UK - The London Borough of Bexley has appointed Hewitt Associates as investment adviser to its £390m (€427m) local government pension fund.

The Council decided to re-tender the investment contract in July 2008 following an increase in both the number of investment managers employed and the frequency of pension fund committee meetings.

The pension fund's previous contract with an independent adviser from Mercer, which expired on 31 March 2009, was based on an annual retainer fee for advice and additional fees for attending committee meetings.

However, Bexley noted while this had "worked well" when meetings were based around two balanced managers making presentations twice a year, the appointment of specialist private equity and hedge fund managers and an increase in the number of meetings had meant instead of the adviser attending meetings they had provided written advice with suggested questions for members to ask.

As a result the committee decided to review the way it is provided with advice, and whether it should come from a specific named adviser from an investment advisory firm, an individual IFA, and an investment advisory firm that can supply specialists or a panel of advisers.

Following a tender process Bexley has appointed Hewitt Associates to the role, who will provide the pension fund with a "full range of consultancy services including investment strategy advice, investment manager monitoring and elected member training".

The contract is for a period of three years, and although it was originally meant to begin on 1 April 2009, at the last committee meeting at the beginning of March members were told the chair of the Committee had "taken an urgent action to bring forward the date of appointment of Hewitt Consulting as investment adviser" to 1 March 2009.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough Council has started its search for the provider of actuarial services to the £1.7bn Teeside Pension Scheme as it re-tenders the role currently held by Barnett Waddingham.

The council issued a prior information notice on the tender in February, but now it has set up a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire for the £250,000 contract which has an initial term of three years with the option of a further two-year extension.

Further information on the tender can be obtained from Middlesbrough Council although applications must be received by the 11 May 2009 deadline.

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