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UK pension funds lack formal assessment of consultants

UK – An overwhelming majority of UK pension funds have no formal way of assessing the advice they receive from consultants, according to a new survey.

The survey, by Reuters’ broking subsidiary Instinet, found that 85% of funds surveyed have no formal methods to measure the quality of advice received from investment consultants.

The survey also found that the overall amount of investment advice sought by trustees since the Myners review has risen in almost 40% of pension funds.

It quoted an unnamed private sector pension fund with more than one billion pound in assets as saying: “Myners was a good piece of work for investment consultants.”

The Myners Review of Institutional Investment was published in March 2001.

The report also found that 71% of contracts for actuarial and investment services were with the same provider – although most, 76%, were negotiated and held separately. Myners had recommended that consultancy contracts be awarded separately.

“One of the issues in this sector is the dominance by a small number of consultants, who are also the major actuarial players in the market, so funds do not have a wide choice in the first place,” the report says.

The survey used a sample of 107 pension funds representing more than 40% of assets held by members of the National Association of Pension Fund.

It found that trustees received an average of 3.3 training days a year and that 71% of funds did not pay trustees. And 64% of funds believed that lay trustees should not be paid.

“Overall, 61% of pension funds believed that Myners reflected best practice and that the suggested changes were already afoot within the pensions industry,” Instinet said. John Siska, head of UK institutional equities at Instinet Europe said: “The Myners report can only be praised for its efforts to help increase transparency in the pension fund industry.”

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