DB Navigator: the framework

DB Navigator is our clear and simple decision-making framework, giving you the knowledge, structure and tools to help you sail smoothly towards your defined benefit (DB) pension endgame. It helps you to identify all the actions you’ll need to navigate your scheme to its safe harbour. DB Navigator has been designed to guide your DB scheme strategically through the choppy waters of endgame planning.

Getting your scheme to a safe place

Mapping your DB scheme journey

Think of your DB pension scheme journey as a flowing river – one that has distinct stages, may benefit from the confluence of multiple schemes, and will change shape to move towards its destination as efficiently as possible.

Packed with case studies, videos and takeaways, our latest interactive DB Navigator guide describes just a selection of the complex issues you may need to consider to reach your destination safely and on time.

You may still be many years from its conclusion, but when you're able to see the obstacles and disruptions to your scheme journey you can take steps to navigate the best way forward. 

Defining the journey plan

Defining the endgame aim is critical to setting both the long-term objective (LTO) funding target and the LTO investment strategy. What is appropriate for a longer-term run-off may not be the best option for buyout and vice-versa. By not choosing an appropriate course, you risk drifting away from a desired outcome,  

We combine our market leading actuarial, investment and pensions administration expertise to develop an integrated journey plan – considered holistically – that applies our independent, impartial approach. A well-designed journey plan is one which considers all the relevant perspectives

Our DB Navigator framework is designed to identify any issues early, so they can be addressed in a timely and efficient manner.

You then have the knowledge, structure and tools to optimise your strategy – helping you sail smoothly towards your DB endgame.

Measuring your progress

Of course, there will always be a degree of uncertainty on your journey. So, it’s important to effectively monitor and have accurate and timely information, enabling you to confidently address threats and seize opportunities when they arise. Like a river, your scheme journey will have fast and slow parts. So, at times you will need to act quickly, in order to get back on course and move closer towards your goal. 

The key question is “When does it make strategic sense to take action?”

You get a clear framework for monitoring progress and identifying where you can adjust your course. We use a simple four-point framework to assess whether it’s the right time for a scheme to consider a longevity risk transaction. 

Our specialist monitoring tools, such as Illuminate and DB End Gauge, will ensure you always know how you’re progressing and what you need to do to get yourself back on track.


DB Navigator® is brought to life by Illuminate – our specialist tool designed to guide you through the financial management of your DB scheme. It will help answer key questions, such as when you can expect to reach your endgame and what actions you can take to speed up your journey or reduce risk. Through a customisable monitoring dashboard it will also help you capture opportunities and warn you of impending problems.



As you embark on your endgame journey, our research will give you a deeper insight into the issues relevant to your scheme and will allow you to benchmark your progress against others. This can help you in planning your own endgame strategy.


Read our DB Navigator interactive guide

Our DB Navigator framework is designed to help you think strategically about your endgame planning. It’s about choosing where you want to go, rather than simply “going with the flow.”

We answer five core questions from different advisory perspectives to illustrate how each stage of a DB pension scheme needs to be efficiently co-ordinated, keeping you on a steadily moving course to achieve the desired outcome for your scheme.

DB Navigator: the framework

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Optimising the plan

It’s important to prepare for the climate of tomorrow, by optimising your plan for climate risk today. But be aware that the climate-aware investment landscape is changing rapidly. Sometimes you will need to branch off, rather than just following the route “downstream.”

The actions you take to optimise your plan for climate risk today may change over the course of the journey.

That means reviewing your plan often for new market developments and making adjustments where necessary. Also, make sure that decisions are documented — it’s not only good governance but also helps to mitigate reputational risk.

As an independent firm we can help you explore your options properly by providing a full impartial review of market solutions and recommending those that best fit the shape and direction of your scheme.

Preparing for the final leg

As part of your endgame planning, dealing with any defined contribution (DC) benefits is essential to ensure the trust can wind-up smoothly and the project stays on course.  

Whilst DC benefits are often simple to discharge, it is not uncommon for there to be complexities which can have a knock-on impact on timescales. As an independent consultancy firm, Barnett Waddingham is well placed to advise on selection of the right home for the DC assets, enabling you to make the right choices as you move your scheme ‘downstream’ towards its journey’s end.  

There will likely be some obstacles to overcome along the way, but these are rarely insurmountable.

Our extensive research of the market means we have comprehensive knowledge on which to base our support and recommendations — delivered to you via our interactive Provider Selection Tool.

Reaching the journey’s end

Using the river journey analogy, the ultimate goal of your scheme is to flow into the ocean and meet the opportunities that await it. 

Once a buyout opportunity has been identified, we can help schemes maximise their chances of moving quickly into final transaction preparations and approaching insurers, by ensuring that the scheme’s benefit information is in good order.

By monitoring the scheme’s financial position, you will have an early warning system to identify that a buyout transaction is likely to be affordable. 

The final part of the journey often requires dedicated transaction support. Whether your scheme is heading to buyout, self-sufficiency or somewhere else, we can help you put that plan into practice. 

Our independence ensures means that we can achieve the best deal for members and sponsors, so that everyone can sail onto new horizons.

To learn more about DB Navigator and how you can approach your endgame journey with confidence, contact Ian Mills or any one of our team today. 

“No matter how you picture the finer details of your endgame journey, our approach will always be to ensure the best possible outcome for all of the scheme’s stakeholders.”

Partner, Head of DB Endgame Strategy

“Through DB Navigator we use our expertise and market leading systems to help you see the big picture – how we can get your scheme from where it is today to its endgame.”

Principal, Head of DB Endgame 

“We help sponsors and trustees set an appropriate endgame strategy that strikes the right balance between their level of asset de-risking and employer contributions.”

Partner, Head of Employer DB Consulting