AFP AND ALTERNATIVE ASSETS: REGULATIONS IN CONSTANT EVOLUTION
Felipe Díaz Toro
On May 12, the Superintendency of Pensions reported that a series of changes to the regulatory framework of the Pension Funds will be implemented in order to expand alternative investments, give greater flexibility to these operations, standardize criteria between investments in Chile and abroad, and generate greater profits
These amendments have been implemented shortly after the Central Bank of Chile raised the limits on the proportion of assets under the management of the AFPs that could be invested in alternative assets.
Among the main amendments of this new regulation, we find the following:
- AFPs may indirectly support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through investment instruments such as invoices, promissory notes, residential mortgage loans, among other instruments. This financing to SMEs must be made through quotas of public investment funds governed by Law No. 20.712. This measure, in addition of generating a new investment alternative, will bring significant financial support to the cash flows of SMEs, which have been affected since the end of last year and face a deteriorated scenario as a result of the current health crisis.
- Authorization to a new investment abroad in gold representative securities. Said instrument is generally used as a refuge when the markets experience significant volatility in the fixed and variable income instruments.
- Exclusion of structural limit of variable income to foreign investments corresponding to the real estate and infrastructure sector, equating by this the treatment given to this type of investment at the national level.
- It is established that, if an asset has a percentage of state guarantee, such guaranteed part will not be counted in the limit of alternative assets, becoming part of the limit applicable to state instruments, in the corresponding guaranteed proportion. Example: If an asset is guaranteed 60% by the State of Chile, that 60% would be accounted for within the limit of investment in state instruments. Thus, only the remaining 40% would be accounted for in the alternative asset limit.
- The requirement for translations of the contracts sent to the Superintendency of Pensions associated to investments abroad is eliminated.
These measures are in line with the evolution of our regulations regarding alternative assets. These changes have allowed the AFPs to include in their portfolio a greater investment in this type of asset, which results in an improvement in said portfolios, both in diversification and profitability over a long-term investment horizon. The foregoing, with the ultimate aim of improving the pensions of its members.
However, there are still important challenges, the investment of our pension funds in alternative assets is still very low (less than 3%) in relation to the asset allocation of the main pension funds in the world in this type of assets (close to 15%). In addition, our current pension regulations allow contributors the possibility to switch very easily from one fund or one AFP to another, making it very difficult for the AFP investment portfolios to have a significant percentage of placement in instruments with little liquidity, and greater stability, such as alternative assets