Do you want to get 'pensions ready' in a month? For anyone new to pensions, or in need of a refresher, Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co's 'Pensions in 30 Podcasts' online training tool is an essential guide.
During August, the firm's pensions experts are highlighting the topics covered by the new series via daily tweets and four themed alerts. In this second alert we focus on scheme funding and risk and liability management.
For more on this and the other podcasts and resources in Pensions in 30 Podcasts.
Scheme funding and risk and liability management
Most defined benefit pension schemes are funded through a combination of employer contributions and investment returns. Rules exist to ensure pension schemes will be able to afford to pay member benefits when they fall due.
Pension schemes have an ongoing "statutory funding objective" to have sufficient and appropriate assets to cover their technical provisions (i.e. the actuarially assessed value of each scheme's liabilities).
Pension schemes must undergo an actuarial valuation every three years and trustees must put in place various documents as part of such an valuation, including a statement of funding principles, a recovery plan and a schedule of contributions.
Find out more in episode eight (Scheme funding overview) of Pensions in 30 Podcasts.
The employer's 'covenant' is its legal obligation and financial ability to support its defined benefit scheme now and in the future.
The trustees of the scheme are responsible for assessing and monitoring covenant strength and for deciding the appropriate level of risk when setting their investment strategy, funding target and (where necessary) recovery plan.
Find out more in episode nine (Scheme funding: Employer debt) of Pensions in 30 Podcasts.
Ceasing to employ active members in a defined benefit pension scheme at a time when another employer continues to employ active members can trigger a potentially crippling debt.
There are various mechanisms which can be deployed to avoid the effects of this lawfully. These should be considered before the debt is triggered.
Find out more in episode 11 (Scheme funding: Overseas employees) of Pensions in 30 Podcasts.
Risk management is the term which covers a variety of tools - all which have the aim of reducing the financial risks which a defined benefit pension scheme faces.
Options range from amending benefits to sophisticated investments. The employer needs to consider its duty of good faith. Trustees need to consider their trust law duties and the powers set out in the trust deed and rules.
Find out more in episode 13 (Risk and liability management) of Pensions in 30 Podcasts.