Category: nhcvfdna

Nearly $37K raised for Haiti

first_imgThe vibrant, dynamic performances at the Harvard for Haiti concert on Feb. 12 made for a stark contrast with the reality of the Jan. 12 earthquake disaster in Haiti. But Harvard College students raised almost $37,000 at their sold-out benefit show at Sanders Theatre.The production was wholly underwritten by Harvard University, meaning all of the money raised will go to Partners In Health, a Harvard-affiliated nongovernmental organization that has been working in Haiti for more than 20 years.The concert, produced and performed by the students, featured performances that were varied in style but uniformly moving. Violinist Ryu Goto ’10 played with such passion that he frayed his bow.The Pan-African Dance and Music Ensemble got the audience moving and clapping along in their seats during a performance of “Drum Call.” Following a reflection by Harvard College Dean Evelynn Hammonds, the Kuumba Singers ended the evening with modern and traditional gospel songs about community and resilience.Sanders was filled to the rafters, as President Drew Faust noted in her welcoming remarks.  But the audience extended far beyond the theater, as almost 3,500 watched live via Webcast.  The online audience donated to the cause via the Harvard for Haiti Web site.After the concert, the Student Alliance for Global Health hosted a reception at the Queen’s Head Pub in Harvard Yard to help concertgoers learn more about the health implications of the disaster and what else they can do get involved. HHI, iPhone connection Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, addressed the audience … also mentioning a special iPhone app that was used in the rescue effort. Magic in motion The Caribbean Club Dance Team performs “Simplement Danse,” choreographed by Akilah Crichlow ’10. Photos by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer Classic moment The Harvard for Haiti Benefit Concert at Sanders Theatre included student performers from across campus. Ryu Goto ’11 performs Paganiniana Variations for Solo Violin. Harvard for Haiti Benefit Concertcenter_img Moore’s dance Merritt Moore ’10 performs a dance titled “A Day Without Rain” to the capacity crowd at Sanders Theatre. Piano man Charlie Albright ’11 performs two pieces during the benefit concert. Kuumba contribution The Harvard for Haiti Benefit Concert at Sanders Theatre included the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College. The University has established a relief fund for Harvard faculty and staff directly affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Donations can be made online, in person, or by mail through the Harvard Credit Union.last_img read more

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Notre Dame disallows large bags in stadium

first_imgIn time for the football season opener tomorrow, the University updated its policy on bags in Notre Dame Stadium, director of Game Day Operations Michael Seamon said. The new policy states large bags, including backpacks, duffels and tote bags, are not allowed in the stadium, Seamon said.  “Any smaller purses or bags that are brought will be inspected at the entrance to the stadium, just as they have always been,” Seamon said.  Seamon said a review of the bag policy was planned after the conclusion of last football season. “Then Boston happened,” he said, referencing the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, when bombs were hidden in backpacks.  Seamon said Game Day Operations consulted with peer institutions and the National Football League, which updated its own bag policy for the 2013 football season, when creating Notre Dame’s new policy.  “The new policy was announced at the end of July, and we’ve sent notices to all ticketholders,” he said.  Seamon said the new policy has been well received.  “We’ve seen an increase in security across the country,” he said. “People realize we are doing this for your safety.” Fans who visit the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore before the game can carry their purchases into the stadium in the bookstore’s clear plastic bags, Seamon said.  Phil Johnson, director of Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP), said NDSP encourages all students and fans to help maintain a safe game day environment.  “If you see something suspicious, say something,” Johnson said. “We rely on fans to look out for each other, and that really distinguishes the Notre Dame community.”  Johnson said NDSP coordinates with local and state police to ensure the safety of people on campus during game days.  “We have a robust security plan,” he said. “We want to implement it without detracting from the fan experience.” Because of the extreme heat expected for this Saturday, Seamon said Game Day Operations encourages fans to stay hydrated and cool.  “We will have a misting station outside of Gate A, similar to what you’d find at a marathon,” he said.  Additionally, Seamon said there is an evacuation plan in place in the event of inclement weather.  “People will be asked to go into concourses or in buildings surrounding the stadium,” Seamon said. “We will use the intercom system to communicate to fans the time the game will resume.”  Contact Catherine Owers at [email protected]last_img read more

