Pension management, with its growing implications for sponsoring companies and trustees, is an increasingly complex affair. Yet, many companies fail to make the issue a priority, due largely to the sheer volume of regulation and guidance, and the costs involved. But with an aging global population, and a shaky economy, today’s pension challenges require a fresh approach. And while there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution, both firms and employees must pay more attention to pensions and adopt a different attitude to working.
FW: What problems and challenges can a corporation expect to face when designing and implementing a pension strategy? Is it becoming more difficult for firms to align their commercial objectives with employee expectations?
Powell: Pension provision, alongside other elements of the remuneration strategy, should be an incentive to recruitment and retention, with corporate spend appropriately valued by the workforce. It should also, ideally, support longer-term workforce planning: there’s a growing awareness that the trend towards defined contribution provision could result in older employees who can’t or won’t retire. The European Commission talks about pensions being ‘adequate, safe and sustainable’, but there’s a problem: what is adequate from the employee perspective may not be sustainable from the corporate viewpoint. It’s a difficult balancing act, but the key is to put time into design and implementation. Smarter benefit strategies and better communication are likely to deliver better results for current spend and future outcomes. It’s challenging, but not impossible.
Godson: Designing a pension strategy usually involves replacing or changing something that already exists but which is almost certainly out of date, possibly unaffordable or simply unwanted. The outcome is unlikely to be superior, nor will it appeal to everyone and will almost inevitably be a compromise. It will therefore be difficult to put across to members. High quality communication is essential, utilising modern media techniques to manage expectations, especially where a defined contribution scheme is being introduced. Being proactive, honest, open and upfront is always the best approach. Matching commercial reality with employee expectations has certainly become more difficult, mainly due to the long term nature of the obligations involved on both sides. The cost of pension provision has very rarely been understood in the past and is usually grossly underestimated. Contributions to pension schemes frequently have to compete with other expensive commitments, so it’s easy to understand why they struggle to gain the appropriate priority.
Westrek: With no real growth in most sectors of the economy, a lot of companies are looking for ways to decrease their cost base. For companies with so-called defined benefit schemes, the costs for financing or insuring pension benefits only increased in the last few years. This increase is due to, for example, improved life expectancy and mostly due to the low capital returns and a very low interest rate. So, while trying to decrease their cost base, companies see their pension cost rise by double digit percentages. This results in a situation where, if the company would like to decrease pension costs, the company has to lower pension benefits dramatically, often to a point lower than what employees are willing to allow for without some serious discussion and debate. Companies with a so-called defined contribution scheme do not see a direct increase in their pension costs and liabilities. The effects of improved life expectancy and lower returns and interest are automatically translated in a lower pension for the employees. Most employees and employers are not fully aware of these effects until the moment the employee plans to retire. Here you see that benefits provided by the company can fall far below employee expectation. These employees might postpone retirement which, in turn, could leave companies with a less productive or more expensive workforce, indirectly hurting commercial objectives.
Smorenberg: I see two clear trends. One is leaving all aspects of securing pension provision to the individual. Part of the additional salary should be used to secure an adequate pension and should be part of the individual’s financial planning. This strategy works well in situations where one could expect discipline from employees, to manage their own financial continuity. The other trend is ‘the new role of the employer’. I foresee an era where – due to scarcity of labour – employee benefits and human capital care will become essential. The employer is an important stakeholder in the financial continuity of the employee as key income provider, and there is a natural link to extend that role in supporting the employee and family in their financial wellbeing. In that way, corporates can support financial literacy programs, introduce base budgeting and financial planning, and involve pension planning as well. I do see more outsourced pension structures where corporates contribute jointly with employees. To protect the employees and assure sufficient pension provision, I do see a lot of room for more Collective DC arrangements with compulsory components as well to protect the employee.
FW: News of huge pension deficits and closures of defined benefit pension funds suggest that risk management may not be entirely up to scratch. Do you believe that businesses are sufficiently aware of the risks to their associated pension liabilities?
Godson: Pension risk management still struggles to achieve the proper priority in many businesses. It’s not that firms are complacent; more that they face so many competing needs and requirements. Fortunately, there are experts who can help. Risks can and are quite rightly managed very differently when schemes are ongoing, compared to when closure occurs. Those advising management may not have the right experience or have properly identified future risks. Cost is usually the driving factor; servicing the deficit will almost certainly take priority over mitigating risk. Any such action will incur a significant investment of time and therefore expense. Planning early or as soon as possible for this can spread the time and effort.
