Pension plan governance and management

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1 Pension plan governance and management

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3 Mercer Pension plan governance Pension and management plan governance and management Ever since the Pensions Act 2004 took effect, most trustee boards have faced challenges that exceed the available time and resources. Increasing complexity and volatility in the investment marketplace, together with regulatory pressure for more transparent and business-like behaviour, make it imperative for trustees to manage their schemes efficiently and effectively. In Mercer s experience, the demands on today s pension plan trustees fall into these areas: Board effectiveness Relationship management Risk management Operational effectiveness Resources for managing the plan While each of these involves many issues, they present opportunities as well as challenges. Successfully addressing them permits trustees to meet their key objective of paying the right benefits to the right people at the right time. How Mercer can help Mercer helps trustee boards establish a governance framework, based on best-practice business principles, that enables trustees to identify strategic solutions and operational synergies for effective pension plan management. We provide expert advice and guidance by: Reviewing existing arrangements and recommending improvements Helping to set objectives in line with regulatory, business and market drivers Facilitating the identification of key risks and ways to mitigate them Designing and implementing delivery solutions Addressing employer-, trustee- and scheme-specific governance issues. In addition, we provide outsourced pensions management, adviser management and trustee secretarial services.

4 Mercer Board effectiveness Like a successful business, a successful pension scheme needs an effective board one that has a well-defined strategy, a robust decision-making process, clear policies and accountabilities, and a rigorous approach to monitoring and risk management. Mercer has a suite of material and tools to help trustee boards become more effective. For example, Mercer Transform covers the various aspects of what makes a board effective, including decision making, knowledge and skills, team dynamics and relationships with advisers, providers and the employer. Trustee effectiveness We facilitated the assessment of a trustee board s current state and the articulation of its desired state, allowing the board to improve: support from the employer, leading to effective management of conflicts of interest the engagement and commitment of the trustees relationships with their advisers the knowledge and competence of the trustees Relationship management Successful plan management relies on management of a number of essential relationships. The most important relationship is that with the employer one requiring more formality under the Pensions Act 2004, which some are finding difficult to establish. Trustees also rely on advisers and providers in the discharge of their duties. Active, ongoing management of these relationships can add value for the trustees. Mercer can help formulate appropriate policy and process around the employer relationship to ensure that trustees receive the information they need to monitor the sponsor s covenant and formulate strategy. We also assist in provider and adviser selection and performance monitoring. 2

5 Pension plan governance and management Risk management The regulatory recommendation to adopt a risk management framework has been seen as putting a burden on trustees. However, if done properly, it can add significant value for relatively modest effort. While the prospect of risk identification can be daunting, the process is made simpler and more focused by basing it on trustees key priorities or objectives. Mercer can work with trustees to establish an effective risk management process in a number of ways. We facilitate workshops to review trustees key aims and priorities, identify the risks they entail, and score and prioritise the risks. Mercer can then help in setting up suitable risk controls and a monitoring system. An alternative is the use of Mercer Risk Manager, a pre-populated risk management tool. While it requires trustees to identify their own objectives and score the risks themselves, Mercer can assist in this process also. Risk management Through workshops facilitated by Mercer and ongoing discussions on risk management, the trustees: developed a risk register that they will review annually now base trustee meeting agendas on strategic objectives, rather than compliance-driven issues developed and agreed service levels with providers, advisers and internal resources engaged the parent company in more robust discussions on the employer covenant and financial guarantees addressed the need to manage conflicts of interest objectively Operational effectiveness Trustees, employers and pensions managers realise that there are important decisions about how to provide pensions services. Costs are significant, resources may be limited, and mistakes can be hard to correct. Even if a plan is closed, it may need to be managed for decades. Choosing the right approach to pensions administration is key to operational effectiveness.

