Media Releases

Ian Conlon

As a result of Government proposals to change the way public sector pensions increase, thousands of divorcing couples may be unable to finalise the financial aspects of their divorce according to a leading pensions consultant.

Government plans mean many pension schemes in both the private and public sector will not be in a position to implement pension sharing orders or even to issue transfer value statements.

“This is a very disappointing state of affairs” said Ian Conlon, Pensions and Divorce expert at Spence & Partners, Consulting Actuaries. “Peoples’ lives move on and they should be able to sort out their affairs and I am afraid this is an unintended consequence of government pension policy.”

The proposals announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in the June 2010 budget state the Government’s intention to link future increases in public sector pensions to changes in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) instead of increasing in line with the annual change in the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

Over a period of time it is expected that CPI will be lower than RPI and all public sector Cash Equivalent Transfer Values (CETVs) will reduce to take account of this, a reduction that could be around 20% or more in some cases.

As a result, it is understood that most if not all, public sector schemes have already stopped quoting CETVs and it is likely that this delay will continue until further guidance is published. This, in turn, will mean pension sharing orders issued will not be implemented until the position is clearer, and for those in the midst of divorce proceedings, whose calculations are put on hold, it could mean a considerable increase in costs.

Ian Conlon added: “Divorce proceedings are expensive and stressful enough without a log-jam of cases building up while pensions administrators, lawyers and actuaries debate the legal issues and amend software to deal with the changes.”

“Whilst a degree of uncertainty may remain, it may well be attractive for some parties to proceed having been provided with an estimate of the impact of the change.

“Here at Spence & Partners we have developed specific software which can help divorcing parties and their legal advisers with an estimate of the likely impact of the change and the potential change in value of a pension share which was in the process of being agreed which we believe we will be helpful in many cases”.

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For further information please contact Ian Conlon (07718 365129), Brian Spence (07802 403013), Rebecca McDonald (0141 331 1004) or email us at divorce@spenceandpartners.co.uk

Spence & Partners are a firm of Actuaries, Consultants and Pensions Administrators with offices in Glasgow, London and Belfast and experience of operating pension schemes in England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Visit www.spenceandpartners.co.uk

Note:

In the June 2010 budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the Government’s intention for future increases to public sector pensions to be linked to changes in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). To date, such pensions were increased in line with the annual change in the Retail Prices Index (RPI).

The Pensions Minister subsequently issued a statement on 8 July confirming that the Government also intends to use CPI for determining statutory minimum pension increases which apply to private sector pension schemes.

Over longer periods of time it is expected that CPI will be lower than RPI. All public sector Cash Equivalent Transfer Values (CETVs) will reduce to take account of this; the position with private sector pension schemes is more complicated and the impact will depend upon the specific scheme rules. In the case of a member of a public sector pension scheme, the reduction in their CETV could be as much as 20% or more.

As this is such a material change, we understand that most, if not all public sector schemes have stopped quoting CETVs and it is likely that they will defer the implementation of pension shares on divorce until revised factors are in place. This will delay divorce proceedings and may increase costs for those in the process whose calculations are put on hold.

Spence & Partners Ltd have developed specific software which can provide divorcing parties and their legal advisers with an estimate of the likely impact of the change in the level of increases on the CETV, and the potential impact on the value of the pension share on divorce which was in the process of being agreed. Whilst a degree of uncertainty may remain, it may well be attractive for some parties to proceed having been provided with an estimate of the impact of the change.

Rebecca Lavender

Leading actuary, Spence & Partners, has today launched its new on-line Pension & Divorce support service as part of its industry leading website. The pages have been designed to provide a simple guide for individuals and their professional advisers through this complex and technical area. The site includes:-

  • A simple step by step guide through the key issues.
  • A unique on-line calculator which allows individuals to get an estimate of what their (or their spouses) pension may be worth covering both pensions in payment and prospective pensions.
  • Case study examples highlighting key issues
  • Useful document downloads to help obtain the information individuals will need.
  • A link to our popular blog which will be regularly updated with topical comment.
  • Access to a lawyer and financial adviser search facility
  • A link to a life expectancy calculator to assist the clients financial adviser deal with likely future cash flow requirements.

Spence & Partners Director David Davison commented “ We hope this new service will provide useful support for individuals struggling with this difficult and complex issue and will evolve in to a useful forum to ask questions and obtain the information people need. We believe the calculator on the site will prove particularly popular as it is often difficult for individuals to get a feel for just how significant pension assets might be and also for lawyers to get indicative figures for clients with pensions in payment and this facility will deal with both of those issues.”

David Davison

The end of March 2010 will see the closure of the Scottish Voluntary Sector Pensions Scheme (“SVSPS”), run by the Pensions Trust.

David Davison, guest blogger on governance and finance for Civil Society, explains the stark reality of significant pension deficits, and the need for participants reviewing their benefit provision to arrive at a solution that meets their needs.

David specialises in providing pensions advice to charities and not-for-profit organisations, especially those who run their own final salary schemes or who participate in the LGPS and multi-employer schemes.

Ian Campbell

What is your pension worth?

