UK - Mercer is advising the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) on the selection of managers tendering for its ethical/socially responsible investment (SRI) equity fund mandate.

Announced late last year, the mandate will form the cornerstone of the scheme's ethical investment fund and will allow, amoung other things, savers to avoid exposure to armaments.

Interested parties have until 10 January to express their interest and must submit all documents to Mercer, which is running the tender, by 14 January.

Upon successful completion of a questionnaire, managers will be invited to give a presentation.

The actively-managed and pooled global equity fund will be benchmarked against the MSCI World index or the FTSE, but is not expected to replicate the benchmark's performance.

While risk management and SRI policies will both have equal weighting in the scheme's decision to award the mandate, its prime concern remains the charges and fees levied by any manager.

Meanwhile, the 200 largest private final salary schemes have seen their deficits fall by 40% over the last year, consultancy Aon Hewitt has revealed.

According to the Aon Hewitt 200 index, the deficit of all privately sponsored final salary schemes in the UK is down by £35bn (€41bn) to £52bn at the end of 2010. 

Marcus Hurd, principal and actuary at the consultancy said that now was the time for sensible planning on part of the firms.

He added: "Companies should ensure that they have the right risk-reward balance and consider whether they should lock in to current deficit levels or continue to play market volatility to seek extra return."

In 2008, the index calculated a surplus of £2bn for the companies, while one year earlier saw their combined deficit amount to £3bn.

Finally, the Office of National Statistics and the Department for Work & Pensions have predicted that almost one in five of the current British population can expect to live to 100.

While the number of centenaries will only reach 100,000 in 2035, the figure was expected to double less than a decade after, with more than 500,000 people living to 100 by 2065.