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Young African American Lawyer Jim Reed seemingly has it all. Recently named a junior partner in an Atlanta law firm, Jim is shocked when he stops at his usual .
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That was the set up for the PushBack story line. As the story was being written, the story line did not change, but way the story was told changed drastically. There were several rewrites and major revisions before the final version took shape. One of the surprises in the book reviews and media interviews has been the concentration on the story setup where the United States Union dissolves as a result of an economic crisis. Only a few paragraphs in the first chapter deal with the collapse and the reasons for the collapse of the United States government, yet reader and media attention focuses on that aspect of the book.
One interview question has been how a nation as powerful and rich as the United States could collapse so suddenly? I had looked at historical precedence when writing the story to convince myself that such a scenario would be possible. World history is replete with the rise and fall of dominating empires. Some fade slowly, some suddenly. The German and Japanese empires faded rapidly due to being on the losing end of a war, while the English empire, a war winner, also collapsed over a short period of time. The mighty USSR collapsed suddenly over the period of a few months because of an economic meltdown.
Power and wealth are one way equivalents. That was due partly as the result of a misconception on the part of the author. By the time I had learned the true identity of the Atlanta underground, I had become used to the idea of Atlanta as an important story site and stuck with it. The Georgia Dome above and the World Congress Center below are ajacent to each other and part of a sport and convention center that is an important site in the PushBack story.
Savanna was another important site in the PushBack story. The story had to be adjusted when I discovered Mcqueens Island was shallow water between deep channels, not high and dry as I had described it. Although I had a considerable of information about Costa Rica; my daughter spent time there as an AFS student and the daughter of the family our daughter stayed with spent the better part of a year staying with our family, I decided to visit Costa Rica to confirm my assumptions about the country.
I made extensive changes to the manuscript after the visit to Costa Rica. The Davy Crockett nuclear bomb shown above is comparable in size to the device described in the PushBack story. Wrinkled skin that had seen many fishing seasons covered his gaunt face. Modesto listened in silence. There were times that he had felt the way Chico did, and still did, but he had a wife and child and he had to provide for them in the only way he knew how. Someday in the hereafter he would be on the same level as the good rich and above that of the not-so-good rich. Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for rich men to get into heaven.
Such thoughts made life a little more bearable at times. Carlos owned the boat and therefore, when the catch was successful, received an extra share of fish. Carlos had inherited the bonga, his most valuable possession, from his father. Frequent repairs kept it usable. Two strangers accompanied Chico. One, a gaunt, small-framed young man, was unremarkable except for deep-set eyes which glowered under heavy, dark brows.
His dress, typical for men his age in the village consisted of loose-fitting grey pants, an un-tucked white shirt, and sandals. He could have been a Jeepney driver or a street vendor. The other man dressed in a similar way but was taller, heavier, and had a round face with Asian eyes. He motioned first towards the smaller man.
The two men surveyed the boat. The one named Wan walked around it and kicked the outrigger Modesto and Carlos had been working on. Modesto wondered what they were talking about. What did it matter if the boat was small or could haul a lot of weight? It worked for what they used it for.
The two strangers and Chico moved some distance away and talked among themselves. After a short time they came back to where Carlos and Modesto had started working on the outrigger again. We are fishermen with no fish to barter or sell. What kind of business are you be talking about? Pepe hesitated, studied Carlos, and then began to speak.
You may have noticed a Quonset hut that sits by itself right near the shore at the tip of the peninsula. He thought, this man is loco, but he held his tongue and waited for Carlos to speak.
Integrated risk management for defined benefit pension schemes: a practical guide
He pulled a packet of pesos in large denominations out of the money belt and fanned them slowly. Easy money, a lot of money. Pepe added detail at the very tip of the peninsula to show the location of the Quonset hut being used as an armory. This Quonset is right on the shore and below an embankment three or four meters high that shields it from easy observation. The closest thing to the armory is some Quonset huts where navy and marine enlisted men are housed. They are about hundred meters away.
