What is DC scheme design and governance?

DC Scheme Design & Governance refers to the process of setting up and managing a Defined Contribution (DC) pension scheme. These schemes are employer-sponsored retirement plans where both the employer and employee contribute a portion of the employee's salary towards their retirement savings.

How we can help with DC scheme design

We will work collaboratively with you, tailoring our consultancy support to your needs and circumstances to consider any matters of scheme design.

Data analytics

Data analytics can unlock insights into your scheme membership and wider workforce, highlighting their choices and likely needs. Our GEM (Govern, Engage, Monitor) tool facilitates interactive analysis of a range of factors, giving depth to the insights.

Scheme type

We have no bias for the type of DC scheme our clients use. We will explain the differences and implications, e.g. for the provider market, and then support your preference.

Should you wish to change the scheme type or the pension provider you use, we can support you with the considerations, e.g. review of scheme design, provider selection, implementation and transfer of assets. There are many moving parts to a transition, but our experience will lessen your resource demands and the potential risks, whilst our collaborative approach will ensure you remain fully involved in the strategic decisions.

The Government is encouraging smaller ‘own trust’ schemes to consolidate to improve member outcomes and may look at the opportunities for consolidation of larger schemes. Should you wish to consider consolidation, we will help you successfully navigate through the process.

Contribution options

We can support with reviewing existing contribution structures. We will explain the options for the pay elements that must be recognised as pensionable, and the implications for regulatory minimum contribution rates.

Through our GEM contribution modelling tool, we can model alternative structures and their cost implications, collaborating with you on likely contribution choices by employees. We can also support with projecting the potential effect on retirement outcomes.

We are experienced in supporting harmonisation reviews, e.g. where merger and acquisition activity has resulted in multiple existing structures. We are also experienced in supporting pension salary exchange.

Investment strategy

Your scheme's investment framework reflects your members' likely needs, and our data analytics can help to provide this insight. Key to the framework is the default strategy; this should be suitable for your typical member, both in the growth phase and in the approach to retirement age.

Wider options should cater for targeting specific retirement options, special interests and those members who wish to take a more hands-on approach. Of increasing prominence is the consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and post-retirement investment options for drawdown funds.

Changes to investment strategy and bulk transfers require careful oversight in their delivery, including consideration of transition options to mitigate transaction costs and 'out of market' risk. Our DC consultants are supported by our team of investment experts, giving you access to specialists to meet any sophisticated investment needs you may have.

At-retirement solutions

The at-retirement options and framework to support members on when and how to access their pension savings are vital. The value built up over many years of saving can quickly be reduced by members choosing retirement options that, for example, result in high tax charges, uncompetitive annuities and unsustainable withdrawals.

We can help you review your DC scheme's at-retirement solution, such that your members are well supported to make appropriate decisions.

DC Governance

Whatever type of DC scheme you participate in or operate, we can provide governance support.

Employers’ legal automatic enrolment duties are wide-ranging and apply not only to the pension schemes they use but also to the processes they operate, e.g. certifying their schemes, assessing employees, issuing communications and keeping records. Legal pension duties also apply in other areas, such as formal consultation with employees on certain changes and ‘TUPE’ implications on transfers of employment.

If you participate in a provider’s master trust or contract-based scheme (e.g. Group Personal Pension), the scheme’s governance body will undertake scheme-wide regulatory governance but cannot practicably consider the differing circumstances of the participating employers.

We are experienced in supporting employers with reviewing that their DC schemes remain suitable and compliant and enable good member outcomes.

Our GEM governance review tool facilitates interactive analysis of key areas, e.g. profiles of both the pensioned and non-pensioned workforce, contribution take-up, performance of the default investment arrangement and projected member outcomes. Harnessing our ongoing research of pension providers, the tool also shows our assessment of the pension provider’s capabilities against the average of its peers across key areas.

The governance review provides insight into the continued suitability of scheme design and the pension provider and helps to highlight any need for change or employee engagement.

More about GEM

In addition to governance areas that span both DC and defined benefit (DB) pensions, we can provide trustee support in areas specific to DC, e.g. the annual value for members assessment and the chair’s statement. Supported by our investment consultants, we can also support the formal review of the default investment arrangement and preparation of the statement of investment principles and implementation statement.




Whether you operate employer or trustee governance, we can provide secretarial services to help manage your governance body, e.g. meeting agendas, meeting papers, minutes and management of the action log.

We believe the secretarial role is pivotal to smooth running and good governance. Efficient meeting planning and running will ensure the governance body focuses on the most important issues and maintains good records.

Pension management services


Our approach to DC scheme design and governance is tailored to meet the unique needs and circumstances of each client, ensuring comprehensive support throughout the process. From data analytics to contribution options, investment strategy, and at-retirement solutions, we offer expert guidance to optimise member outcomes. 

With a collaborative approach and experienced consultants, we aim to provide seamless transitions, mitigate risks, and empower clients to make informed decisions for the long-term success of their DC schemes. To find out more, get in contact with us today. 

Our DC consulting services

Discover our full range of analytical services and technology for employers, trustees, providers and members of workplace pensions.

Find out more