Independent pension scheme oversight

Achieve more through independent oversight

Delivering pension benefits to employees creates many challenges. Regulatory requirements are becoming increasingly complex and need navigating. Employees expect on-demand digital services and market-leading investment options, including ESG options.

We have the insight and expertise to ensure that you operate pension arrangements that demonstrate value for money, comply with regulations and provide a positive employee experience. We help you achieve better results from your employee benefits.

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Determining value for money

Good governance demands that employers ensure the third-party employee benefit providers they choose offer value for money.

Given the complexity around pension costs and charges, and the difficulty in differentiating between providers, this can be hard to achieve.

Changing pension landscape

The Irish pension landscape is undergoing change as a result of IORP II legislation. Employers need to navigate a complex path on how best to provide pension benefits to their employees into the future.

Many employers will review their current pension arrangements and the costs associated with running the pension scheme. They need insight into the terms and services that are being secured by other similar sized schemes to help in the decision-making process.

We can help you make the right decision. We maintain a comprehensive database of pension provider costs and services, including up-to-date performance statistics. We also bring deep insight into providers' investment approach, administration and member engagement capabilities.

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Changing professional providers or advisers

In a market with a vast array of providers, advisers and solutions employers can find it daunting to gauge how their pension providers and advisers are performing and how their costs stack up for the services provided, relative to other pension schemes.

In the event that service is below expectations or costs appear high, employers may wish to consider alternative offerings in the market. This can be simply to ensure that what they have remains competitive or to make a change in their chosen provider(s) or adviser(s); a process that can be difficult to undertake. Employers can find it difficult to differentiate amongst providers and advisers given the complex nature and differing cost structures of operating pension schemes.

Working closely with our clients, we support provider and adviser reviews and develop requests for proposals. These deploy our robust methodology for assessing responses that meet our clients' requirements.

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Pension design

Organisations want to offer high quality defined contribution pension arrangements that suit their employees' needs. They also want to prioritise cost control and value for money. To achieve this you need to take a strategic and systematic approach to ensuring the best possible outcomes from your scheme. You need to agree clear objectives and design the right scheme for your employees.

Our data driven approach will help you understand your workforce in greater detail. We help you to develop and deliver a scheme tailor-made for them and which will evolve as your workforce does.

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Consistent oversight

Having invested time in selecting a pension provider, you want to ensure they perform and deliver as expected. Monitoring your pension provider is crucial. But it is not an easy task in a market with ever-changing products and services.

Performance against agreed service levels, investment performance of funds against market benchmarks, the use of technology and the delivery of employee and member communications are all important considerations.

Using our proprietary methodology and understanding of the Irish market, we work with you to assess provider performance on an ongoing basis. We provide clarity and transparency around key metrics that matter to your employees, helping make your pension scheme operate successfully.

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Supporting employee decisions

Pensions can be complex for your employees. Many find it difficult to make well informed decisions at the right times. There are different sources of retirement savings—State, occupational and private pensions—which have different associated rules and regulations. This can make planning for retirement difficult.

Good retirement planning should start from when an employee joins your organisation. Choices around participation in the pension plan, contribution levels and investment choices have a real impact on retirement outcomes. Personalised calls to action as employees get close to and at retirement are also important.

Our team can help support organisations looking to put in place a measurable retirement journey framework that makes a real difference for their employees.

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Life and income protection benefits

Life and income protection are two core valuable employee benefits that are called upon in the event of difficult circumstances (death, illness or injury).

There are many benefit designs in the market, with varying costs. You should ensure you have suitable, up-to-date protection benefits for your workforce and that these remain competitively priced.

We can help you review the suitability of these protection benefits, support ongoing administration and claims, and review the market insurance providers that offer these benefits.

Our independent oversight solutions

Independent pension provider reviews

The complex nature of Irish occupational pension schemes makes it difficult for employers to assess all the options available in the market.

We provide independent impartial advice about your pension arrangements. We review every aspect including administration, governance, trusteeship, member support and investment. Using data analytics and our market knowledge, we help employers assess the suitability of the current provider. We carry out value for money assessments to review the cost of the current plan relative to the market.

We can also support Request For Proposals processes across all third-party suppliers where you are looking to change provider, including:

  • Professional trustees
  • Pension administrators and consultants
  • Investment managers
  • Investment consultants
  • Fiduciary managers
  • Master trust providers
  • Key Function Holders

Pension governance and risk management

As the pension legislative landscape evolves, we support employers and trustees with increasingly complex pension governance requirements. A well-governed scheme with appropriate risk management structures in place will ensure efficiency and ongoing compliance.

Our experts can support you to identify, monitor and control the risks associated with running your pension scheme.

Pensions committee formation

Many pension services are outsourced to third parties. It is critical that employers maintain a sufficient level of oversight of their pension arrangements. This is particularly important where they no longer have any representation on trustee boards, if a professional trustee is in place or if they adopt a master trust.

This oversight can be achieved through the establishment of a pensions committee. This is an independent management committee monitoring the performance of the pension scheme. This committee has no legal powers or responsibilities but can focus on what is important to the employer in its long-term pension strategy.

Our team has experience in establishing and supporting the running of independent pension committees.

Review of trustee board

Trustees are responsible for overseeing the running of the pension scheme and acting in the interests of members. The Pensions Authority expects trustees to demonstrate they are fit and proper, as well as being effective. A trustee today must have a very strong understanding of their pension scheme. It can be a difficult role to fulfill in a voluntary capacity.

Existing trustee structures can consist of:

  • Solely employer and member nominated representatives
  • A mix of employer and member nominated representatives and a corporate or professional trustee body
  • A sole corporate or professional trustee

Employers should consider the existing trustee makeup and whether any changes are necessary in light of new pension regulations and their long-term pension strategy.

We can support a review of the trustees, their skills and expertise and their operating effectiveness.

Employee retirement support

Pension providers have a wide array of tools they use to communicate with employees and members of the pension scheme. Many communications are often driven by legislation.

Organisations need to ensure that the communications and support tools used are effective and have the maximum impact possible for employees and pension scheme members.

We have extensive experience in reviewing employee support frameworks right up to the point of retirement and after. We can help you to identify enhancements so employees have better pension experiences and retirement outcomes.

Review of life and income protection benefits

We can help you review the life and income protection benefits offered to your workers. This can involve:

  • peer and market benchmarking to help you compare what level, and to who, benefits are offered;
  • market reviews (which are typically carried out every three years) to ensure you are getting the most competitive pricing in the market; and
  • ongoing administration and claims, ensuring renewals are processed on time and are accurate, premiums are reconciled, and claims are managed accurately and in a timely manner.

Meet the Workforce team

The power of people, reimagined.

Contact us

Munro O'Dwyer

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 86 053 6993

Anna Kinsella

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 87 967 0910

Ross Mitchell

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 87 235 4460

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