Member outcomes at the heart of our advice

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Barnett Waddingham was this year awarded Pensions Consultancy of the Year by Pensions Age.

For us, this is award is significant validation of our approach to our work – delivering high-quality pension services to our clients. When taken alongside our recent ranking among Best Companies’ top 100 companies to work for, we take great pride in the culture we have created that allows our people to flourish and for our clients to enjoy the benefits.

Today, we offer actuarial, administration and management services, covering DB, DC and self-invested schemes, which sit alongside our increasingly broad portfolio of services that includes risk, insurance and investment. We act as a trusted partner to almost 25% of FTSE 100 and almost 15% of FTSE 350 companies. Our team of over 50 scheme actuaries – supported by around 100 qualified and 100 student actuaries – are appointed to around 400 DB pension schemes, with fund sizes ranging from £1 million to £8 billion.

"Pensions clients want to ensure members can access the full range of outcomes and options while protecting them from making inappropriate choices or engaging with unscrupulous advisers."

The key message we received from our pensions clients about their priorities over the past year has, reassuringly, been for a concerted focus on members. They want to ensure members can access the full range of outcomes and options while protecting them from making inappropriate choices or engaging with unscrupulous advisers. Fortunately, we provide a genuinely independent offering that avoids off-the-shelf solutions, putting member outcomes at the heart of our advice.

Our unique combination of consultants, who are encouraged to think creatively, combined with our ongoing investment in IT and technology, delivers truly innovative and valuable consultancy advice that meets our clients’ aims. Providing self-developed software and engagement platforms not only helps our clients, but enables their members to help themselves.

Approaching the endgame with confidence

As part of our focus on member outcomes for DB schemes, we dedicate a great deal of time towards supporting clients in strategic planning for their scheme’s endgame. This includes producing annual research to help organisations benchmark their progress, to providing a framework for sponsors and trustees to agree on appropriate timelines and actions – whether that be buyout, consolidation, self-sufficiency or controlled run-off.  

There are many reasons why planning for this long-term objective is so important. Identifying the horizon target and coordinating best practice for settling members’ benefits is, firstly, good risk management. The process will result in better integration of pension scheme funding and wider investment decisions, as well as stronger levels of regulatory compliance.

Our framework for endgame planning combines our traditional actuarial, administration, governance and investment consultancy skills with a deep knowledge of the options available for settling benefits. It cuts through the complexities to focus on key issues, illustrating benefits and returns when it comes to key strategy decisions.

Our commitment to supporting wider change

Endgame planning is of course not the only issue on the table. Schemes are maturing, the number of pensioners are rising and cashflow is becoming more restricted. Schemes’ priorities must therefore adapt if they want their strategy to deliver security.

This includes re-evaluating whether they have the right strategic partner to meet their needs, which our research shows almost half of schemes have looked to do this past year. However, trustees need firm guidance on the skills required of their adviser, as well as how to measure the value of an actuarial consultant.

Free thinking and independence are highly sought-after qualities in a consultant. Schemes are increasingly searching for adaptable partners who aren’t tied down by traditional ‘house rules’ on how clients are managed. At Barnett Waddingham, we remain committed to fulfilling these expectations to those already working with us as facilitated by our absence of commercial products and our ownership structure.

If you are facing any of the challenges mentioned above, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

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