Posts by Will

Will Davison

Spence & Partners Head of Charity & Not for Profit advisory services David Davison was set the challenging task of presenting a session entitled “Pensions Made Simple” at the 22nd annual Charity Accountants Conference held in Birmingham on the 19-20 September 2013. The talk covered defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, private and public sector schemes and provided the audience with an overview of the issues charities face and the potential solutions available to them. The talk was well received by the audience and slides are available here : The Charity Accountants’ Conference – Pensions Made Simple

Will Davison

Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, today advised that more schemes should be auditing their data controls to avoid data protection fines and suggested a number of steps that schemes should consider to ensure better information security:

  • A strict data policy needs to be implemented and maintained;
  • The easiest things can be overlooked and it is important to take a common sense approach. Data should not just be discarded in bins. Make sure there are confidential waste bins and that a specialist firm is employed to dispose of the waste;
  • Carry out spot checks on staff to ensure compliance with policies in place;
  • Consider having independent audits in accordance with recognised accreditations e.g. ISO 27001 or AAF;
  • Data security is not a tick box exercise – more probing questions should be asked; and
  • Train staff and make sure that they understand how important data security is and the procedures that need to be followed. Read more »
Will Davison

Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, have said that yesterday’s forward guidance issued by the Bank of England could have different impacts for UK defined benefit pension schemes across their liabilities and assets.

Marian Elliott, Head of Trustee Advisory Services, commented: “With the Bank’s intention to keep the base rate at 0.5% until an unemployment target has been reached, they will maintain the upward pressure on liability values of many UK DB schemes. Maintaining QE for the short to medium term may well stem the recent rise in gilt yields, which had been good news for schemes as this lowered the current value placed on pension liabilities. Until the unemployment conditions are met and interest rates begin to rise again, we would not expect pension liabilities to reduce significantly on the back of rising gilt yields. Read more »

Will Davison

Spence & Partners, the UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists, today commented that the recent news surrounding the availability of real-time valuations is a welcome step towards the delivery of a more pro-active service to pension scheme trustees and sponsoring employers, but that progress will be hindered if the link with scheme data and an audited benefit specification isn’t strengthened.

Marian Elliott, Head of Trustee Advisory Services at Spence, commented: “The facility to undertake daily valuations and become more responsive around the scheme’s funding position will certainly benefit trustees and sponsors in the management of legacy defined benefit schemes. It is absolutely right that trustees should expect to receive real time liability information. This is something we have been doing with our clients for a few months now and they have responded very positively to the streamlining of the process. We are therefore pleased to see the development of other such services being announced in the industry. Read more »

Will Davison

UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists Spence & Partners today said that a greater part of the communication around Auto Enrolment should be to emphasise the need to contribute more than the minimum requirement. This will go some way to help avoid understating the true contributions required for members to achieve their desired retirement fund.

Commenting, Marian Elliott, Director at Spence said: “Auto Enrolment is starting to look like the ‘five-a-day’ fruit and vegetable campaign. The government set the nutrition figure at five-a-day as it was felt that it was too much to ask for people to engage with the real required amount, which is around nine-a-day. Whilst this campaign has inevitably helped the overall situation on healthy eating, it is now so embedded as a figure that people do not seek to find out the amount they should truly be eating for a healthy lifestyle. So too with contributions. If the industry place too much emphasis on the minimum figures as good retirement provision, then members are less likely to consider contributing further to actually reach their pension goal. Read more »

Will Davison

Preparations for the Rob Roy Challenge charity evening in the Glasgow Piping Centre have been finalised and Team Spence and guests are looking forward to an evening of live entertainment from their fantastic resident band Run-GMP and special guest band Big Tuna. The night itself, organised by Gillian MacDonald and Sophie Slater of Spence & Partners, aims to raise funds to support their colleagues participating in the Rob Roy Challenge, one of Scotland’s most famous and difficult charity events.

The Rob Roy Challenge is hosted by Martin Currie Charitable Foundation (MCCF) which is a registered charity (SC037106) run by the staff of Martin Currie Investment Management. MCCF selects the good causes to benefit from the firm’s charity event. This year the beneficiaries of the Challenge will be Alzheimer Scotland, Over the Wall and WaterAid, who will collectively share at least 75% of all monies raised. The remainder will be awarded by the Martin Currie Charitable Foundation through smaller donations to a range of equally good causes.

The team competing in the challenge are; Marian Elliot, Scott Cameron, Mike Selby, Fiona McKinnon, Chris Roberts and Greig McGuinness, all of whom are really looking forward to taking part and who have been training hard over the last few weeks.

All proceeds raised from the event will be donated directly to the Martin Currie Charitable Foundation.

Will Davison

UK pensions actuaries and administration specialists Spence & Partners today said that many data problems suffered by schemes are down to advisers withholding information and issues from trustees in fear of it jeopardising their appointment.

Mark Johnson, Head of Data Audit & Analysis at Spence, commented: “As part of the procurement process many schemes will be offered free data cleanses and audits under the transition of scheme information between advisers. However, in lots of cases this gets parked to one side while the bigger transition takes place and never ultimately gets completed. The result of this is that a number of legacy data issues are transferred across to the new adviser and remain unresolved. The new adviser is often then reluctant to raise any data issues further down the line, as it would highlight the work they had not undertaken as agreed. This is happening a great deal in the industry and affected trustees are unaware.”

Johnson continued: “As we all know, the Regulator has included good record keeping and data as part of its guidance for trustees. But if the trustees are being kept in the dark they may think they are in a stronger position than they actually are and could be unwittingly failing in their governance duties.  To avoid this, trustees should be challenging their advisors far more and not be put off by paying for data cleanses. Although data cleansing exercises can have a sizeable cost implication for schemes, trustees will actually reap the rewards as they will gain efficiencies in other areas. Over the long term having more accurate data will not only save problems further down the line, but also a substantial amount of money.”

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