Minutes of Proceedings
Session: Session currently unavailable
Date: 23 September 2021
1. STANDARD BUSINESS
1.1 Apologies – none.
1.2 Conflicts of interest – Mr Beggs outlined a conflict in relation to the McCloud judgement and left the meeting prior to McCloud being discussed under agenda item 3.1. Mr Beggs was contacted when this discussion was completed and re-joined the meeting.
1.3 Minutes of the Meeting on 17 June 2021 – approved.
1.4 Matters arising:
1.4.1 Minutes of Trustee Meetings
Action: Minutes from the NIAMPS Trustee Meetings would be uploaded to the Members Pension Scheme section of the Assembly website. (Pensions Office)
1.4.2 Expression of Wishes Form
Action: Analysis would be undertaken to identify and communicate with members who were required to complete and submit an Expression of Wishes Form. (Pensions Office)
1.4.3 Tender for Investment Manager Services
Mr Wooley attended the Meeting for this item and advised that the process to appoint an investment manager was underway. He reminded Trustees of the remit provided, which was for an investment approach with simple governance and a passive asset allocation.
Noted: that Deloitte had narrowed the options down to six providers (all well-known organisations) who could provide the required services and that each of these firms had been asked to provide a proposal based on the Scheme remit. The proposals would be evaluated in November and the final two candidates would be asked to give a presentation in December.
Agreed: that Mr Wells, Ms Archibald and Mrs McClintock would attend the presentation meetings, which were expected to be a virtual rather than in person.
Action: The Secretary would liaise with the Trustees and Mr Wooley to agree the date and arrangements for the investment manager presentations.
1.4.4 Administration update
Mr Burns advised that Deloitte had received a signed instruction to proceed with the non-statutory transfer that had been discussed at recent meetings. He continued that, based on legal advice, the member would be required to opt-out of the Scheme before the transfer could be finalised and the Scheme’s legal adviser had been asked to provide the appropriate form(s) to be completed by the member.
Noted: by the Trustee that the transfer request would be finalised once all the appropriate documentation had been completed by the member.
In relation to the matter of GMP Equalisation (GMPE) the secretary advised that the process of identifying members who would be affected by GMPE had started.
1.5 Items from the Chair
The Chair advised Trustees of the sad news that former MLA Mr Gordon Dunne had recently passed away.
2. CONSENT ITEMS
2.1 For noting
3. KEY REPORTS FOR DISCUSSION
3.1 Valuation as at 31 March 2020 - Report by the Scheme Actuary (Draft)
Ms Bell advised that the Report by the Scheme Actuary was the formal documentation required to conclude the Valuation and that it reflected the same results as were discussed and agreed by the Trustees in June.
In summary, the Consolidated Fund contribution rate will be set in line with the AMPS share of the standard contribution rate (17.1%) with no allowance was included to meet the deficit as at 31 March 2020. The Actuary had taken account of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on markets at the Valuation date to inform the proposal on contribution rates and the Report noted that although the scheme funding level was 92% at the Valuation date (31 March 2020) the funding level was 110% at 31 March 2021.
Ms Bell noted that the Valuation included an allowance for the impact of the McCloud judgement of £1.0m
Agreed: by the Trustees to approve the Report.
Ms Bell noted that the Report would now be finalised and signed off by the Government Actuary. Once signed off, the Report must be laid before the Assembly within three months.
Action: GAD would provide a copy of the final signed report to Mrs McClintock as soon as possible, and Mrs McClintock would ensure timely submission to the Assembly. (GAD and the Pensions Office)
3.2 Actuarial Factor Review
Ms Bell advised that it was normal practice following an actuarial valuation to update the actuarial factors to take account of, for example, a change in the liability discount rate and updated mortality assumptions.
She continued that the actuarial factors were based on the assumptions used for the Valuation and are set with the intention of being cost neutral to the Scheme.
Agreed: by the Trustees that after the Valuation had been signed off, GAD would proceed to update the actuarial factors. The updated factors will be presented to the Trustees for approval in due course and, thereafter, issued to the Scheme administrator.
Ms Bell noted a number of unusual instances where GAD currently provide bespoke factors to the administrator, for example, in cases of serious Ill-health and payment of trivial commutation benefits.
Agreed: by the Trustees that these unusual cases would continue to be referred to GAD.
Action: Ms Bell would provide additional information explaining the difference between the commutation rate of c.20% and the rate of 16% which is commonly referred to.
3.3 Performance of Investment Manager - Q2 2021
Mr Jinks outlined that the performance table continued to include a significant amount of red – identifying performance that has not met the benchmark target.
He continued that during Q2 the investment returns had been good (7.2% return) which had a positive impact on the funding level. However, the performance against benchmark indicated that results could have been better.
Mr Jinks advised that the position to date in Q3 was relatively stable, although there were some warning signs that markets were nervous about the potential for of a gas crisis developing and around government economic stimulus.
The Trustees enquired further about concerns affecting the market. Mr Jinks advised that he considered any current market issues to be a ‘jitter’ in the market rather than a crisis and reminded Trustees that pension schemes have a long-term view of the investment market.
3.4 Draft letter to NI Assembly Commission
Agreed: by the Trustees that the letter should be issued as soon as possible.
4. OTHER ITEMS
4.1 Ill-Health Retirements
Mrs McClintock advised that a member had requested details of his serious ill-health benefits, and a number of calculations had been prepared by GAD and Deloitte in relation to this.
This member was not currently married but was living with his partner and the Trustees were asked to consider whether, in these circumstances, the member’s partner should be treated as being eligible for the equivalent of a spouse’s pension. It was noted that this would have a bearing on the value of serious ill-health benefits that would be available to the member.
Mrs McClintock further advised that the member had completed an Expression of Wishes Form, which was held by the Assembly Finance Office, and had nominated his partner as the beneficiary.
Agreed: by the Trustees that the electoral register should be consulted to establish whether the member and his partner were noted as living at the same address. If this was confirmed, the member’s partner would be deemed by Trustees to be a financial dependent and eligible for the equivalent of a spouse’s pension.
Action: The Electoral Register would be checked to determine if the member and his partner are registered at the same address. (Pensions Office)
Action: Subject to confirmation from the Electoral Register that the member and his partner live at the same address, Deloitte to provide the member with an indicative quote for serious ill-health retirement with the inclusion of an allowance for a spouse’s pension.
4.2 NIAMPS Annual Report & Financial Statements
Mrs McClintock advised that she had prepared the Report and Financial Statements (the ‘Accounts’) and had circulated these to the Trustees for review. She noted that the Account are required to be submitted to the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) w/c 27 September.
Once they have been audited the Accounts would then be provided to the Comptroller and Auditor General for Certification.
Agreed: that the Trustees would email Mrs McClintock with any queries relating to the Accounts by the end of the day on Monday 27 September. It was further agreed that in the absence of any queries being received by Mrs McClintock, the Accounts should be considered as approved by the Trustees and should be submitted to the NIAO.
Action: Mrs McClintock to submit the Accounts to the NIAO within the deadline of w/c 27 September.
Action: The Secretary would provide further explanation to Trustee on the difference in Scheme Valuation on a technical provisions basis (actuarial basis) compared with the FRS102 basis (accounting basis). This would be circulated to Trustees by email.
5. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
6. DATE OF FUTURE MEETINGS
The Chair reminded Trustees of the date of the next Meeting on 16 December 2021 and thanked all Trustees for their attendance and participation at today’s meeting. The Chair noted that this would be Mr Muir’s last meeting as he was stepping down from the Trustee Board and thanked him for his contribution to Board during his time as a Trustee.