Does my accounting (FRS17) deficit look too big?

David Davison

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I read my colleague Val Hartley’s blog on post code mortality with great interest and it raises a number of important questions such as:

If you run a DB scheme in one of the areas in the first table (or indeed anywhere above the average mortality rating of 10%) and are using standard mortality tables you could well be placing a higher value on the pension liabilities disclosed in your accounts than might be necessary.

Another colleague, Ian Campbell, highlighted in his blog on FRS17, how companies were likely to see a rise in liabilities and deficits when preparing figures in 2010 and experience is proving him to be correct with numerous organisations concerned about the results they are seeing. Often, in the past, companies FRS17 figures have been provided by what is, in effect, the trustees’ adviser, and presented to companies as a fait accompli. However companies are increasingly seeking an independent view on their disclosures and the assumptions used.

Mortality is one of the key assumptions in any actuarial assessment of pension scheme liabilities and it can be worthwhile, and surprisingly cost effective, even for smaller schemes, to obtain a specific post code mortality assessment. Whilst not perfect, a scheme specific mortality rating will provide support for a specific level of mortality assumptions to be used in calculations. This, in turn will give you a better estimate of your liabilities. There is scope within FRS17 to adopt mortality assumptions more specifically aligned to a particular company’s circumstances which can have a material impact on the deficit ultimately disclosed.

The key point is don’t just accept what you’ve been provided with – a bit of digging and a second opinion may prove valuable.

David Davison

Post by David Davison

Specialist consultant on pensions strategy for corporate, public sector and not for profit employers

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