External recognition of quality of revamped plan
The Dublin-based Electricity Supply Board Pension Scheme (ESB) ESB is delighted to have won an IPE Award for the second consecutive year. Last year it was for investment strategy but this year the ESB has picked up the prestigious country leader award for fund structure.
“In a defined contribution (DC) pension scheme, offering members the right options and communicating effectively are essential and we believe that members appreciate the flexibility and control which they now have. These are the key elements that we believe won the judges over,” says Brid Horan, general pensions manager at the fund.
It is in particular this aspect of giving more investment choice that caught the attention of the judges, with one observing bluntly: “Greater member choice of DC options – good.”
Horan says the ESB originally submitted an application this year following an extensive restructuring of the scheme during the last year by its trustees. The scheme is designed to provide benefits for the growing number of employees in ESB’s subsidiary companies, whilst the focus of the restructuring was to provide genuine member choice and to cater for the group’s various subsidiaries.
Horan believes that winning the award provides external recognition for the quality of the redesigned scheme. “The changes that have been introduced make the scheme a leader in terms of the options available to members and the quality of the information provided to them.” Horan adds that, while the review and re-organisation of the scheme involved a lot of work, a key feature was the extensive communication programme established to keep individual members in each of the subsidiary companies informed of all developments and aspects of the scheme. “Membership is compulsory for new employees and has also risen rapidly among existing employees for whom membership remains voluntary,” she says.
Audrey Hamilton, secretary to the board of trustees at the ESB, welcomes the award as affirming the trustees’ approach to enhancing members’ options. “The entire process has generated strong interest and involvement among members and has heightened awareness of retirement planning and investment. We believe that this will benefit members in the future,” she comments.