6 Mercer Mercer s operational effectiveness advisory services include: Reviews of pensions functions from board level down, covering risk and mitigation strategies, organisational structure, benchmarks of costs and use of resources, performance of third-party administrators, and effectiveness of systems and procedures Strategic decision support on matters such as insourcing versus outsourcing, changing providers, bundled or unbundled services, merging administration departments, new service models and IT replacement Selection of administrators, lawyers, actuaries and software providers based on our extensive knowledge of the players in the market and our strict protocols to avoid conflicts of interest Outsourced pensions management Trustees need dedicated pensions management support to enable them to fulfil their duties. That support is often provided by the employer. Some trustee boards are concerned about over-reliance on an employer-provided resource, especially if the in-house pensions manager supports both sponsor and trustees and therefore has potential for conflict. This has led an increasing number of trustee boards to seek a support resource that is devoted wholly to them. Mercer provides an outsourced pensions management service for trustees of large pension funds who require independent, strategic guidance and expert direction and support. The service consists of three phases: Identifying the trustees governance and operational objectives and strategy, and designing and resourcing the required service Managing the transition from the current resource Delivering the ongoing service working on-site as required, coordinating and supporting trustee and sub-committee meetings, and facilitating the provision of advice and administrative services As an alternative to outsourcing the entire pensions management function, certain elements of the service, such as trustee secretarial support, can be outsourced individually. 4

7 Pension plan governance and management Outsourced pensions management A major UK PLC, which was taken over by an overseas multinational employer, resulting in the withdrawal of the in-house pensions management team, selected Mercer to provide an outsourced pensions management service because we: had the breadth of knowledge and capabilities to meet the trustees needs, and demonstrated our ability to manage the transition from an in-house team to an outsourced operation demonstrated that we understood their requirements had the right team and framework to deliver the service, while maintaining an independent role for the trustees

8 Mercer Strategic objectives the key to good governance The cornerstone of Mercer s governance framework is the setting of trustees key priorities or objectives. This provides the focus that trustees need to concentrate on what is important to them. Strategic objectives Business plan Identified risks Actions to address risks or to support objectives Agenda setting Required controls Training needs Focusing on objectives also allows trustees to: Have confidence that they are expending the resources of the trust (including their own time) on essential requirements Target training to enhance the decision-making process Make decisions more effectively Demonstrate good stewardship to the pension scheme s members and sponsor Adopt investment strategies appropriate to their governance budget

9 Pension plan governance and management Why Mercer? Mercer is a market leader in pension plan governance and operational effectiveness consulting. We have a multidisciplinary team of consultants who bring expertise across the strategic, technical and operational aspects of governance. With our wide range of practical experience and well-developed intellectual capital, we believe that our team is unique in the industry. Our approach to governance and operational effectiveness consulting is based on the conviction that one size does not fit all. While the principles of effective governance are constants, the way we apply the principles is how we add value. We work closely with our clients to understand their needs and tailor the delivery of our advice. Our style of delivery, especially around high-level governance consulting, is very facilitative. Stakeholder involvement is essential for the success of each project. We pride ourselves on working in partnership with our clients to offer truly bespoke advice and solutions. This experience enhances our intellectual capital and informs our consulting advice for the benefit of all our clients. Contact us To find out more about how Mercer can help you to manage your pension plan more effectively, contact your Mercer consultant or: Rachel Brougham (governance and risk management) Tel 44 (0) Robert Plumb (operational effectiveness) Tel 44 (0) Susan Smith (outsourced pensions management) Tel 44 (0)

10 About Mercer Mercer is a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services, with more than 25,000 clients worldwide. Mercer consultants help clients design and manage health, retirement and other benefits and optimise human capital. The firm also provides customised administration, technology and total benefit outsourcing solutions. Mercer s investment services include global leadership in investment consulting and multimanager investment management. Mercer s global network of 17,000 employees, based in more than 40 countries, ensures integrated, worldwide solutions. Our consultants work with clients to develop solutions that address global and country-specific challenges and opportunities. Mercer is experienced in assisting both major and growing midsize companies.

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12 Argentina Malaysia Australia Mexico Austria Netherlands Belgium New Zealand Brazil Norway Canada Philippines Chile Poland China Portugal Colombia Singapore Czech Republic South Korea Denmark Spain Finland Sweden France Germany Hong Kong Hungary Switzerland Taiwan Thailand Turkey For further information, please contact your local Mercer office or visit our website at: India United Arab Emirates Indonesia United Kingdom Ireland United States Italy Venezuela Japan Issued in the United Kingdom by Mercer Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England No Registered Office: 1 Tower Place West, Tower Place, London EC3R 5BU. Mercer Tower Place London EC3R 5BU Tel +44 (0) Fax +44 (0) Copyright 2008 Mercer LLC. All rights reserved RE

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