Pepe drew the guard route in the sand. You must have seen it when you were fishing. It makes a sweep about every fifteen minutes, then goes out until they are ready to make another sweep. Those are the things you worry about, the searchlight and the marine guard. Overpower the guard, avoid the light, and you can help yourself to as much ammunition as your boat can haul.
Of course they had to be Hukbalahaps, the Huks, the Philippine communists. That was the only answer that made any sense to Modesto. They were the only ones that would have the need for that much ammunition and the means to pay that kind of money for it. The Huks had been around for a long time. During the war they had fought the Japanese and were big heroes.
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It seemed like they wanted to fight whoever happened to be in power. Pepe looked like an ordinary Filipino, not like a revolutionary or communist, whatever they looked like. Not that it mattered much to Modesto. Apparently Carlos had come to the same conclusion and answered his own question. Carlos had fished Manila Bay for a living since he was able to do it. He had no hopes or plans to do anything else and he had no hope of ever having more than a bare living as a fisherman.
When Carlos became too old to fish he hoped he would sit in the Nipa hut of his son Chico until the day that they carried him out to the cemetery to lie beside the father that he had cared for so many years before. It was not a great deal to anticipate but realistic and predictable. The wild scheme they were considering now was something else. After Pepe and Wan left, the three fishermen discussed the proposition that had been presented to them. Carlos had done the talking when Pepe made his proposal, now he wanted to know what Modesto thought of the idea.
Modesto had known Carlos since he was able to remember. Manila Bay fishermen considered Sangley Point off limits. Even fishing near it was questionable. To land on its beach and raid an armory seemed totally loco. He walked over to the outrigger he and Modesto had been repairing, studied it, then turned and spoke to Modesto and Chico. Tonight we will fish off Sangley Point near the armory and really study the layout. After that we will decide.
It was a little before midnight when they arrived at a position where they could observe the armory and the marine guard while they fished. At midnight they noted the changing of the guard and observed the marine on duty as he made his rounds. The marine moved back and forth along the beach between the guard house and some point along the west side of the peninsula. As Pepe had said, it took the guard about fifteen minutes to walk from one end of the route to the other.
They had moderate success fishing and after a couple of hours had a sack half-filled with lapa-lapas. Carlos suggested that they go onto the beach near the armory and check out the door lock. They decided that both Modesto and Chico would go to the armory to check the lock while Carlos stayed with the boat. While they contemplated making the landing, they realized they would need to time their movements carefully. They wanted to go onto the beach once the guard passed the armory and was heading away from it at the same time the light on the tower had gone dark.
This combination did not come up regularly. The next time the light swept the beach, they could see that the guard was moving towards the armory from the east.
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They were concerned the light might come on again before he would be clear of the armory area on his way to the other side of the peninsula. Finally, the light finished a sweep just as the guard was seen going towards the west end of his route. They pushed towards shore and were soon scraping the bottom of the boat on the sand. Modesto and Chico jumped out of the boat and ran towards the armory. It took only a few minutes for the two fishermen to run to the armory and determine that a padlock secured the armory door and pry bar could be used to break the lock.
They ran back to the boat and rowed away from the shore towards relative safety. The three stayed in their fishing location until the rising sun allowed them to observe the beach in more detail. It appeared that the path the guard walked was obscured from easy observation on the land side by the embankment that ran along the full length of the route. Their attention was drawn to two large tree trunks with roots attached washed up on the beach about a hundred meters to the west of the Quonset armory. Carlos suggested it would be a good place to hide while they waited for the right time to overpower the guard.
They moved the bonga boat closer to shore and could see that the attached roots held the lower parts of the trunks off the ground far enough for a person to crawl beneath them. They all agreed that it looked like an ideal place to hide while waiting to overpower the guard. Later that morning they returned to their home beach, tired from a full night of fishing and information gathering. They would get together that afternoon after they had rested to discuss the matter and make a decision.
