Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 15 September 2009

Present: 
Mr D McClarty 
Mr J Wells 
Mr T Lunn

Apologies:
Mr J Dallat
Mrs M O’Neill
Ms Sinead Lappin

In the Chair: 
Mr D McClarty

In attendance: 
Mr G Ballantine (Government Actuary’s Department) (Items 4 & 5), 
Mr A Spooner (M&G Investments) (Item 6) 
Mrs L Anderson, Mr W Long, Mrs J Beattie

1. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS TRUSTEES MEETING

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced William Long, a new member of the Pensions Team. The minutes of the Trustee meeting held on 16 June 2009 were agreed.

Action required:
  • Pensions Team to arrange for upload of minutes of 16 June 2009 to the Assembly website

2. STANDING ITEMS

Risk Register

There have been no changes to the risk register since the last meeting.

3. MATTERS ARISING

Administrative support to the Trustees

Due to the volume of business for this meeting the Trustees agreed to defer consideration of this item until the next meeting.

Action required:
  • Pensions Team to include this item on the agenda for the next meeting.
Legal expenses

The Trustees were updated on the total cost of legal advice received from Eversheds in respect of a recent complaint.

Trustee Training

The Trustees considered a ‘training options paper’ and a paper from The Pensions Regulator providing guidance on ‘Defined benefit schemes’. The Trustees agreed to sign up for the Trustee Toolkit and carry out online training.

Action required:
  • Pensions Team to arrange to visit Trustees offices to assist with registration and set up.
Annual Report and Accounts 2008 - 09

A copy of the NI AMPS Annual Report and Accounts for 2008 – 2009 was issued for consideration prior to the meeting. The Trustees agreed the content of the Annual Report and signed final copies for issue to the Audit Office along with a letter of representation.

Actions required:
  • Pensions Team to forward letter of representation and signed copy of Annual Report and Accounts 2008 – 09 to Northern Ireland Audit Office.
Freedom of Information requests – legal costs

The Trustees noted (having received advice from Legal Services) that it is unlikely that there would be any requirement for external legal advice in the event of refusal by Trustees to release information in response to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act as the Trustees are not subject to the requirements of the Act.

4. TRANSFER VALUES AND ASSOCIATED ITEMS

Mr McClarty welcomed Grant Ballantine from the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD). Mr Ballantine briefed the Trustees on the GAD papers on the assumptions to be used in calculating cash equivalent transfer values for transfers out of the pension scheme, service credits for transfers in to the scheme and commutation factors which he had provided prior to the meeting. The Trustees discussed the Actuary’s recommendations and agreed the following:

In relation to transfers out of the AMPS – the Trustees agreed to adopt the same approach as the Trustees of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF).

In relation to transfers in to the AMPS – the Trustees agreed an approach consistent with that used for transfers out.

The Trustees agreed to accept the revised commutation factors prepared by the Actuary, effective immediately.

Action Required:
  • Pensions Team to instruct GAD in writing of the Trustees decision to adopt the same approach as the Trustees of the PCPF.
  • Pensions Team to confirm with GAD that the Trustees are content with the proposals as set out in their letter dated 27 August 2009 (i.e. re service credits in respect of incoming transfers).
  • Pensions Team to notify SPPA of the revised scale of commutation factors.

5. REVIEW OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY AND REVIEW OF INVESTMENT MANAGER PERFORMANCE

Investment Strategy

Mr Ballantine presented a paper to the Trustees reviewing the current Investment Strategy which was agreed in 2007, against the schemes liabilities. The Trustees were content that the Investment Strategy is still a good match for the schemes liabilities and decided against any fundamental change to the Investment Strategy. Having considered advice from the Actuary and the Investment Manager, The Trustees decided to divert 50% of new investments to the Long Dated Corporate Bond Fund in order to assist with future liability matching.

Action Required:
  • Pensions Team to prepare written instruction to M&G regarding the allocation of future investment.
Review of Investment Manager Performance

The Trustees considered a paper prepared by Mr Ballantine reviewing the performance of the Investment Manager since the appointment of M&G in 2007. The Trustees noted that despite turbulent market conditions M&G have consistently outperformed the benchmark.

6. INVESTMENT MANAGER UPDATE

Mr McClarty welcomed Mr Spooner from M & G Investments. A copy of the M & G 2 nd Quarter Report, covering the period 1 April to 30 June 2009 was issued prior to the meeting along with a one page summary of the investment performance of the Fund. Mr Spooner provided the Trustees with a brief update on the current investment climate advising that the Equity market had recovered strongly and had further rallied since June. It was noted that M & G had out-performed the benchmark for the quarter (return of 10.7% against benchmark return of 8.2%) and over the past year ending 30 June 2009.

Mr Wells left the meeting at 10.27am 
Mr Wells rejoined the meeting at 10.54am.

7. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Approval of New Pensions

The Trustees approved the payment of pensions in respect of Eamon O’Neill and Denis Haughey.

AMPS Newsletter

The Trustees were provided with a draft Newsletter for consideration prior to the meeting. The Trustees approved the issue of the newsletter to all pension scheme members and agreed that the future issues should be produced on a bi-annual basis.

  • Pensions Team to issue October 2009 Newsletter to all pension scheme members.
  • Pensions Team to produce April 2010 edition for Trustee approval in March 2010.
Freedom of Information request

The Trustees considered a request for information from a former Member. The requestor had previously submitted an unsuccessful request under FOI for the same information and has now written directly to the Trustees. The Trustees discussed the request and agreed the draft response prepared by the Pensions Team.

Action Required:
  • Pensions Team to issue response to requestor.

8. Date of Next Meeting

The Trustees agreed to meet on Tuesday 19 January 2010 at 9.30am

Action Required:
  • Pensions Team to confirm date and issue meeting invites.

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