Defined Benefit Schemes

We are sector specialists in trust-based schemes.

Our team

Our audit and advisory teams provide the full support your need. We work with the wider specialist groups across the firm, such as our VAT team, to provide you with a full service offering.

We are involved in developing pension scheme accounting standards through our work with the Pensions Research Accountants Group SORP and Investments working parties. Our involvement here allows us to help you review and implement the new pensions SORP requirements for their scheme. We are also active members of ICAEW working parties, which have developed assurance reporting standards for pension administrators, independent trustees and master trusts.

We believe that our of expertise and personal commitment to you is paramount. It results in effective, long value to you.

Statutory audit 

We have more Top 100 pension clients by asset value than any other firm of our size, and audit many of the biggest pension funds in the UK.

Our specialist national pensions audit teams are trained in all aspects of pension scheme statutory audit, and we work to you specific needs.

We deal with the technical, complex detail. You get accurate, clear reports and all the on-going support you require.

Internal audit

We provide objective and independent assurance that your internal control processes, risk management, and governance are effective.

Our focus is to provide evidence to your stakeholders that effective management is in place and, where improvements could be made, we offer remedial actions and advice.

Internal controls review

Your internal controls over the strategic, financial and operational procedures of your organisation should be checking regularly to see if they are delivering to the standards you require.

Our internal controls review assesses whether your organisation operational effectiveness has been achieved. We look at:

  • effectiveness
  • efficiency
  • fiancial reporting standards
  • compliance processes
  • policies

An independent review gives you the assurance that your stewardship is on a solid foundation.

Risk advisory

We support and guide you in managing risks.

We offer specialist skills in fraud, cyber-risk and guidance for GDPR.

We also assist Pension Funds Trustees in understanding Integrated Risk Management (IRM).

See our full services

Employer covenant reviews

“The employer covenant is the extent of the employer’s legal obligation and financial ability to support the scheme now and in the future.” Pensions Regulator

We assist you with:

  • assessing risks to your scheme, especially investment strategies
  • measuring your valuation processes, including transfer value calculations and scheme mergers
  • assessing your present repayment plans
  • managing identified risks by preparing frameworks to support monitoring
  • planning for mitigation and recovery
  • carrying out periodic full covenant reviews

We offer objective, specialist skills that ensure you meet your review obligations.

AAF accreditation

We can help your organisation achieve AAF accreditation, through our knowledge of the Master Trust Supplement to AAF 02/07, as your independent Reporting Accountant.

Our assurance reports also extend to ensuring compliance with the International Standards for Assurance Engagements (ISAE) No. 3402.

Trustees are required to consider and report against quality standards developed by the Pensions Regulator. The master trust assurance framework allows trustees to demonstrate they have established suitable governance controls in accordance with regulatory guidance.

Reporting on internal controls under the assurance framework AAF 01/06 issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) has been widely adopted by third party pension scheme administrators. Many pension scheme trustees will not allow a third party administrator to act for their scheme unless the administrator has adopted this reporting standard.

About the assurance framework

The Assurance framework was developed by ICAEW and the Pensions Regulator. Andrew Penketh, Head of Pension Funds, was a member of the working party that developed AAF 01/06 and chairs the working party that developed the Master Trust Supplement to AAF 02/07. Phil Spary, Director, was responsible for designing and delivering the framework while working at the Pensions Regulator.

About the Relevant Trustee Supplement to AAF 02/07

The Pensions Regulator has the power to appoint independent trustees to act for pension schemes on expedient or protective grounds, to ensure that schemes are properly administered and members are protected.

For an independent trustee to be considered for such an appointment, the Pensions Regulator must be satisfied that the independent trustee operates, and continues to operate, ‘sound administrative and accounting procedures’, in relation to their own business affairs. In order to join or stay on a register of independent trustees maintained by the Pensions Regulator, an independent reporting accountant must report on the relevant procedures at the independent trustee which is submitted as part of the trustee register application pack for consideration by the Pensions Regulator.

Accounting solutions

Clear, robust and transparent accounting is essential to Pension Funds administration, and we can deal with this alongside your team or on your behalf.

We can ensure that you meet all your legal and regulatory requirements, your deadlines, and filing dates.

  • Year end accounts preparation
  • SORP disclosure requirements
  • FRS 102 disclosure requirements
  • accounts production
  • Chair’s Statement, required in Defined Contribution Schemes
  • Trustees’ Report disclosure requirements
  • maintenance of underlying records
Pensions SORP

We help you understand what you need to do to meet the new SORP requirements, particularly around:

  • investment risk disclosures
  • investment hierarchy disclosures
  • annuity valuation
  • transaction costs

We ensure fund managers know the necessary information to be gathered and timeframes, so they can successfully meet the required timescales.

Shona Harvie, one of our Pension Funds Partners, is Chair of the Pensions Research Accountants’ Group (PRAG) Executive Board, a member of the PRAG SORP working party and joint Chair of the PRAG/Investment Management Association working party which worked to develop and implement the new SORP.


We offer:

  • guidance on minimising your tax liabilities
  • assist you with maximising available reliefs, tax losses, and deferments
  • advice on the tax implications of your decisions
  • document and plan your major changes, such as investments
  • provide you with reporting, custodian, and security trustee advice and assistance
  • help you with your tax compliance
  • negotiate with HMRC and handling tax enquiries on your behalf
  • handle your tax administration as your outsourced team

Effective VAT management saves unnecessary costs and liabilities and can benefit you, in the form of reliefs and timely refunds.

We can assist you with your:

  • VAT returns
  • VAT claims
  • VAT refunds

We can also represent you when dealing with HMRC.

Recent Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions, as well as policy changes announced by HMRC, require pension trustees to review the way they administer and manage pension scheme costs to ensure these are VAT efficient.

From 1 January 2018, HMRC will have a stricter approach to VAT. You might incur higher VAT costs if your present arrangements do not satisfy HMRC’s revised policy.

We can review your current arrangements, recommend new approaches and help you put into place or improve VAT processes and regulatory procedures and policies for meeting your regulatory obligations.

Please contact Adam Cutler for more information on VAT for Pension Funds.

Contact us

Andrew Penketh
Andrew Penketh
Partner, Head of Pension Funds