also help to contain the pressures to raise pension contributions.

Investment yields are partially returned to clients. Successful investments have enabled Ilmarinen to give its clients highly competitive reductions to their pension contributions.