Following a flurry of insurer results this week, a de-risking report from LCP found that buy-ins and buyouts in the first half of 2023 reached at least £20.2bn.

This represents the highest H1 volumes ever, the report said.

Two insurers are still to disclose final H1 results, but the volumes in the first half of 2023 are on track to be 20% higher than the previous record of £17.6bn in 2019 and approaching double that seen last year (£12bn).

As a result, buy-ins and buyouts are on track to break the record of £43.8bn set in 2019, with LCP pointing out that volumes in the second half of the year have traditionally been larger than the first half.

However, final volumes will hinge on whether a number of big deals complete this year, it added.

LCP pointed out that the market has been dominated by large transactions above £1bn, alongside a strong flow of smaller and mid-sized deals.

So far, six transactions over £1bn have been announced – five in H1 and a sixth in early July.

LCP said it expects this trend to continue, putting 2023 on track to surpass the record of 10 transactions over £1bn set in 2019.

The two biggest 2023 transactions to date have set their own records, LCP pointed out, highlighting RSA Pension Scheme’s £6.5bn buy-in with PIC, and the £2.7bn British Steel Pension Scheme transaction with Legal & General.

It added that insurers have geared up to meet higher pension scheme demand with six of the eight insurers having already written volumes significantly in excess of £1bn in the first six months of 2023. PIC is leading in terms of market share, followed by Legal & General, Aviva and Standard Life.

Insurer   H1 2023 (£bn) H1 2023 share  H1 2022 (£bn)  H2 2022 (£bn) Total 2022 (£bn)  2022 share (rank)

1. PIC 






15% (4) 

2. Legal & General 






26% (1) 

3. Aviva 






16% (3) 

4. Standard Life 






17% (2) 

5. Rothesay 






12% (5) 

6. Just 






10% (6) 

7. Scottish Widows 






3% (7) 

8. Canada Life 






1% (8) 








Imogen Cothay, partner at LCP, said: “The UK risk transfer market has never been so busy with record-breaking volumes of over £20bn in the first half of the year.

”This is creating capacity crunches across the market, with insurers forced to be selective on which transaction opportunities to pursue.

”We carried out a major expansion of our specialist advisory team last year, giving us capacity to manage multiple large transactions – such as the record-breaking deals for RSA and British Steel earlier this year.”

Cothay added that schemes need to ”get a grip” on their endgame strategies and ensure they have the right support to seize the opportunities in this market. 

Ruth Ward, principal at LCP, added: “In the near-term, the spike in demand for buy-ins/outs, driven by rapid funding improvements for many schemes, is testing insurer capacities.

”Focused and high-quality preparation and a clear journey plan have never been more important when approaching the market.”

Ward added that despite these pressures, it’s “reassuring” to see strong insurer engagement with “no evidence of price hardening for the deals that we’re bringing to market”.

Rising funding levels in UK charities DB pension schemes bring potential opportunities to reduce risk

The combined reserves of the largest 40 charities in England & Wales that sponsor defined benefit (DB) pension schemes rose to £49bn in 2022 from £40bn in 2021, according to analysis by Hymans Robertson.

The report from Hymans Robertson into DB pension funding in the charitable sector found that at the same time, there has been a 7% increase in average funding levels of the DB schemes themselves, driven by positive returns on pension scheme assets. 

Hymans Robertson pointed out that while the sector continues to face challenges from rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, charities need to consider how best to fund their pension schemes and take opportunities to reduce risks as they arise.

Heather Allingham, actuary and head of pensions consulting for charities at Hymans Robertson said: “Charities have seen an improving funding position over the last year driven primarily by market conditions.

“Although some DB Schemes may have faced some challenges because of the market volatility at the end of 2022, many charities entered 2023 a step closer to being able to buy out their DB pension scheme with an insurer.”

Allingham added that Hymans Robertson expects 2023 to be busy for risk transfer and stressed that charities should engage with their pension scheme trustees to re-assess their end-game plans for their schemes. 

She continued: “Another challenge for 2022/23 has been high inflation. This has hit some charities hard in terms of wage inflation as well as putting pressure on income.

”At the same time, pension scheme trustees may be seeking support from their charity sponsors to give pension scheme members discretionary pension increases to help their pensions keep pace with inflation.”

She said that charities should consider and agree their approach to these requests.

For the 40% of charity pension schemes that remain open to the accrual of benefits, rising gilt yields have more than offset inflationary pressure on cost-of-benefits accruing, Allingham pointed out. 

She added that this is a potential cost pressure release so charities should ensure their pension scheme trustees have factored this into the wider funding plan of the schemes. 

Allingham also pointed out that charities and their pension schemes should be preparing for the new funding code of practice, with particular focus on how to best measure the covenant strength of the charity.

She said: “We would suggest that charities might want to focus on their affordability levels and cashflow reliability period.”

PASA publishes DB benefit accuracy guidance

The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has published guidance on benefit accuracy for DB schemes. 

The guidance aims to support schemes in ensuring benefit accuracy. It focuses on five key areas: benefit specification, data specification, benefit audit, automation, and independent assurance.

PASA said that due to the complexity of many DB schemes’ trust deeds and rules, together with legislative requirements and the variation of scheme design over the decades, making sure benefits paid to savers are correct ”isn’t always a straightforward task”. 

It added that when assessing scheme data for DB schemes, the benefits payable should be at the forefront of the evaluation to ensure they’re currently accurate and remain accurate in the future.

PASA noted that there are a number of areas which can help trustees with ensuring benefits are accurate, including maintaining signed-off benefit and data specifications, having high levels of automation and following a benefit audit programme.

Kim Gubler, PASA chair, said: “Trustees have a duty to ensure members receive the pension benefits they are due.

”PASA has previously issued guidance focused on data quality and we are building on this here by focusing on benefit accuracy.

”When assessing DB scheme data, the benefits payable to a member should be at the forefront of the evaluation to ensure they are currently accurate and remain accurate in the future.

She added that the investment to get benefits right is “time and money well spent” not only for the outcome and experience for members, but in comparison to the significant costs that arise when things go wrong.

Kristy Cotton, chair of the PASA Data working group, said: “Given the complexity of DB scheme rules, legislative requirements, and the variation of scheme design over the decades, making sure benefits paid to members are correct isn’t always a straightforward task. 

”This guidance has been prepared to support schemes in understanding key areas which will support benefit accuracy.”

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