Modesto tried to get some rest, but his mind continued to wrestle with the proposed raid. His first reaction had been to oppose the idea, even to the point of defecting from the crew if Carlos and Chico wanted to do it. But as he became more familiar with what the raid would involve, his mind grew more at ease. A big factor in his thinking had been their ability to get on and off the beach undetected the previous night. He contemplated the prize that would be theirs if they were successful.
They could buy a large power bonga and have pesos to spare. They would be able to fish outside the bay and better their chances of success. Those who do should find that a dynamic process works best, with risk management embedded into the decision-making process, allowing the Trustees to seize opportunities as well as to deal with threats as they arise. In practice this is unlikely to work well unless aligned to the culture of decision making in each scheme and sponsor. We therefore hesitate to suggest any rigid timelines or process requirements for IRM beyond the general principles set out in the ten commandments.
How best they are executed in the context of a particular scheme is almost the first task for the IRM Lead. However, the two examples below illustrate the spirit in which this could be done, depending on the circumstances. The timeline for both the initial review and subsequent monitoring and updating should be designed to ensure an appropriate response to events. Important corporate events such as restructuring or re-financing may well be drivers for change which create both risks and opportunities.
IRM work should be timetabled to capture these. In discussing the case studies, it was clear to the Working Party that the collaboration of all parties is essential for the success of the project, especially the engagement of the sponsor. The advantages to the Trustees are obvious, and the compelling case for the employer is the additional insight to understand and manage the impact of pension scheme leverage on the business, as well as the opportunity to develop solutions which are more likely to be mutually acceptable.
Cost and efficiency and proportionality: Although the IRM actions above may suggest a significant additional cost to the scheme, in practice this does not have to be the case because. For a well-run pension scheme, many of the IRM steps should already be in place, albeit on an informal or stand-alone basis. For example, views on risk appetite may already be reflected in existing contingency plans and triggers, though not otherwise documented. The IRM exercise may therefore consist mainly of addressing any gaps e. A thorough IRM framework should establish the key principles around risk taking, acceptable risk thresholds and agreed actions, which would go a long way towards providing a steer for the formal valuation and investment strategy review, thereby reducing the costs for these subsequent exercises.
In the same spirit, the framework could be extended to incorporate the key management information required regularly by the Trustees and employer to monitor developments and implement the agreed plans. Whilst setting up an holistic governance process may incur some initial costs, in the long run it is likely to be more efficient, especially where multiple advisers are involved, by allowing all risks to be considered in a single framework, in a format most convenient for decision making by the Trustees and employer, whilst avoiding unnecessary duplication.
In some cases, the existing committee structure may also be simplified as a result. Not all discussions need to involve all parties attending in person. A typical IRM project may consist of regular teleconferences to maintain momentum, and a series of short meetings broadly in line with the above milestones, aligned where possible with other meetings for efficiency. IRM should help identify the relative value of work in the funding, covenant and investment areas and the allocating of budget to each. For example, in the context of the case studies in this paper, the emphasis may be illustrated graphically in Figure 2.
Figure 2 Areas of focus of case studies; IRM, integrated risk management. IRM is synonymous with good management. Documenting essential aspects of the IRM framework should not be viewed as an additional burden and lack of it may be seen by some as a sign of poor governance. The documentation does not have to be onerous, nor does it need to repeat what may already be in other documents of the scheme.
It should ideally serve the dual purpose of providing reference points for all those involved in the management of the scheme, as well as complying with good practice of demonstrating to third parties when necessary that a robust and workable process was followed within the limits of practical constraints and available knowledge.
The most useful form of documentation is that which provides practical help to Trustees and others involved in running the scheme. This should be set within the parameters agreed between the Trustees and employer, and demonstrate the quality of the decision making. Among other things it should ideally set out:.
