Categories category names are subject to change


Please note that you do not prepare entries directly for the European Pension Fund of the Year (click here to view rules) or Outstanding Industry Contribution (if you wish to nominate for the Outstanding Industry Contribution, please click here)

European Pension Fund of the Year
Outstanding Industry Contribution
Pension Fund Leader/Team of the Year
Commitment to Diversity
Long-Term Investment Strategy

GUIDANCE Click category name to view guidance

Diversity and inclusion are increasingly topical and many pension funds are now developing policies and strategies to address diversity and inclusion both internally and externally. For this award, the judges would be keen to see evidence of at least one of the following:

  • commitment to improving diversity and inclusion within your own organisation
  • achievements in improving diversity and inclusion within pensions, asset management and financial services generally
  • accomplishments and commitment to diversity and inclusion within corporate governance
  • industry level contribution on any level in raising awareness of diversity and inclusion issues

Your entry should relate to at least one key diversity and inclusion area, including::

  • ethnicity
  • gender equality
  • age
  • sexual orientation
  • able-bodiedness

As this is a gold level award, the judges’ expectations are demanding. You should make full use of the entry form beginning with a high level summary of the fund’s history and overall objectives within the Overview & Investment Strategy area.
In addition, the entry should show:

  • a detailed explanation of your long-term investment objectives
  • a detailed account of your long-term strategy and asset allocation model

Particular detailed attention should be paid to:

  • clarifying your current strategy
  • how often your regular long-term reviews take place
  • integrating your long-term risk models, budgets and management
  • how successful it is
  • how it has changed over recent years with a minimum period of five years
  • your vision of the evolution of your investment strategy to meet your long-term objectives in your next review period of three to five years
  • your historical benchmarked results and detailed analysis of the outcomes of your strategy, supported by performance figures, to attain your pre-set targets
  • any long-term changes you have introduced if current performance deviates too far from your pre-set targets
  • any innovative concepts or models you have developed or are developing to meet your long-term objectives

This award builds on the former In-House Investment Team award and replaces the Pension Fund Achievement of the Year award and is now open to direct entries from individual pension fund leaders, such as Chief Executive or Chief Investment Officers, and/or whole teams, who have worked on an innovation to the benefit of the scheme in the past year or so. Your entry must therefore refer to a recent initiative or concept that was the subject of your focus in the review period.


Please note that you do not prepare entries directly for the Corporate Pension Fund, Multi-employer Pension Fund or Public Pension Fund (click here to view rules)

Corporate Pension Fund
Multi-employer/Professional Pension Fund
Public Pension Fund
Small Pension Fund (assets under management up to one billion euros)
Active Management
Passive Management

GUIDANCE Click category name to view guidance

For this silver level award, the judges are looking to see whether you run your own in-house active management, use external managers or a mix of both. Among the areas of interest to them are:

  • why you have chosen the active route
  • do you actively manage across asset classes, or just particular classes?
  • what are your return expectations on a risk adjusted or other basis?
  • your risk management and controls
  • any use of tactical overlays
  • benchmarked and/or absolute return strategies
  • the use of external managers and how you select them

For this silver level category, the judges would like to see how you approach your passively managed mandates and factor investing strategies to ensure the most efficient returns.

There are many innovative approaches to passive management that pension funds use. These could include:

  • enhanced index strategies
  • factor investing strategies
  • the factors you consider as a source of beta
  • how these sources interact and complement each other
  • mutual fund strategies
  • use of other derivatives such as futures
  • use of exchange traded funds
  • use of index funds
  • dynamic indexing strategies
  • enhanced portfolio construction

How you implement these could be part of your strategic asset allocation, the basis for tactical adjustments or form creative overlays. Your entry should outline your approach to these or any other innovative passive management and factor investing solutions that you have devised.

This silver award is for pension funds with maximum assets under management of one billion euros and seeks to demonstrate how small pension schemes devise innovative solutions to meet the challenges posed by their size and lack of resources that larger schemes may not encounter.

Most pension funds that enter this silver category use their country/regional draft for this award, although you can prepare a separate entry if you wish to, focusing on being a small fund with limited resources and how you manage both your investments and your members’ expectations. 