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Direct marketing still works in an electronic world

first_imgThere’s no denying that the world has dramatically shifted toward electronic communication, so many people wonder if direct marketing still works.The answer is a resounding yes, mainly because direct mail has an 80 percent-plus open rate!Google, the world’s most popular search engine, regularly uses snail mail marketing to promote coupons for its AdWords programs and other services. Credit unions are also finding that direct snail mail marketing is helping them grow their loan portfolios, including mortgages and home equity loans, as the real estate market continues to gain positive traction.While the huge demand for email marketing services continues, credit unions have seen success from direct marketing mailers, postcards and letters. Credit unions have felt a resurgence of sorts in their return on investment (ROI) when it comes to direct mail marketing.Direct mail response rates took a tremendous leap in 2016 with a 5.3 percent response rate to house lists and 2.9 percent to prospect lists. These are the highest levels the DMA has tracked since 2003. For comparison, in 2015 the rates were 3.7 percent and 1.0 percent respectively. In 2010 it was 3.4 percent and 1.4 percent.“Some people say that direct mail is dead or it doesn’t work, but we’ve seen just the opposite,” said Jackson Hunt, Vice President of Marketing at Ser Technology. “When you customize the direct marketing pieces, members feel they are part of the credit union. We have seen personalization outpace standard direct marketing pieces without any personalization. There’s plenty of research out there on the effectiveness of this.”One advantage of direct mail campaigns is that they can be far more cost-effective than mass marketing initiatives for small and midsize credit unions, allowing them to cross-sell, deepen relationships with members, loan growth and member retention. Almost any type of marketing campaign has two interrelated objectives — produce accounts and balances, and have a positive impact of underlying customer relationship. The credit unions that do manage to track campaigns focus almost exclusively on counting accounts and balances in promoted products. However, without the broader relationship component, they may be missing a material portion of the profit generated by a campaignAccording to the Direct Marketing Association, Industries with the highest use of direct mail are Financial Services — Banks or credit unions at 71 percent, Consumer Packaged Goods at 63 percent, Retail at 55 percent, Travel or Hospitality at 55 percent, and Publishing or Media at 54 percent. Furthermore, 48 percent of people prefer direct mail for receiving marketing from credit unions, and it’s not just the mid-life members who want the information sent to their actual mailbox. A study fielded by Experian shows that nearly every Millennial (ages18-35) owns a smartphone, and 43 percent say that they now access the internet more through their phone than a computer, compared with just 20 percent of adults ages 35 and older. However, despite their hyper-wired digital connectedness, Millennials as a group report that the last time they responded to direct mail campaign was within 2.4 months. That’s less than the average response time for all respondents. Similarly, Millennials open the direct mail they receive at the same high rate of 66 percent as recipients overall. To be successful, your direct marketing campaign should enable a high degree of variability to service end consumer recipients with information that is highly relevant and personalized to their needs, ultimately leading to an improved customer experience. “Direct marketing is an incredible tool that can add tremendously to the advertising plans of most Credit Unions,” Hunt explained. “Today’s world may be more digital than ever, but consumers still very much appreciate having tangible products in their hands.” 415SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Shana Richardson Shana Richardson began her career in financial technology with the Texas Credit Union League. Here, she managed the turnkey, pre-screen Auto Loan Recapture™ program, and later assumed broader responsibilities as … Web: www.sertech.com Details Co-authored by; Candice Reed a award-winning journalist, author, and PR consultant. She has written for the Credit Union Times, Credit Union Journal and many more publications.last_img read more

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Activists Pursue Private Abortion Details Using Public Records Laws

