Evri, a parcel delivery company in the UK formerly known as Hermes UK, has selected Smart Pensions to provide access to a workplace pension to more than 12,000 “self-employed plus” couriers.

The appointment comes after the announcement by Evri that it will automatically enrol self-employed plus couriers in a workplace pension scheme, a move welcomed by the GMB union as a “massive step forward”.

Couriers will be enrolled into the Smart Pension Master Trust by the end of 2022, benefitting from a real-time pension they can access anywhere via the web and mobile devices, powered by Smart’s technology platform Keystone.

Under the agreement, Evri’s self-employed plus couriers will also be able to continue to manage their savings beyond retirement using Smart Pension’s ‘Smart Retire’ technology.

Conor Ormsby, director of delivery at Evri, said: “Smart Pension has a great offering with huge amounts of flexibility and first-class technology to make life simple, with a truly excellent support team.”

Profit warnings from companies with a DB scheme increased 70%

The number of profit warnings issued in the first half of the year from UK-listed companies with a defined benefit (DB) pension scheme has increased by 70% year-on-year, from 20 in H1 2021 to 34 in H1 2022.

The latest profit warning analysis from EY-Parthenon showed that a quarter (25%) of all UK-listed companies’ warnings issued in the first half of 2022 came from firms sponsoring a DB pension scheme.

Across all listed companies, 136 profit warnings were issued in H1 2022, 34 of them from firms with a DB pension scheme.

In the second quarter of 2022, 15 warnings from companies with a DB pension scheme were issued, down slightly from the 19 issued in the first quarter, yet more than double the seven warnings issued in Q2 2021.

The majority (26) of companies with a DB pension scheme that issued a profit warning in H1 2022 were from consumer-facing (19) or industrial sectors (7).

These are among the sectors most adversely affected by cost pressures and supply chain disruption, in addition to being particularly susceptible to declines in business and consumer confidence, EY-Parthenon stated.

Rising overheads, including increased energy, fuel, wage, and material costs, were cited as the main reason for companies with a DB pension scheme issuing a profit warning, with a record 60% of firms claiming this in Q2 2022, up from 53% in Q1 2022. This was followed by supply chain disruption, which accounted for 33% of warnings, up from 26% in Q1 2022.

Karina Brookes, UK pensions covenant advisory leader and EY-Parthenon partner, said: “Listed companies with DB schemes have a highly complex set of challenges to navigate throughout the second half of 2022 and into next year. The past six months have shown that the difficult macroeconomic environment is adversely affecting these companies, particularly those in the retail and industrial sectors, which are most sensitive to rising costs and supply chain disruption.”

She added that with growth stagnating, and significant increases in both inflation and interest rate rises likely to continue for the rest of the year, the outlook for sponsors’ cost bases was unlikely to improve markedly in the short term.

“It is therefore vital that trustees continue to monitor the strength of the employer covenant over the life of the scheme and identify any early signs of distress,” she noted.

Brookes suggested that to ensure the security of member benefits, trustees need to “undertake robust scenario planning to gain a complete understanding of the sponsor’s exposure and any potential impact on performance”, which should include current, short-term factors as well as risks that span the entire life of a pension scheme.

TPT master trust to make £75m impact investment

TPT Retirement Solutions, a UK workplace pension scheme, is set to make a £75m (€87.9m) impact investment through its defined contribution (DC) master trust default fund.

Members of TPT’s DC default investment strategy, whose investments are advised by AllianceBernstein, will over the long-term increasingly see their pension allocated to investments nurturing positive societal impacts and tackling global social and environmental problems, as defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it announced.

While seeking investment opportunities offering high growth potential to enhance returns, the fund will increase exposure to investments attaining strong positive impacts like social housing, green infrastructure, and renewable energy.

The fund will add between 10 and 20 investment components over time to finance impact projects, it said.

Members of TPT’s DC master trust default fund will see no change in costs.

Philip Smith, DC director at TPT Retirement Solutions, said the investment showed “the ability of master trusts to offer greater diversification and better returns for our members”.

He added: “Not only will the allocation towards impact investment be beneficial to members, but it can also fund projects that impact communities and the environment.”

The announcement follows TPT’s commitment last year to the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner through the Paris Aligned Investment Initiative.

TPT has also pledged to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 from its baseline position.

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