Brunel Pension Partnership, one of the UK’s eight local government pension scheme asset pools, has updated its climate policy following a review of its climate objectives and stakeholder input.

The review was conducted as part of Brunel’s Climate Stocktake which took place in 2022 and consisted of 20 interviews across 15 organisations led by Chronos Sustainability and complemented by two deep-dive workshops involving all clients.

Brunel said these enabled it to understand what has worked well so far, but importantly improvements and specifically clarity on client climate priorities.

The interviews showed that there is a strong support among member funds for Brunel’s overarching approach to climate change, in particular the focus on engagement and investment opportunities.

Overall, stakeholders felt that Brunel met or exceeded their expectations on climate change across each of the five elements of its climate policy, but expectation has also increased over the last three years and clear areas for improvement were identified, it said.

One of the areas of feedback was asking Brunel to do more physical climate risk from an adaptation and resilience perspective.

This was also a topic that ranked highly in the World Economic Forum risks and is a core component of the Sustianable Development Goal of Climate Action, Brunel said. It added that its own research also recognised that work on climate adaptation needed to be amplified.

In response, it updated its climate change policy to increase focus on this risk, including commitments on setting metrics, disclosure, and a specific stewardship exercise.

The climate policy also strengthens Brunel’s commitment to make biodiversity a “distinct” priority, a goal it committed in last year’s report, saying that the links and interrelatiuonships between the two are “clear”.

Laura Chappell, Brunel’s chief executive officer, said: “Our Climate Stocktake allowed us to take a breath and review our climate objectives, engage, and discuss with our stakeholders on how they, and experts, felt we were progressing, and ask whether we were on track to achieve our objectives. This activity gave us a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate and engage others in our continuous improvement – we believe that to be truly effective, we need to review and refine our activities regularly.”

Smart Pension reaches £3bn in total assets amid market consolidation

Smart Pension has announced that its master trust has reached £3bn in assets under management as new consolidations and partnerships are expected to be announced in due course.

The master trust, which serves over a million members and 70,000 employees across the UK, has enjoyed inflows of £150m in the last month alone and grown by more than 2,000% in the last four years, it disclosed. 

The news comes shortly after its parent company Smart, announced a £76m Series E funding round led by Aquiline. In addition to bolstering Smart’s global expansion plans and cultivating its proprietary technology platform Keystone, funds from the investment round will also help accelerate Smart Pension’s growth in the UK.

Alongside strong organic growth, Smart Pension has also expanded through a string of strategic consolidations, it said. In October 2022, it announced that it would integrate the Ensign Master Trust, delivering increased efficiencies and an improved experience for employers and members. It added that this integration is expected to complete in the next few weeks.

Jamie Fiveash, CEO of Smart UK, said: “We are committed to delivering great value and excellent customer service, and the growth we’ve achieved reflects that. Moreover, our capacity to seamlessly integrate strategic acquisitions speaks volumes about our adaptability and vision.”

Timpson pension fund signs buy-in deal with Just Group

Timpson Group Pension Scheme has completed a buy-in transaction worth £100m with Just Group. K3 Advisory advised on the deal.

The scheme has 369 pensioners and 694 deferred members, it was announced, and was advised by Western Pension Solutions (WPS) to ensure the scheme was well placed to transact a buy-in.

James Timpson, CEO of the Timpson Group, said: “Providing security in retirement is just as important as any other benefit we provide. Our board could clearly see the opportunity a buy-in would provide in securing the best possible outcome for our members.”

Pretty Sagoo, managing director of Just Defined Benefit Solutions, said: “There is a vibrant consolidation market for schemes of all sizes and we are proud to have been entrusted with the long-term financial security of their members.”

Adam Davis, managing director at K3, added: “The scheme worked hard to ensure data was up to date and accurate and had an extremely positive attitude in just getting things done to ensure they did not miss out on the excellent opportunity the market was providing. This meant we were able to present a fully prepared, appealing opportunity to insurers enabling us to secure attractive pricing that worked for all parties.”

Legal advice to the trustees was provided by Gateley, XPS was the administrator and investment adviser to the scheme, and First Actuarial was the scheme actuary. Just Group retained internal legal counsel.

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