Posts by Alan

Alan Collins

Alan Collins

Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence he provides actuarial, funding and investment advice to trustees and sponsors of ongoing defined benefit schemes.
Alan Collins

Spence & Partners latest blog for Pensions Expert:

Back in the day, actuarial valuation results contained an element of surprise. The actuary would be sent the data, it would be processed, the numbers would be crunched and many months later, the results would appear.

There was often limited fore-knowledge among the recipients, be that trustees or the sponsoring employers, about what the results would show.

An actuarial valuation was a lengthy, time-consuming process, which is one of the main reasons why a valuation was only deemed necessary once every three years, and why the timescale for completion was set at 12 months and later extended to 15 months. Read more »

Alan Collins

If they had a competition to name this Green Paper, they’d call it Dampy MacSquibface.

The much-anticipated pensions Green Paper in response to the demise of BHS dropped into the industry’s inbox yesterday.

It contains many more questions than answers, saying no to lots of things and yes to nothing.  If this was a squib, it would be very much of the dampest kind. Dampy MacSquibface if you like.

The bluster of the Work and Pensions Committee is nowhere to be seen.  The Paper is littered with phrases like “we do not feel there is sufficient evidence”, “all of these options have significant drawbacks”, “we would need to be certain” and “it would not be appropriate”.  The world of pensions is slow enough to change – do we really need yet another agnostic consultation? Read more »

Alan Collins

Spence & Partners, the UK actuaries and consultants, today announced their appointment by the Chartered Management Institute Retirement Benefits Scheme for their award-winning, fully-integrated approach to DB scheme management – ‘The Spence Approach’.  Services to the 250 member, £30 million Scheme will include actuarial, investment and pension scheme administration.

Alan Collins, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence commented: “Recent years have presented many difficulties to the operation of defined benefit pension schemes and 2016 showed that as much as ever.  It is therefore crucial that trustees and advisors step up to that challenge and pro-actively tackle the issues they face and work collaboratively with sponsoring employers to improve scheme funding levels.  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 south 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.”

Martin Kellaway, Chair of Trustees for the Chartered Management Institute Retirements Benefits Scheme commented: “During the appointment process Spence were able to demonstrate very clearly how they will work with us to manage risk effectively and integrate the liability and asset side of the scheme, to develop and implement clear long term strategic objectives.  The Spence approach is fresh and innovative, and we look forward to working with Alan and his team.”

Alan Collins

2016 – A year in review

Wow – what a year 2016 has been.  Brexit, President Trump, Hibs winning the Scottish Cup – who saw that coming?  Seriously, Hibs won the Scottish Cup.

What have we learned?  The dictionary definition of “pollster” might have to change to “people who predict things and always get it wrong”, said the actuary throwing stones from his glass-house.  My lesson to the pollsters is to quote a much bigger margin of error and include lots of caveats.

At least when it comes to 2017, it is now a reasonable stance to say that I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen. Read more »

Alan Collins

So far, nothing much….

The last week brought much hyperbole to the description of financial markets (using the BBC website as my barometer):

Early in the morning of 9th November (UK time), Donald Trump gave his victory speech as his election victory became certain.

9th November, 8.01 – “FTSE Sinks” – the FTSE 100 has plunged.  Wow, what has happened?  “Plunged” by 2% – that’s not really a plunge is it?

9th November 17.01 – “FTSE 100 Closes Higher” – the FTSE actually closes 1% higher on the day.

So, in other words, like lots of other days. Read more »

Alan Collins

Spence & Partners, the UK actuaries and consultants, today announced their appointment by The LS Starrett Company Limited Retirement Benefits Scheme for their award-winning, fully-integrated approach to DB scheme management – ‘The Spence Approach’. Services to the 475 member, £25 million Scheme will include actuarial, investment and pension scheme administration.

Alan Collins, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence commented: “In a post-Brexit environment trustees are looking for greater scheme transparency and a more joined-up approach to funding, investment and governance. Our Mantle® system allows schemes to make informed decisions around their funding at any point in time, based upon the live administration and investment data – what we see they see. Trustees are no longer looking in the rearview mirror; instead they can be fully responsive to funding opportunities that will benefit the scheme. Ultimately, we are giving trustees and sponsors of all schemes levels of analysis and advice that is usually reserved for schemes with much larger budgets. We are very pleased to be working with LS Starrett and the Trustees.” Read more »

Alan Collins

Spence & Partners latest Blog for Pension Funds Online –

An optimist sees the glass as half-full; the pessimist sees it as half-empty.  The actuary sees it as somewhere between 40% full and 40% empty, depending on a large number of assumptions.

As a pensions actuary, I have felt more like the harbinger of doom in recent days, delivering valuation results, accounting disclosures and funding updates with 30 June 2016 effective dates.  The PPF barometer of pension scheme funding, the 7800 index, is now showing an aggregate deficit of £384 billion and an aggregate funding level of around 78%. Read more »

Alan Collins

Spence & Partners, the UK actuaries and consultants, today announced their appointment by Simons Group Limited Pensions & Life Assurance Scheme for their award-winning, fully-integrated approach to DB scheme management – ‘The Spence Approach’.  Services to the 450 member, £25 million Scheme will include actuarial, investment and pension scheme administration.

Alan Collins, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence commented: “The Pensions Regulator’s Integrated Risk Management (IRM) guidance encourages trustees to make joined-up decisions around funding, investment and governance. Most schemes face three key issues when trying to do this – systems, data and monitoring.  Our Mantle® system allows schemes to make informed decisions around their funding at any point in time, based upon the live administration and investment data.  Read more »

Alan Collins

PRESS RELEASE

Spence & Partners, the UK pension actuaries, investment and administration specialists, today welcomes the publication of The Pension Regulator’s (TPR) Integrated Risk Management Guide, and urges trustees to review scheme management in line with the new principles.

The guidance from TPR sets out practical help on what a proportionate and integrated approach to risk management might look like and how trustees could go about putting one in place. Spence already adheres to the guidance with its ‘Spence Approach’. Read more »

Alan Collins

George bides his time on TEE

Those waiting for news of further seismic changes to the UK pension scene were made to wait yesterday when the Autumn Statement confirmed that the Government’s response to the pension tax relief consultation will be published in the 2016 Budget.  Given the continued polarisation of views on the matter, and the impact that the changes could have, it is perhaps not surprising that the Government has paused, albeit briefly, for further reflection. Read more »

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