The West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF) is helping to spearhead an initiative that is leading to the start of a ‘national conversation’ about retirement planning.

WMPF, one of the UK’s largest pension funds, is among six organisations to become the first Friends of the Retirement Living Standards alongside major firms including Legal & General and Standard Life. it is also the first of 87 funds within the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) to be involved.

The Retirement Living Standards scheme is run by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) with the aim of creating “a common language to help the UK engage with retirement saving”, the fund said.

By becoming a Friend, WMPF is contributing to nationally important research by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Social Policy, which continues to shape and refine the standards.

It builds on WMPF’s work to ensure that its 330,000+ members across more than 700 employers – including local authorities and schools – understand how to achieve the lifestyle they want in retirement.

For example, the fund has been running a campaign targeted at raising awareness among over-55s. It’s complemented by a pre-retirement toolkit offering members a comprehensive guide and a number of tools designed to help members get a clear picture of where they stand.

Simon Taylor, assistant director (pensions) at WMPF, said: “At the West Midlands Pension Fund we recognise the importance of comprehensive retirement planning for members and this has formed an integral part of our member service delivery, with increased prominence over recent times.

“As such, I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to link-in with PLSA on promoting Retirement Living Standards, which will serve to raise awareness and complement the work we undertake in this space.”

Launched in 2020, the Retirement Living Standards set out three different levels of retirement lifestyles – minimum, moderate and comfortable – based on a basket of goods and services that are monitored and updated by researchers.

The Standards have so far been adopted by 53 organisations covering more than 14.4 million savers. They are also increasingly used by policy bodies, think tanks and even government bodies when considering pensions adequacy.

The PLSA expects the standards “will one day become a rule of thumb for retirement planning – a common language to help the UK engage with retirement saving”.

Engineering consultancy shifts members, assets to LifeSight 

Ricardo Plc, an engineering and environmental consultancy, has moved its 2,500 UK defined contribution (DC) pension scheme members, and £125m (€144.3m) in assets, from the Ricardo International Pension Scheme into the LifeSight master trust.

Formerly operating a single-employer trust scheme, Ricardo selected LifeSight – Willis Towers Watson’s master trust – in September 2020 to take over its UK DC pension scheme, following a competitive tender.

After a period of consultation with affected employees and integration, LifeSight went live for its employee contributions in March 2021 and the transfer of £125m of all members’ assets was completed in April 2021, ahead of schedule.

Mark Edwards, group head of treasury at Ricardo, said that “the key things that really stood out to us about LifeSight was its commitment to sustainable investing and its ability to build a bespoke service around the specific needs of our pension scheme members”.

Fiona Matthews, managing director of LifeSight, said: “We are so thrilled to have won the mandate from Ricardo, particularly in these challenging times for all pension schemes. Despite our rapid growth, we have been very selective about which companies we work with; this enables us to partner very closely with our clients and deliver a hugely positive experience to all their members.” 

The addition of the Ricardo scheme, along with several other recent client wins, brings LifeSight overall to 235,000 members and £10.5bn of assets under management.

Isio selects Moody’s for climate risk modelling 

UK pensions advisory firm Isio is going to use climate risk modelling by Moody’s Analytics to assess the financial impact of climate risk exposures.

Incoming regulations require large UK pension plans to begin reporting in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework, including reporting on the impact on a portfolio of different temperature scenarios and levels of greenhouse gas emissions on a portfolio.

“Understanding and managing climate risk is increasingly important for our clients,” said Pat Race, partner at Isio.

“We work with organisations to develop and implement bespoke environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies; as part of this we consider a broad range of ESG risks and assessing climate risk forms an integral part of our ESG approach,” he said.

He added: “Moody’s Analytics has a strong track record in scenario modeling and their solutions and expertise will allow us to provide our clients with more valuable advice around managing their climate risk exposures.”

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