Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 23 September 2014

The Chairperson welcomed the representatives from GAD and Deloitte to the meeting.

Condolences

The Trustees’ expressed their sadness at the recent passing of Mr Sam Foster and the Right Honourable Ian Paisley, Lord Bannside, two of the Schemes Pensioners.

The Trustees agreed to forward a letter of condolence to the widows of Mr Foster and Lord Bannside.

Action Required:

  • Letters of condolence to be drafted (Pensions Team).

1.    MINUTES OF PREVIOUS TRUSTEES MEETING

The draft minutes of the meeting held on 11 of June 2014 were agreed.

Action required:

  • Agreed minutes of the 11 June meeting to be uploaded to the Assembly website (Pensions Team).

2.    STANDING ITEMS

Risk Register

The Trustees agreed the updated risk register for 2014/15.

Conflicts of Interest

The Trustees declared no conflicts of interest other than their membership of the Scheme. 

3.    MATTERS ARISING

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA)

The Trustees noted correspondence from M&G providing confirmation that Prudential Pension Funds have no FACTA liabilities or obligations.

Councillor Pension Transfer – information request

The Chairperson reminded the Trustees that they had previously written to the Independent Financial Review Panel (the Panel) to ask that the Panel consider opening the transfer window for a limited time, only to permit transfers from NILGOSC to the AMPS for Members affected by changes in legislation in 2012.

This would be a one off exercise outside the normal transfer timescale.

The Chairperson informed the Trustees that the Panel had written back seeking additional information and that a letter had been drafted to the Panel providing the information requested.

Mr Hussey sought clarification on whether the proposed amendment to the Scheme Rules would be a one off exercise or expanded to include future MLA’s with preserved council pensions.

The Trustees agreed to continue to seek a one off amendment to the Scheme Rules and to forward the letter as drafted, to the Panel.

Action required:

  • Forward letter to the Panel (Pensions Team).

Budget Changes Affecting AVC Funds

The Trustees considered GADs response to their request for additional information regarding recent budget changes affecting defined contribution funds and the extent of the impact on the AVC Fund.

Mr J Wells joined the meeting at 9.30am

Mrs Anderson (NIA) provided the Trustees with a comprehensive breakdown of the changes and advised the Trustees that GAD had confirmed that there was no detriment to the Scheme.

Mrs Anderson also advised the Trustees that the Pensions Team is currently seeking advice from Eversheds on the Scheme Rules position and whether the flexibility outlined in GADs response would require a change to the Scheme Rules.

4.    REVIEW OF INVESTMENT PRINCIPLES

The Chairperson reminded the Trustees that discussions on this item had been ongoing for some time and that the Trustees had discussed a paper provided by Mr Gurden from GAD at their meeting in June.

The Chairperson handed over to Mr Gurden who explained the interaction between the investment and funding strategies of the Scheme; the characteristics of different investment options open to the Trustees and the different approaches the Trustees could use to establish a suitable strategy.

Mr Gurden facilitated a discussion around diversification, the Trustees attitude to risk, future stability, affordability of the scheme and the cashflow position.

Mr John Dallat left the meeting at 10.07am

The Trustees agreed to discuss further their attitude to risk vs reward and explore various options for diversity.  It was agreed that further information would be sought on the new M&G Episode Allocation Fund and the position in other legislatures for comparison.

Action required:

  • Write to M&G for details of the Episode Allocation Fund (Pensions Team).
  • Seek further information regarding comparison with other legislatures (Pensions Team). 
  • Make decisions on future strategy at next meeting. (Trustees).

5.    TRIENNIAL SCHEME VALUATION

The Chairperson reminded the Trustees that they had previously considered a paper from GAD on the proposed assumptions to be used in the valuation. The assumptions agreed at that meeting had been notified to GAD who had produced a preliminary valuation report for discussion.

The Chairperson again handed over to Mr Gurden who highlighted of the preliminary results of the valuation of the Scheme as at 31 March 2014.

The Trustees discussed a number of issues and noted that the preliminary report will be updated for the next meeting taking account of:

  • The Independent Financial Review Panels review of the pension scheme;
  • The final scheme accounts for 13 -14;
  • Resolved data queries
  • Any changes to the Investment Strategy.

Action required:

  • Provide scheme accounts to GAD. (Finance Office / Pensions Team).
  • Contact IFRP regarding outcome of consultation. (Pensions Team)
  • Pensions Team to work with GAD to resolve outstanding data queries.

6.    SCHEME ANNUAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS 2013/2014

Mrs Anderson advised the Trustees that the first draft of the Scheme Annual Report and Accounts for 2013/14 will not be available until December 2014 due to staffing issues within the Finance Department.  The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) has confirmed that there is no breach of statutory obligation due to late filing.

The Pensions Team will continue to work with the Finance Office and the NIAO to bring this work forward.

Action required:

  • Liaise with Finance Office and NIAO to produce report and accounts (Pensions Team).

7.    ADMINISTRATION REPORT

The Trustees were reminded that an Administration Agreement is in place to cover the services provided by the Pensions Team.  The Trustees considered the first report on the Pension Teams performance against the agreed service standards.

The Chairperson advised the Trustees that the only area that service standards had not been fully met by the Pensions Team was in the provision of a twice yearly newsletter although other methods of communication had been used to communicate with Scheme members.

The Trustees agreed that a newsletter would be released on an annual basis to all Scheme members.

Action required:

  • Newsletter to be produced and forwarded to Scheme members annually (Pensions Team).

Mr Wells left the meeting at 10.23am

8.    ANY OTHER BUSINESS

New Pension

The Trustees agreed to approve two new spouses’ pensions and one early retirement pension.

Annual Allowance Statements

The Chairperson informed the Trustees that all Scheme Members had received their AMPS statements for 2013/14 and that 9 Members had exceeded their annual allowance limit and may be subject to a tax charge.

The Trustees noted that the Pensions Team had consulted with GAD and will be writing to the Members concerned to provide further information.

The Trustees also noted that legislation allows Members who exceed the Annual Allowance and are subject to a tax charge to ask the Scheme to pay the tax and reduce the value of their future pension.

The Trustees agreed to revisit this issue in the event of such a request.

9.    DATE OF NEXT MEETING

Tuesday 20 January 2015, 9.15am

10. BITESIZE TRAINING SESSION

The Chairperson handed over to Mr Neil Burns (Deloitte) who provided the Trustees with a bitesize training session on Pensions Flexibility at retirement.         

Mr Brady left the meeting at 10.40am

Meeting suspended as inquorate.

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