Use of tools and appropriate technology: Some examples of these tools are given in section 3 and their practical applications are explored in the case studies which form the bulk of this paper. It is important to recognise, however, that risk means different things to different stakeholders. Risk information in software tools, dashboards and other management information must therefore be adapted to suit the risk language of the stakeholders, and often this may mean that advisers have to present the same information in different ways to suit multiple stakeholders.
During the course of our work, we identified and considered many tools that could be used by actuaries in order to assist their clients in implementing a successful IRM framework. There are, however, some important considerations to make when deciding on a set of tools to use for this process:. That said, with appropriate use of technology, modelling does not need to be prohibitively expensive and the use of these tools is no longer as costly as it may once have been. Getting IRM right is critical to improving pension scheme management and Trustees would do well to consider areas where they can conserve cost in order that spend might be redirected to designing and implementing a suitable IRM process for their schemes.
A summary of the tools we have come across and considered in the case studies is set out in the Table 1. This list is, of course, not exhaustive. Different advisors — covenant reviewers, actuaries, investment consultants and legal advisors for example — may need to provide input in order to derive the metrics and tools described in Table 1. It is also important to minimise time spent reconciling different models that achieve a similar purpose, in favour of more added value activities. The four case studies address diverse issues using a range of tools, processes, analysis and levels of engagement to provide insights for managing risks in an integrated way.
The issues addressed and broad conclusions can be summarised in Table 2. Our aim is to support actuaries, building on the TPR trustee guidance by providing some worked examples. The case studies all have a solution along with consideration of rejected alternatives. We do not pretend the case studies cover all scenarios, although we have tried to cover a wide range. In an individual scheme situation it is likely that a solution would mix and match elements of several case studies, as well as items from the broader toolkit not illustrated here. To keep the case studies manageable we have summarised the analysis and process which would be followed at a level of detail appropriate to the paper.
The Working Party is grateful to the many individuals and organisations whose comments have helped us in our work. In particular, the authors would like to thank the following who provided the authors with detailed input in a personal capacity:. The authors would like to extend especial thanks to Gareth Connolly, who was the original sponsor in his time as Chair of the Pensions Board. He has given us much valuable time and support over the entire length of the project, both in developing the ideas and bringing them to fruition, and also in finding ways to take our work to external audiences in the pensions world.
The authors would also like to thank the staff of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, particularly Elvis Gannon, Joanna Robertson and Rebecca Goreham, for their support. This first case study considers a pension scheme sponsored by an employer that can afford the contributions it is currently paying, but whose long-term future is in doubt. We see this as fairly typical in the pensions industry today.
The case study focusses on the techniques actuaries can use to integrate covenant advice into funding and investment discussions, and deliberately simplifies other aspects. It is split into two parts — one where the ultimate global parent is not willing to give a guarantee the main scenario and one where it is the alternative scenario.
In both scenarios the actuary works with the Trustees on a strategy that takes into account the restrictions of the employer covenant. The alternative scenario provides a better outcome for the Trustees and arguably all parties. Your firm has recently been appointed to provide actuarial, investment and administration advice to the scheme. It closed to new entrants some years ago and to the accrual of new benefits in the last few years.
Long-term viability of sponsor: The wider group is fairly strong, but UK Ltd. The ultimate global parent Top Co is a US-based company. It has repeatedly rejected Trustee requests for guarantees in the past.
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The Trustees have asked UK Ltd. Relationship with UK Ltd.: Some senior figures from UK Ltd. Given their concerns, the Trustees accept your recommendation to appoint a covenant advisor to help them better understand UK Ltd. In their advice they note:. The market that UK Ltd. Top Co sees the United Kingdom as having a high-cost base and so has moved manufacturing to Eastern European sites.
This trend has been in place for some time and shows no sign of reversing. Following this, UK Ltd. For this reason they want to be reasonably sure that they will not require further contributions from UK Ltd. This date also happens to be around the time when the last deferred member is expected to retire. In light of the covenant advice, the Trustees have asked us to help them derive a funding and investment strategy designed to get them to a fully de-risked position by You note that, as the scheme membership is expected to consist of only pensioners by that point, this would put the scheme in a better position to buyout.
