Find out more about the second phase of the Optimising Future Pension Plans project.

Principal researcher: Dr Catherine Donnelly

Lead institution: Heriot-Watt University

Collaborators: Baillie Gifford and Cameron Hume

Start date: May 2021

End date: April 2023


With the continual move from defined contribution (DC) pension arrangements, the need for individuals to optimise what they do with their pension savings has never been so great.   This has been made even more urgent by Pension Freedoms, sustained low interest rates and increasing lifespans.  Regulation aside, this potential crisis presents an opportunity for new thinking and innovation in the pension and insurance worlds, to deliver genuine value and cost efficiency in pension provision.

The new pension products and plans considered in this research programme are based on collective risk-sharing between customers or plan members.  Their objective is to pay a stable, lifelong income to all their customers or members, using guarantees and risk management to supplement the collective risk-sharing where appropriate.

I'm delighted to be leading this major research programme on pooled annuity funds and collective defined contribution (CDC) plans, in partnership with Baillie Gifford and Cameron Hume, and funded by the IFoA's Actuarial Research Centre.  With more and more pensions risk being borne by individuals, there is a pressing need to investigate collective risk-sharing solutions which can benefit everyone for their retirement.

We will provide quantitative answers to many of the questions around pooled annuity funds and CDCs. Our focus is on member outcomes: the ability of these structures to provide a fair, life-long and stable retirement income to their participants. As we present the research results over the next two years, we would love to hear feedback from actuaries and others with an interest in pensions.

Catherine Donnelly

Lead investigator 


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