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Charles Ornstein, ProPublicaThis story was co-published with the Washington Post.A few years back, Jonathan Bloedow filed a series of requests under Washington state’s Public Records Act asking for details on pregnancies terminated at abortion clinics around the state.For every abortion, he wanted information on the woman’s age and race, where she lived, how long she had been pregnant and how past pregnancies had ended. He also wanted to know about any complications, but he didn’t ask for names. This is all information that Washington’s health department, as those in other states, collects to track vital statistics.What has been your experience with patient privacy? Do you think your medical information was shared by your doctor or health-care provider? Do you think it was involved in a breach? Tell us your story.Bloedow, 43, isn’t a public health researcher, a traditional journalist or a clinic owner. He’s an anti-abortion activist who had previously sued Planned Parenthood, accusing the group of overcharging the government for contraception.“There are stories in the data that bring home the reality of what these people do,” Bloedow, a software engineer, said in an email. “Any good investigator knows that when you’re dealing with hard-core criminals, if you ‘keep crawling through their garbage’ some evidence of criminality and corruption will turn up.”The health department had already given him data for one provider, he said, and was on the verge of turning over more information when Planned Parenthood and other clinics sued, arguing that releasing the records would violate health department rules and privacy laws.The legal skirmish, and others like it nationwide, reveal a quiet evolution in the nation’s abortion battle. Increasingly, abortion opponents are pursuing personal and medical information on women undergoing abortions and the doctors who perform them. They often file complaints with authorities based on what they learn.Abortion opponents insist their tactics are generally not aimed at identifying women who have abortions but to uncover incidents involving patients who may have been harmed by poor care or underage girls who may have been sexually abused. They say they are trying to prevent situations such as the one involving Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in 2013 of murdering three babies after botched abortions and of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a woman.“This is about saving the lives of women,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which is based in Wichita, Kansas. “A lot of people don’t understand that. It’s a systemic problem within the abortion industry today for abortion providers to cut corners on patient care.”But those who support abortion rights say the ultimate aim of these activists is to reduce abortions by intimidating women and their doctors — using the loss of privacy as a weapon. They say their opponents are amassing a wealth of details that could be used to identify patients — turning women, and their doctors, into pariahs or even targets. In a New Mexico case, a woman’s initials and where she lived became public as part of an investigation triggered by a complaint from activists.“I don’t think there’s any margin for error here,” said Laura Einstein, chief legal counsel of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, which challenged Bloedow’s request. “These women came to a private health center to have a private health procedure, and that’s just not anybody’s business.”In recent years, abortion opponents have become experts at accessing public records such as recordings of 911 calls, autopsy reports and documents from state health departments and medical boards, then publishing the information on their websites.Some activists have dug through clinics’ trash to find privacy violations by abortion providers — such as patient records tossed in dumpsters — and used them to file complaints with regulators.The fight has landed in courts nationwide as the two sides tussle over which information about abortions should be public and which should remain confidential under privacy laws.In St. Louis, for example, an Operation Rescue staff member is suing the city’s fire department for 911 call logs and recordings from a Planned Parenthood clinic. The city says releasing the requested information would violate a federal patient privacy law.In Louisiana, a critic of abortion sued the state last year to get data on abortions performed on minors, their ages and the ages of the listed biological fathers, as well as any complications that occurred. The state said the records were exempt from disclosure, and a judge agreed.In Bloedow’s case, a Washington court sided with the clinics and prohibited the release of the records he sought. In May, a state appeals court upheld that injunction.“The public has no legitimate interest in the health care or pregnancy history of any individual woman or where any particular abortion was performed,” the appeals court ruled.A Tussle Over PrivacyAt its core, the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade rested on the right to privacy. The court determined that this right — guaranteed under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment — extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion.With the 1996 passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, additional federal privacy protections took hold for patients.When Planned Parenthood officials were recently caught on video discussing the sale of donated fetal tissue, the organization invoked the potential violations of patient privacy to protest the surreptitious filming.Still, the extent of the privacy guaranteed to those who seek abortions has been tested repeatedly.In 2003, after Congress passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, abortion providers sued to challenge its constitutionality. The Justice Department, as part of its defense of the law, sought patient records from a Chicago hospital, where a doctor was one of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses.Though patients’ names would have been redacted, a federal appeals court denied the request, citing privacy concerns.“Imagine if nude pictures of a woman, uploaded to the Internet without her consent though without identifying her by name, were downloaded in a foreign country by people who will never meet her,” the court wrote. “She would still feel that her privacy had been invaded. The revelation of the intimate details contained in the record of a late-term abortion may inflict a similar wound.”Around the same time, at least two state attorneys general, both abortion opponents, pressed for similar patient records. The attorney general of Kansas succeeded in part, while his counterpart in Indiana failed.Digging For DirtMore recently, it has been activists like Sullenger and Bloedow seeking information about abortion providers and their patients.Coast to coast, they appear to be drawing from an unofficial playbook: Some wait outside clinics, tracking or taking photos of patients’ and staffers’ license plates and ambulances, if called.They not only mine public records but also collect information leaked by sympathetic health care workers — for example, emergency-room doctors and ambulance drivers — who are required to keep patient information confidential under HIPAA. The law, however, doesn’t apply to advocacy groups.Sullenger acknowledges receiving private patient information and said it helps to confirm when patients have suffered complications or died. In most cases, she said, the group does not name patients or publish photographs of them.