Pensions Insight announces the winners of its annual DC awards. 

Last Thursday evening, at an events for pensions scheme managers, HR directors, consultants and trustees Pensions Insight announced the winners of its annual DC awards.

The awards are designed to recognise best in class schemes and consultants, looking for those that have really pushed the boundaries in communications, governance, investment or at-retirement. 

That’s because we believe that defined contribution pensions are critical for the financial future of the UK’s workforce. There are millions of savers looking to the people responsible for DC schemes to safeguard their retirement futures.

In line with this belief, the team at Pensions Insight decided to do things differently this year.

Instead of asking for entries and only rewarding those schemes and consultancies that put themselves forward, we teamed up with Pensions Quality Mark to look across the whole sector, and reward those plans and advisers that are truly best in class. 

We scrutinised everything from contribution and matching structures, to trustee boards and IGC statements – looking for organisations that genuinely have their members’ best interests at heart.

That means that every scheme or adviser that made the shortlist deserves congratulations - they have been identified as one of the best in their category not just from a small selection of competitors, but across the whole industry.

The winners are:

1) DC consultancy of the year

We were looking for consultancies that were helping their clients manage the new DC landscape. In particular, those that were challenging provider or launching new products to help schemes secure the best possible future for their members.

Winner – Hymans Robertson

Highly commended – Barnett Waddingham

Shortlist

  • Aon
  • Barnett Waddingham
  • Hymans Robertson
  • JLT

2) Communications consultancy of the year

This award recognises those consultancies that have helped their scheme clients overcome the engagement barriers in DC pensions.

We were looking for companies that had developed tools and strategies to help foster better pensions understanding, that had strategies for increasing contributions and had helped schemes help their members navigate at-retirement.

Winner – Quietroom

Shortlist

  • AHC
  • Landscape
  • Quietroom

3) Financial wellbeing consultancy of the year

It’s becoming increasingly clear that pensions as a benefit cannot sit in isolation and that we need to find ways to promote general financial wellbeing among employees.

This award was designed to recognise those consultancies that were helping organisations develop wellbeing strategies whether that’s financial education, developing well-balanced financial benefits, or streamlining programmes to help promote better finances among staff.

Winner – Barnett Waddingham

Shortlist

  • Barnett Waddingham
  • JLT
  • Neyber
  • Wealth at Work

4) Best IGC or mastertrust board

We were looking for signs of multi-employer schemes that had prioritised governance. Trustee boards were considered as was evidence such as chair’s statements. As the regulator continues to focus on consolidation we wanted to identify those boards that were best exemplifying good governance.

Winner – The People’s Pension

Shortlist

  • Aviva
  • Legal & General
  • Standard Life
  • The People’s Pension

5) Independent trustee company of the year

Independent trustees form the bedrock of good scheme governance. We wanted to recognise those trustee firms that continue to show leadership and help their clients ensure that governance standards remain up to scratch.

Firms that have contributed to the wider debates around pensions, helping to lift standards across the industry were of particular note.

Winner – Capital Cranfield

Highly commended – PTL

Shortlist

  • Capital Cranfield
  • PAN Group
  • PTL

6) Best mastertrust

We were looking for mastertrusts that have gone above and beyond when it comes to creating a scheme that was fit for the widest number of members. Good communications was a must, as was making sure that investments are as innovative as they can be within a charge capped environment.

Winner – Aviva

Shortlist

  • Aon
  • Aviva
  • Ensign
  • Nest
  • Smart Pensions
  • The People’s Pension

7) Best workplace pensions initiative

Some issues need to be addressed at a level beyond the scheme membership. This award looks to recognise those initiatives that have been designed with the good of UK pensions and savers in mind. We were looking for campaigns that have really influenced the world of DC pensions and which can help overcome some of the biggest challenges facing DC.

Winner – The Simplified Pensions Statement

Shortlist

  • Good Communications Guide
  • Pensions Awareness Day
  • Simplified Statement

8) Best use of technology

Technology is changing the way we deal with everything in DC pensions from communications and engagement to investment strategy. We were looking for schemes that had harnessed new innovations and used them to create real solutions to benefit their members.

