Pension provision is an essential and often material issue for employers, and the role of the trustee is becoming increasingly challenging.

This is the case for both ongoing defined contribution (DC)/auto-enrolment provision and the management of defined benefit (DB) pension liabilities.

The challenge for employers

DB schemes can present the sponsor with costly and unpredictable cash flow requirements; and increasing levels of legislative and regulatory scrutiny can consume substantial amounts of management time.

By comparison, DC pension provision can meet the requirements of employer auto-enrolment responsibilities. Increasingly, optional enhanced DC benefits are core elements of employee flexible reward structures. Employers may choose to make provision using fully outsourced contract based arrangements, for example a DC master trust provider, or hybrid/DC-only trust-based arrangements.

There is an increasing requirement for governance requirements over these key employee benefits continue to increase, including the assessment of DC master trust covenant strength, setting up an Independent Governance Committee (IGC) to monitor contract based providers, or Trustee Boards for Trust-based provision.

The role of the trustee

The role of the trustee in looking after pension arrangements on behalf of members is also becoming increasingly onerous as governance requirements continue to increase. Competing demands for employers' free cash, coupled with heightened regulator activity and greater public awareness, means negotiating suitable funding plans or agreed DC contribution rates is more pressurised than ever before. Frequent legislative changes add to the complexity of ensuring all statutory duties are met and good governance processes adhered to.

A trusted adviser

The need for quality support from a trusted adviser is as important as ever. While the range of services needed may be very broad, from compliance requirements to added-value advice, the best value arises from quality proactive advice that works in partnership with other providers and supports the trustee/employer or  IGC’s governance responsibilities.

How we can help

We provide award-winning pension scheme assurance and advisory services in relation to both DB and DC arrangements. Working  collaboratively with trustees, outsourced service providers and employers, we tailor our services and draw from a full range of in-house UK-based experts.

We act for more than 600 UK schemes, of which 52 have assets in excess of £1 billion. These schemes encompass a wide spectrum of scheme size/complexity, benefit structures, sponsors’ status, financial strength, in-house and outsourced scheme management, and associated advisors. We work closely with both The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), giving us detailed insight into how these key bodies operate.

We write the Industry Audit & Accounting Guide for Pension Schemes and the Pensions Digest. The firm is also a member of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, business support provider to the Pensions Research Accountants Group. Many of our team are affiliate members of the Pensions Management Institute and we participate in working parties hosted by organisations such as the Employer Covenant Working Group (ECWG) and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA). This ensures we have a deep understanding of emerging issues in the sector, and contribute to the development of new regulation and guidance.

Our key services are:

Awards

Partner, Head of Pensions Neil Knights

+44 (0)20 7865 2873

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Pensions Age Awards

Pensions accountancy firm of the year 2016