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UK roundup: Aon Hewitt, PwC, Bribery Act, FairPensions

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  • UK roundup: Aon Hewitt, PwC, Bribery Act, FairPensions

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UK - An increasing number of pension schemes are expected to outsource services beyond administration to third-party providers, Aon Hewitt has said as it released the results of its Pension Administration Survey 2011.

The consultancy said the move came at a time when new regulatory requirements and complying with the auto-enrolment directive was having an increasing impact on administration strategies.

Colin Hamilton, benefits administration sales director, said there would be a "real shake-up" in pension administration between now and 2013.

He said that while pension administration would continue to be the focus of outsourcing, other areas such as member communication would increasingly be handled by third parties.

"While 80% of schemes in the survey had already outsourced their pension administration, our research shows a willingness to outsource a broader range of services," he said. "Survey respondents cited improved quality, access to outside expertise and cost savings as the key reasons for this."

He speculated that with the continuing closure of defined contribution schemes - as well as the introduction of the National Employment Savings Trust and its remit to confine the majority of member communication to the internet - self-service for members would become increasingly popular.

Meanwhile, PwC has welcomed the government's recently published guidance concerning the Bribery Act, clarifying the law's implementation.

It came a day after Railpen Investments, alongside several other institutional investors, wrote an open letter expressing concerns that allowing exemptions for non-domestic companies risked creating a double standard.

While PwC welcomed the Ministry of Justice's admission that a proportionate and risk-based approach would be employed when implementing the law, it warned that implementing it would nonetheless prove to be a challenge.

Sian Herbert, partner, said: "This should be a cause for urgent action. The key thing is to have a clear picture of the risks facing the business and to create some real momentum behind the development of an anti-bribery programme.

"The recognition of the importance of control in relation to joint ventures and other investments, and the clarification around associated persons and corporate entertaining, will be particularly well received by financial services institutions."

Finally, MP Ed Davey has welcomed the recent report by FairPensions highlighting the need for an examination of what the term 'fiduciary' means to the pensions industry.

Speaking at the launch event, the minister said it was "very important" that fiduciary duties be fully understood by those exercising them.

He added: "As a government, we do want to see ESG issues considered in a rounded way to encourage responsible investment decisions.

"Fiduciary duties placed on pension fund trustees can be about more than maximising the bottom line.

"These duties require pension fund trustees to consider the best interests of the scheme beneficiaries, and we want everyone to understand that."

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