Posts by Andrew

Andrew Kerrin

Over the last three months we have experienced an unprecedented degree of uncertainty in our lives.  The question, “What’s coming next?” has been a frequent utterance, with very few (if any) sure answers being provided.  Gaining a grasp of what we will be doing next week, never mind next month, has often been difficult and unsettling.

Set against our uncertain, pandemic themed, world, the pensions industry now seems stable and straightforward by comparison – a testament indeed to the strange times in which we now live!  So, let us look to the main issues that occurred over the last quarter and then ask what is coming up next in our industry, in the knowledge that there are still events that we can respond to and plan for with more certainty.  That should make for a pleasant change from the ambiguity that has become our norm.

Spence have compiled our latest report, highlighting any actions that trustees and sponsors of pension schemes may need to take in the near future.  As you’d expect, the Covid-19 pandemic takes a prominent role in the report, including an update on the latest guidance from the Pension Regulator (TPR). However the report also looks beyond the pandemic, addressing important developments, such as the lightning-paced enactment of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, TPR’s recently issued Annual Funding Statement, the latest on legal sagas involving the Hampshire judgment and RPI/CPI substitution, and our own effort to answer that question, “what’s coming up next?”.

As always, we hope that this quarterly report can be of assistance. From everyone at Spence, we hope you continue to stay safe and enjoy the read.

Andrew Kerrin

For longer than we care to remember, our quarterly reports have seemed to focus on Brexit, or the lack of progress on pensions policies as a result of Brexit.  How distant those times now feel.  Yet, despite these even more uncertain times we find ourselves in, it is important to remember that at the end of the Covid-19 pandemic – and there will be an end – there will still be pension schemes, members, taxes, regulations and investments.  So, let us continue to look forward, continue to plan, continue to take action, and continue to influence those things that we can control.

Spence have summarised the main issues across our industry in this report, highlighting any actions that trustees and sponsors may need to take.  Clearly there is a focus on the impact Covid-19 is having on pension schemes, with articles addressing the latest guidance for trustees from the Pension Regulator and the investment market’s reaction.

Beyond the pandemic, the report also looks to other important matters, such as the progress of the Pensions Bill through the legislative process, the latest on the goliath GMP Equalisation issue and a summary of the Chancellor’s latest Budget, to name a few.

As always, we hope that this quarterly report can be of assistance and makes your lives that little bit easier, in these, the strangest of times. From everyone at Spence, stay safe and enjoy the read.

Click on the image on the right or this link to download.

Andrew Kerrin

Welcome to our latest Quarterly Report, which focuses on the key pension issues and industry developments in the last three months of 2019.

After almost three years of political debate and uncertainty, the UK is now entering a new era outside of the EU. As our investment report highlights, there was relief that a ‘no deal’ Brexit was avoided at the end of 2019, but schemes should continue to monitor their investment strategy throughout 2020.

Higher standards of governance, administration and a focus on data will remain high on the agenda this year, as evidenced in our articles on the Pensions Ombudsman and The Pensions Regulator.  

Looking to the future, we summarise the main points of the Pension Schemes Bill (CDC schemes, new TPR powers and the Dashboard). Trustees should also be aware of changes required to their Statement of Investment Principles later this year, affecting both content and disclosure.

Our report also features news of the latest HMRC bulletins, the PPF levy for 2020/2021, mortality trends and the issue of ‘greenwashing’ in relation to ESG.

We have highlighted any action sponsors and trustees may need to take. Please contact your usual consultant if you need more details on any of the topics featured in this report or have any questions.

Click on image above or this link to download.

Andrew Kerrin

Welcome to our third Quarterly Update for 2019. We’ve only just said goodbye to British Summer Time, we thought we’d be saying hello to the post-Brexit era, but instead we’ll be wrapping tinsel around our polling cards as we head out to vote in the upcoming General Election. Anyone for a surprise Christmas gift?

You would be forgiven for thinking that there is no other news, and hoping that extensions, flextensions and even political tensions would melt away in the snows of winter … but regardless, the pensions world continues to turn and we’ve compiled our list of topical pension articles from the last quarter.

Inside you’ll find details of the new CMA requirements for trustees to engage with investment consultants and fiduciary managers and an update on your favourite subject (next to Brexit!) – GMP Equalisation. We also look at the ‘legacy’ that is RPI and the anticipated move to CPI. Should there be a professional trustee on every scheme? We look at both sides of the debate. And as if that’s not enough, we’ve got an investment market update, news from the Pension Scams Industry Group and PRAG, a summary of the TPR and PPF Report and Accounts and information on changes to Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs).   

