The UK’s ACCESS Pool has delivered £98.9m in gross savings to its participating pension fund members since its inception in 2016.

Including the costs of £27.6m, the pool delivered £71.4m in net savings, it announced in its latest annual report.

Last year alone, the pool delivered savings of £28.6m, up from a budgeted £17.8m. It said that last year saw an underspend primarily due to lower than anticipated costs of procurement and technical professional costs.

It added that since inception it demonstrated “excellent value for money, maintaining expenditure broadly in line with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities submission while delivering an enhanced level of savings ahead of the timeline contained in the original proposal”.

Pooling progress

ACCESS Pool has 11 partner members: Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Norfolk, West Northamptonshire, Suffolk and West Sussex.

Together the pool has 1.2 million members and so far pooled assets worth £24.5bn, which represent 85% of all listed assets by ACCESS authorities and 59% of all assets held by ACCESS authorities, according to the annual report.

It said: “Pooling has continued throughout the year with ACCESS authorities investing within the sub-funds already set up”.

It added that one sub-fund was launched during the year in November 2022, which attracted £800m in funding from ACCESS authorities that had not previously invested with the investment manager.

Mark Kemp-Gee, chair of the ACCESS joint committee and chair of the Hampshire Pension Fund committee and board, said: “As investors with a long-term focus, we find ourselves within the relatively early stages of our pooling journey. However, given that some of the earliest sub-funds now have between four and five years of history, it is right to highlight the performance trends we are starting to see.”

Beyond listed assets the pool has undertaken significant work in relation to property – which is the pool’s first non-listed asset class.

During the year ACCESS’s implementation adviser MJ Hudson has undertaken a procurement process for two property mandates: UK core property and global real estate. Towards the end of 2022/23 these processes concluded and saw the appointment of CBRE to both mandates.

Work is currently underway with CBRE, the pool’s advisers and the ACCESS authorities on establishing the necessary arrangements for these investment opportunities, Kemp-Gee said.

“In the last 12 months we have published our updated Responsible Investment (RI) Guidelines and participated in the DLUHC consultation on climate related reporting, the outcomes of which we look forward to seeing. ACCESS also commenced the process for the procurement of advice and support for RI reporting which will conclude in later summer 2023,” he added.

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