When attending the recent Actuaries Pensions Conference in Glasgow, I heard behavioural change expert Nick Southgate suggest that maybe the name ‘pensions’ was the thing holding pensions back.
I doubt this message made it all the way to Downing Street, but today’s budget suggests George Osborne and his treasury team are having similar thoughts. The fact that today’s “pensions” green paper was issued by HM Treasury says it all. This is not about pensions, it is about tax.
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Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, today commented on The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) annual defined benefit funding statement 2015.
Alan Collins, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence & Partners, said: “The regulator’s funding statement is now a firm fixture in the pensions calendar and this year’s instalment has given trustees, sponsoring employers and advisors plenty of food for thought. It is also clear that 2015 valuations will contain more bad news than good. The regulator’s own analysis shows that ‘despite all major asset classes having performed well and schemes having paid £44 billion in deficit repair contributions over the last 3 years…many schemes with 2015 valuations will have larger funding deficits’ and that ‘most schemes will set funding strategies based on lower expected returns than at their last valuation’. Read more »
Glasgow-based pension consultants and actuaries, Spence & Partners and its sister firms Dalriada Trustees Limited and Veratta have moved their Glasgow operation to the city’s Culzean Building.
Following expansion of the firms’ UK-wide business and growing staff numbers, they have re-located from their previous offices at West Regent Street taking the 4,700 square foot 6th floor of the historic building, located at the junction of Renfield and St Vincent Street in Glasgow city centre.
Barclay Gilmour Partners provided consulting advice on the move.
Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, today advised that defined benefit (DB) trustees need to gear up to use the power they can now have at the touch of a button.
Alan Collins, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence & Partners, commented: “With Pensions Freedom Day capturing the headlines, it would be easy to think that DB schemes have been left behind. But actually the development of technology in the past year has been such that trustees now have the potential to operate their schemes in a much more effective and efficient way.
“With the right system, trustees can now have daily valuation figures and actuarial analytics based on live administration data, daily asset feeds from investment managers and projected future cashflow information at their finger tips. The days of waiting for actuaries to provide complex reports and calculations are over – it is up to trustees to ensure they have the right processes and structure in place to use up to date information and speed up their decision making.” Read more »
Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, scooped the Consulting Innovation of the Year award at the prestigious 2015 UK Professional Pensions awards last Thursday (7 May). The awards, which are in their 18th year, were presented at a gala dinner at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel hosted by comedienne and writer Sandi Toksvig.
The close fought category saw Spence & Partners, judged by a panel of senior scheme managers, trustees and advisers, come out on top for their innovative approach to Defined Benefit (DB) scheme management, which was originally launched in May 2014. Alan Collins, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence, commented: “We’re incredibly proud of the ‘Spence approach’ and to be recognised at the 2015 UK Pensions Awards is fantastic for challenging the archaic manner by which actuarial services are delivered within the pensions industry. Pension schemes are no longer working to an indefinite time horizon, where a check once every three years to ensure the funding plans are broadly on track is sufficient. We believe our approach has revolutionised the way our clients’ pension schemes are run giving them access to the kind of analysis and advice that were previously reserved for only the largest of schemes.” Read more »
Spence & Partners latest blog for Pension Funds Online –
The number of firms offering daily valuation tools has risen significantly in the last 12 months and many pension scheme trustees now have access to real time updates of their funding position.
This is a step change from the days when accurate figures were available once every three years, fifteen months after the effective valuation date, with an approximate roll forward provided once a year between valuations.
Whilst each consultancy firm extols the particular virtues of their system, is it time to take a step back and ask whether trustees are actually getting the most they can out of their spend on these tools? Read more »
The clock ticking down to the end-of contracting out is getting louder and louder. With just over a year to go, many trustees and administrators are getting their houses in order by completing the reconciliation of their records with those held by HMRC. However, many more are not. A recent estimate indicated that, on average, around 5,000 data queries a day would need to be resolved in order to complete reconciliations in the desired timescale.
For contracted-out schemes that are already closed to build up of future benefits, there are no excuses for brushing reconciliation exercises under the carpet. Schemes which are open to accrual can also progress matters in advance of the end of contracting-out on 6 April 2016, using HMRC’s Scheme Reconciliation Service.
This is an exercise that must be done and trustees and administrators should take immediate action to complete any outstanding tasks. The resource in an already stretched HMRC team will wither on the vine from 2016 until December 2018 when all individuals will be written to confirming their contracted-out pension entitlements. Failure to act now may leave schemes carrying additional liabilities which they cannot prove belong elsewhere. It is therefore also in employers’ interests that trustees complete the required tasks. Read more »
So, there will be no quiet budget for pensions then. It would seem that Mr Osborne’s rabbit is already out of the red box. The pretence of “leaks” has been set aside with Mr Osborne confirming some details of this week’s announcements already.
It is therefore expected that individuals will be able to cash in annuities for a lump sum from April 2016 onwards (assuming Mr Osborne and his chums are in situ to make the changes – that being said, such populist moves are hard for others to ignore and the extension of pension freedoms seems inevitable). Mr Osborne is quoted as saying:
”It’s all part of trusting people who have worked hard and saved hard all their lives…. By changing the law we are trusting people who have worked hard and saved hard all their lives.” Read more »
Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, today announced their appointment by the Leighton Opticians Pension Scheme for their fully integrated DB scheme management service. The service includes actuarial, consultancy, administration, payroll, treasury and accounting functions.
Laura Cumming, Consultant at Spence, commented: “The Trustees of the scheme were very clear from the outset that developing an integrated approach to managing their scheme was crucial to handling both their ongoing commitments and planning for the future. As our technology platform provides immediate access to funding information, based upon live administration and investment data, the trustees will be able to become much more proactive with funding decisions and scheme management plans.
“Combining everyday functions with funding information allows all scheme activity to be run from the same base. This removes one of the unnecessary elements of modern advisory services – the transferring of data cuts for funding calculations. This is an outdated and lengthy process for a modern industry that no longer fits with the needs of schemes to act quickly and decisively.” Read more »
First published in CorporateAdvisor, December 2014
Problems buried deep inside DB schemes are best solved sooner rather than later says Alan Collins, head of employer advisory services at Spence & Partners
View the CorporateAdvisor Article here