This year is likely to bring more unwelcome news for members of company pension schemes and finance directors grappling with accounting disclosures. In fact, that is a bit of an understatement.

Improving world stock market returns in 2009 will have helped the asset side of the pension balance sheet, particularly for those pension schemes with a meaningful equity exposure, albeit it has been a bit of a volatile ride. This may have given some finance direction a false sense of optimism. Read more »

Sean Browes

Why reinvent the wheel?

If, as industry figures increasingly tend to show, defined contribution(DC)  pension schemes are the way forward and defined benefit (DB) schemes are going to continue to wither on the vine, then it is time for some radical thinking about what the future should look like.

The marketplace is awash with new ideas and the government is falling over itself to come up with new initiatives, but the question has to be asked: why re-invent the wheel? Read more »

David Davison

Alan Collins has become the latest recruit to leading actuary and pensions administrator Spence & Partners. Alan, a qualified Scheme Actuary, joined the actuarial team in Glasgow from Mercer HR Consulting on January 5.

This further strengthens the team following the appointment of Ian Campbell as Actuarial Director in May 2009 as reported at: http://www.spenceandpartners.co.uk/archives/ian-campbell-becomes-latest-significant-recruit-at-actuaries-spence-partners/

Brian Spence, managing director of Spence & Partners, said: ”This is a great appointment and we are really pleased to have Alan on board. His broad experience and enthusiasm will add quality and depth to our actuarial team and provide invaluable support to our graduate recruits and part-qualified actuaries, as well as creating a skilled new resource for our clients. We are all really looking forward to working with him.”

Alan is a graduate of the University of Glasgow, where he attained an M.Sci First Class in mathematics and physics and the University of Edinburgh, where he attained a post graduate diploma in financial mathematics. Alan qualified as an actuary in December 2006 and obtained his practising certificate in November 2008.

Alan has particular expertise in buy-outs/buy-ins, accounting for pension costs, risk reduction exercises and mergers and acquisitions.

For further information please contact David Davison at consulting actuaries Spence & Partners on 0141 331 1004.

Spence & Partners are a firm of Actuaries, Consultants and Pensions Administrators with offices in Glasgow, London and Belfast and experience of operating pension schemes in England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Issued on behalf of Spence & Partners by Karen Milne at Blueprint Media tel 0141 353 1515
Date:   January 2010

Brian Spence

Q.   Every time I open the paper I see another company pension scheme is closing. I am worried that our may be next. How easy is it for my employer to close the scheme to new or existing members, and what as a members should we be monitoring?

Firms cannot any longer have an open-ended commitment to final salary pensions, especially in the environment where deficits narrow or widen almost on a daily basis.

But closing a final-salary pension scheme is not an easy or uncomplicated option. Read more »

David Davison

The Pensions Trust has at last drawn a line under the Scottish Voluntary Services Pension Scheme with plans to close it to all future benefit accrual from April 2010. The knock-on effect of this decision is to highlight how wholly unsuitable it was for the many small charities and not-for-profit organisations who were encouraged to take part.

It also leaves many questions unanswered. Why was there such enthusiastic encouragement to participate in a pension scheme of this type? Why were these small organisations not given very clear guidance about the potential risks that they were exposed to as a result? Had they been, would so many have blindly taken part?

And the biggest question remains: what is going to happen to other similar schemes with participants all equally ill-equipped to deal with final salary liabilities?

David Davison is a Director at Spence & Partners, independent actuaries and consultants in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Brian Spence

In the pensions endgame business, you only get one shot at calculating all the benefits and they have to be right. The fact that much of the necessary information is still held in a variety of electronic and paper records does not help the process.
The industry has had 20 years now since computerisation became the norm and its record in archiving full information in a consistent form does not inspire confidence – not least because it is a long and laborious task.
But the digitising of vital information needs to be completed now as more and more schemes close to accrual. The time for bad record-keeping is past. Like the rest of the industry, it has to be dragged into the 21st century.

For further information please contact David Davison at consulting actuaries Spence & Partners on 0141 331 1004.

Issued on behalf of Spence & Partners by Karen Milne at Blueprint Media tel 0141 353 1515
Date:   January 2010

Rebecca Lavender

Independent Trustee Dalriada Trustees Limited, sister company to Spence & Partners, are pleased to announce that from 1st October Claire McGruer will join Brian Spence and Connie Johnstone on the Board of Directors of Dalriada Trustees Limited.

Claire joined Dalriada Trustees in 2007 and acts as a trustee to a number of schemes who benefit from her wide ranging experience providing technical support and advice to both corporate and trustee clients.

Brian Spence commented that “Connie and I are delighted that Claire will be joining us and we are confident that this is a positive development that will strengthen our business in terms of both shaping the strategic direction and our decision making processes as a trustee.”

For further information please contact David Davison at consulting actuaries Spence & Partners on 0141 331 1004.

Issued on behalf of Spence & Partners by Karen Milne at Blueprint Media tel 0141 353 1515
Date:   January 2010

David Davison

Watching you, watching me

A non-executive directorship used to be the icing on the cake to many a long and distinguished political, financial or commercial career.

