UK – All six applicants for a national framework agreement for investment consultancy services, led by Norfolk's local authority pension fund, have been appointed to the four-year agreement.

The joint framework was launched in conjunction with six other English authorities in October last year as part of an ongoing effort to reduce public funds' administrative costs.

It will enable any local government pension scheme to engage any of the appointed consultants' services without a further tender process.  

Norfolk said it had received applications from six firms, all of which appear to have been appointed.

As a result, funds will be able to appoint Aon Hewitt and Deloitte Total Rewards & Benefits to review investment strategy, or engage the services of Hymans Robertson, JLT Benefits Solutions, KPMG or Mercer.

While the framework agreement – backed by Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire county councils, as well as the London boroughs of Hackney and Croydon – will expire in early 2017, investment consultants selected under the framework can remain in place for up to seven years.

Norfolk recently launched a second national framework, backed by the same authorities, that will function as a national resource for the appointment of global custodians.

Nicola Mark, head of the £2bn (€2.4bn) Norfolk Pension Fund, previously told IPE that the process had cut all the pain out of the tendering process.

"There were lots of people who said you will not be able to do it, that it won't be legal, but of course it is," she said at the time.

"We took counsel on a number of things, and we're very sure it's a robust framework."

Norfolk's national framework is one of the ways local authorities have been seeking to benefit from economies of scale within the local government pension schemes.

Others have argued in favour of asset pooling or even scheme mergers, which an official from the Department for Communities and Local Government recently said was one of the options being considered by ministers.