Minutes of Proceedings
Session: Session currently unavailable
Date: 16 December 2021
Meeting of the NIAMPS Trustee Board
held via MS Teams on Thursday 16 December 2021 at 9:30am
Mr J Wells MLA (Chair)
Dr C Archibald MLA
Mr P Catney MLA
Mr R Beggs MLA
Mr S Dickson MLA
Mrs P McClintock and Ms S Murphy (NIA), Ms S Bell, Mr M Mistry, Mr A Jinks (GAD), Mr A Crowe (Scheme Secretary) and Mr N Burns (Deloitte).
1. STANDARD BUSINESS
1.1 Apologies – none.
1.2 Conflicts of interest – Mr Beggs outlined a conflict in relation to the McCloud judgement and went off-line prior to McCloud being discussed under agenda item 1.4.7. Mr Beggs was contacted when this discussion was completed and re-joined the meeting.
1.3 Minutes of the Meeting on 23 September 2021 – Mr Beggs asked that the minutes be amended to clarify that he went offline completely when McCloud was being discussed. The minutes were approved subject to this change being made.
1.4 Matters arising:
1.4.1 Minutes of Trustee Meetings – upload to Assembly website
Noted that the Assembly website was up-to date with the Trustee Minutes.
1.4.2 Expression of Wishes Form
Action: Expression of Wishes Form were to be issued to all members along with Benefit Statements. (Pensions Office)
1.4.3 Tender for Investment Manager Services
Mr Crowe advised that the procurement process was progressing, and 4 investment managers had been selected to present to a sub-committee of the Trustees on 13 January 2022.
Action: Deloitte’s investment team would provide a presentation pack and arrange a briefing meeting with the sub-committee in the new year, ahead of the manager presentations. (Deloitte)
1.4.4 Letter to the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission regarding pension decisions delayed by absence of the IFRP
Mrs McClintock advised that the letter had been submitted and was expected to go to the next Commission Meeting.
The Trustees noted the importance of the matters being raised that that this should remain a topic on the Trustee agenda.
Action: Trustees should revisit and review the pension matters currently held-up by the absence of the IFRP at each future Meeting (Scheme Secretary).
1.4.5 NIAMPS Annual Report & Financial Statements – Audit Outcome
Mrs McClintock advised that the audit had been completed and the Draft Report to those charged with Governance had been circulated to the Trustees. She noted that the auditors had given an unqualified opinion and that there were no issues raised in the Report.
The Chair thanked Mrs McClintock and Assembly finance staff who had contributed to preparation of the Annual Report & Financial Statements.
Action: The Trustees would review the Draft Report to those charged with Governance and advise Mrs McClintock of any issues arising by the end of the day on Friday 17 December 2021. If there were no issues of concern the Letter of Representation would be signed by the Chair and submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General (NIAO) as soon as possible.
1.4.6 Explanation of difference between funding levels determined for the actuarial valuation and for accounting purposes
It was noted that Mr Crowe had emailed an explanatory paper to the Trustees which compared and provided details on the two different bases of funding valuation. There were no further queries on this matter.
It was noted that the Trustees were unable to proceed with the determination and implementation of a remedy for McCloud in the absence of the Independent Financial Review Panel.
Ms Bell provided an update on progress with the other UK assembly schemes and noted that progress was being made by both Westminster and the Welsh Senedd. In particular, the Senedd had proposed a solution with gave members an immediate choice on which scheme they wished to participate in during the relevant period. This was in line with the HMT proposal for unfunded public sector schemes – choice but choice now, rather than carrying the issue forward for a relatively small number of members.
Action: McCloud to remain on agenda (as per 1.4.4 above).
1.4.8 Transfer out – Mr Allister
It was noted that this had been completed on 29 November 2021.
1.5 Items from the Chair
1.5.1 Member Benefit Statements 2021
The Trustees noted the relevance of members having their pension information to assist them with decision making ahead of the elections next year.
Mr Burns advised that the Statements were being checked during the next few days and then would be uploaded to Sharefile and available to be distributed by the Pensions Office before Christmas. He further advised that an individual Statement could be provided by email to a member who required their Statement urgently, although hopefully this would be by exception in order not to delay other Statements being issued. Members should contact Deloitte by email or phone to request an urgent Statement.
2 CONSENT ITEMS
2.1 For noting
3. KEY REPORTS FOR DISCUSSION
3.1 Performance of Investment Manager – Q3 2021
Mr Jinks outlined that performance overall during Q3 had been adequate, whilst the Episode Fund had performed poorly. He further noted that over the previous 3 years M&G performance had not done well in tracked their benchmarks.
Mr Jinks advised that since the emergence of the Omicron variant the markets had been volatile, but a market crash was unlikely. A key factor to monitor in the coming period would be inflation – which was increasing significantly – and how well inflation was being hedged by the Scheme’s asset allocation and the impact of this on the funding position.
3.2 Actuarial Factor Review
Ms Bell reminded Trustees that it was normal practice following an actuarial valuation.She advised that the Review was close to being completed and that she would circulate the details, with explanatory notes, early in the new year.
The Trustees discussed the possible impact on calculations which were currently in progress or which were requested ahead of the factor review being finalised.
Agreed: by the Trustees that transitional arrangements would be implemented to ensure that a member with a calculation in progress would not be disadvantaged, and that GAD should highlight the agreed transitional arrangements in the Report to the Trustees.
Action: GAD to finalise the factor review and issue the Report to the Trustees in the new year.
Action: For any calculations in progress or issued before completion of the factor review, Deloitte would advise members of the current exercise to review actuarial factors and that they will be offered a choice of which calculation to accept.
3.3 Commutation and Tax Note
Ms Bell had provided this paper following the request from Trustees for clarification on this topic at the previous Meeting. The Chair thanked Ms Bell for providing this helpful document.
3.4 Pensioner existence exercise
Mr Burns advised that this was an annual exercise to verify the details of the Scheme pensioners and that they are still alive. The exercise was used as a means for the Trustees to protect the fund against overpayment of benefits or fraud. He confirmed that the pensioner could be the former member, a spouse or a dependant of the former member.
Mr Burns noted that there were 7 individuals who had not yet responded to requests for confirmation of details, and in such a circumstance it would be normal to cease pension payments to these members. This would be on a temporary basis subject to the individual making contact and providing the required details.
Agreed: by the Trustees that they had a duty to protect the fund and decided that one further letter should be issued to the 7 individuals and if there was still no response then pension payments should be stopped on a temporary basis initially.
4 OTHER ITEMS
4.1 Ill-Health Retirements
Mrs McClintock advised that one member previously considering ill-health retirement had now made an application for normal retirement.
She also provided an update on another member considering ill-health retirement that had previously been notified to the Trustees. This case was more complex than thought initially and the member was currently taking steps to progress the matter.
Agreed: by the Trustees that Mrs McClintock would keep them updated on this case
5 ANY OTHER BUSINESS
6 DATE OF FUTURE MEETINGS
The Chair reminded Trustees of the date of the next Meeting on 24 March 2022 and outlined that this Meeting may need to be changed depending on the date of dissolution.
He thanked all Trustees for their attendance and participation at today’s meeting.