Leaving the white heat of competition behind them, these positions afforded leading figures the chance to put their experience and knowledge to use, earn a handsome fee for doing so and seemingly carried few personal liabilities or responsibilities – certainly none that were taken too seriously.

In the wake of numerous corporate mismanagement scandals that has all changed and the role of a non-executive director is not the hands-off, care free money maker it was once taken for. But what has all this got to do with pensions?

Well, Read more »

David Davison

A study conducted by Stanford University in California has suggested that by 2050 the population could have to work to the grand age of 85! Based upon their calculations currently we have 1.5 pensioners for every five employees, but by 2050 that figure will rise to four pensioners for every five workers. Read more »

David Davison

In these tough economic times Spence & Partners and their group companies have announced another year of sustainable growth. Turnover for the group companies topped £4m and profit before taxation was up 45% from £440,000 to £639,000 for the year ending 31 March 2009.

The company continued to expand in staff terms and increased headcount by 28.5% from 35 to 45.

spence-income1
Liz Fergusson, a director of the company commented “these are a fantastic set of results given the current economic conditions, and demonstrate the commitment by all our people to provide an excellent service for our clients. We have ambitious plans for the business, and have committed to significant investments in IT infrastructure, data security and document management all of which we believe will keep us at the forefront in our market.”

For further information please contact David Davison at Spence & Partners (www.spenceandpartners.co.uk) on 0141 331 1004.

Issued on behalf of Spence & Partners by Blueprint Media tel 0141 353 1515

Date: August ‘09

David Davison

Whilst many graduates are bearing the brunt of the economic downturn and struggling to find graduate positions as most organisations have either cut or put a freeze on graduate recruitment, actuaries Spence & Partners are bucking the trend.

To meet the continued expansion of their business and to grow a strong talent pool for the future, the business recently recruited seven graduates to work in their offices in Belfast and Glasgow. Providing career opportunities in actuarial, pension consultancy and administration, our graduates are supported through professional studies in their chosen post graduate field and our aim is to provide interesting and worthwhile careers for all our people.

Liz Fergusson, a director of Spence & Partners commented “as a progressive actuarial and pension consultancy practice, Spence & Partners recognises the need to recruit and nurture the most talented individuals. Our mix of work provides challenging objectives; our people are encouraged to challenge the status quo, be creative thinkers and have a “can do” attitude”.

For further information please contact David Davison at Spence & Partners (www.spenceandpartners.co.uk) on 0141 331 1004.

Issued on behalf of Spence & Partners by Blueprint Media

Date: August 2009

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David Davison

Northern Ireland actuaries Spence & Partners recognise the need to nurture talent and are keen to support their local communities. This year, we have provided placements to two of the first students studying toward a BSc in Actuarial Science at Queens University Belfast. In the third year of their degree course, students undertake a placement in an actuarial environment, for a minimum period of nine months.

As a progressive actuarial and pension consultancy practice, the students are given a broad range of work, with the potential to quickly contribute and participate in helping to achieve the objectives of the business, whilst working closely with senior qualified actuaries, trainee actuaries, pension consultants and administrators.

Ian Campbell, a director at Spence & Partners commented “since the Actuarial Science degree programme was established at Queens University Belfast, we have built a strong association with the faculty, and we have a keen interest in actuarial research and education. The quality and academic calibre of the students we have met is excellent, and we very much want to be an employer of choice”.

For further information please contact David Davison at Spence & Partners (www.spenceandpartners.co.uk) on 0141 331 1004.

Issued on behalf of Spence & Partners by Blueprint Media

Date: August 2009

 

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David Davison

Spence & Partners Limited, who are fast building a reputation as a dynamic and progressive force in the actuarial and pension consulting market in Scotland and Northern Ireland, have managed to secure the services of Ian Campbell, BSc, FFA, a senior actuary with decades of experience at the highest level of the profession.

His appointment as director responsible for actuarial services enhances the strength, gravitas and professional integrity of the Spence & Partners team which, under Managing Director Brian Spence, has built up an unrivalled reputation in a fiercely competitive sector. Read more »

Rebecca Lavender
MacMillan Cancer Support receive £750 from Liz Fergusson

MacMillan Cancer Support receive £750 from Liz Fergusson

Spence & Partners are pleased to support Macmillan Cancer Support with a donation of £750. The money was raised by donating the funds that would have been used to buy Christmas Cards. Instead, Spence & Partners’ clients received a festive and environmentally friendly e-greeting and staff were asked to select a charity they wished to support.

Liz Fergusson (pictured) presented the cheque to Emma Rae from the charity at the Spence & Partners Belfast office commenting that “Sending an electronic Christmas greeting gave us a great opportunity to demonstrate how a small change can make a significant difference to a charity we are delighted to support”.

David Davison

On the back of continued business success, leading actuary and administrator, Spence & Partners, continue to strengthen their servicing team, despite the economic background.

Colette Sharpe joins Spence & Partners as Head of Fund Accounting with responsibility for the entire fund accounting provision and cash management facility for both Spence and Partners Ltd. and Dalriada Trustees. Read more »