You can’t vote for your favourite, but we do hope that you enjoy reading our take on the latest industry news.

Click on image above or this link to download.

Andrew Kerrin

So the 55th Prime Minister of the UK is now in office. Love him or loathe him, one thing is for sure, the next quarter of 2019 will certainly be interesting. Who knows, our new PM might even survive long enough to be around for our third Quarterly Update of 2019!

Sticking with the here and now though, just like Prime Minister Johnson, we at Spence have gone through our own selection process for our own “Cabinet” of topical pension articles from the last quarter.

Our cabinet of topics certainly meets the diversity criteria, with articles ranging from investments, to mortality improvements and employer insolvency planning. There is a strong focus on planning for the long-term, with discussions on the recent corporate and strategic plans issued by TPR and the PPF respectively. The equality criteria is top of the list for our cabinet… well, our GMP equalisation article is first in the running order anyway. And while our cabinet may be a little short of DUDEs, it does have its own four-letter favourite from the recent past – an update on GDPR!

Hopefully you will find our selections worthy of inclusion in our latest report and representative of the issues that matter to you.

Click on image above or this link to download.

Andrew Kerrin

1,193. The number of world ranking places that Tiger Woods has climbed in just over a year. A comeback to rank amidst the finest sporting comebacks. A story of resilience. A lesson in positivity triumphing over adversity.

Normally when I sit down to write an introduction to Spence’s latest Quarterly Update I struggle to find a current event that may have some (often tenuous) link to the topics in the report, or that are ripe for making (even more tenuous) puns. Well, not this quarter!

All week the front pages of my usual news feeds have had images of this sporting legend draped in his new (but fifth) green jacket. Like many of you reading this, I had given up hope of seeing the halcyon days of Woods’ return to golf. Yet, from the nadir of a personal life implosion, numerous surgeries and a world ranking of 1,199, hope and positivity were still retained by Tiger, if not by the rest of us. Now, the news bulletins are awash with congratulations from sport stars, world leaders and people from all across the globe, hailing the return of this thrilling force of nature. Pessimistic talk of an irreversible slide has turned to optimistic predictions of more major championships to come.

The first quarter of 2019 has seen a different type of slide for DB pension funds, with scheme funding levels falling considerably towards the end of March, driven by falling gilt yields. UK pension schemes were once at the top of the world rankings too, but have seen their standing slip in recent years. Yet in the midst of these chastening times there are positives to be had. Like the reaction of Tiger Woods, there is resilience. There is a desire to learn and prepare, to come back stronger, healthier and more secure.

This Quarterly Report discusses progress made to protect members from pension scams, with the new cold calling ban. There are features on the Regulator’s new guidance on scheme data and how to better value DB schemes going forward. We’ve also included a summary of the government’s approval of Collective Defined Contribution schemes, as a means for members’ benefits to be better protected as a result of pooling contributions and risk together.

No matter how disheartening an image may be – an icon of sport in ruins, or the increasing size of a scheme deficit – there are always actions we can take to find positives and come back stronger. Hopefully our Quarterly Report assists in that effort and helps schemes get back into the swing of things (I couldn’t resist at least one golf pun!).

Click on image above or this link to download.

Andrew Kerrin

Over the past weeks, living in the UK, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that there was nothing else going on in the world apart from Bre… well, you know what I was going to say – I’ll spare you from hearing the word for once.

Before ‘that-which-shall-not-be-named’ took over our lives, there were other news stories, other events, other happenings in the world that equally shocked us and exercised our opinions.  One of those other sources managed to do his best in the past weeks to grab back the news agenda – the 45th President of the United States.

January has been a tough month across the pond – particularly for the 800,000 federal employees who went without pay checks.  However the story that caught my eye was the initial refusal by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to formally invite the President to give the annual State of the Union address to Congress.  Like the size of a recent loss by the UK Government in a House of Commons vote on ‘that-which-shall-not-be-named’, this action by the Speaker was unprecedented.

“What has this got to do with this Quarterly Update?”, I hear you ask. Well, what this reminded me of was the wording of the clause in the US Constitution that the State of the Union Address stems from, namely that the President:

“shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

In that spirit (assuming that unlike Nancy Pelosi you have invited Spence to address you!) let us give to you this quarter’s Information on the State of the Pensions Union, along with our recommendations, for your consideration, of all the necessary and expedient measures you may wish to take.

We hope you find this useful and look forward to addressing you again in three month’s time… if ‘that-which-shall-not-be-named’ allows us!

