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Self-administered pension schemes (SAPS) FAQs

A brief history of the self-administered pension scheme (SAPS) mortality investigation?

Historically pension schemes in the UK have used mortality tables based on population data or data collected from insurance companies. In 1997 the Pensions Board of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the CMI began considering the feasibility of research into the mortality experience of UK self-administered pension schemes. It was decided that a pilot investigation would be run on a small subset of self-administered schemes to see how the mortality compared to that of insured pensioners.

The results of this investigation were published in CMI Report 20 in 2001 and concluded amongst other things that the experience investigated was different from that underlying the insured pensioner investigation.

In 2002 further discussions were held and a decision to begin a more wide-ranging and substantial investigation into the mortality of self-administered schemes was taken. Initially a Working Party was formed and this subsequently became an official committee of the CMI in July 2006.

What data should be submitted?

Data should only be submitted for current pensioners, that is data in respect of retired members or pensions paid to dependants. Data should not be submitted in respect of deferred and active members of the pension scheme. Normally, data will be submitted by the Scheme Actuary responsible for the scheme.

At this stage only large schemes, those with more than 500 pensioners, are requested. This number was based on an analysis of the expected number of schemes and the cost of the whole investigation. Including smaller schemes would add to the cost without adding significantly to the validity of the data collected.

When should data be submitted?

Data can be submitted at any time but we expect that in most cases data submissions are made soon after the scheme valuation, with data from the valuation. This will usually be every three years, although schemes having annual valuations can submit each years data separately.

In what format should data be submitted?

The coding guide contains all the information required. Find out more about data submissions and for access to the latest coding guide. If you have any queries about data submission, please contact us on 020 7776 3820 or email

How are data problems handled by the CMI?

To keep the costs of the investigation down, the data must be provided in the standard form shown in the data specification. The CMI makes a limited number of checks on the data. If an error condition on a record can be corrected in some predetermined way (e.g. a missing amount of pension at the date of death) the system automatically updates the record (although in these cases it is preferable for the submitting firm to estimate these). If this cannot be done then the record is rejected.

The analysis is then performed on those records not rejected. In addition to the individual results report that is sent to the consultancy that supplied the data, a report that includes a brief summary of data that has been analysed, e.g. the number of records and the number of deaths, and details of records that have been rejected or amended is also provided.

The CMI performs limited checks on the results in respect of each scheme but asks that those submitting the data confirm that the results and supplementary report are consistent with what they expect, or otherwise to advise the CMI that this is not the case. Data should be resubmitted if the latter is true.

For the aggregate analyses, a scheme is removed if the number of the records that are rejected exceeds a predetermined threshold or if the data supplier advises the CMI that the data is inaccurate.

What results are produced from the investigation?

Two types of results are produced.

  • Individual scheme results comparing actual deaths with the deaths expected according to certain base tables are reported to the consultancy who supplied the data. Comparisons for males and females, by lives and amounts, and for different pensioner types are produced.
  • Aggregate results, analysing data for multiple schemes, are also produced based on scheme data submitted by 30 June each year. Additional analyses such as mortality trends and mortality by industry class are also planned. Aggregate results are normally published initially in draft form to members of the SAPS mortality investigation and in final form within working papers six months later.

Results show Actual experience versus Expected. How is Expected calculated?

The expected experience is calculated by applying the central exposure at each age with a base table of mortality. There are two bases currently used for these comparisons. The first basis is a table from the S1 series of mortality tables where the actual table depends on the pensioner type. The second basis is the 00 series normal retirement, based on the 1999-2002 investigation of insured lives.

Where can I find results?

Aggregate scheme results have been published in a series of working papers to date, with the most recent being Working paper 31. Please click here to access these papers. Additionally, documentation of the investigation's methodology and assumptions can be found in Working paper 34.

Has the SAPS investigation produced any mortality tables?

The SAPS experience for the period 2000-2006 has been graduated to produce the S1 series of mortality tables, the first mortality tables to be based on UK pension scheme data. These were published in October 2008 and have been formally adopted by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. The S1 tables along with all graduations methodology can be found in Working paper 35.

Contact Details

If you have any questions about the CMI please email

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