You have produced a new valuation of the scheme based on the existing investment strategy and Statement of Funding Principles, and shared this with the Trustees. On the existing funding basis, UK Ltd. The Trustees are initially comforted by these results, until you describe the risks that this position entails. The Trustees are significantly invested in equities, which makes their future funding position very volatile.
Figure A2 is the same as the one above rescaled but also shows the potential variability in funding level over time. Reliance on UK Ltd.: Without additional support from the wider group, there is a good chance of UK Ltd. Insolvency could happen after , but there is a risk that the covenant deteriorates faster than expected and insolvency occurs before With the current strategy there is a substantial risk of a large deficit on a solvency basis if insolvency occurs before You also, in Figure A3 , illustrate future contributions required to achieve full solvency funding by The scheme is a net dis-investor — that is, it is paying out more in benefit payments than it is receiving in contributions from UK Ltd.
This is expected to accelerate quite quickly, as can be seen from Figure A4. If a scheme is a forced seller of volatile assets e. Such a scheme will be in a much better position if this negative performance occurs later in its journey plan compared with sooner. This is because, if that scheme disinvests after poor equity returns, it is crystallising that loss and there is less time for it to be made up again by future positive returns. They enter into discussions with UK Ltd. It acknowledges that it has some scope to increase contributions in the near term, but notes this flexibility is likely to diminish in future.
The Trustees and UK Ltd. You suggest that the Trustees look at the impact of a significant increase in contributions and de-risking on these metrics. You therefore illustrate the following scenarios:. The results of the analysis are presented in Table A2. Table A2 Probability of reaching solvency target under different scenarios. The Trustees need to balance risk with the expectation of better outcomes. For example, scenario 1 may look attractive at first since it has the highest probability of reaching solvency by Scenario 2 results in a much reduced level of risk, but actually a lower chance of being able to reach full solvency by when compared with scenario 1 because of the lower expected returns.
Further, both scenarios put pressure on the covenant by increasing contributions to a level that might be unaffordable in particular after 6 years. As a result it makes a number of concessions to the Trustees — the following settlement is reached. This also reduced the risk that the contribution requirements after 6 years would be unaffordable for UK Ltd.
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Moderate immediate de-risking plus de-risking triggers: In their view this strikes a balance between risk and likelihood of achieving their objective. However, the Trustees also put in place a monitoring framework so that they can de-risk if they find the scheme is ahead of target. The schedule of contributions agreed between UK Ltd. The Trustees also decide to review their investment strategy more widely to reduce risk without necessarily reducing investment returns.
This will consider, for example, diversifying their return-seeking assets further and introducing leveraged liability-driven investment. This document also includes details of how the Trustees will monitor their position. Despite the change in strategy, a significant level of risk has been retained, and so you advise the Trustees that they should monitor the progression of their strategy closely.
After discussions with the covenant advisor you decide on the following key metrics that the Trustees should monitor Table A3. For example, if the expected deficit contributions are increasing at a time when UK Ltd. You make the point to the Trustees that these metrics are not perfect measures of ongoing sustainability or what would happen in an insolvency scenario. For example, the net asset measure does not take account of any debt that is superior to the pension scheme.
However, they do give the Trustees a good idea of the general trend of how their strategy is progressing.
In producing this framework you also considered a number of other equally valid measures. For measuring ongoing sustainability these included profit before tax or earnings before tax and interest and Technical Provisions deficit or Technical Provision plus a value-at-risk measure. The Trustees make it clear to UK Ltd. After discussions with the Trustees UK Ltd. The arrangement reached in this scenario provides a better outcome for the Trustees and potentially for UK Ltd. The Trustees have reduced the level of funding and investment risk they are taking whilst maintaining a good chance of meeting their long-term objective.
