Posts Tagged ‘Actuarial’

Hugh Nolan

Once upon a time, there was a Scheme Actuary. He was very proud of his profession and his reputation as a prudent man of business. Trustees all across the land admired and respected him and queued up to follow his advice, for they all understood how clever and learned he was. Besides, the wise old King passed a law requiring them to appoint a Scheme Actuary so they had to have one anyway…

One day the actuary was counting out the gold coins in a pension scheme and a tiny fragment chipped off one and flew straight into his eye. From that day on, he could only see pensions through a gilt lens and his peripheral vision vanished altogether. However, nobody in the Kingdom knew about this incident, and everyone still trusted the Grand Vizier (surely “actuary”?) when he demanded a mountain of gold from every farmer, so he could look after all their cows should they go bankrupt… which many promptly did, since they didn’t all have a spare mountain of gold lying around.

Of course this is just a fairy tale and couldn’t happen in real life. Or could it?  In fact, a similar story happens every day in pensions – albeit not as extreme or (hopefully) amusing. 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 »

Richard Smith

FRS102 An Employers Guide

FRS 102 – a quick recap

You may think I am a bit late to the party to be releasing a guide for Financial Reporting Standard 102 (FRS102) and its effect on accounting for pension costs, given that the first edition of the new standard was released in March 2013, and subsequently updated in August 2014.

However, as FRS102 only came into play from 1 January 2015 and we are now approaching the end of the transition year in which companies are required to restate the prior year’s disclosure under this new standard, many companies will only now be thinking about this in earnest for the first time, and so I believe there is no better time to consider the similarities and differences with the previous standard, FRS17. Read more »

Marian Elliott

This blog was written for Pension Funds Online by Marian Elliott of Spence & Partners –

There is a lot to look forward to at this time of year. The end of March will bring longer daylight hours, the promise of slightly warmer temperatures and, for many trustee boards and companies, the process of carrying out an actuarial valuation of their pension scheme will begin.

If the very mention of this sends shivers down your spine then read on. Whilst there are no magic potions which can shrink your deficit or take the sting out of the valuation exercise, there are actions which you can take to improve the way in which the valuation process is managed and deliver better results for both the company and trustees: Read more »

Alan Collins

With recent market turmoil sending scheme funding levels tumbling, pensions present a potential Pandora’s Box for even the most enlightened Finance Director.

In this month’s issue of CA Magazine (pg. 56) Alan Collins, head of employer advisory services at pension actuaries Spence & Partners suggests 10 key questions that Finance Directors should be asking themselves about their defined benefit schemes and some guidance on each of these key issues.
Read more »

Brian Spence

Our pensions review of 2011

A New Year and in January developments in de-risking throughout 2010 were discussed. How would 2011 fare in comparison?

February hosted a long and sometimes confusing conversation about PIPs. Turns out it’s simple,……… honestly!

In a busy month of March we aired our opinions and gave a spring clean to these pieces:

Help for schools and colleges showed we are no fools in April with some guidance on FRS17 disclosures.

The joys of spring were not abound in May as we lost an “f” in pensions. There never was one?  I think you’ll ind……..

Inflation and its effects were being discussed in June as another quarter sees the inflation targets go by unachieved. On a more positive note the Actuarial Profession was inflated with a new influx of talented graduates from Queen’s University. We were there to welcome them to the industry and indeed are nurturing some of that talent within our business today.

Individuality was the theme of July’s hot topics. Section 75 Regulations fail to recognise the plight of the unattached charitable organisations among multi employer schemes. And, as tPR guidance on Incentive Exercises suggests trustees start with the view that they will not be in the members’ interests, we ask just how much trustees should assume all members have the same needs?

In August we tried to make sense of babysitting pensioners and whether they were truly responsible enough to take care of their own finances.

September brought another egg to the NEST in the form of NOW Pensions as a rival. All good sport or will it be rotten?

