Issue - meetings

External Audit Plan for Warwickshire Pension Fund 2023/24 Accounts

Meeting: 14/03/2024 - Audit and Standards Committee (Item 6)

6 External Audit Plan for Warwickshire Pension Fund 2023/24 Accounts pdf icon PDF 80 KB

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The Council’s External Auditors set the audit plan and audit fees for the Warwickshire Pension Fund on an annual basis.  This report set out the information along with the rationale and scope for the fees.


Chris Norton introduced the report and highlighted similar issues as those raised in the previous agenda item with regards to the change in fees.  In relation to the report content, he advised that a lot of the information was standard and similar to the previous year.


Harkamal Vaid referred Members to page 200 of the pack which gave an overview of the audit headlines and two significant risks; management over-ride of controls and the valuation of Level 3 Investments.  He also highlighted Grant Thornton’s determination in relation to materiality and advised that it was hoped to complete the pension fund accounts at the same time as the WCC accounts, presenting their Audit Findings Report in November 2024.


Further clarification was provided on Level 3 Investments, as it was noted these appeared to be a problem for pension funds across the board.  The Chair queried what steps were being taken to be more rigorous either by Grant Thornton or through CIPFA.  Harkamal Vaid advised that there was a significant amount of work undertaken in this area and pension funds relied on the advice from their experts, assuring that the methods followed were accurate.  In addition, Chris Norton explained that there were professional standards to be adhered to by the fund managers but it could be challenging to value assets as they came with a level of inherent uncertainty. 


In response to a question from the Chair regarding the limit that Investment Committees put on the proportion of investments made, Chris Norton explained the strategic asset allocation used, the benefits for growth and protection and the ability to take action if limits were exceeded.  He went on to provide further clarification on the action taken if assets exceeded the liabilities and the fluctuation of assets which could change rapidly with the markets.


The Chair raised a concern that when there was a pension surplus, consideration had to be given as to whether to increase employee benefits or reduce the employer contribution, with a lot of surplus being driven by valuable Level 3 assets.


Chris Norton gave assurance that with a set of different investments, complimentary to each other, it helped to offset the risk and the overall portfolio should not move around too much.


Having considered the report, the Committee




That the Annual Audit Plan for 2023/24 Warwickshire Pension Fund Accounts is noted.