(Sullenger served two years in federal prison for conspiring to bomb a California abortion clinic in the 1980s. Today, the Operation Rescue website says, she denounces violence.)The leaked information is used by activists to bolster complaints they submit to health agencies against abortion providers, sometimes without patients’ knowledge. Operation Rescue estimates that it has 100 complaints currently pending in different states.Sullenger said it shouldn’t be left solely to patients to bring such matters forward. “If someone else sees that there may be an issue, we have a public duty to report things like that.”Sometimes, complaints have brought violations to light.In Indiana, the group Right to Life obtained thousands of pregnancy termination reports from the state health department. The records are nearly identical to those requested by Bloedow in Washington, but Indiana granted the request, redacting only a few fields.After analyzing the data, the group filed a litany of complaints with the state, alleging that doctors were violating abortion record-keeping laws, including failure to report abortions involving minors in a timely manner. Four physicians now face disciplinary proceedings.Such cases can be pursued without violating the privacy of patients, said Cathie Humbarger, vice president of policy enforcement for Indiana Right to Life. “We’re not aware of one situation where someone identified a patient by looking at a termination of pregnancy report after it was released by the state,” Humbarger said in an email sent through a spokeswoman.One Indiana doctor, who has acknowledged making an “honest mistake” involving paperwork, faces a misdemeanor criminal charge.His attorneys have argued that he did not knowingly violate the law and unsuccessfully sought to have the medical board case dismissed before a hearing.But there have been other instances in which anti-abortion groups have filed unfounded complaints, said Janet Crepps, a senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights. The resulting investigations caused additional details about the patients to be made public, she said.Operation Rescue and another group filed complaints with New Mexico’s medical board against a doctor who works at an Albuquerque clinic after a patient experienced a complication and was taken to a hospital, and they obtained a recording of the 911 call.Though the board ultimately exonerated the doctor, many details about the patient — her age and her mental state, in addition to her initials and where she lived — came out in a transcript of a hearing.“The woman clearly did not want her privacy violated,” said Vicki Saporta, chief executive of the National Abortion Federation, a professional association for abortion providers. “She didn’t want to talk to anybody.”After a Death, All Bets Are OffAnti-abortion groups typically tread carefully when it comes to living patients.Operation Rescue’s website in March published a photograph of a woman being wheeled out of a St. Louis clinic on a stretcher but put a black bar over her eyes to obscure her identity.When a patient dies, however, it can be a different story.In 2013, a different abortion opponent wrote on her blog that an “impeccable informant” told her the identity of a kindergarten teacher who had died after a late-term abortion at a clinic in Germantown, Maryland. Groups including Operation Rescue quickly got the word out, using the woman’s name and photos from social-media sites.The doctor who performed the abortion, LeRoy Carhart, has been a target for protesters because he does late-term abortions that most other practitioners won’t. Though abortion opponents blame him for the woman’s death, the Maryland medical board found no deficiencies in his care for her.Saporta said the woman’s family did not authorize the release of her identity.Sullenger said she sympathized with the family’s loss but not its demand for privacy. “Look, once a person dies, they don’t have any privacy anymore,” she said. “I think they should have been more concerned about it happening to another person.”Contacted recently, the woman’s mother declined to comment.‘All They Cared About Was Judging Me’For some patients, the grief they already feel with the end of a pregnancy is compounded by the loss of privacy.Alicia, who spoke on the condition that only her first name be used, had an abortion in November 2013 after her OB/GYN told her and her husband that the fetus had a severe form of spina bifida, a debilitating birth defect.During the procedure, she began bleeding heavily from a tear in her uterus. The clinic, located in Bellevue, south of Omaha, summoned an ambulance, which took Alicia to the hospital.Someone protesting outside the clinic took a photo of the ambulance, and Operation Rescue’s website reported the incident, though it did not know Alicia’s identity.Within weeks, the Nebraska health department subpoenaed Alicia’s records from the clinic. Alicia had not complained, but the agency had received a tip, she later learned.“All this happened because I was in the clinic having a legal abortion,” she said. “All they cared about was judging me … and building evidence for their case.”Alicia said while the complication was scary at the time, it had been explained to her in advance as a possibility. She said she didn’t blame her doctor, Carhart, who practices in Nebraska as well as in Maryland.In an interview, Carhart said that several of his patients have had their privacy violated.After subpoenaing Alicia’s records, Nebraska’s health department disciplined a nurse at Carhart’s clinic for a pattern of negligence and unprofessional conduct involving a dozen patients, including Alicia.Alicia said she asked state officials to identify who had filed the complaint that provided her name to state officials. To her amazement, she was told that information was confidential.Marla Augustine, a health department spokeswoman, said in an email that patients are not notified if their records are examined “to protect the process from being contaminated.” For instance, a patient so notified could tip off a health provider about the existence of an investigation. That said, Augustine added: “The confidentiality of a patient’s medical records is very important to us, and a paramount consideration.”Her explanation provides little comfort to Alicia.“I don’t understand why whoever did this gets to be anonymous while I was the one who was supposed to not have my information leaked,” she said. “Why does that person get more rights than me?”Has your medical privacy been compromised? Help ProPublica investigate by filling out a short questionnaire. You can also read other stories in our Policing Patient Privacy series.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.last_img read more

