Russell Investments has launched a programme aiming to reduce the cost of foreign exchange (FX) trading for local government pension schemes.

The FX Execution platform has already identified around £300,000 (€361,000) of savings on FX fees for the Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire local authority pension schemes.

Russell said the programme achieved savings through its competitive trade executive abilities and provided greater transparency and management of counterparty risk.

Tolu Osekita, who is responsible for investment for the pension schemes, said the platform allowed the schemes to be smarter.

“Smart solutions that deliver efficiencies in the way our investment strategies are implemented are a critical consideration and representative of the way we think,” he said.

Previous analysis by Russell of more than 150,000 FX deals showed investors were overpaying on fees by around 6 basis points.

The manager said the platform could be made available to the broader pension fund community.

In other news, Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) has agreed to fund the refurbishment and construction of more than 1,000 homes in the Manchester area in a £74m deal.

The arrangement, struck with Manchester City Council, sees the insurer act as a key investor in a PFI bond from the council.

The bond is guaranteed by Assured Guaranty and was arranged by Lloyds Bank.

This deal is in addition to the £72m agreed with neighbouring Salford City Council, taking PIC’s investment in social housing PFI deals in Greater Manchester to around £150m.

PIC said it invested more than £2bn into the asset class during 2013.

Allen Twyning, investment manager at PIC, said: “With more than £3bn of pension scheme liabilities insured in the past year, we are seeking to invest in assets with long-dated, stable cash-flows.”

Lastly, the Hozelock Limited Pension and Assurance Scheme has appointed Aon Hewitt to provide actuarial, investment and pension management services.

Aon takes over the £50m scheme, which supports around 750 members for the gardening tools manufacturer, as it looks to broaden its reach away from the larger pension schemes.

Russell Agius, partner at Aon Hewitt, said it was clear medium-sized schemes needed the most appropriate advice, too.

Trevor Austin, chair of trustees for the Hozelock scheme, added: “Aon Hewitt offered us actuarial and investment advice and the opportunity to gain access to the most up-to-date thinking. That is not always available to smaller schemes.”