UK - The Actuarial Profession's Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) has published the final version of the first set of mortality tables based on pension scheme experience.

The CMI Self-Administered Pension Schemes (SAPS) tables are based on data from occupational pension schemes gathered between 2000-2006, as opposed to the current Pensioner Annuity (PA) tables used by scheme actuaries.

The PA mortality base tables currently used by schemes to make assumptions for actuarial valuations are based on data captured by life insurance companies, with the most recent dataset published in the early 2000s (PA00).

Following a successful pilot, the CMI decided in 2002 to begin a "wide-ranging and substantial investigation into the mortality of self-administered schemes" to see how the figures differed from insured pensioners.

Work on the initial graduation tables began in 2007 and draft tables were published for consultation in January 2008.

Following some revisions resulting from industry feedback, the CMI has now published the final tables, which include ill-health, normal health, all pensioner and dependents' tables.

Separate tables have, in most cases, been produced for males and females, while the CMI has also produced "light" and 'heavy" tables that take into account the amount of pension income on mortality - as the higher the income the longer people will live in general.

The CMI revealed the number of final graduated tables is unchanged from the draft version, although it confirmed changes had been made to "various aspects" of the tables, including changes to: 

The naming convention - where the date has been removed to avoid confusion The thresholds for 'light' and 'heavy' tables - in particular the graduations in the 'light' tables have moved from the top 25% of pension amounts to the top 12.5% The methodology adopted to calculate exposed risk The methodologies used to extend the graduations to younger and older ages

However, the Actuarial Profession warned while the tables have been approved by the management board, "it is the responsibility of any actuary or other person using a base table to ensure that it is appropriate for the particular purpose to which it is put".

Punter Southall said "collating the data from many disparate schemes has been a huge undertaking" by the CMI, but warned the benefits of the new 'S1 Series of Mortality Tables' should "not be overestimated".

Joanne Livingstone, technical director at Punter Southall, admitted the SAPS tables "reflect the likely current mortality rates of average pension scheme members and are therefore usually more appropriate for pension schemes to use than the insurance-company based alternatives", as on average scheme members live a year less than insurance company policyholders.

But she warned: "The SAPS tables can only provide average mortality rates for a pension scheme as a whole, or at best average mortality rates for those with annual pensions of up to £1,500 (the ‘heavy' tables) or over £13,000 (the ‘light' tables)."

"The SAPS tables do not allow you to drill down to the regional experience of pension scheme membership. Trustees of pension schemes should therefore still consider conducting a postcode analysis of their pension scheme membership and also analysing pension size in more detail than is possible with the SAPS heavy and light tables," added Livingstone.

In addition, she pointed out that the SAPS tables are only base tables, which reflect current mortality rates, and trustees and employers will still need to make assumptions about future improvements in mortality, as part of the actuarial valuation.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Nyree Stewart on + 44 (0)20 7261 4618 or email