Is working with a consultancy group the answer to trustees’ problems?
Can things be done better?
As of 1 January 2022, trust-based defined contribution pension schemes with less than £100m assets under management will have to provide new, more detailed assessments of their scheme. In particular the new Value for Members assessment will require trustees to ask some tough questions of their own pension arrangement. For trustees of these schemes this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the Government announced the change back in June 2021, following a consultation.
What might be a surprise, however, is the implications this may well have for the companies helping you run your scheme.
The requirement to compare your scheme to large schemes, commonly master trusts, that are able to make significant investments to develop their proposition will beg the question: can things be done better than they are now?
In order to answer these questions a real knowledge of the wider DC market is needed, something consultancy firms like us are ideally placed to provide. Our Provider Research Group, made up of technical specialists with decades of experience between them, specialises in understanding what each pension provider brings to the market, working closely with contacts at each company to understand their offerings and how these could work for our clients.
So is working with a consultancy group the answer to trustees’ problems?
Yes and no. There is one burgeoning risk to this approach for many consultancies who often might operate the administration of the scheme, provide the investment funds for the scheme or operate a master trust that could be used as a comparator to the scheme – in other words, having an inherent conflict of interest.
When undertaking this work, trustees need to consider how these conflicts are managed and whether consultancies 'marking their own homework' is an issue – both from a regulatory standpoint and in ensuring the best services are provided to members.
We at Punter Southall Aspire have acknowledged this in recent years and moved away from these areas, no longer providing pension administration nor operating a master trust in order to assure our clients of our impartiality when advising them. If you believe that your adviser may be suffering from a conflict of interest it can be helpful to ask an organisation independent of the day to day running of your scheme to step in and support with this work, potentially as a one off project.
If you’d like to talk to our expert team about our Value for Members assessment, please get in touch.
The most common phrases we heard about investment markets in 2020 include words such as 'torrid', 'unprecedented', 'shock' - and the list goes on… however, what has this really meant for the pension savings provided to your employees and pension scheme members?