UK – Nearly all of the UK's local authority pension funds employ external managers, according to a report on governance and administration by the Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Surveying the 101 local government pension schemes (LGPS) ahead of its duty from 2015 to set governance and administration standards for public sector funds, the regulator's executive director for governance, Andrew Warwick-Thompson, said it would emulate its work with private sector schemes.
"Although they are run slightly differently to private sector schemes, we will take a similar approach – prioritising education and enablement but taking action if necessary to make sure schemes are run to a high standard."
Warwick-Thompson said TPR planned to "monitor and report" on the progress of public service schemes on an annual basis.
The inaugural survey of both the LGPS and unfunded public sector schemes found problems within the unfunded arrangements for policemen and fire fighters, noting they were often run as "ancillary functions of the relevant authority" and lacked dedicated scheme governance.
The regulator noted that, because standards for the LGPS are already set by the Department for Communities and Local Government – and governance has been on the "agenda" for many funds – there is likely to be greater awareness of the issues within the system.
"In the survey," TPR noted, "98% reported having a governance board, generally meeting quarterly.
"Two-thirds of boards (63%) have a training plan and a policy on knowledge and understanding, which will help ensure adequate pension board knowledge and understanding."
It also found that 98% of funds employed external actuaries, while 93% outsourced asset management and a further 89% responsibility for auditing the funds.
"The overall assessment of the board’s governance work was generally high, with relatively lower scores for addressing learning gaps and working together as an effective unit," the report said.
In other news, Judy Saunders – former CIO at the £8.9bn (€10.6bn) West Midlands Pension Fund – has joined infrastructure manager AMP Capital as an adviser to its UK business.
She said: "Having successfully introduced and implemented a truly diversified investment strategy at West Midlands Pension Fund, I remain a firm believer in the long-term benefits of diversification and also the significant role alternative strategies can play within an investment portfolio."