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Police name three suspects for alleged trafficking of Indonesian sailors

first_imgThe police have announced three suspects for human trafficking aboard Chinese fishing ship Long Xing 629. The case gained attention in Indonesia after the deaths of four Indonesian crew members.The three suspects are from manning agencies in Indonesia. They are identified as W from PT APJ in Bekasi, West Java, F from PT LPB in Tegal, Central Java, and J from PT SMG in Pemalang, Central Java.“The National Police’s human trafficking task force has conducted a preliminary hearing and has concluded that the three are suspects of human trafficking with the purpose of exploitation. The modus operandi is promising salary and work placement but with unclear working hours,” said National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) chief, Gen. Comr. Listyo Sigit Prabowo, in a statement on Sunday. The case is now being investigated further. The police are questioning witnesses, including the immigration officials who issued the crew members’ passports.Earlier this month, a video aired by South Korea’s Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) showed a group of men throwing an orange body bag, which was believed to contain the dead body of an Indonesian crew member, off a fishing vessel.Read also: Parents of deceased Indonesian sailor demands justiceMBC reported that four Indonesian sailors registered to Long Xing 629 had died after reportedly enduring poor working conditions. Two unidentified Indonesian sailors told MBC that crew members were only allowed to take short breaks every six hours, had almost no time to sleep and were made to drink filtered seawater. The Indonesian government has officially asked the United Nations Human Rights Council to address human rights violations in the fishing industry. (asp)Topics : Last week, the police questioned 14 crew members who had survived and had returned to Indonesia.Read also: Indonesia reports alleged abuse in fishing industry to UN Human Rights Council“We found the evidence from the 14 crewmen’s testimonies and other related documents,” said Bareskrim’s general crime subdirectorate head (III), Comr. John W Hutagalung, as quoted by kompas.com on Thursday.“There is an allegation of human trafficking through sending the victims to work with the purpose of exploitation,” said John.last_img read more

