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Optimising Future Pension Plans: Phase II

Phase two of this ARC commissioned research programme led by Professor Catherine Donnelly (Heriot-Watt University) seeks to develop innovative new pension product designs that keep the customers' needs at the forefront and provide a stable income in retirement, whilst minimising costs for the customer.

The products currently available to provide a stable, lifetime retirement income are not meeting the needs of many people. Working closely with industry, this two-year programme aims to address many of the questions around longevity risk-sharing in the retirement space. It will create and share practicable worked examples of how to structure these products.  For example, how can the benefits be calculated, for how long can they provide a stable income and what guarantees are appropriate.

The programme will also study collective defined contribution (CDC) pension plans.  The enactment of the Pension Schemes Act 2021 is the first step in allowing CDC plans like the proposed Royal Mail CDC plan in the UK.  The programme will quantify the benefits of collective risk-sharing in such plans under a range of scenarios.

Visit phase 1 of the programme

This exciting research programme will play a key role in delivering better retirement outcomes for members.

The options currently available to access retirement savings are limited and require extreme choices to be made. Many employers and providers want to offer genuine alternatives, but there is some uncertainty about these new arrangements and how they will deliver on their objectives. The independence and rigour of this research will provide answers to the big questions, and help to move the policy debate forwards.

Steve Hitchiner

Steering Group Chair

Programme objectives

  • Analyse collective risk-sharing in pooled annuity funds and collective defined contribution (CDC) plans and determine where the risk is shared among the customers or plan membership.
  • Determine how to structure the benefits, based on given criteria.
  • Determine the trade-off between these risks and the stability of pension income, in both pooled annuity funds and CDC plans.
  • Study the addition of guarantees in pooled annuity funds and CDC plans, to enable them to better meet their objectives.

Follow this project on social media with the hashtag #ARCfuturepensions


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Start date
E.g., 24/09/2021
End date
E.g., 24/09/2021

Events calendar

  • Spaces available

    A panel discussion with investment representatives discussing the impact of investment on climate change and vice versa.

    This event is part of The Road to Glasgow: IFoA’s Sustainability Thought Leadership Series which will provide a platform for prominent contributors so that our members and others can understand the perspectives of a wide range of parties interested in the climate debate.

  • Spaces available

    Climate change is one of the greatest risks facing our world today. Addressing it will require multi-faceted solutions. Through this panel session, we will explore the different levers that can be used to meet net-zero targets including climate science and data, government engagement, and mobilising green finance.

  • Spaces available

    How governments and societies collectively respond to the climate crisis is increasingly being analysed through the lens of intergenerational fairness. Our expert panel will assess and explore the extent to which inter-generous fairness is being considered in climate policies, the lessons from those countries who are leading the way on fairness and justice in climate interventions, and more.

  • The Growth Mindset for Actuaries

    13 October 2021 - 8 December 2021

    Spaces available

    This practical course is aimed at actuaries at any stage of their career who want to develop their own growth mindset and apply it to their work setting and personal or professional lifelong learning. The content of the course builds on the lecture given by Dr Helen Wright on Growth Mindset as part of the President’s 2021 Lecture series, and will be delivered over a period of 2 months, from mid-October to early December.

  • Spaces available

    The climate crisis and the degradation of our planet will affect societies everywhere. How we address these threats will require solutions that transcend borders. As a global profession, the actuarial community is well-placed to consider and propose effective risk management solutions to help manage the climate crisis.

  • Spaces available

    Content will be aimed at all actuaries looking to understand the issues surrounding mental health in insurance and in particular those looking to ensure products and processes widen access for, and are most useful to, those experiencing periods of poor mental health.