In the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed a lot of turbulence in the financial markets, especially related to the banking sector and during these weeks, we had the opportunity to meet with the Audit Committee, the Fund Solvency and Asset and Liability Monitoring Committee, with participation of the chairpersons of the Actuaries Committee and the Investments Committee, and finally with the Investments Committee, as part of our regular governance and oversight mechanisms.
As reported to these committees, our Fund is in a strong operational and financial situation. There were no disruptions in payments to retirees and beneficiaries and none are expected. As at today, the market value of the assets is above US$80 billion dollars, more than 3 per cent higher than the closing of 2022. The last biennial actuarial valuation as at 31 December 2021 reported a strong surplus. This surplus has meant that even with recent market conditions and the high inflationary environment, the Fund expects to continue to be in a well-funded position. This will be fully assessed again at 31 December 2023 through the next actuarial valuation.
Regarding the management of the fixed income portfolio, as you may remember, the new benchmark for fixed income implemented in September 2022 introduced a corporate bond component broadening our asset mix to capture a wider range of market opportunities and the related returns. In addition, we took the decision to partner with external service providers in the successful management of part of this portfolio, equivalent to 6 per cent of the total portfolio, while we further develop and strengthen our in-house capabilities. Over time it is expected that the internal fixed income team will progressively assume a larger management of the portfolio as resources and capabilities are added.
It is worth highlighting that OIM prefers to manage assets internally where feasible or appropriate. However, when we lack resources or expertise, partnering with external managers can be a valuable approach, from both a skill transference and performance perspective. Indeed, we have been using this approach for small cap investments for more than two decades, and it has contributed significantly to the Fund’s overall performance.
Finally, we are pleased to announce that Mr. Pako Thupayagale joined our team as the new Director for Fixed Income on March 1, 2023. He brings a wealth of experience to the team and portfolio, having worked in the private sector, central bank, and sovereign wealth fund. His fresh perspective and insights will be invaluable as we continue to optimize our investment strategy. As part of our ongoing commitment to provide the team with the necessary resources to manage the portfolio effectively, we are currently filling the three new posts approved for this year, which will take us to six new posts filled over the past two years. Once these posts are filled, we will be better positioned to manage the portfolio in-house and consider reallocating the portfolio structure to optimize performance.
In closing, please rest assured of our commitment to managing the Fund’s investments and pension administration in the best interests of all our stakeholders.