UK – Professionals in the UK pensions industry earn an average 79,000 pounds (112,800 euros) a year, according to a report by Greenwich Associates.

“The average total cash compensation for 219 pension fund professionals interviewed by Greenwich Associates in the United Kingdom was just over 79,000 pounds in 2003,” Greenwich said.

“Average salaries rose approximately four percent from just over 64,000 pounds in 2002 to nearly 67,000 pounds in 2003.

“Bonuses jumped 20% from 10,500 pounds in 2002 to nearly 13,000 pounds in 2003.”

Greenwich said that almost half of UK private sector pension funds are now closed to new employees, and that despite strong equity markets of 2003, one-quarter of UK corporate pension plans have assets covering only 85% or less of their projected benefit obligations.

“UK pension funds find themselves grappling with the sometimes-conflicting demands of low solvency ratios and new regulation,” said Greenwich Associates consultant Rodger Smith.

“Many are responding by attempting to improve performance in their defined benefit plans by shifting investment approaches, reconfiguring asset allocations, and upgrading investment managers.

“Over the long term, however, the strategic choice for the majority of corporations will in all likelihood be a switch to defined contribution plans.”

It said that 98% of UK pension assets are still in defined benefit schemes – which suggests the shift to DC will be slow but inexorable.

“UK plan sponsors report that they expect to hold 84% of their assets in defined benefit plans in 10 years time,” said Greenwich’s Chris McNickle.

“No matter how rapidly UK sponsors close their final salary plans to new employees, in all likelihood they will retain responsibility for current employees already covered by these plans for at least the next 25 to 30 years.”