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UK roundup: Baker Tilly, Legal & General, Scottish Widows, Horwath Clark Whitehill

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  • UK roundup: Baker Tilly, Legal & General, Scottish Widows, Horwath Clark Whitehill

UK - The biggest challenge facing UK trustees, according to Baker Tilly's 2010 confidence survey, is their pension schemes' deficit recovery plans - ahead of both investment strategy and longevity risk.

Baker Tilly said more than 70 corporate schemes entered the Pensions Protection Fund assessment period in the first half of the year alone, and that many more could be "teetering on the brink".

Bruce Mackay, head of covenant assessment services, said the survey results came as no surprise, but he pointed to a number of other "encouraging" results.

He said: "75% of respondents consider their sponsoring employers' level of support for the scheme to be strong or very strong, and almost two-thirds consider their employers' covenant had improved over the previous 12 months.

"Interestingly, trustees went on to say that, in the coming months, the deficit recovery plan will be relegated to third place in the list of challenges, with investment strategy coming out on top as trustees optimistically look toward the future.

He added: "As ever, active and close monitoring of the employer's financial position remains a vital necessity, and it is pleasing to see from our survey trustees are giving this their attention on a reasonably regular basis, with as many as 57% reviewing the covenant at least half-yearly."

Meanwhile, Legal & General Investment Mansgement (LGIM) has been awarded a £270m active equity mandate by Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP).

The £267m (€310m) segregated mandate will be managed on behalf of SWIP's multi-manager business.

It will be part of a £1.1bn UK equity focus fund managed by SWIP.

Andrew Perham, investment director of the multi-manager team at SWIP, said the mandate aimed to achieve top-quartile performance over a rolling three-year period in the UK Investment Management Association's All Companies sector.

He added that it was a 25-stock, equally weighted, best ideas fund, investing principally in FTSE350 companies.

Several of the funds were moved in-house to SWIP recently, with LGIM employed as an underlying manager.

Perham added: "We have undertaken a review since the funds moved over from Russell. There were five managers when the funds moved.

"We have retained one of the fund managers and appointed three new ones who we know have the experience to manage the funds in the way that very much fits with our investment strategy."

Finally, Horwath Clark Whitehill has changed its name to Crowe Clark Whitehill.

The company said this was to reflect its involvement with Crowe Horwath International, with chief executive Andrew Pianca saying the change heralded a new and exciting phase of development.

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