Programme List - Defined Contribution Conference 2019


08:45– 09:30

Delegate registration and networking

With refreshments

09:30 – 09:35

Chair’s opening remarks

Jonathan Stapleton, Editor, Professional Pensions

09:35 – 10:00

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: To be announced

10:05 – 10:30

Governance Matters

Operational effectiveness and good governance are vital for pension stability, nowhere more so than DC schemes, where efficiency can significantly improve the bottom line and member outcomes. This practical session will help trustees assess how well does their pension scheme runs, looking at:

  • How trustees, sponsors and advisers can work effectively
  • How to drive efficient decision-making
  • Planning for opportunities and threats
  • An orderly approach: undertaking the right tasks, at the right levels at the right time
  • The value of a robust business plan

10:35 – 11:00

Mastertrusts in the spotlight

Mastertrusts are having their moment. No longer a niche option serving the needs of smaller employers, they are changing the face of DC provision. As The Pensions Regulator works through its lengthy list of applicants for Mastertrust Authorisation approval, this session will consider:

  • Next steps for the final list of approved providers
  • The longer term outlook for consolidation
  • What schemes are best-suited to a mastertrust arrangement
  • Practical tips for selecting a provider

11:00 – 11:20

Morning networking break

With refreshments

11:20 – 11:45

Thematic Investment – the missing link to drive engagement?

Thematic funds struck a chord with European investors last year, pulling in significant sums of money. To a large extent, their popularity can be attributed to the simple fact that they invest in accordance with themes that the general public understand and relate to. With this in mind, could thematic investment approaches improve DC member engagement?

11:50 – 12:15

Data: is your house in order?

The quality and accuracy of data has never been more important to trustees and pension managers; The Pensions Regulator has highlighted the impact of poor data management as the cause of significant cost to schemes and their memebers, not to mention the huge potential for reputational damage. Our expert will explain:

  • How to assess your data status
  • Data cleansing
  • Tracing, screening and monitoring
  • Compliance and data

12:20 – 12:45

In the eye of the storm: The Mastertrust Authorisation regime

Buoyed by the introduction of auto enrolment in 2012, Master Trusts now account for over 35% of the workplace pensions market, with the assets of over 7 million UK DC savers now invested in them. In this practical session, one Mastertrust Authorisation applicant will explain what the authorisation process entails, outline the benefits for schemes and their sponsors as well as considering what members can expect from fund performance.

12:45 – 13:45

Networking lunch

13:45 – 14:10

The role of ESG in DC schemes

Until recently, there has been little expectation that DC schemes’ default funds would incorporate analysis of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Most scheme members end up invested in default funds, the majority of which do not explicitly take account of ESG issues, so it is perhaps not surprising that ESG has often been perceived as a niche area that is likely to entail additional costs. This session will examine:

  • ESG and the relationship with socially responsible investing
  • Incorporating ESG into the investment process
  • Can ESG drive member engagement?
  • Why ESG considerations don’t have to mean additional costs

14:15 – 14:40

Innovating the default fund for better outcomes

Despite seismic change - pension freedoms, regulatory improvements and millions of new savers (thank you AE) – the fundamental DC problem remains: how the default fund can provide value for money to members whose needs, goals, and tolerance of risk can vary greatly? With 98% of DC members now invested via a default fund, a more personalised approach is key. This session will look at innovation in the default fund, and other strategies to improve member outcomes.

14:45 – 15:10

Valuing Value for Money

Value for money is the key to delivering the best outcome for DC members, so little surprise it’s a major focus for regulators. However, despite guidance from The Pensions Regulator, there is no industry-wide methodology in place to measure value for money, with opaque investment costs further compounding the issue. Our expert speaker will look at:

  • Defining value for money
  • Creating a framework for assessment
  • Comparing different investment strategies
  • Value versus long-term timeframes

15:10 – 15:40

Afternoon networking break

15:40 – 16:05

Illiquids: Water off a duck’s back?

The government’s recent consultation into DC investment innovation highlights the growing importance of illiquid and alternative assets. Currently 76% of DC assets are invested in bonds and equities, yet greater DC scheme investment in illiquids and alternatives could potentially yield benefits to pension scheme members. This session will consider what these asset classes offer, why they are such a good fit for schemes, and the barriers to investing.

  • Illiquids and alternatives vs equities
  • Costs, fees and the charge cap examined
  • Regulatory, operational and governance challenges

16:10 – 16:40

.     Panel: CDC - Go or No?

Proponents of CDC argue that it can deliver higher retirement incomes for the same level of contributions as individual DC, due to pooling longevity risk, and through liberating investment strategy from the need for individual de-risking, instead allowing a balanced, return-seeking portfolio over the longer term. However do members understand that they, rather than employers, will bear the funding risk in CDC schemes? This session will consider the pros and cons of CDC, and ask if it is a genuinely useful addition to pension freedoms, or just another confusing element of an already complex system?


Chair’s closing remarks and close of conference

Jonathan Stapleton, Editor, Professional Pensions