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Govt to give social aid to preemployment card beneficiaries while training courses are evaluated

first_imgThe government will temporarily turn its preemployment card program, which included a mix of social assistance and up-skilling for laid off workers affected by the epidemic, into a full-fledged financial aid program following the suspension of course sales offered by partnered learning platforms.Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah said on Wednesday that of the 680,000 registered preemployment card program participants, only 140,000 had completed their digital training. The remaining 500,000, she said, would be enrolled in the social assistance program under the Social Affairs Ministry instead.”As the preemployment card program has been temporarily stopped and among the participants are those who had lost their income, we’ve submitted their data to the Social Affairs Ministry to so they can obtain social assistance while we evaluate the preemployment card program,” she said in a hearing with House of Representatives Commission IX overseeing labor affairs. Read also: ICW reports preemployment program to Indonesian Ombudsman for alleged maladministrationIda said that up to 1.7 million people had been laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 outbreak  and that the government had prioritized them as preemployment card beneficiaries.She said the government’s number was different from that of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), which recorded 6.4 million workers laid off or furloughed amid the epidemic.The preemployment card committee suspended the program after discovering that the bundles offered by the program’s partners, such as Skill Academy by Ruangguru, MauBelajarApa, Pintaria, Sekolahmu and Pijar Mahir had no mechanism to ensure that buyers actually completed the course package before they received cash incentives.The Corruption Eradication Commission recently found several irregularities in the program, including the potential for conflict of interest and the availability of some of the courses for free on other platforms.Experts criticized the program, say it needed to be converted to full-fledged cash aid that would be more useful for laid off and furloughed workers.Topics :last_img read more

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Quattro apartments taking advantage of solid growth in Indooroopilly

first_imgQuattro at IndooroopillyBroad Property Research and Advisory director Paul Broad said Quattro Apartrments were priced exceptionally competitively from $542,500, with an average price per square metre of just $5337 compared to the inner Brisbane average of around $7000 per square metre.“The apartments proposed for Quattro are much larger than typically found in projects that will have strong appeal to the investor market,” Mr Broad said.“In addition, their size, design features, inclusions and convenient location will be very attractive to intending owner-occupiers, particularly downsizers.” Quattro at IndooroopillyMr Gray said the development was only 300m from Indooroopilly shopping centre but was in a really quite cul-de-sac giving the best of both worlds.“These apartments are also bigger than the average, a lot of developers haven’t been doing that over the last few years with most apartments 70sq m internally or less, but these are all 95sq m and above with a 20sq m balcony or courtyard and a high level of finish,” he said.Set over five levels, all three-bedroom apartments have two car parks each and Mr Gray said the body corporate fees were quite low with two-bedroom apartments at under $40 per week and three-bedroom under $60 per week. Quattro at IndooroopillyMore from newsMould, age, not enough to stop 17 bidders fighting for this home1 hour agoBuyers ‘crazy’ not to take govt freebies, says 28-yr-old investor1 hour agoIndooroopilly is a solid suburb to buy in with Mr Broad saying over the last three years the median sale price of apartments in Indooroopilly had increased by an average of 6 per cent per annum.“This is one of the highest growth rates of any of Brisbane’s western suburbs,” he said.PRD Nationwide Project Marketing director Adam Gray said Quattro was built for the owner-occupier and the three courtyard apartments were likely to attract a lot of attention.“Indooroopilly is a blue ribbon suburb, so I’m expecting the bigger two and three-bedroom apartments will appeal to the empty nesters and I think the balance of the property will probably go towards first-home buyers,” Mr Gray said. Quattro at Indooroopilly has officially launched to market offering 17 luxurious two and three-bedroom apartments with rooftop recreation facilities.PERFECT for the empty nester or first-home buyer these 17 ultra-modern apartments are offering a quiet, maintenance free lifestyle within walking distance to a popular retail hub.MacCorp Developers have just released Quattro to the market, just 7km from the Brisbane CBD, 300m from Indooroopilly shopping centre and close to the University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus. Quattro at IndooroopillyMr Gray said he was most impressed with the high quality level of finish on offer with Miele kitchen appliances, stone benchtops and splashbacks, Herringbone feature tiles in the bathrooms, track lighting and 2.6m high ceilings.The rooftop terrace will provide a haven for its residents, offering city views from the elevated timber deck, an open fire pit, grass area and barbecue facilities.last_img read more

