Low growth seen in pension consulting market
UK - Pension funds are increasingly reluctant to join hands with actuarial and investment consultants, according to a magazine survey.
Pensions Management's magazine's annual actuarial and investment consultants survey shows a general trend of relatively low growth in terms of pension fund new business - that is, if consultants disclosed results at all.
The main exceptions in the survey were Lane Clark & Peacock, with around 200 new clients in the year to June 1 (in the year before the firm had lost 50 clients), and, with 90 new clients, First Actuarial.
Wolanski saw some growth: after losing 10 clients last year, dropping to 36 pension funds, the consultant expanded its pension fund client base to 136 - mainly via its merger with Checkley Fisher.
Alexander Forbes Financial Services saw total new pension fund clients increase by 8.3% to 1,300, and Aon Consulting which has continuously grown since 2004, saw a rise of 1%.
HSBC Actuaries & Consultants and Jardine Lloyd Thompson saw rises of 6.7% and 10% respectively.
The survey is in stark contrast to last year's findings, when over 90% of the respondents then reported either an increase or no change in their number of clients, suggesting a healthy and buoyant market.
According to some particularly small and medium-sized pension funds are dissatisfied with larger firms.
Martin Slack, senior partner at Lane Clark & Peacock, says: "There is always a perception issue, if you are for instance a £10m pension scheme being advised by a consultancy that typically works at £100m or £1bn level, will you get the same service?
"Whether there is any evidence that you don't is obviously difficult to assess, as I'm sure every single firm would deny that such a thing happens."
Slack thinks that often trustees feel they should separate pure actuarial consultancy from investment consultancy.
He said: "It's a bigger cost to have two advisors separating actuary and investment consultancy, and it is not just at the fee level it is also in terms of their own level. If pension funds have to have their own management level, if they have to have processes for dealing and monitoring two separate advisors it all make the pension scheme more expensive to run."