Westrek: Some companies could definitely do a lot more in the area of pension risk management. They do not have or ask for sufficient information about, for example, how a further decrease in interest rates would hurt their P&L and balance sheet, and more importantly, how to mitigate this risk. Companies that do have their balance sheet risks in scope often focus too much on the accounting effects of pensions. For example, companies with a defined benefit scheme have to make actuarial calculations to come up with the amount they have to show in their P&L. This amount does not equal actual cash payments in the scheme. As a result, cash is not that important to them anymore. Obligations regarding possible extra cash payments and injections can, however, do a lot with the liquidity position of a company. Ultimately, pensions will have to be settled in cash and, therefore, in our opinion, future cash payments are even more important than the numbers resulting from calculations based on IFRS or US GAAP accounting. Something we saw this year is that actuaries forget to bring certain assumptions in line with the current financial climate. As a result of this, the pension liabilities reported by some companies increased an enormous amount, which doesn’t reflect economic reality. The lower interest rate was taken into account but other assumptions where left at old levels. A good CFO can add a lot of value in these cases by challenging the actuary – for example, by a second opinion.
Smorenberg: Businesses are, by now, certainly aware of the risks to their associated pension liabilities. Tough lessons have been learned. That does not mean corporates should step out of their role in providing pension security. There are many creative ways to downsize the risk for employer and employee and still work together on pension provision plans.
Powell: Businesses are only too well aware of the risks attached to defined benefit pension liabilities – a recent survey found that 98 percent of CFOs and FDs see managing defined benefit pension risk as a priority, with 39 percent seeing it as one of the most, or the most, important risk management priority for their organisation. The question is, in difficult economic conditions and volatile markets, what can businesses do to mitigate that risk? Happily, there are a number of possible risk management strategies, including funding and design initiatives, asset and liability management options, and risk reduction and insurance solutions. We’re working with innovative strategies all the time, and tailoring risk solutions to the specific needs of each business. The first step is to sit down with one of our experts to get an overview of the options and map out a strategy – sometimes called a flight path – to bringing pension risk under control.
FW: When designing a pensions strategy, what steps can corporations take to manage the costs and financing aspects of their pension schemes?
Westrek: The best way to manage cost is to cap or freeze your liabilities and cash payments regarding pension benefits. This always involves making consistent changes in the legal framework around pensions. It also involves important investment in clear and honest communications with plan participants about what the changes are and how they affect them. In our opinion, you should do this thoroughly or you shouldn’t start such a project at all. If you make a half-baked attempt you will end up in a situation where you made a lot of noise but in the end didn’t introduce a cap that will hold in a legal dispute. Capping your liabilities can be done in more than one way. You can say, for example “I will never pay more than a certain amount or percentage of salary”. Or you can say “I will always pay this amount or percentages, no more and no less”. Whatever you choose, the most important thing is to incorporate the change in all legal documents and forms of communication.
Smorenberg: First of all, firms must involve the employees. What would they need, and to what extent could you, as an employer, contribute? A lot is pending on rebalancing responsibilities and expected roles. When you support and educate employers in understanding the need for sufficient pension provision, they will also be more willing to contribute based upon understanding. The other part is managing the cost of the scheme. To what extent should you be involved yourselves and what can be outsourced? The cost of third party involvement should be compared regularly. There are huge differences. In that respect I advise linking to peers in the market, and exchanging and comparing the cost and 'lessons learned' as well.
Powell: While organisations are dealing with historic defined benefit risk, they also need to be planning for the future – a future which may well be defined contribution in pensions terms, but where they need to ensure that corporate pensions spend is efficient and is valued by the workforce. In the UK, employers have to implement a new workplace pensions regime, known as auto-enrolment. The way they shape their auto-enrolment offering must be driven by a combination of the needs of the business and the profile of the workforce, as well as by existing provision. It sounds obvious, but if your business model assumes a rapid turnover of relatively low-earning staff, you don’t want a scheme that’s better suited to incentivising the retention of high-fliers. If you want to offer a flexible remuneration package as a recruitment or retention incentive, your scheme design must respond to those drivers.
