UK - Nottingham County Council has appointed Barnett Waddingham to take over responsibility for actuarial services from Mercer Consulting.

Following a competitive tender process the council awarded the actuarial services mandate for its £2.15bn (€2.54bn) pension fund to Barnett Waddingham based on performance against the criteria of cost and quality.

Barnett Waddingham has replaced Mercer as the fund's actuary, after the previous contract expired on 31 August 2008, and will provide services to the scheme including triennial valuations, annual presentations of investment performance figures, interim valuations and advice on fund issues such as individual and bulk transfers.

The consultancy will also be expected to carry out asset/liability studies as required, and the minutes of Nottingham Council's annual meeting of the pension committee in September, suggested the fund intends to commission an Asset Liability Study - estimated to cost £12,500.

The annual meeting was told "asset liability studies serve a useful purpose providing a ‘third party' analysis of the fund's strategy and help members assess whether changes to the strategy should be considered", and was requested to approve the decision to commission the fund's actuary to undertake the study.

The pension fund was valued at £2.15bn at 30 September, a fall of £150m from the £2.3bn at the end of June 2008, and at the end of the third quarter it had 59% of its assets in equities, 16% in fixed interest, 17% in property, with the remainder in cash - 6% - and unquoted shares.

Meanwhile, the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council has issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN) confirming it intends to initiate a search for an actuary for the £7.27bn West Yorkshire Pension Fund next month.

It revealed the provider would be required to supply actuarial services to the West Yorkshire Pension Fund for a period of at least five years, starting in April 2009, which would include the triennial valuations scheduled for 2010 and 2013.

The council will also have the option of extending the contract - which has an estimated value of £1.35m - for a further three years. Further details of the requirements and conditions of the tender are expected to be released in the first two weeks of December.

Figures from the pension fund's annual report 2008 showed at the last triennial valuation in March 2007 the scheme had a funding level of 90%, however it also confirmed the value of the fund had dropped from £7.3bn at 1 April 2007 to £7.27bn at 31 March 2008, following an overall investment return for the financial year of -0.3%.

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