Posts by Susan

Susan McFarlane

Spence & Partners, the UK actuaries and consultants, today announced their appointment by the North of England Zoological Society Superannuation Fund Scheme for their award-winning, fully-integrated approach to DB scheme management – ‘The Spence Approach’*.  Services to the 260 member, £23 million Scheme will include actuarial, investment and pension scheme administration.

Alan Collins, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence commented: “Scheme funding levels have improved over recent years, so it is crucial for trustees and advisers to work collaboratively to capitalise on the market opportunities that this presents, and to work to improve the security of benefits for members.  I have great confidence that the services we offer will assist all parties in achieving their goals.

This is an exciting and strategic appointment for Spence, as it demonstrates our growing strength in the North West of England and also shows our continued strength in providing services to the not-for-profit sector.

We are very pleased to be working with the Trustees going forward.”

Tom Owen, Trustee for the North of England Zoological Society Superannuation Fund Scheme commented: “We look for the personal touch, we like to build relationships and find people where we think we can work well with them, particularly in a complex area like pensions.  It was important how our members would relate to the company appointed, and on the investment side how the Trustees would work with the company’s investment advisors.  We were clear that Spence & Partners would be a great fit for us on both counts.  One member called me on ‘day one’ with Spence to say that she was very impressed. She used to work directly for me, so I know this was genuine feedback.”


Susan McFarlane

Spence Director Hugh Nolan has been named as the incoming president of the Society of Pension Professionals (SPP). The SPP is the representative body for the wide range of providers of advice and services to work-based pension schemes and to their sponsors.  Hugh has been elected into the role and will take it up from 1 June 2016.

Hugh joined Spence & Partners in April 2016. having held a variety of senior roles in several major pension consultancies since 1989.  He was Chief Actuary at one of our large competitors until 2016 and is currently the President-Elect of the SPP.  Hugh has also sat on the Main Committee of the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) and chairs the ACA’s Defined Contribution Committee.  He is a regular commentator in the press on pension issues.

Hugh’s presidency of the SPP will focus on practical measures to help policy makers shape the future of retirement savings.

Susan McFarlane

After three years of debating its future, and today’s “no” result, one thing is clear for Scotland.  The independence debate has reaffirmed that the issue of pensions is at the front and centre of UK politics.  People care deeply about pensions and are keen to ensure savings are encouraged and that the safety net of the state pension is protected.

We wait with interest for further details on the new powers that will transfer to the Scottish parliament. Even in light of the Scottish people deciding to stay in the United Kingdom, these new powers could still have a significant impact on the pensions landscape of Scotland – and the UK.  We encourage industry bodies and pensions professionals to continue to make positive contributions to future policy and debates.  This will help the gradual rebuilding of public confidence in the savings and pensions industry that has been started by the onset of automatic-enrolment and the changes announced in the 2014 budget.

2014 has been an exciting year for pensions and 2015 promises more of the same. “Freedoms”, but perhaps not in the way some in Scotland were hoping for…

Susan McFarlane

Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, have said that today’s announcement on the continued permission for DB to DC transfers should be a catalyst for trustees and scheme sponsors to work more closely together.

Marian Elliott, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence, commented: “Immediate actions for trustees will be in communicating the outcome of these announcements to members and liaising closely with the administrators on the processes that will be needed to comply with the guidance guarantee. Trustees should also be prepared to collaborate with employers on any de-risking exercises that take place and consideration should be given to whether scheme design is affected by the announcements.

“Trustees should also monitor what impact the announcements may make to the scheme’s risk profile, should a significant number of members opt to transfer out. Trustees should not react by overhauling their strategy, however more consideration should be given to liquidity issues and funding monitoring, so that trustees can react quicker to the need for strategic adjustments. Other considerations for schemes will be around whether assets are sufficient to meet the needs of the potential increase in transfer requests on the back of this announcement, as this may involve an agreed funding top up with the sponsor.”

Alan Collins, Head of Corporate Advisory Services, added: “The announcements today should be welcomed and treated by employers as a trigger for positively managing their scheme liabilities. With the prospect of DB members looking to move to the far more flexible defined contribution market, employers should review their on-going plans for the scheme and target available resources to fund transfer exercises. Defined benefit schemes continue to present a significant risk to employers, but with this announcement building on recent easements in The Pension Regulator’s approach to funding, employers can start to manage that risk more effectively.

“More individuals have been contacting administrators to request transfer quotations since the proposals were first announced in the budget, so it is important that everything is managed correctly by the employer and scheme from the outset. I welcome the requirement for mandatory indpendent advice on DB to DC transfers. The time is right for employers to work with their trustees to make sure that this advice is on tap for all members making decisions in relation to their scheme benefits.”

Susan McFarlane

The Pensions Regulator (“the regulator”) has laid before Parliament a revised Code of Practice 3 (“the Code”) for defined benefit (DB) scheme funding.

This new code takes into account their new statutory objective and reflects their developing approach and changing circumstances since they published the current Code in 2006. The Code emphasises the need for Trustees and employers to work collaboratively in order to achieve an integrated risk management approach which doesn’t compromise the needs of the Scheme or the employer’s plans for sustainable growth.

We have reviewed the revised Code and prepared the following summary for you. Read more »

Susan McFarlane

Managing growth is always challenging for a business, so when you find support offered along the way it gives you added confidence in planning for the future.

Yesterday, Spence had a visit from Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster and Chief Executive of Invest Northern Ireland, Alastair Hamilton, to our Belfast office.  As part of the visit we announced our intention to create 107 jobs over  a five year period, 30 of which have already been created.  Invest Northern Ireland has offered Spence & Partners over £1million to support our investment plans, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.  Spence have already committed over £2m to the project with similar finance being provided up to 2018. Read more »

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