Fixed Income    

GUIDANCE Click category name to view guidance

The judges are keen to see evidence of a long-term approach to alternative investments and the role they play as part of your long-term objectives. This bronze award may cover a wide range of non-traditional assets, such as commodities and derivatives. Your focus may be on a carefully selected and balanced range of alternatives or just one key alternative, such as hedge funds or private equity. Either way, the entry should cover in detail:

  • ·the strategy and thinking behind using alternatives
  • ·the benefits of their risk return profiles
  • · their correlation with both traditional and other alternative classes
  • ·the contribution being made by each type of alternative you invest in
  • ·how the use of various alternatives or your overall alternatives portfolio impacts your traditional portfolios in terms of risk and return
  • ·how you calculate and manage the risk associated with the different alternative classes you invest in or target
  • how you select the different types of alternatives
  • ·how you construct and implement your alternatives mandates
  • ·whether you invest internally or externally
  • ·how you monitor performance and benchmark your alternatives

While pension funds’ involvement with this asset class varies considerably from country by country, there is usually some exposure to equities. For this bronze award, the judges will want to know in detail:

  • the reasons you include equities in the long-term and size of your fund’s commitment
  • the different mandates you construct based on geography, style and / or sector and their risk return profile
  • how you manage short-term volatility and market downturns
  • how you harvest short-term equity premium
  • your wider equities risk management process and analysis models
  • whether you invest internally or externally or a mix of both
  • whether you manage your equities actively or passively
  • any innovative concepts you have developed or are developing to ensure equities benefit your scheme

The bedrock of pension fund investment with more opportunities than ever for obtaining exposure, the judges reviewing this bronze level award are generally impressed by entries that demonstrate:

  • the reasons you include fixed income in the long-term and size of your fund’s commitment
  • successful use of traditional instruments
  • successful use of newer fixed income products
  • the different mandates you construct based on geography, style, product and / or sector and their risk return profile
  • innovative concepts to deal with low and negative interest rates
  • the role fixed income plays and how you integrate it into liability matching, hedging strategies and indexation solutions
  • whether you invest internally or externally or a mix of both
  • whether you adapt any active management to your fixed income

Practical issues, including success stories running fixed income portfolios can serve as useful case studies to strengthen entries.


Central & Eastern Europe
Small Countries (population up to one million)
United Kingdom


For your country or regional award, you should present a general, detailed overview of your recent activity in the past 12-15 months, focusing on any areas where you believe you have displayed excellence and / or innovation.
If your recent activity relates to a specific area that could also feature as a themed award, then please go ahead and base your country or regional award on that topic but make it clear to the judges that this constitutes your main area of activity in the period under review. For instance, if you undertook a large scale review of your risk management, you may want to consider opening the main text part of your country or regional award with a phrase such as: "Risk was the main area of concern for us the past year.
Or if, for example, you implemented a new emerging market programme, you could open your main text with a sentence such as: "Integrating emerging markets into our investment strategy was the focus of our attention most recently." This would help the judges understand why your country or regional entry is devoted to a particular theme, innovation or development.


Carbon and Net Zero Strategies (formerly Climate Related Risk Management)
Credit & Alternatives
DC & Hybrid Strategies
Emerging Markets
Impact Investing
Investment Innovation
Pensions Governance & Administration
Portfolio Construction & Diversification
Private Markets (formerly Real Assets & Infrastructure)
Real Estate
Risk Management
Technology NEW

GUIDANCE Click category name to view guidance

This is a highly specialised category that relates to your targets to become net zero and the opportunities as well as risk that enhanced carbon reduction strategies present as part of your long-term overall strategy and objectives. Detailed accounts of one or more of the following are key to a strong entry: 

  • how you have integrated net zero targets and climate change into your statement of investment principles and / or other main documents of association
  • how you implement and integrate practically your climate-related risk management and carbon reduction across the different asset classes you invest in
  • niche sectors such as renewable energy sources and bio-mass technology as potential investments
  • how you have adapted your active engagement policy accordingly
  • how you include climate-related risk factors and net zero strategies in your research, analyses and manager searches
  • any bespoke mandates you have innovatively created
  • how you use innovative investment products and processes to off-set or hedge the carbon risk in your portfolio
  • how you engage and interact with peers, regulators, governments and consultants with respect to reducing and managing your carbon footprint and incorporating your net zero ambitions
  • how you monitor and report on your climate-related risk management and investments and your net zero targets