Topics included in this quarter’s address include:

• The PPF’s 2019/20 Levy Rules determination
• Investment Market Update
• HMRC and The Pensions Regulator Warning over Member Tax Relief
• Master Trust triggering events
• The Supreme Court judgment in the Barnardo’s case
• GMP Equalisation
• PPF Purple Book
• And of course… an update on ‘that-which-shall-not-be-named’

Download the Quarterly Pensions Update Q4 2018

Andrew Kerrin

In my down time – between working in the Spence actuarial department, studying for actuarial exams, chasing after my four and two year olds – I am partial to spending some time managing… my fantasy football team.

Having witnessed another terrible weekend of results for my team, my mind turned back to reality and to the third Quarterly Update of 2018.  Thankfully the topics we have selected for this report carry far more promise and relevance than my football selections:

  • The first name on the Quarterly Update team sheet is a mainstay of recent selections. An unpredictable, volatile, yet entirely unavoidable choice for the Q3 team – Brexit.  No update would be complete without it!
  • On the wing, we have a summary of the British Airways judgement – a case that keeps running and running, with no sign of tiring out, until it reaches the final (at the Supreme Court).
  • Bringing older, wiser and more experienced traits to the report, we have an article on the recent trends in Longevity.
  • Providing a cool head in defence, an article summarising the G4S case that brought clarity on what is a “frozen” scheme.
  • In midfield, we have the European leader, organising all members of the team, with great communication skills – a summary of the member communication requirements from the IORP II European Directive.
  • Whilst up front, we have the most honest of finishers, who won’t try to win a penalty by scamming the referee – an update on the ScamSmart
  • STOP PRESS: The imminent Lloyds judgement mentioned in this edition of our Quarterly Update has been published today and confirms the requirement to equalise Guaranteed Minimum
    Pensions (GMPs).   See more inside our report.

So, although I couldn’t deliver a winning fantasy football selection this week (again), I am happy to be able to deliver the Quarterly Update for the third quarter of 2018.

To download this report, click here .

As always we love to get feedback from you. If you like what we do please tell us – it’s nice to get great feedback. If you would like things included, excluded or done differently please drop us a line too. The report is to help you, so help us tailor it to your needs.

And … if you find that you do have time to keep up with things, why not follow us on Twitter @SpencePartners and keep up to date as you go along.

Andrew Kerrin

“Time flies like an arrow – but fruit flies like a banana.” Just a personal favourite line (often attributed to Groucho Marx) that popped into my mind when sitting down to introduce Spence & Partners latest Quarterly Update. It seems like only last week that I was searching for words to introduce our first report of 2018!

Having taken aim at the topics that hit the headlines over the last quarter, marking with an arrow those of most interest, we have fired them into a neat summary for your consideration. We hope you enjoy reading this compilation, that it helps you pass the time, and who knows, might help you avoid a banana skin or two.

This quarter we have a wide variety of tasty morsels for you to digest, including a summary of the potentially far-reaching opinion from the Advocate General in Hampshire v PPF, a discussion of the main cyber security issues for trustees coming from the Regulator’s recent practice note, to a bite-sized rundown of the key legislative changes that hit the pensions industry back in April.

Enjoy your latest Quarterly Update – I hope you agree that our selection has hit the bullseye and our efforts have been fruitful!

To download this report click here or on the image above.

As always we love to get feedback from you. If you like what we do please tell us – it’s nice to get great feedback. If you would like things included, excluded or done differently please drop us a line too. The report is to help you, so help us tailor it to your needs.

And … if you find that you do have time to keep up with things, why not follow us on Twitter @SpencePartners and keep up to date as you go along.

Andrew Kerrin

The first quarter of 2018 has flown by and has proved to be an eventful three months. We have had no problem finding topics worthy of inclusion in this Quarterly Update – it’s been more of a problem deciding what NOT to include. We have been ruthless however and pulled together the topics that we believe you need to know about from January to March 2018. Enjoy!

The topics of note this quarter include:

  • GDPR Compliance
  • Government White Paper on DB Schemes
  • The Pensions Regulator and recent Corporate Failures
  • DC Consolidation
  • Reviewing your Currency Hedge
  • EIOPA Market Development Report
  • New CMI mortality improvements

To download this report click here or on the image above.

As always we love to get feedback from you. If you like what we do please tell us – it’s nice to get great feedback. If you would like things included, excluded or done differently please drop us a line too. The report is to help you, so help us tailor it to your needs.

And … if you find that you do have time to keep up with things, why not follow us on Twitter @SpencePartners and keep up to date as you go along.

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