Godson: It’s vital to have the right mix of people, with the correct balance between opinion-formers and experts as well as those who will participate – members, including both employer and employee. Managing costs might not always be the same as saving costs, instead it is better to ensure that funds are spent wisely. It does not necessarily follow that bigger is better in hiring advisers and that the more that is spent on, say, advice will provide a better service or better quality; although that is true in some instances. Instead, choosing an individual or firm adviser who best suits the scheme’s needs is more important, not whether they’re from a household name or alternatively a small organisation with a lower cost base. Having access to experienced independent thinking will almost certainly help with overall cost management. Generally firms should look for advisers who add value and ensure that the members appreciate and value the benefit of having a pension scheme.
FW: Could you explain how insurance and hedging may be used to mitigate and remove risks such as longevity or inflation?
Smorenberg: Pension schemes need to consider their de-risking strategies as there is great uncertainty of inflation rates in light of the present market volatility. The uncertain economic outlook and expected extension of quantitative easing will continue to impact pension schemes. Funds need to hedge these risks and adjust their investment strategies accordingly. The same applies to longevity risk.
Powell: There are two terms of art here: liability-driven investments (LDI) and longevity swaps. Pension schemes can predict future liabilities with some accuracy – for example, payments to future pensioners from the point of retirement – and LDI allows trustees to align the scheme’s income more closely with its current and future liabilities, using derivative instruments such as swaps to hedge the scheme’s exposure to movements in interest rates and inflation. Longevity is one of the biggest risks faced by defined benefit pension schemes. A longevity swap transfers the risk of members living longer than expected from a scheme to an insurer or bank provider. The trustees pay a fixed series of payments based on projected longevity rates, and in return the provider pays the benefits that actually fall due, based on actual scheme mortality. The trustees get the benefit of certainty over future payments, even if scheme members outlive all expectations.
Godson: It’s best to accept from the outset that risks cannot be removed entirely. For instance, average life expectancy has risen significantly in the last 20 years and continues to do so. Longevity estimates that were made and thought to be correct even just 10 years ago are now out of date. Pension products which were designed on the basis of a retirement period lasting 20 to 30 years will have already fallen short and will continue to do so when people are out-living that timescale by such a wide margin. Regularly reviewing options, taking advantage of up-to-date techniques and taking good quality advice from the right people are essential steps. A combined and balanced approach is likely to be best, but strategy will vary from scheme to scheme.
Westrek: Longevity risk can be reduced by taking out an annuity insurance contract. This, however, only takes care of the longevity risk regarding accrued pension rights. There are other solutions to mitigate the longevity risk. There are certain derivative contracts you can buy. The disadvantage of these financial instruments is that the liquidity in the market for these products is very low. Furthermore, by buying such a contract you increase your counterpart risk; what are the chances the counterparty is able to pay if a huge improvement in life expectancy takes place? Are you actually reducing total risk? Inflation risk can be reduced by buying inflation-linked bonds. If you buy these from credit worthy counterparties you can really mitigate shocks in inflation without loading yourself with additional credit or counterpart risk. Some insurance companies also offer annuity contracts where payments are increased with, for example, European inflation – there is of course a price to pay for this. Inflation risk can also be reduced by buying assets that are partly inflation proof. For example, buying the stock of companies that are able to increase prices when an inflation shock happens can mitigate inflation risk and act as a hedge. A disadvantage – for the European market – is that the market for inflation-linked bonds is not fully mature.
FW: What issues and risks can arise in the event of transformational transactions, such as M&A? In broad terms, how should companies address these issues and assess the impact on their pension liabilities?
Powell: Pension issues in M&A situations are many and varied, and potentially very costly. Obviously, much depends on the structure of the deal, whether the target has its own pension scheme or participates in a group scheme, and the structure and funding status of that scheme. It’s important to have an eye on the past – has the target previously participated in any arrangements which aren’t immediately apparent? Are there any liabilities which could be triggered as a result of the transaction, and is there any potential exposure to the Pensions Regulator’s moral hazard powers? On business transfers, there are unresolved issues about which pension rights – for example, on early retirement – transfer to the new employer. A thorough review of current and historical arrangements is a key part of the due diligence exercise, and legal advice on warranties and indemnity cover is crucial.
Godson: There are many issues and even more risks, including entire schemes, which have not been disclosed or were simply forgotten about, particularly executive arrangements. Of the schemes that are known, there will almost invariably be a group of missing members and also missing participant employers. This is especially important if these have exited a scheme with an unpaid debt, which is remarkably common. Well designed, methodical due diligence is key. As well as asking the right questions, it’s also about investing the right amount of time, which is often a problem in these situations. Preparing as far in advance as possible is the best option. There are specialist firms that can investigate these liabilities.
