DB Pensions Conference   |   Four virtual streams

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DB Pensions Conference

Four streams in September and October

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Our 2021 DB Pensions Conference (Sept–Oct) looked beyond the here and now to help trustees and pension managers consider the future challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

At a time when the pandemic has demanded we all adopt new styles of working and technological advances continue apace, our panel of experts considered where this momentum is taking us.

We went beyond Covid-19 and beyond the old ways of thinking to help pension professionals adopt the decision-making skills that will be necessary in the future.

This free and virtual conference series was a unique opportunity to join industry thought leaders and peers as we provided greater clarity for what may be on the horizon.


Meet our keynote speaker

We were delighted to welcome Philippa Foster Back CBE as our guest keynote speaker during our first conference stream on Tuesday 21 September – Decision-making in a changing environment.

As a former director of the Institute of Business Ethics (2001-2020), Philippa is an in-demand speaker who encourages high standards of business behaviour based on ethical values.

With three decades of business experience at director and board level, Philippa has a background of effective decision-making which embraces sustainability, ethics and diversity. Our stream will outline why these are valuable skills which pension trustee boards must develop. 

Interestingly, Philippa chairs the Antarctic Place Names Committee and is former chairman of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and South Georgia Heritage Trust.

She was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours 2006 for services to the Ministry of Defence and a CBE for services to Antarctic Heritage in the 2014 New Year Honours.

Setting the agenda

10am – 11:15am, Tuesday 21 September

Decision-making in a changing environment

How has decision-making evolved and how can efficiency and effectiveness be maintained in the new virtual environment? Our panel considered if virtual meetings have a long-term future, how diversity and inclusion (D&I) comes into play, and to what extent sustainability will influence decisions. Our guests also discussed if there’s more that boards can do to ensure the quality of their decision-making.

Poll results:

How do you envisage future regular scheduled trustee meetings operating for your scheme?

It is interesting that less than 12% of respondents expect to just go back to all in-person meetings as we had pre-Covid. Even fewer (just 4%) expect the virtual meetings necessitated by lockdown to continue as the norm. Instead, almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents expect to alternate between the two formats going forward, and the remaining 22% expect hybrid meetings to become the standard format.  

Would you consider implementing diversity initiatives for your scheme?

There is a clear order of preference amongst respondents for potential initiatives to increase diversity of trustee boards.

The most popular initiative is a review of recruitment screening and search processes which 71% said they would consider. The next most popular was a review of language, style and methodology used in recruitment material, with 60% said they would consider this. Over a quarter of respondents (26%) also said they would consider appointing a person responsible for diversity.

However, respondents were much less enthusiastic about recruitment quotas with only 2% from our poll saying they would consider.

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Expert panel

The event was chaired by Danny Wilding, Partner, Actuarial Consulting, and panellists included Paul Houghton, Partner and Head of Actuarial Consulting, independent trustees, and our guest keynote speaker Philippa Foster Back, CBE.

10am – 11am, Thursday 30 September

A world beyond Covid-19

Building on the previous stream, the effects of the pandemic have been far more wide ranging than the way we make decisions. This stream focused on two other important aspects of the pandemic - the impact on covenant and on longevity.

With financial support schemes ending it seems likely that some sponsors will be facing distress. There have been some high profile distressed scheme cases in recent years and these can provide key takeaways that are relevant for other schemes. We looked at some obvious signs of distress as well as the implications these can have. A key takeaway was the contingency plans that can be put in place by trustees in preparation for future distress.

Mortality rates and future longevity expectations have been impacted by Covid-19. So, how should trustees allow for all this uncertainty when funding DB pension schemes? And can longevity risk transactions help? Watch the on-demand recording and we’ll help you to reach a meaningful conclusion.

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Expert panel