Winner – Smart Pensions

Shortlist

  • My LV= Pension Plan
  • National Grid YouPlan
  • Smart Pensions

9) Most innovative scheme investment approach

This award looks to recognise those schemes that offer best in class investment approaches, whether that’s through regularly reviewed defaults, strong positions on ESG, introducing new asset classes or innovative investment strategies designed to meet the changing challenges of growing DC pots.

Winner – NEST

Shortlist

  • Abbott Retirement Saver
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • J P Morgan Pension Plan
  • Nest
  • Railways Pension scheme
  • Scottish widows pension plan
  • Rowe Price International UK Pension Fund

10) Best at-retirement strategy

This award rewards those schemes that are best dealing with the challenges of freedom and choice. We looked for schemes that offered seamless transitions. Those that had communications initiatives or even advice at retirement, and those that had made options such as drawdown available in house.

Winner – LifeSight

Shortlist

  • Action for Children
  • Arla Foods Worksave Plan
  • BNP Paribas DC Pension Scheme
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Legal & General
  • Lifesight
  • Rolls Royce
  • Sony UK Pension Trust Limited
  • The Co-operative PACE DC

11) Best approach to governance

This award is designed to recognise good governance. We recognised those schemes with strong boards of trustees in place. Those that regularly reviewed their investment strategies, and those that could demonstrate that they fully understood members needs. Value for money was key here, as was demonstrating that schemes had kept abreast of the changing regulatory environment.

Winner – Canal and Rivers Trust Group Flexible Retirement Plan

Highly commended – Hymans Robertson Staff Pensions Plan

Shortlist

  • Canal and Rivers Trust Group Flexible Retirement Plan
  • First Actuarial Workplace Pension Scheme
  • Fluor Limited Retirement Plan
  • Forth Ports DC Plan
  • Hymans Robertson Staff Pension Plan
  • The People’s Pension

12) Best communications strategy

Here we were looking for schemes that had gone above and beyond on communications. We either wanted schemes that have consistently demonstrated strong communications with members, or those that had launched new strategies or initiatives to deal with a specific challenge faced by members. We recognised those that have done more to provide education and advice as well as those who have prioritised increasing contributions or explaining at-retirement options.

Winner – Tesco

Highly commended – Nationwide Group GPP

Shortlist

  • Associated British Foods Pension Scheme
  • Bank of England
  • Church Administrators Pension Fund DC Section
  • Coca Cola Europe
  • Heineken
  • Lend Lease
  • Morrisons Retirement Saver
  • Nationwide Group GPP
  • Telefonica UK Pensions Plan
  • Tesco
  • Total UK

13) Best employer contribution structure or approach to retirement benefits

We all know that members of schemes with generous contribution structures are far more likely to experience better retirement outcomes. Equally, companies that pour resources into education or other retirement benefits clearly have employees best interests at heart. This award recognises the businesses that have prioritised retirement among employees and – critically – put their money where their mouths are.

Winner - ARCO Ltd

Shortlist

  • Arco Ltd
  • Baker Hughes
  • Caterpillar
  • Diageo
  • DMG media
  • Heineken
  • MSD
  • Total UK

14) Best DC pension scheme

We were looking for schemes that have demonstrated great governance and that were meeting the challenges of the 21st century. We searched for schemes that have robust investment practices, excellent communications initiatives or those that had dealt best with the new at-retirement challenges.

Winner – HSBC DC

Highly commended – Pearson GPP

Shortlist

  • Arco Ltd Stakeholder Pension Plan
  • Associated British Foods
  • Heineken Flexible Retirement Plan
  • The HSBC UK Bank Pension Scheme
  • Hymans Robertson Pension
  • Jaguar Land Rover defined contribution fund
  • Kingfisher DC scheme
  • Lend Lease
  • Northern Marine Group
  • Pearson GPP
  • Peel Ports Group Retirement Savings Plan
  • Warburtons

A huge thank you to our judges, Maggie Williams, Garethy Tancred, Matthew Doyle and Sara Benwell.

judges

And finally a massive thank you to our sponsors Aberdeen Standard Investments

sponsor