Top reasons for schemes retendering consultants revealed

The top triggers that lead to pension schemes retendering actuarial consultant contracts have been revealed in a new report from Barnett Waddingham.

Its report, Navigating Change, found that 76 per cent of senior trustees indicated that “reaching an impasse or crisis point on a current initiative” would lead them to consider requesting a new actuarial consultant, making it the top reason for change.

“A change for market conditions” was revealed to be the second most common reason cited for retendering consultants, with 70 per cent of respondents listing it as a factor.

The third most listed reason was “standard governance procedures” (66 per cent), followed by “rising costs” (62 per cent).

Barnett Waddingham’s report also found that “free thinking and “independent advice” were two of the factors that trustees value most, as UK pension schemes are experiencing structural shifts as DB schemes reach a mature status.

Commenting, Barnett Waddingham partner and head of trustee consulting, Paul Houghton said: “Independence of thought allows a consultant to be unrestricted in offering what they consider to be the most appropriate advice for an individual scheme.

“The scheme - and the consultant - can therefore be confident advice is correct for the scheme. This avoids reaching such crisis points which can happen if there are other factors influencing the advice.

“This should also deliver a more innovative approach for the next stage of the scheme’s development and help surmount impasses, by focusing on the specific needs and finding the right strategies.”

The report also highlighted inconsistencies in adviser assessment. According to the findings, schemes are more likely to share negative feedback on a regular basis than positive feedback.

Houghton added: “We do not believe positive feedback will necessarily improve the consultant’s performance, but it highlights an imbalance in the approach to measuring performance and value.

“Schemes have a right to expect high performance from their actuarial consultant, yet are doing little or nothing to measure, monitor and assess the performance of advisers.

“Better quality and more consistent engagement between schemes and their advisers will have a profound effect upon the direction the strategy takes.”

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