The Pensions Authority published the final version of their Code of Practice for Trustees of occupational pension schemes in November 2021. The Code of Practice requires Trustees to conduct critical reviews of Investment Services at least every three years.
As most of you are aware, the deadline of April 2024 for completing your scheme’s first investment critical review is now almost upon us. At this stage, Trustees need to carefully consider how best to balance meeting the regulatory deadline, with ensuring that the critical review is not a rushed tick box exercise. A well-structured critical review should add considerable value by giving the Trustees:
- A better understanding of the scheme’s existing investment mandates.
- Confidence that the existing fund mandates are delivering for members in terms in performance and value for money.
- Highlighting areas of concern and giving clear proposals on how best to address these concerns.
- An explanation of how ESG considerations are incorporated into your fund managers’ investment processes.
- A review of the overall level of service being received (for example, if reporting is adequate).
- Where appropriate, include some peer analysis versus an appropriate and carefully selected peer group.
At Acuvest, we have always been firm proponents of the importance of independent advice, and we believe that our experience and independence mean we are ideally placed to assist you with your critical review. We find that our viewpoint aligns closely with the guidance provided by the Pensions Authority as can be seen from the following extract from the Code of Practice:
“When acquiring and considering information in relation to the appointment or retention of investment services, the trustees should consult with independent experts to the extent that they require assistance with identifying potential investment managers, organising requests for proposal and interviews, understanding the capabilities of proposers, making comparisons, and analysing costs. Such assistance must be obtained, whenever possible; from parties who do not have a direct conflict of interest in advising the trustees”.
Acuvest has over €4.5 billion in assets under advice and we provide investment consulting services to a number of the largest schemes in the country. Critically reviewing investment managers is not new to us, as many aspects form part of the manager due diligence and ongoing oversight processes we provide as part of our investment consulting services. We have long established processes in place, and helpfully we also have good working relationships with investment managers across the globe. This allows us to deliver our services in an efficient manner.
Edward O’Hanlon is the Director and Head of Corporate Business in Acuvest, an Irish-owned, independent advisory firm specialising in corporate pensions, wealth management and investment advisory services for individuals, companies, charities, and institutions.
If you require support with the critical review process, we believe that our experience and independence mean we are ideally placed to help. Please get in touch by contacting Edward by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 01 6344 801.