Westrek: Most important in transformational transactions, such as M&A, is that pension liabilities are known and fully in scope. Liabilities regarding the past should be settled or properly accounted for. Furthermore legal documents should be instantly available and clear. Buyers want to see evidence that a company is in control of its pension liabilities. In a complex pension situation we sometimes see that companies prepare for a due diligence by doing some sort of internal pre due diligence. Also important in M&A transactions is to recognise differences in accounting methods between companies. You want to avoid a situation where the buyer finds out later that the liabilities have a different effect under their European accounting rules than under US rules, for example.
FW: What advice can you give to companies on managing pension liabilities arising from bankruptcy events?
Godson: In my experience it’s unlikely that companies acquiring failed businesses in the UK will inherit a liability themselves following the government’s introduction of the various safety nets that now exist for Defined Benefit (DB) arrangements, such as the Pension Protection Fund and Financial Assistance Scheme. For Defined Contribution and in some circumstances for DB schemes, where adequate funding exists, the process is to some extent more straightforward with a legal requirement that liabilities must be secured through an insurance product. In any event, help is available to work through these options with the assistance of independent trustees and other professional advisers.
Westrek: There are solutions which assure that, in the case of a bankruptcy, the savings of participants are not hit. The legal framework is available and can even be used for global pension solutions.
Powell: A corporate insolvency event will trigger a number of consequences, potentially including an employer debt and the involvement of the Pension Protection Fund and the Pensions Regulator (PPF). The PPF is a statutory ‘lifeboat’ fund which protects members of eligible underfunded defined benefit schemes on a sponsor insolvency event. The Pensions Regulator is concerned with preventing insolvency events being engineered to ‘dump’ liabilities on the PPF and it has the power to require a contribution to, or financial support for, a scheme – for example, if there is another group company which, even if it doesn’t participate in the scheme, should reasonably be required to provide financial support. The best advice is to take expert advice: this is a tightly regulated area where knowledge and practical experience of working with the PPF and the regulator are key.
FW: Recruiting and retaining good pensions managers can be extremely difficult, especially in the current environment. To what extent are businesses looking to outsource such services, and what are the advantages and challenges of doing so?
Westrek: When you have your own pension fund, which is big enough to sustain itself, then you want your own team of people running it. An advantage is the knowledge that your specific situation stays within the company and you don’t have to rely on hiring external experts who are normally more expensive. Of course, this team will occasionally rely on experts outside the company, but only regarding very specific topics – they won’t be running your operations but will add value where needed. If you have a complex situation, which is actually not sustainable in the long run, you might want to hire from outside temporarily. There are two main advantages here. First of all, you need people who can actually manage a change program. This requires skills that are different from the skills needed to run an operation. The second advantage is that the costs are only incurred in the period you need these specific skills.
Smorenberg: Outsourcing could be a good step as the complexity of operations and investment are becoming more difficult to manage. A high level of professionalism is key to securing a proper pension practice and the best resources to do so are scarce. Also, scale is key to securing better results and downsizing cost. In that respect there is a win-win in outsourcing. On the other hand, control and a grip on the outsourced position is key as well. Pension schemes should be monitored and aligned with the company’s mission constantly.
Powell: The traditional role of the pensions manager has expanded over recent years, encompassing an ever-wider range of both employer-side and trustee-side services. Businesses need to look carefully at the multiple roles and services they need to be fulfilled. On the one hand, they need the strategic input of a pensions manager who knows the business, while the trustees need the technical know-how and support of a scheme secretary. It is difficult for one person to cover all the bases, and can easily give rise to conflicts – for example, in discussions on funding or scheme design changes. On the other hand, there are a number of tasks regularly undertaken within either or both of these roles which could logically and cost-effectively be outsourced to a third-party adviser or administrator, bringing the added advantages of increased flexibility and control over service delivery, while retaining the strategic advantages of a dedicated in-house pensions manager.
Godson: Third party administration is very popular and highly competitive, but the experience can be mixed in terms of cost and quality. Some extremely capable outsource providers do exist. Such appointments should be treated the same as all other professional adviser appointments, with proper attention paid to the company’s requirements and to the overall selection process which must also include a requirement for an ongoing performance monitoring procedure. Firms are also outsourcing the scheme secretary role and trustee support function, which has traditionally been a large part of the pensions manager’s role. It doesn’t necessarily follow that the pensions manager should be replaced, especially if this is a part time role; instead they might be provided with some professional help, so as not to throw way that vital knowledge and experience of the company and its culture.
