Greenwich Associates has named Friends Provident, BlackRock and Zurich Corporate Pensions as the 2010 Greenwich quality leaders in UK bundled defined contribution (DC) corporate pension services.
Friends Provident received the highest ratings for overall quality from 21 leading corporate benefit consultants interviewed by Greenwich Associates as part of its recent research on the UK DC pension industry, followed by BlackRock and Zurich Corporate Pensions. These three firms are the 2010 Greenwich quality leaders.
“The UK DC pension market is undergoing considerable change,” said Greenwich Associates consultant Marc Haynes. “With the National Employment Savings Trust [NEST] launching next year, auto-enrolment looming, and the ending of commission payments under the Retail Distribution Review [RDR], DC pension providers are facing significant challenges and opportunities and they are pursuing, in some cases, quite opposing strategies. This research cuts through the noise and identifies those firms that currently deliver the highest quality across all aspects of their corporate pension proposition.”
Key findings from Greenwich Associates’ 2010 UK DC Corporate Pensions Study include:
- The bulk of DC assets lie in bundled arrangements and this is expected to increase going forward. Most of these schemes are contract-based and as the sophistication of contract-based schemes grows, the benefits of trust-based arrangements are expected to dissipate.
- Corporate benefit consultants are increasingly talking to clients about alternatives to traditional balanced or passive equity default funds, presenting new opportunities to asset managers to participate in DC. Absolute return and multi-asset products have already achieved significant traction among trust-based schemes, and many consultants are recommending the adoption of bespoke blended default fund solutions – presenting rich opportunities to component fund managers.
- Consultants are demanding more flexibility from pension providers, both with respect to investments and communications, as they look to play a more active role in tailoring propositions to meet client needs.
“Benefit consultants are seeking to evolve their operational models to build sustainable income streams,” said Haynes, “and increasingly they are thinking beyond pensions towards providing savings and benefits through the workplace.”
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