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UK roundup: Fife, Bluefin and Redington, Unite and Capita

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  • UK roundup: Fife, Bluefin and Redington, Unite and Capita

UK - Fife Council is seeking an actuary for its local government pension scheme, while Bluefin and Redington have joined forces to target a new investment consultancy offering to small to medium-sized pension schemes.

Elsewhere Unite the Union has revealed its members have rejected plans by Capita Life and Pensions to switch from a final salary to a career average pension arrangement.

Fife Council is re-tendering the actuarial services contract for its £1.1bn (€1.29bn) pension scheme ahead of the next triennial actuarial valuation on 31 March 2011.

Currently the Scottish local authority pension fund, which has a strategic asset allocation of 70% in equities, 20% in bonds and 10% in property, employs Hymans Robertson to provide actuarial services including the triennial valuation.

The closing date for applications is 21 June 2010 and further information can be obtained from the procurement department at Fife Council.

Bluefin and Redington have reached an agreement to provide bespoke investment solutions to small and medium-sized defined benefit (DB) pension funds.

Bluefin will use a technology platform to access Redington's Asset Liability Management (ALM) risk analytics and capital markets expertise that is normally utilised by "multi-billion pound pension schemes".

In this way, the two companies say smaller pension funds will have access to innovative risk management and investment solutions that were previously unavailable to them.

Nick Burns, managing director of Bluefin Corporate Consulting, said: "We are now in a position to deliver an unparalleled service to a significant number of small to medium-sized pension schemes that simply didn't have access to this type of solution before."

Robert Gardner, co-chief executive of Redington, said, "We are seeing a new era of enterprise collaboration in order to meet a common goal: to get our clients fully-funded with a minimal level of risk. Bluefin has a reputation for delivering outstanding holistic benefits solutions to their clients and this is a great opportunity to use our technology and IP to broaden this set of solutions."

Elsewhere Unite the Union has warned Capita that the rejection of proposed pension changes by members "brings closer a full industrial action ballot".

The trade union has balloted members on proposed changes announced at the end of last year that would see ex-Prudential and Pearl Group contract workers switch from a non-contributory final salary scheme to a career average scheme with an employee contribution of up to 7% of earnings in July 2010.

Workers at eight of Capita Life & Pensions' UK sites have rejected the proposals, with one site reporting 98% of the membership is against the plans. Unite claims the changes result in Capita breaking a long-standing commitment to the workforce and breaching a commercial agreement with them.

Rob MacGregor, Unite national officer for the finance sector, said: "Members have given a clear message to Capita that it needs to honour the commitment it made to the staff on pensions when they transferred into Capita."

As it urged Capita to return to the negotiating table to avoid strike action, Unite also warned the situation at Capita exposes a "weakness in the law" that protects transferred pensions of outsourced staff in the public sector but not those working in the private sector.

For example, it claimed Capita proposed reneging on its commitment to match the pension arrangements of 1,200 AXA staff  "a matter of months after staff transferred to the company in June 2009". 

In addition the union argued that Capita is in a sound financial position, while the current pension scheme is "in good health and the trustees are not currently asking for any additional funding from the company. This is a clear attempt at profiteering at the expense of our members' pension arrangements as Capita seek to hit the ever more ambitious profit targets it has promised the City."

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Nyree Stewart on + 44 (0)20 7261 4618 or email nyree.stewart@ipe.com

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