FW: Companies and trustees are under increasing pressure from governments and pensions regulators to adopt a commercial, proactive approach to managing their schemes. How can they filter what is relevant to them from the volume of new regulations?
Smorenberg: There are a lot of new regulatory measures impacting pensions. Keeping track and understanding the impact and consequences are not always easy. It would be good to update on this every six months. It would be helpful to invite a specialised consultant to, first, present the regulatory environment and the changes, and then discuss the impact. A periodic update could be very well organised jointly with peers in the market. This would be more efficient and other related issues can also be shared.
Powell: The sheer volume of regulation and guidance, and the pace at which it changes, can be overwhelming for anyone. Quite rightly, we find that our potential clients are always keen to know what ‘value added’ services we will give them. Higher client expectations drive constant service improvements in terms of how and when we deliver information. We know that our clients rely on us to tell them what the new developments are, how those developments are relevant to them, and what action they need to take as a result. Although principles-based regulation is often talked about in the pensions arena, we don’t see much by way of results – the proposed new framework on DC governance, for example, and the new auto-enrolment regime, are both incredibly detailed. Our clients expect us to know that detail and to translate it for them into pragmatic and cost-effective business solutions. In other words, we provide the filter so that they can concentrate on the job of running the business or the scheme.
Godson: The pensions industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the UK and accounts for a significant proportion of all commercial legislation passed in recent years. On top of this, there is an enormous amount of additional guidance to be digested from the Pensions Regulator and Department of Work & Pensions. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to manage schemes without professional help or by employing agents in some capacity to explain to members what the practical impact is for them of this deluge of regulation and legislation. Ongoing change is inevitable in a rapidly evolving commercial environment. Pension scheme management is now a full time role within most businesses of any size, while the trend toward Sole Trusteeship appointments for UK SMEs is gathering pace. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach, but where cost is an important factor, it can deliver significant savings on governance.
Westrek: One very important thing you should always take into account is whether the participants in the plan are actually going to benefit from the effects of the new regulations. Sometimes people forget what a pension is all about – postponed salary – and for whom we are actually doing this. If new regulations are in place you, of course, have make sure you abide by the law, but you can adjust the amount of energy invested and the level of detail to what you think is the value to the actual end-user, or plan sponsor.
FW: To what extent can companies benefit from third-party pension scheme audits, reviews and regulatory compliance checks?
Powell: Audits and compliance checks should lead to better governance, better governance to better outcomes, and better outcomes to better value for the corporate pension spend. However, these reviews are increasingly mandated by industry regulators – think of covenant strength reviews for scheme funding purposes, risk reviews for internal controls, the proposed strategic governance surveys for defined contribution schemes and so on– and they are a required part of doing the business of pensions. The temptation is to have the review, tick the compliance box and then consign the report to a shelf. To really benefit from a report, the choice of reporter is key. Organisations shouldn’t opt for the cheapest commoditised version, but look for someone with the expertise to deliver added value for the scheme and business, above and beyond basic compliance.
Godson: I’m a big fan of auditing membership records and data generally. As a wind-up specialist I’m often asked why the process takes so long. Wind-ups are not especially complicated, except that piecing together information collected over several decades can be challenging and, in some instances, causes significant delays. My advice is to invest time to improve the quality of records whilst the scheme is ongoing to ensure that records for members and the scheme generally are as complete as possible. Sadly, most current UK schemes are likely to be wound up in the future, especially of course the out of favour Defined Benefit schemes, so think of this strategy as insuring against the eventual wind up being a costly and lengthy exercise. In any event, having the right records will improve the accuracy of any assessment of assets and liabilities and could provide firms with greater flexibility if they wish to change their pension strategy at short notice.
Westrek: In our opinion, the question is: Do these audits and reviews really benefit the plan sponsor or the participants in the pension scheme in some way – are they adding actual value? Do we really decrease important risks that could hurt our participants or the plan sponsor by doing this? We often see that a review is very valuable before a strategic re-evaluation of the scheme or the way the scheme is funded. The results of the review can then be taken into account when deciding about the future of the plan. It also helps to get projects groups up to speed. Pension is a very technical subject and to be able to make important decisions it is good to really know and understand what you are talking about. A good review of the plan, legal structure and way of funding is a great way of doing this.