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UK watchdog to force transaction costs disclosure for DC schemes

first_imgIt also follows the FCA’s Asset Management Market Study, which introduced a requirement for governance committees to assess value for money from DC providers.In today’s policy statement, the UK regulator said asset managers, investment banks and custodians would all be required to provide information to independent governance committees when asked. However, it emphasised that the onus was still on trustees and governance committees to request the data as part of their assessment of a provider’s value for money.The FCA said it would introduce a “slippage cost” method for calculating transaction costs – the same technique used in PRIIPs and MiFID II. In its industry consultation the FCA’s proposal proved divisive, with some respondents arguing for a calculation based on the trading spread of a fund’s units, but the FCA opted to stick with its original plan.The regulator said: “The slippage cost methodology calculates transaction costs as the difference between the price at which a transaction was executed, and the price when the order to transact was transmitted to a third-party… It identifies the loss of value, from the consumer’s perspective, that happens when a transaction takes place. It includes a comprehensive measure of implicit costs. This means that it provides an overall picture of the costs incurred and reduces the risk that some costs remain hidden.”The FCA added that the reporting of actual costs, rather than estimated costs, “should enable governance bodies to understand the costs that have been incurred in their scheme and should incentivise asset managers to transact more efficiently”.The regulator rejected the spread-based proposal, saying there was no standardised way of calculating such data.“If spread were used to estimate implicit transaction costs, there is a risk of creating incentives for the fund manager to change their judgements about what the fund spread should be,” the FCA said.The FCA’s paper also set out a number of rules regarding the calculation of costs in specific asset classes, such as bonds and property.Respondents to the FCA’s consultation in October last year said the industry would have to carry out “significant work” in order to comply, and there could still be inconsistencies in price reporting.Maria Nazarova-Doyle, head of DC investment consulting at JLT Employee Benefits, said: “While it may not be a straightforward undertaking for the asset managers, it should be seen as a positive development in the longer term. Those managers who diligently apply best practice and offer better value for money will be recognised for their efforts. Greater transparency will not only improve trust in asset management, but also drive greater competition and a better functioning market.”The FCA’s policy statement is available here. Asset managers will be obliged to provide transaction cost data to UK defined contribution (DC) funds from the start of next year under new rules published today.The Financial Conduct Authority said governance boards responsible for DC pension schemes will be able to request data from providers regarding transaction and administration costs from 3 January 2018.The regulator also set out how asset managers should calculate and report such costs.The move is designed in part to align DC reporting with disclosure rules included in EU regulations such as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and the Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products regulation (PRIIPs).last_img read more

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UK roundup: £46bn public sector pool appoints Northern Trust

