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Employer Covenants research project

This call for research closed on 15 June 2012 and the content on this page is for information only

Background

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries is commissioning a research project on the topic of how employer covenants are best taken into account when assessing the capital supporting Institutions of Occupational Retirement Provision (IORPs).

The impetus for this project is provided by the review of the IORP directive and in particular by the Holistic Balance Sheet (HBS) option. This was described in the consultation document issued on 25 November 2011 by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) in its draft advice to the European Commission.

Rationale

The rationale for the project is to further the understanding of the issues surrounding, and the practicalities of expressing, 'reliance on employer covenant' as a single figure in a HBS.

The project should also examine what information relating to the assessment of covenant is already accessible to trustees.  This should include information on how intangible assets are valued in balance sheets such as brand, goodwill etc.

We envisage that a member of the Profession will work closely with the successful applicants to facilitate access to relevant information and contacts and to ensure that the questions addressed are relevant to the review of the IORP directive.

Questions to address in the research

  • What are the desirable qualities of a covenant assessment methodology for the purpose of managing and regulating an IORP?
  • How could the frequency of covenant assessments/monitoring be optimised?
  • What are the key features (including pros and cons) of the different approaches that are currently used and that might be adopted in future? In particular:
    • to what extent do they possess the desirable qualities?
    • what are the implications for standard setters?
    • how can they be adapted tobe proportionate for small scheme and small sponsoring entities?
    • what are the potential implications for compliance costs?
  • How do ratings agencies use the publicly available data in company accounts to assess and rate company debt?
  • What additional information do lenders seek and how do they assess how much to lend?
  • What additional information, over and above that used to assess debt, would be needed to assess the security of a company’s pension promise bearing in mind the typical differences in term between these obligations?
  • Are there intrinsic differences between the employer covenant per se, and the value of the covenant that is available to the pension scheme and if so, can they be identified and measured?
  • How do companies assess their own financial strength? (For example how is enterprise value established in merger and acquisition work?) How do analysts assess the impact of a DB pension scheme/liability on the value of i) the equity and ii) the debt of acompany? Does this offer any insights into how an employer covenant could be valued for the purpose of financing pension schemes?
  • What potential areas of conflict with accounting principles are there in valuing the covenant?
  • What extra issues arise in groups of companies and multinationals (i.e. when companies have option to move funds across jurisdictions)?
  • Are there useful lessons to be learned from the work going on for IFRS4 in insurance accounting?
  • Do other countries have data sources and processes that it would be useful to replicate in the UK for the purpose of covenant assessment?

Contact Details

If you have any questions or wish to discuss any aspect of our funding for member-led research please contact the Research and Knowledge Team:

arc@actuaries.org.uk

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Start date
E.g., 23/11/2020
End date
E.g., 23/11/2020

Events calendar

  • Spaces available

    The webinar will discuss the challenges and opportunities schemes face in evaluating end game options, choosing a target state and understanding the impact this strategic decision could have on member outcomes long after the “end state” is reached. Adolfo, Kevin and Rhian bring over 60 years of experience in the industry and a variety of perspectives as scheme actuary, covenant adviser, trustee, de-risking adviser and insurer.

  • Spaces available

    Retail banking is going through a period of substantial change as it moves into the digital age. Banks have large amounts of data about their customers and about their risks. Open data application programming interface (APIs) and data science are enabling banks to use their data to offer innovative and sometimes personalised services. Data science is also adding value in risk areas such as fraud detection and cyber security. At the same time, the move to online banking is making it easier for firms including fintechs to enter banking without having to establish branch networks.

  • UK Town Hall 08:30-09:30

    Webinar
    4 December 2020

    Spaces available

    IFoA President Tan Suee Chieh would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual UK Town Hall 2020, hosted by Tan Suee Chieh with IFoA’s Immediate Past President, John Taylor, President Elect, Louise Pryor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.  

  • UK Town Hall 10:00-11:00

    Webinar
    4 December 2020

    Spaces available

    IFoA President Tan Suee Chieh would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual UK Town Hall 2020, hosted by Tan Suee Chieh with IFoA’s Immediate Past President, John Taylor, President Elect, Louise Pryor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.  

  • Spaces available

    Cash-flow driven investing is a game-changer for DB pension funds navigating their end-game. Suitable for sponsors who want to reduce risks on their balance sheets. And for trustees, it shifts the focus to providing greater certainty of returns, managing funding level volatility and ensuring they have enough income to pay cash-flow requirements.

  • Spaces available

    Patrick Kennedy, Partner at Gateley Legal and Founding Director of Entrust (a leading professional pensions trustee company), will be delivering an update on the latest legal developments during the course of 2020. With both a pensions legal perspective and over 25 years of trustee service, Patrick will seek to highlight how the letter of the law has continued to evolve against the backdrop of a difficult and challenging year

  • Spaces available

    The talk will provide an understanding of the priorities and relationships between deficit reduction contributions, in the context of wider scheme funding, and different types of value outflow from the employer based on the working party’s recently published report. 

  • Spaces available

    Running off the £2 trillion of UK corporate sector defined benefit liabilities in an efficient and effective fashion is the biggest challenge facing the UK pensions industry. Trustees and sponsors overseeing those schemes need to be clear on their target end-state and the associated journey plan – but too few have well articulated and robust plans.

  • Spaces available

    The actuarial skill set has much to offer the banking industry. So many of the skills that actuaries acquire during their working life translate across to the world of banking and yet banking is perceived as an alien environment to many actuaries. But is it?

  • Spaces available

    Covid-19 has required an urgent and cross-practice initiative to facilitate the extensive impact this pandemic has across all industries. IFoA members have been keen to contribute in a different way, so we developed the IFoA Covid-19 Action Taskforce [ICAT] to coordinate our effort, with a more efficient governance.

    We have over 500 volunteers and countless topics which we have amalgamated into 93 workstreams.