With low correlation with other asset classes and low volatility, commodities can offer long-term stable returns to pension funds seeking to diversify their investment strategies. But investing in commodities does not come risk-free and is dependent on supply and demand ensuring values remain stable or high. For this award, your entry should ideally cover: 

  • the benefits of investing in commodities
  • how you conceived your commodities strategy
  • the objectives and risk return profile of your approach
  • the size and reach of your commodities mandates
  • which commodities sectors you invest in and why
  • how you gain exposure to the commodities markets
  • how your commodities strategy complements and supports your overall investment strategy and long-term objectives
  • how you manage and monitor the risk associated with commodities investing

Seeking alternative sources of yield and returns is increasingly crucial for pension funds and traditional fixed income instruments are suffering from the persistent low interest rate environment. Many pension funds are now exploring different types of credit, financing and debt to diversify out of low-yielding bonds while maintaining consistent and stable yields and returns. In addition to explaining how new types of credit will complement your existing investments and how they will impact on your risk, types of new credit alternatives the judges will look for in your entry include: 

  • absolute return bond strategies
  • multi-sector fixed income
  • multi-asset credit strategies or ‘macs’
  • private placement
  • emerging markets corporates
  • bank loans
  • smart beta fixed income
  • liquid alternatives
  • infrastructure debt
  • high-yield
  • credit arbitrage
  • insurance-linked securities such as catastrophe bonds
  • preferred securities
  • leasing
  • senior loans

For this award, the judges would like to see entries that describes how your defined contribution or hybrid model is structured and show how it seeks to innovatively:

  • meet your members’ return and pension income expectations
  • structure the plan in terms of governance and risk sharing between sponsor and member
  • manage contributions and costs
  • offer the best investment choices

Full details about any guaranteed income element you offer would also strengthen your case, especially for hybrid schemes.

This category is aimed at attracting entries from pension funds or equivalent institutions of any level of experience in investing in emerging markets. In addition to describing your strategy, expectations and implementation, entries should cover:

  • any innovative steps taken to enhance the benefits of investing in emerging markets
  • the risk controls you have in place across the wide range of emerging market exposures
  • the countries and regions you invest in and why you choose these areas
  • distinct management tools for any associated risks such as currency management and political stability

Lessons learned that have affected your approach and process can also be a valuable part of submissions.

The judges would like to see clear evidence of a carefully conceived and implemented innovative socially responsible investing and environmentally protective policy across the various asset classes you invest in. Where possible please include detailed examples of:

  • voting and engagement policies
  • exclusions and exclusions policies
  • carbon-footprint management
  • monitoring and/or a proactive approach to ensuring your scheme supports a streamlined and inclusive governance framework
  • how you measure success and benchmark your ESG performance
  • how the principles of sustainable investing complement your overall objectives

Other factors to consider include declaring any codes of practice you are signed up to and follow.

The concept of ESG integration is now well established among pension funds, which practice this to different degrees and in different ways. The notion of impact investing takes this one step further and allows institutional investors to directly consider how their long-term investments can influence and sustain society, the environment and economies. Frameworks such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can guide investors looking to shape impact-oriented investments and portfolios. For this award, the judges would ideally like to see:

  • the range and scope of your impact investing strategy
  • the principles driving your impact investing approach and your objectives
  • how your impact investing differs from but complements your ESG policy and practice
  • evidence of integrating frameworks such as the SDGs
  • your achievements thus far
  • your risk management with respect to impact investing

This award allows you to showcase the creativity and industry-leading concepts that you devise in implementing your investments to maximise your returns and support your long-term investment objectives. Entries should highlight in detailed fashion as clearly as possible:

  • the real innovation involved
  • the context in which it was developed and the resulting benefits
  • how the concept is implemented practically

In addition, entrants should cover how and why they believe their innovation will potentially benefit their European pension fund peers.

As pension funds continue to streamline their internal processes to ensure they draft an optimum investment strategy and administrative structure, good governance practices have become an essential aspect of running a pension scheme. Adopting and adapting good governance is also increasingly important as companies adopt defined contribution arrangements in place of or to complement defined benefit plans.