first_imgUK unions have criticised payments to shareholders in water companies“Part of this package involves an expectation that boards first meet their obligations to customers and take fair account of employee interests before making dividend payments,” Fletcher said.The response comes in the wake of growing controversy over shareholder payouts in the sector. On 28 March, Field wrote to Ofwat with regards to plans by certain energy companies to close their defined benefit schemes to future accruals.In his letter to Ofwat, Field asked the water regulator for its view on moves by firms “while continuing to make large distributions to shareholders”.Fletcher responded that companies’ pension arrangements were beyond the remit of the regulator.She said: “However, while we believe it is appropriate that companies should take account of pension obligations when making dividend decisions, we make no judgement about the appropriateness of companies closing their defined benefit schemes to future accruals, and it is not Ofwat’s role to regulate how much companies should pay in to their pension funds.”Any repairs to existing deficits should be borne by shareholders, rather than energy company customers, Fletcher added.The UK’s largest trade union, Unite, has backed the committee’s investigation into the decisions by Anglian Water and United Utilities to close their respective DB plans.The union said it was concerned that the companies’ profits were “heavily skewed towards the shareholders” and warned that the closures could see staff lose as much as £100,000 from their overall pension pots. The London CIV now runs £15bnThe fund has an initial £66m investment from the London Borough of Merton Pension Scheme, with a second unnamed fund due to invest £180m.Rob Hall, head of equities at London CIV, said: “This fund offers an active and pragmatic approach to investing with an environmental, social and governance lens and we look forward to working with RBC to offer the London boroughs a market-leading sustainable equity offering.” In addition, the London CIV confirmed its plan to launch a multi-asset credit fund in June. Last month it emerged that CQS and MidOcean had been appointed to run multi-asset credit mandates, subject to due diligence processes.Despite significant problems regarding resources and governance , which have resulted in some London funds being reluctant to engage with the pool, the London CIV said it now had oversight of more than £15bn, or 40% of its member finds’ total assets. This includes its own funds and pooled passive mandates.Water regulator warns on dividend policies in response to pension concernsThe UK water regulator Ofwat has said it expects energy companies to “take fair account of employee interests before making dividend payments” in the latest step in the ongoing discussions regarding the balance between shareholder payouts and pension contributions.In a letter to Frank Field, chair of the UK parliament’s Work and Pensions Select Committee, Rachel Fletcher, CEO of Ofwat, said that the regulator did not have “powers to regulate what pension arrangements companies should have in place”.However, she emphasised that Ofwat had recently launched “an ambitious programme of reforms” to address the issue of dividend payments. “Their collaborative approach and willingness to support our evolving requirements with bespoke solutions were key factors in their appointment.”In February Northern Trust was appointed as custodian of another LGPS pool, the Border to Coast Pensions Partnership. This £43bn collaboration between 12 LGPS funds will launch in the summer after securing a three-month extension on the government’s April 2018 deadline to be operational.The Brunel Pension Partnership appointed State Street as its custodian in September last year. Both the ACCESS and Wales pools have hired Link Asset Services to provide the infrastructure for their collaborative investments.London CIV confirms sustainable equity mandateThe London Collective Investment Vehicle (London CIV) – which is working to pool the assets of 32 LGPS funds in the UK capital – has formally launched a sustainable equity fund managed by RBC.center_img The largest UK public sector pension pool, known as the Northern Pool, has appointed Northern Trust as custodian and administrator for its £46bn (€52.9bn) of assets.The Northern Pool is a collaboration between the Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Merseyside pension funds and was created in line with the UK government’s push to consolidate funds and reduce operating costs.Subject to the final contract being signed, Northern Trust will provide services including securities lending, private equity fund administration, compliance monitoring and carbon reporting for the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) pool.Ian Greenwood, chair of the Northern Pool, said: “We appointed Northern Trust based on their proven experience in the UK pensions market and their ability to offer us a range of holistic reporting, custody and alternative administration solutions, in accordance with the government’s requirements of putting the highest and most expedient levels of regulation and asset safety at the heart of the Northern Pool.last_img read more

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Industry body puts stocklending at heart of Dutch stewardship code

first_imgA €5trn investor group has published a new investment stewardship code for the Netherlands, including restrictions on stocklending.Eumedion, the Netherlands-based corporate governance and sustainability forum for institutional investors, said short-sellers could abuse their voting rights to vote against the interests of a Dutch listed company and, as a consequence, its shareholders.The group said this was at odds with responsible shareownership aimed at long-term value creation.The code requires that institutional investors recall any shares loaned out ahead of a company’s AGM if significant matters are on the agenda. In addition, investors that hold short positions will have to abstain from voting if their short positions exceed their long holdings.Eumedion presented a draft code last September, but because of the amount of comments it received, it has only now come up with a final version. The new code will come into force as of 1 January 2019.From 10 June next year, institutional investors must also adhere to the European Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD) – but according to Rients Abma, Eumedion’s director, the Dutch code is much stricter on short-selling.“The European rules are the minimum and the Dutch code is additional,” Abma said, quoted by Dutch financial newspaper FD. “In our opinion, the new rules match the Dutch stakeholder model, which not only takes financial value for shareholders into account, but also considers companies’ broader impact on, for example, workers, clients and society.”For the same reason, the new rules also required that institutional investors must be transparent about their voting behaviour and should to consult workers, NGOs and clients, the director added.According to the FD, Harm-Jan Kluiver, secretary of the Association of Securities-Issuing Companies, was critical about the shortsellers clause, arguing that it meant application of the code was at the members’ discretion.Eumedion has 65 participants, both Dutch and non-Dutch, including the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock and leading Dutch pension funds ABP, Vervoer, PFZW, PME and PMT.last_img read more

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