November saw us pushing the limits of data management. Are Trustees using all the tools at their disposal to  improve their data and meet tPR’s  deadline?

December and we are back to de-risking and not much festive cheer. We feature our article in the Actuarial Post.

David Davison

I was kindly introduced to the word scotoma last week. The dictionary definition is ‘a mental blind spot; inability to understand or perceive certain matters.’ I would have found it difficult to find a better word to describe the on-going debate, and I use that word very loosely in this case, in respect of public sector pensions culminating in the strikes on 30th November.

Things have been moving at such a speed it’s hard to keep up and to pick out the fact from the rhetoric. The week of the strike began with a bit of school yard name calling as trade union Unite issued their “Dossier of hypocrisy” exposing the extent of cabinet minister’s pension entitlements. All that did was make the case that those particular public sector pensions need to be reformed as much as, if not more than, all the rest. Read more »

Rebecca Lavender

On Monday 27th June Spence & Partners and it’s sister company independent trustee Dalriada Trustees had the pleasure of sponsoring an event held by Queen’s University Management School to celebrate the first graduates from the Actuarial Science and Risk Management degree programme.

Spence & Partner’s is now embarking on its third year of sponsoring placement students from the programme and has an objective of being viewed as the actuarial employer of choice in Northern Ireland. Read more »

Alan Collins

Yesterday, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) confirmed the much-trailed changes to accounting for pension benefits in accordance with IAS 19. The changes will be effective for accounting years commencing 1 January 2013, though earlier adoption is encouraged.

IAS 19 applies to all UK (and EU) listed Companies, though can be adopted by non-listed companies. The main UK pension accounting standards, FRS 17, is effectively being replaced from 2012, so these changes will generally also affect non-listed companies.

The main changes are as follows:

  • The replacement of the expected return on assets element of the profit and loss charge by a credit linked to the discount rate used to measure the liabilities. Therefore given that an interest charge already applies to the liabilities, the final result on the P&L account will effectively be an interest charge (credit) on the plan deficit (surplus); and
  • Companies which partially recognise actuarial “experience” in the profit and loss account will either need to fully recognise year on year experience or alter the accounting method to recognise experience gains and losses via the Statement of Recognised Gains and Losses (STRGL).

Further disclosures will also be required in relation to the characteristics of defined benefit plans and the risks which plan sponsors are exposed to by operating these plans.

So, what does this mean?

The main conclusion is that, all else being equal, Company profits will be reduced. It has recently been estimated that the replacement of the expected return credit could reduce UK Company profits by £10 billion per annum.

Where full recognition of actuarial experience is adopted, the profits or losses arising from defined benefit pension schemes will be significantly more volatile.

It has also been argued that the changes will lead to a move away from equity investments by defined benefit pension schemes as holding equities is no longer “rewarded” on the P&L.

However, many within the pensions industry often over-dramatise the attention paid to disclosed pension accounting figures in the profit and loss account. I agree with the views that most analysts already set-aside any windfalls on the P&L associated with the pension scheme, particularly when brought about by the current expected return on assets credit.

It will interesting to see if the changes do hasten a move away from equity investment by schemes. There is already a trend to de-risk and I see this continuing, but doubt whether the major driver will be these accounting changes. More likely, it will driven by trustees and employers who are less willing to be exposed to the risk of volatile funding levels and greater uncertainty in future funding costs.

David Davison

I’ve seen a number of exercises recently which have looked to model potential scheme mortality costs in relation to the quality of health of the scheme membership. The rationale is that certain employers may have a workforce which is likely to be in poorer health and therefore have a lower life expectancy than might be assumed as ‘standard’. This can then be used as a basis to adjust the mortality assumptions and therefore reduce liabilities, deficit and ultimately costs.

Whilst the results of these exercises are often illuminating I would seek to add a note of caution to the process and those considering such a review need to consider the positives and negatives. Read more »

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