Whilst they have reduced the potential upside of investing in equities, overall this results in better outcomes for the members as UK Ltd. The following is an alternative scenario where Top Co is willing to provide an unsecured guarantee for the full solvency deficit in exchange for the Trustees retaining a high allocation to risky assets.
On your advice the Trustees approach Top Co with an alternative proposal. The Trustees offer to maintain a higher risk investment strategy, and require lower deficit contributions from UK Ltd.
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Top Co considers the proposal and agrees in principle, but they would like the Trustees to come back with a full proposal. You discuss the potential guarantee with the covenant advisor. With the guarantee the covenant is principally from Top Co. The covenant advisor therefore advises the Trustees on the strength of Top Co and makes the following observations:.
Having a wide geographical spread also reduces the risk for the Trustees in future through diversification. This shows that in the event of insolvency of UK Ltd. In conclusion, the covenant advisor states that he thinks the risk of Top Co going insolvent in the foreseeable future is low. Further, the Trustees can reasonably rely on Top Co meeting the guarantee if it was called upon in the near future.
The Trustees discuss the covenant advice. The Trustees ask you to reconsider your earlier advice in light of this change. On the basis of this analysis the Trustees are happy to keep the existing investment strategy and contribution structure unchanged for the moment in exchange for a full buyout guarantee from Top Co. However, the Trustees are concerned that maintaining the current level of investment risk in the long term could result in the solvency deficit increasing substantially.
They are also concerned about relying too heavily on the covenant of Top Co, given the potential for this to deteriorate. The Trustees therefore propose the following to Top Co:. For example, a large disposal or increase in dividend, or a significant increase in the amount of its secured debt. You also reconsider the monitoring framework that you advised the Trustees adopt in light of this new situation.
The Trustees have maintained a strategy of de-risking their investments in line with a target to reach full solvency by , and so this metric can be maintained. The Trustees should also still monitor the ongoing sustainability of the deficit contributions payable by UK Ltd. However, the Trustees should now monitor both the ability of UK Ltd. The arrangement reached in the alternative scenario is potentially beneficial to all parties:. The riskier investment strategy increases the risk of greater contributions in future, but if investment returns are in line with expectations then the total amount of deficit contributions will be less than under the more cautious strategy.
Top Co now has a more profitable UK business. However, in reality it may have come under pressure to bail out the UK pension scheme in the event of UK Ltd. In the event that UK Ltd. The guarantee also generates a reduction in Pension Protection Fund levy, which could become more significant as the UK operation declines. In this case study, a large, well-funded scheme is backed by a strong sponsor in the utility sector. The scheme is currently fully funded on the technical provisions basis, but the sponsor and Trustees have agreed a plan to reach a higher secondary funding target SFT which, over the medium term 10 years , aims to accumulate enough assets in the scheme to meet a self-sufficiency target based on a discount rate of 0.
Sufficient budget is available for the Trustees to obtain comprehensive advice across actuarial, investment and covenant areas. Collaboration between Trustees and sponsor is good, all advisers appear to work well with each other, the funding level is strong, and the deficit reduction plan is considered reasonable by both parties. Note that the actual results of the existing analysis have been largely omitted in this case study, in order to focus on the new insights gleaned from the IRM process.
This section summarises the principal findings of the independent actuary, and the key actions the Trustees and the sponsor could take to add rigour, resilience and transparency to their decision making. Even in this somewhat idealised scenario, applying the principles of IRM led to additional insights which should enable Trustees and sponsor to consider their funding and investment strategy decisions in a more robust framework.
However, it lacked the specific risk context of the sponsor and its knock-on effects on funding and investment strategies. It should consider what this does to the pension scheme and its likelihood of achieving its long-term strategic objective within an acceptable timeframe which of course is further constrained by the maturing scheme demographics and other factors. See guidance from the Pensions Regulator and the Employer Covenant Working Group on the types of complications to be expected in practice; SFT, secondary funding target.
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The Trustees have appointed separate actuarial, investment and covenant advisers.