FW: With rapidly aging populations and global financial distress, do you believe there is a solution to covering the shortfall of pensions to retired workers? What innovative steps are required to reverse the trend of pension plan freezes, improve retirement security for employees, and improve the environment for business?
Godson: Pensions are still important, otherwise why does everyone talk so much about them? We are all concerned about providing for our old age. The days of live now, pay later are long gone. If the debate provides everyone with a greater understanding and essentially an education on pensions, then that is to be encouraged. There is no silver bullet, but the industry must do better at managing expectations on the cost of pension provision. If individuals buy in early enough to the realities, then the options available to them are so much greater. It seems inevitable that living longer will mean working longer, so that meeting the cost of building an adequate pension and receiving the eventual benefits can be made less proscriptive. In a nutshell, giving members a well-explained scheme and a flexible choice of benefits which has a base line guarantee would be a start.
Westrek: Clearly, people will have to work longer to be able to get a full pension. People are living longer and returns on capital are low. Somebody will have to pick up the bill. Within the current financial situation, companies will probably not be the ones to do this. So employees themselves will have to save more or they will have to work longer. We think most people won’t be able or willing to save more, so working longer seems to be the thing to do. You already see this happening in the US where people in defined contribution schemes are confronted with lower than expected pension levels and postpone their retirement. Financial innovation could help to keep retirement ages at current levels. Think, for example, of freeing up excess wealth locked in people’s houses.
Smorenberg: Although corporates might tend to contribute more to pensions in the future, the reality is that employees should be more involved with their personal financial continuity. In that respect, the first contribution employers can make is to help employees to understand the need to save money for later and contribute sufficiently into existing plans. Also, financial incentives could be part of saving for later. Payroll slips are an ideal communication platform. At least once a month, employers should try to communicate as many components of 'financial planning' as possible, as well as raise some ‘what ifs’ concerning retirement planning to stimulate proactive behaviour and individual control. We need more pillars to support pensions and a different attitude to working. Working longer should be possible with flex taxes, new perceptions on wages, new career paths, permanent education and essential workplace adjustments to keep the older workers at work. Flexibility is the word as the ‘workability index’ for Western economies is now at 75 years of age. Society can benefit from the, on average, seven extra years of productivity and contribution to society. We need to accept older workers.
Powell: If you look at worldwide pension provision, one thing you immediately notice is that how any one country ‘does’ pensions, is neither how they have always done it, nor how everybody else does it. Different countries have found a remarkable variety of ways to deliver retirement income and to control risks and costs – some startling in their complexity, and some brilliant in their simplicity. We have a lot to learn from other countries, and it’s good to see that the government’s review of options for ‘defined ambition’ schemes is taking some of these on board. We need radical thinkers, though – pensions policy often suffers from short-term political horizons and silo mentalities. Real solutions will come about through education; changes in attitudes to, and incentives for, financial planning; and through government, businesses and employees working together to find solutions that work for all.
Helen Powell has specialised in pensions law since qualification and joined Allen & Overy LLP in 2006. She keeps the pensions team and its clients up to date on all current legal and regulatory developments and technical changes, case law and Pensions Ombudsman determinations, and undertakes client advisory work including bespoke trustee training. Ms Powell also undertakes client advisory work including bespoke trustee training; and co-ordinates know-how and information sharing for Allen & Overy’s Global Pensions Practice.
Steve Godson is an independent pension trustee. He is a Director of Capital Cranfield Trustees Limited and head of its specialist pension scheme wind up business, responsible for over 100 schemes in wind up. He is responsible for delivering Capital Cranfield’s wind-up service to clients against the trustees’ agreed plans and budgets. This includes the close monitoring of service standards and fees of third party service providers. He has over 18 years experience of pensions administration.
Rob Westrek is director of Pension & Actuarial Services at Hay Group. Mr Westrek helps companies optimise their total remuneration strategy by assessing the (financial) impact of possible changes in their reward policy. He leads change projects with international clients regarding the design, funding and organisation of pensions. Mr Westrek has also advised organisations on accounting issues and M&A deals.
Harry Smorenberg is a financial services marketing and positioning strategist. He is a leading contributor to innovation in both the retail and corporate payments and transaction space. He has also been actively involved in developing solutions in financial planning, international pensions and ‘social innovations’. His strength is in catalysing institutions into developing vision and strategies, and in identifying and implementing client-centric solutions. Mr Smorenberg sits on several advisory boards, and is regularly published in leading international media.
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