Governance is the thread that unites and oversees the various internal frameworks and mechanisms that are designed to: 
  • enhance investment performance
  • support robust risk management
  • protect the security of member benefits 
  • promote transparency
  • manage relationships with external advisers and other providers
To achieve these objectives, among the essential practices comprising a robust governance model, the judges would be keen to see how you have structured the following elements and how they interact successfully:
  • governing bodies
  • committees
  • fiduciary oversight
  • investment teams
  • management processes
  • communication
  • reporting and disclosure
  • compliance
  • accountability
  • administration

This is one area where pension funds have developed innovative and varied approaches to structuring portfolios and diversifying to meet their needs. A strong entry in this category should outline your overall long-term objectives, level of diversification within and between assets classes and then look at how your portfolio is built, using examples where possible, covering:

  • the asset allocation strategy being implemented
  • the constraints imposed
  • the risk budgeting and control aspects
  • use of any overlays and tactical management
  • clear evidence of a diversified investment strategy
  • regions, sectors and/or investment style
  • use of benchmarks

Please also demonstrate how you implement this strategy to ensure an appropriate level of diversification through structured mandates that respond cyclically while benefiting your strategy in the long-term within a clear risk framework. You should then endeavour to describe how all these aspects combine to successfully meet the desired outcome. For this, you should consider:

  • how robust the assumptions you used were in practice
  • ·how the portfolio you put in place has had to change over time
  • the success of the fully constructed portfolio at overall fund level

Investing in Private Markets, especially private equity, private debt and real assets and infrastructure, has become an increasingly popular source of return for pension funds in recent years. Niche real asset classes such as timberland, forestry, agriculture, mobile transmission masts and utility transmission lines are also regarded as having a special place in long-term portfolios alongside traditional real estate investments. Thanks to their distinctive and long-term nature, the overall impact private markets and infrastructure can have in liability matching is significant

Judges would thus be keen to assess:

  • the types and sectors of private markets that you prefer
  • why you invest in private markets, infrastructure and/or other real assets and how they complement your other asset classes in your overall portfolio
  • how they support your long-term objectives
  • the reasons for the level of your commitment any restrictions either at institutional or regulatory level
  • examples of your investments, especially recent deals and activity
  • your vision for their future role such as increasing your commitments
  • the costs of investing and running private market mandates
  • your mandates and types of vehicles used to obtain exposure
  • the risks private markets investments incur and how you manage them

Always a core component of pensions’ portfolios, investing in rea estate now offers a range of opportunities. So, in addition to explaining the role real estate plays in your overall long-term investment strategy, entries could also show:

  • how the real estate portfolio is constructed using different strategies and / or styles
  • the current and maximum weighting and when you expect to reach this
  • how you implement these in line with your risk return expectations and limits
  • whether you invest internally, externally or a mix of both
  • how and why you choose your external managers
  • how you gain access to various different markets geographically and sectors
  • how you balance direct and indirect portfolios

This award applies to a wide range of pension fund activities and invites entrants to outline their approach to the often complex and technical issues in this field, by giving clear and as simple as possible explanations of their risk management strategies and policies, in whatever area, and show how these are key to success in the long-term. Points to consider that you could and should expand upon in detail in your entry:

  • any novel approaches you have conceived in risk management
  • who decides your risk budgets and how these are calculated
  • how you implement your risk budgets in practice
  • the use of stress-testing
  • your approach to managing volatility in different asset classes
  • any risk trigger processes you use
  • practical solutions using overlays and other hedging techniques

Digital systems, artificial intelligence and use of the internet are increasingly influential in a pension fund’s investments, governance structures and general operations. This new category is designed to allow you to highlight how you integrate and benefit from technological developments, either at organisation or industry level. Your entry would benefit from including and explaining:

  • the rationale behind integrating various technological innovations
  • the type of technology and scope of the integration
  • which parts of your organisation and/or investment strategy the technology is applied to
  • the key benefits of any technological integration
  • the risks associated with integrating technology
  • how any technological integrations and developments are managed

For further guidance or information, please contact:

Alice O'Brien | Awards & Events Manager
+44 (0)7828 157336

Robert Melia Watson | Head of Events
+44 (0)20 3465 9327