The current challenges of defined benefit scheme funding mean many businesses are looking at an increasingly large variety of options for modifying schemes to re-shape their liabilities.
We provide high quality advice for employers and pension scheme trustees on the full range of solutions in this area.
We have a demonstrated track record of practical, commercial assistance with changes to accrued rights (in particular the developing case law on the use of RPI and CPI in pension schemes) as well as modification projects such as pension increase exchanges (PIEs), enhanced transfer values (ETVs), winding up lump sum (WULS) and trivial or small commutation lump sum exercises and changes to future benefit accrual including longevity adjustment factors, moving from final salary to career average or defined contribution benefits, and scheme closures.
Pension changes like these can raise complex legal, HR and employee or member relations issues at each stage from inception to conclusion. We provide support to employers and trustees every step of the way, offering:
- Strategic advice on the legal feasibility and implementation of your project, including scrutiny of employer proposals for trustees and negotiation of benefit designs.
- Analysis on scheme amendment powers and the availability of alternative legal methods for making changes.
- Practical assistance with the design and implementation phase, for example benefit specifications, assistance with communications and day-to-day support with member queries.
- Advice on structuring and handling member consultation exercises.
- Advice on best practice and compliance with the Industry Code on Incentive Exercises.
- Working with other advisers to help clients select and appoint external project partners such as insurers, consultants and member advisers.
- Transition of one-off exercises into standing options to be offered as standard for future retirees.
"'up there with the very best' for technical ability, but what sets it apart, say clients, is the time taken to 'understand the scheme and its sponsor and tailor the advice accordingly'."
- Acting for a major financial institution to redesign its defined benefit schemes around a ground breaking "selectable accrual" principle.
- Advising numerous employers on the closure of their defined benefit schemes.
- Advising a wide range of employers and trustees on modification exercises including PIEs, ETVs, WULS and commutations.
- Acting for two large pension schemes in relation to the introduction of longevity adjustment factors, which increase the earliest age at which members can draw their pensions unreduced if scheme members live longer than expected.
- Advising the TRW Pension Scheme on its £3.5billion liability management exercise which was completed to a very tight deadline and with innovative features, including a record breaking £2.5billion buy out with Legal & General. This included negotiation of the buy-out agreement, GMP equalisation and conversion, and integrating a WULS, PIE and ETV exercise into the buy-out process.
We participate in a wide range of pensions industry groups.