UK - The government and pension funds should start working together to halt the slide in occupational pension schemes in the UK, says Mike Arnold, chairman of the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA).

Speaking at the ACA’s 50th anniversary dinner in London, Arnold said that ACA research suggested a downward trend in both the number of people covered by occupational schemes and the amount of money being put into them, as reported by IPE-Newsline on November 23.

Arnold believes that, while these trends are in part the result of the private pensions market being more varied now than in the past, occupational schemes still represent the most effective way of ensuring some form of retirement provision, and the downward turn is a major source of concern.

Furthermore, Arnold notes the shift in activity within his own industry, which now numbers some 1,500 consulting actuaries around the UK. ACA’s growth since the 1950s, until recently, mirrored the growth in the number of occupational schemes over the same period. Consulting actuaries are getting more and more involved in advising on life and general insurance, healthcare, and corporate risk and finance, he says.

“Of course we recognise that increasingly there are alternative ways of providing for old age and these are also to be encouraged, but we are anxious to work with government agencies and other pension bodies to reverse some of the recent adverse trends to affect the occupational pensions market. But we must act quickly, otherwise more and more employers will simply vote with their feet,” Arnold comments.