Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 20 January 2015

The Chairperson welcomed the representatives from GAD and Deloitte to the meeting and advised of some internal staffing changes to the Assembly Pensions Team.

Condolences

The Trustees expressed their sadness at the recent passing of Mr George Savage one of the Schemes Pensioners.

The Trustees agreed to forward a letter of condolence to the widow of Mr Savage.

Action Required:

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

1.    MINUTES OF PREVIOUS TRUSTEES MEETING

The draft minutes of the meeting held on 23 of September 2014 were agreed.

Action required:

  • Agreed minutes of the 23 September meeting to be uploaded to the Assembly website (Pensions Team).

2.    Standing Items

Risk Register

The Trustees noted that there had been no change to the risk register since the last meeting.

Conflicts of Interest

The Trustees declared that their membership of the Scheme is an ongoing conflict.

Mr Wells reminded the Trustees that he has a personal investment with M&G.  Mr Wells has been appointed Minister for HSSPS since the last meeting.

3.    Matters Arising

Letters of condolence

The Trustees noted that letters of condolence were issued to Baroness Paisley and Mrs Foster as agreed at the 23 September meeting.

Councillor Pension Transfer – information request

The Chairperson informed the Trustees that the Independent Financial Review Panel (the Panel) have agreed to allow a one off transfer exercise to proceed for the Members who were affected by their previous determination, and as a direct result have preserved NILGOSC pensions.  The Trustees instructed the Pensions Team to take this work forward with the appropriate advisors.

Action required:

  • Consult with Eversheds regarding an amendment to the Scheme Rules;
  • Write to the affected Members (Pensions Team).

Triennial Scheme Valuation 2011 - 2014

The Chairperson advised the Trustees that following the last meeting the Pensions Team provided a draft set of scheme accounts to GAD, resolved data queries and contacted the Panel regarding their consultation on Members Pensions. 

The Trustees considered the final draft valuation report provided by GAD and agreed to accept the assumptions and recommendations it contained.  The Trustees were pleased to note that the scheme is in surplus.

Annual Report and Accounts 2013 – 2014

The Trustees were reminded that on 2 December 2014, they approved the release of the draft annual report to the Northern Ireland Audit Office.  The Trustees noted that once the audit certificate is received, the report and accounts will be printed and laid before the Assembly.

Action required:

  • Liaise with NIAO re audit certificate;
  • Arrange for printing and laying of the Report and Accounts 2013 – 14 (Pensions Team)

Northern Ireland Audit Office Annual Audit 2013 – 2014

The Trustees noted that the NIAO audit fieldwork commenced on 8 December and was completed before Christmas recess.  The Audit Office report is pending.

Annual Allowance 2014

The Trustees noted that the Pensions Team has written to 9 Members who had exceeded their Annual Allowance for 2014.  Additional information was provided to these Members, but to date no Member has asked about the ‘Scheme Pays’ option.

AMPS Newsletter

The Trustees were reminded that they had previously agreed to issue a newsletter to Scheme members annually.  It was suggested that it would be useful for the newsletter to address the pension flexibilities being introduced from April 2015.  The Trustees agreed that a newsletter should be issued following the next meeting when the issue of pension flexibility would be discussed in more detail.

Action required:

  • Newsletter to be issued after the April 2015 meeting (Pensions Team).

4.    CONTRACT REVIEW

The Chairperson reminded the Trustees that the Eversheds contract for the provision of Pensions Legal Advice was awarded in January 2011 with no stipulated end date.  The Trustees agreed that they are content with the service being provided and agreed to review the contract in September 2016.

Action required:

  • Review Eversheds contract in September 2016.

5.    ANY OTHER BUSINESS

New Pensions

The Trustees were reminded that they had approved an ill health retirement pension on 2 December 2014.

The Trustees also approved one new pension and a spouse’s pension.

Lifetime Allowance Statement Exercise

The Trustees agreed to amend the terms of engagement with Deloitte to carry out an annual exercise notifying pensioners of the total percentage of the Standard Lifetime Allowance used in the scheme at the end of every tax year. The issue of these statements is a statutory requirement.

Action required:

  • Liaise with Deloitte (Pensions Team)

6.    REVIEW OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY

The Chairperson reminded the Trustees that discussions on this item had been ongoing for some time.  It had previously been agreed to seek further diversification by exploring a move into multi asset funds, while ensuring that Funds investment strategy was both appropriate and easily understood. The Chairperson handed over to Mr Gurden who summarised the relevant issues and facilitated a discussion to determine the Trustees short and long term investment objectives and attitude to risk.  While the Trustees are generally content with the level of risk versus reward, it was agreed that proposals for a move into a multi asset fund would be explored at the next meeting. 

Action required:

  • Draft revised Statement of Investment Principles to be prepared for the next meeting (GAD).
  • Explore options to move into multi asset funds.

7.    REVIEW OF INVESTMENT PERFORMANCE

The Trustees were advised that the last review of the Investment Managers performance was in 2013, and Mr Gurden presented a paper summarising M&Gs performance up to 30 September 2014.  The Trustees discussed the disappointing performance of the Recovery Fund over the previous 1 year and 3 year period and noted that M&Gs underperformance against the benchmark was due to this Fund.

Mr John Dallat left the meeting at 10.02am

Mr Spooner and Mr Stiasny joined the meeting at 10:04am

8.    M&G INVESTMENT MANAGER UPDATE

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Spooner and Mr Stiasny to the meeting and invited them to deliver their update.

Mr Spooner briefly reviewed the existing mandate, before addressing the disappointing performance of the Recovery Fund since 2011, with 2014 being the lowest performance to date.  Mr Stiasny reaffirmed the Fund Managers methodology and commitment to their process and stock selections.  M&G continue to support the companies they have invested in through the recovery process.

Mr Brady left the meeting at 10.25am (meeting no longer quorate)

9.    M&G EPISODE ALLOCATION FUND

The Chairperson reminded the Trustees of their previous considerations of moving into diversified growth funds.  The Chairperson handed over to Mr Spooner for his presentation on M&Gs Episode Allocation Fund.

Mr Spooner introduced the Fund but due to limited time was unable to address all the questions the Trustees had prepared. 

Mr Spooner undertook to provide a full response to the questions that the Trustees could consider in conjunction with their advisors prior to making any investment decision.  Mr Spooner extended an invitation to GAD and Deloitte to meet the team responsible for the Episode Allocation Fund and ask any further questions.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Spooner and Mr Stiasny for attending.

.Action required:

  • M&G to provide a response to questions (M&G).

10.       DATE OF NEXT MEETING

Tuesday 28 April 2015 at 9:15am.

The Chairperson advised the Trustees that there would be no bitesize training today due to the volume of business that had been covered.

Meeting ended at 10:55am

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