The view from: Deane Morrice MBA, FCCA, chief executive and secretary of the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC)
Q. What are your challenges?
A. Our fund was 89% funded at the last valuation in 2007: the deficit required increased employers’ contributions. The deficit would be higher today with the falls in stock markets and bond yields – the next valuation is March 2010. I must ensure the fund is invested in the correct asset classes and investment managers meet performance benchmarks to minimise deficits. The Review of Public Administration in Northern Ireland is restructuring public bodies, so we must merge pension records and calculate and pay the redundancy pensions to those being retired.
Q. What are the opportunities?
A. Such a large scheme requires an up-to-date and efficient pensions administration computer system. Our new system is being tested at present. Major computer programs were amended and tested, documents and explanatory guides rewritten, members and employers trained in the new scheme. The new scheme introduces a ‘cost sharing’ mechanism to ensure the scheme remains affordable and fair.
Q. Are local government pension schemes sustainable?
A. Private sector retirement pensions are increasingly inadequate: the public sector is not too generous. Average pensions paid by NILGOSC are about £4,000 pa. Public sector schemes have been scaled back. The average private sector defined contributions pension is around £1,000. This moves the liability onto the state through benefits. But there is a case for increasing retirement age to, say, 68.
Q. If you could change one thing, what would it be?
A. Reduce the plethora of pensions regulations.
Q. How does being an FCCA assist you?
A. My duties and responsibilities require an accountancy qualification. ACCA’s studies gave me the technical aspects, good corporate governance understanding, ethics training and a holistic view of an organisation to concentrate on what is important. ACCA’s training continues with its compulsory CPD, so I keep up-to-date with developments and the ever changing pensions environment.
Scheme value: £2.6bn at April 2009.
Number of members: 63,000 current; 25,000 pensioners.
Other roles: President ACCA Ireland 2007/08; Northern Ireland Representative on ACCA International Assembly 2007/08; ACCA Ambassador 2009; awarded MBE in 2009.