Chris Norton, Strategy and Commissioning Manager (Treasury, Pensions, Audit, Insurance, and Risk) presented this report which provided a quarterly progress update against the Business Plan approved for the period ending April 2021. The report provided progress against each business item using ‘Red, Amber, Green’ indicators, which highlighted that there were six areas where the plan objectives were amber: deliver a Pension Fund Annual General Meeting, monitor employer contribution performance
through the year, review employer covenants and risk management for non-statutory employers, continued growth of alternative asset classes towards their new strategic asset allocation, review of contracts for services provided to the Pension Fund, and implement and embed a commissioning/delivery approach to the administration of the Fund. The reasons for these six ‘amber’ ratings were set out in the report.
In response to a query on the implications of expired contracts, Chris Norton responded that there were no issues in terms of continuity of service, the potential for impacts comes from not reletting contracts in a timely manner. The purpose of reletting is to ensure value for money and that the services to the fund remain focussed on the Fund’s needs. One of the findings of the governance review had been that there was not sufficient capacity to service all functions of the fund and capacity has been increased as a result. However in now doing the work to review contracts (and policies) the amount of resource required is more apparent and the Fund is looking at the resourcing issue. A recent example of a contract tender was the financial advice provided by Hymans which is overdue for re-tender but this has not yet happened due to the timing of LGPS pooling and limited officer capacity.
Responding to a query regarding employer contributions not received, Chris Norton advised that there are some issues with some employers but the level of activity was business-as-usual extent. Analysis took place on a monthly basis and no significant systematic change had been noted over the last year. For the small number of employers who did have ongoing difficulties, the pandemic was an additional issue to contend with. It was also noted that the online breaches log showed a discrepancy between the log and this report and officers agreed to look into the reasons for this.
Chris Norton also responded to a query regarding investment in infrastructure which was being driven by government, advising that on the whole Pension Funds had avoided being forced into investing to support national infrastructure investment objectives at the expense of Pension Fund objectives. The Fund had the option to invest through the pool which gives more advantages of scale but the pool was subject to the same challenges as any fund in terms of getting the right risk and return profile to meet the objectives of enough partner funds in order to get them to sign up. The Fund had signed up to more investment in Border to Coast’s alternative funds and needs to keep a watch on cash flow ... view the full minutes text for item 3