Our experts

  • Paul Houghton

    Paul Houghton

    Partner and Head of Actuarial Consulting

  • Mark Futcher

    Mark Futcher

    Partner and Head of DC

  • At BW, our unique approach gives our consultants the freedom to find the best solutions and provide the best advice to clients.


    As we picked up the Pension Consultancy of the Year award – our second in a row – at this year’s Pensions Age Awards, BW’s head of actuarial consulting, Paul Houghton and head of DC consulting, Mark Futcher talked to Pensions Age about our win – and our why.

    What defines a ‘good’ pension fund consultant? Whether a scheme is large or small, defined benefit or defined contribution, a ‘good’ consultant is one who identifies their clients’ bespoke demands and then solves these through an open, collaborative approach; often using creative thinking and solutions to overcome unique challenges because no pension scheme is the same.

    The right culture

    In any business, it is important to have the right culture. At Barnett Waddingham, we are fiercely proud of our free-thinking culture, independence and ownership structure, which we believe set us apart from our competitors and gives us the freedom to go beyond the expected for our clients.

    Rather than setting our employees individual targets to meet, the only expectation on them is to do what is right by our clients and their members, with a view to building long-term sustainable relationships. Our partners do not have to report monthly performance numbers and metrics, so we’re only accountable to each other within our partnership. We place a lot of importance on developing our teams, so they have the support to be the best that they can be. Being included in The Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For is testament to this.

    This unique approach means that our consultants have the freedom to just be consultants to their clients and consider each specific challenge to help find the best solution and provide the best advice.

    Our DB consultancy

    We provide tailored services to DB scheme trustees, with fund sizes ranging from £1 million to over £5 billion. Our excellent service to trustees received the Investor in Customers gold accreditation for the second year running, with scores for our service delivery improving during the pandemic.

    There has been a rush by advisers to focus on DB schemes buying out benefits as some schemes move very close to their end game but there are still schemes open to new members and accruing benefits, which have been overlooked.

    We still very much see ourselves as being able to advise all schemes whatever stage they are in. Our DB Navigator framework, around strategy planning for pension schemes, is perfect for a mature scheme at the end of its life but also suits a young one that is still earning new benefits.

    During the pandemic a number of our clients saw funding losses or had concerns for members as some sponsors really struggled. Some businesses even collapsed overnight. At our annual DB Pensions Conference throughout September and October, we look beyond the old ways of thinking to help pension professionals adopt decision - making skills for the future.

    Our DC consultancy

    At the heart of our DC client offerings is what we call our ‘ACDC’ approach: Analyse root issues then Consult, Deliver solutions and Check it works. We have a range of experts on hand if clients want to explore various different areas further. The breadth of experience across the team is focused on analytical problem solving and this has been invaluable to our clients during the pandemic.

    Through our DC consultancy, we work with employers and trustees to implement pension arrangements that can generate the best possible outcomes for their members. There is a relentless drive by The Pensions Regulator to consolidate the DC pensions market, but we don’t necessarily agree that this is the right answer. For schemes that want to continue running, we’re supporting them to become as efficient as possible. We believe that as long as you can get a quality offering at competitive pricing terms from the pension provider, it doesn’t really matter what size of scheme you are.

    This article originally appeared in the winners’ brochure supplement of the September digital edition of Pensions Age.

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