Timely and efficient IAS19 accounting for a company with £1.5 billion of DB obligations

Our client, P&O, has around £1.5 billion of pension liabilities on an IAS19 basis, in three separate defined benefit (DB) pension arrangements.

The need

P&O has to provide half-year and year-end disclosures to its overseas parent company within six working days of the accounting date. With two of its arrangements relating to obligations in the MNOPF and MNRPF multi-employer pension schemes, P&O was looking to reduce the cost of producing these pension accounting disclosures, while ensuring it could still provide the numbers within the required timescales.

Our approach

The key to our approach is a clear timetable, and a timely start. We set out actions and deadlines for all parties a couple of months before the disclosure date. We then provide assumptions advice to the company a month in advance of the disclosure date, so that we can agree the methodology. This allows us to agree the final assumptions within two working days of the effective date, simply by taking into account changes in market conditions.

As multi-employer schemes, calculations for the MNOPF and MNRPF accounting disclosures can be complicated. For these schemes, P&O needs to determine its share of the overall assets and liabilities, but very often the information available does not relate to the effective date of the disclosures, so an approximation is needed. This includes taking into account changes such as the contributions being paid by the different sponsoring employers, asset performance and changes to the liabilities. We ensure that we engage early in the process with the company’s auditors to ensure that they are happy with the calculation method that we propose to use.

The outcome

Our client was very pleased with the quality of our work - not only did we provide the numbers more quickly than their previous provider, we also achieved a significant reduction in cost for them. In addition to this, we received excellent feedback from the company’s auditors, who noted that our early engagement with them meant that no issues arose after the balance sheet date.

Accounting for pension schemes

Advice on defined benefit pension schemes

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