Making Sense of Pensions

Brian Spence

Regularly ridiculed by many a wannabe stand-up as socially dysfunctional number-crunchers seeking refuge from all the glamour and glitz that is the world of accountancy, actuaries have found themselves the brunt of many a witticism reflecting their somewhat stuffy reputation for some time now but, in the words of Bob Dylan, ‘the times they are a changin”.

With actuaries now assuming a much more prominent role across a greater number of areas of corporate life than ever before, there’s probably never been a more exciting time to be involved in the profession. Read more »

Brian Spence

Jack Nicholson in ‘A Few Good Men’ famously said of Tom Cruise, ‘you can’t handle the truth’. Nicholson might not have had FRS17 in mind at the time, but his accusation could be made against those many companies, trade unions and pension advisers who clamoured to give voice to their disgruntlement over the recent introduction of accounting standard FRS17 – they detest it because they can’t handle the truth.

FRS17 was borne out of a need to address the predicament created by the then prevalent discounting of pension scheme liabilities, based on the erroneous assumption that equities would continue to deliver a healthy level of return for years ahead. Of course, as we now know, recent years have seen interest rates continue to fall while, simultaneously, the equity market suffered a marked slump. Read more »

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