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DB Scheme consulting
Pensions strategy for providers
DC Governance
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Pensions administration consulting

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Many people believe that DC is simple – in concept it is, but all too often, by accident or design, it just isn’t. In addition, the requirements and practicalities of running DC schemes today do not match those expected when many schemes were set up. We can help you look at all aspects of your DC scheme to ensure smooth and efficient running, including:

DC vehicle type

The choice of type of DC arrangement brings with it different regulatory, legislative and governance consequences. Whilst the differences have narrowed over the years, there are still a number of fundamental differences between running a trust based scheme to that of a contract based arrangement, and different again when using a master trust. We can help you clarify your objectives and required features and provide clear and focused advice as to the type of DC scheme that would meet them, having been through the process numerous times with many different types of employer.

Provider / product selection

Once you have decided on the type of DC arrangement, choosing the provider or product to deliver it is the next critical decision. Products and features can be very different from what, on the face of it, are similar offerings. A detailed and independent knowledge of the whole market place, and what features impact member outcomes, is vital when selecting a provider. We will use our considerable experience in both selecting providers and in designing products, to ensure that your chosen offering meets your needs

Ongoing cost efficiencies

Whilst the cost benefits of changing scheme type or provider may be substantial, it may just be that tweaks to your existing arrangement are all that are required. For ‘unbundled’ schemes where the company bears the costs of administration, we can help you consider the ways in which employer costs can be reduced for both active and deferred members to make the arrangement more sustainable. These can include the introduction of additional member charges or transfers to a master trust. For ‘bundled’ schemes, negotiations with the provider can often result in a reduction in charges especially if they haven’t been reviewed since the start of the scheme. Our experience and senior provider contacts will help you with this.

Contribution structure

A (if not the) major influence on the size of an eventual pension pot is the level of contributions that are paid in. This is strongly impacted by the structure of the contributions and how they are communicated. We can work through all of the contribution structure options and, importantly, demonstrate the impact each will have both on the company’s pension costs and members’ eventual retirement benefits. This will help you find an appropriate balance between these two usually competing factors.

Investment options and defaults

DC investment strategies and performance is one area that many involved in pensions get very excited about but what is all too often overlooked is that the investment strategy needs to be able to be administered and communicated to members. We can help you design an appropriate investment approach, choose a default or provide a practical perspective on any formal investment advice that you may receive. Either way, we will ensure that it actually adds to the value of your scheme and doesn’t cause administrative or communication issues down the line.

At retirement options and strategies

With the introduction of  pension freedoms it’s important that members are given all information regarding, and ease of access to, the options now available to them. We can talk you through these options, their differences and the requirement of the underlying administration and payroll systems needed to provide them. We can also help you determine the most appropriate options to make available from within your current arrangement and which are best suited to provision by a third party. We can then help you design and implement those options and help you select ‘preferred’ providers as needed.

Ongoing governance requirements and solutions

We can help you consider the different approaches to scheme governance including the use of independent trustees, the extent of required compliance with The Pension Regulator’s DC Code or the use of a governance committee in a contract based arrangement. In addition, we can assist in the use of sub-committees and their roles and responsibilities plus overall terms of reference for trustees and governance groups. We have been at the forefront of developing answers to these issues for more than 20 years and can apply this experience directly to your circumstances to get the approach that works best for you.

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