Careers in Pensions
What does a pension administrator do?
Pensions administrators handle the day-to-day administration duties of pension schemes and life insurance policies. They take an organised approach, have to interpret complex information and be good communicators to explain matters in a clear and simple way.
The work includes handling and updating personal records, setting up new members joining the pension schemes, dealing with transfer of benefits, retirement quotations, death claims, divorce settlements, understanding pension scheme design, calculating benefits, drafting letters to members, investing contributions, involvement with member events, liaison with trustees and providers. Administrators work in teams, and as their career progresses there are different types of pension schemes to work on and the scope for the role can lead to a team leader, pension manager, operations manager or a move to IT or pension communications.
What does a pension’s manager do?
A pension’s manager will work for a company managing their pension affairs, ensuring the pension schemes are being properly run for the trustees and members in line with the Trust Deed & Rules and UK legislative requirements. This role holds a high level of responsibility and often includes liaison with HR, Finance departments, advisors and Trustees/MNT as well as having staff management requirements.
To get successful results, you will need to demonstrate leadership skills to motivate your team. You’ll also need to be confident in making the right decisions for the company and pension members and take professional qualifications detailed below. To become a pension’s manager you will have significant experience of working in the pensions industry, demonstrating knowledge of scheme design and cost implications, member communications and providing trustee support, as well as having recognised professional qualifications.
What does a pension’s Actuary do?
The job of a pension’s actuary is to help pension’s providers or occupational pension schemes set pension rates and craft retirement policies that minimise risk. Actuaries in all disciplines shape their careers around financial calculations, forward-looking statistical projections, and maths-based predictions related to longevity, management, and mortality risk assessment. In the pension’s arena, Actuaries apply their skills to the creation and maintenance of sustainable retirement plans within occupational DB and DC pension schemes. Most pensions actuaries work in pension Actuarial firms, or directly for large FTSE UK companies or in the public sector.
Pension qualifications will make a huge difference to your career. They will support your pursuit for promotion and open doors to award winning employers. By developing your knowledge and understanding of this complex industry, you will gain confidence in your work. The pension job arena is competitive and a recognised qualification will help you stand out.
There are a number of professional exam boards related to pensions, financial services, Actuaries and investments.
The Pensions Management Institution (PMI)
The PMI supports and develops pension experts who are responsible for running the UK’s pensions industry and is acknowledged as the body for establishing, maintaining and improving professional standards in every area of pension scheme management, consultancy and trusteeship.
PMI Level 2 Award in Pensions Essentials (QCF) (APE)
The APE is designed for new pensions administrators or those who need an introduction to pensions, HR or payroll for example.
PMI Level 3 Certificate in Pensions Essentials (QCF) (CPE)
The CPE is designed to support and develop pensions administrators, a natural progression for the learner from the Award in Pensions Essentials.
PMI Level 4 Certificate in Pension Calculations (QCF) (CPC)
The CPC is a qualification designed to test competences in manual calculation of benefits of DB and DC occupational pension schemes and is assessed by case study examinations.
PMI Level 3 Certificate in Pensions Administration (QCF) (CPA)
The CPA is a qualification for pensions administrators, designed to demonstrate knowledge and competence in specific areas of pensions administration.
PMI Level 4 Diploma in Pensions Administration (QCF) (DPA)
The DPA is suitable for more experienced pension scheme administrators working on either DB or DC pension schemes – or both. There is a mixture of work-based and examination assessment methods.
Retirement Provision Certificate (RPC)
RPC is a qualification that is ideal for employees new to pensions, support staff and those professionals working in related fields. It provides a broad introduction to pensions and other related UK benefits. This is a 2 hour multiple-choice exam.
Certificate in DC Governance (DC Gov)
This qualification is designed for those running, advising on or governing workplace pension schemes including:
- Members of Governance Committees.
- Trustees and Scheme Secretaries.
- Associates or Fellows of the PMI who qualified when the examinations were focused on the requirements for Defined Benefit Schemes.
- Individuals working in allied professions such as legal, investment and Actuarial.
- Consultants advising on pure DC schemes (Trust & Contract) and those whose Defined Benefit schemes include for example AVC arrangements.
- Independent Financial Advisers.
- Administrators (including providers and Master Trusts) of pure DC schemes (Trust & Contract) and those whose Defined Benefit schemes include for example AVC arrangements.
- Those who have completed the PMI’s Certificate in Pensions Automatic Enrolment, Retirement Provision Certificate or Certificate in Pensions Essentials.
This is a 90 minute examination made up of 90 multiple choice questions.
Certificate in Pensions Automatic Enrolment (CPAE)
This qualification is for advisers of automatic enrolment (AE).
A 1 hour multiple choice exam.
Diploma in Retirement Provision (DRP)
This qualification rewards and acknowledges the completion of core pension technical modules that form part of the Advanced Diploma in Retirement Provision.
This can be taken as a stand alone qualification or as part of the Advanced Diploma.
Diploma in Employee Benefits and Retirement Savings (DEBRS)
DEBRS is ideal for those working at the margins of pensions who need to understand pensions in the wider savings and employee benefits context.
Diploma in International Employee Benefits (DipIEB)
The DipIEB provides study and examinations for all international employee benefits and suits individuals whose careers are moving in this direction including Actuaries, lawyers, accountants, consultants and tax specialists.
PMI Level 6 Diploma in Regulated Retirement Advice (QCF) (DRRA)
This qualification is designed to meet the FCA’s appropriate examination standards for Retail Distribution Review (RDR) purposes. It provides an overview of pensions and retirement planning in the retail and individual context covering 3 modules:
201 Providing for Retirement.
206 Retail Investment and Personal Taxation.
306 Retail Investment Advice and Regulation.
These modules form Advanced Diploma in Retirement Provision. DRRA is an appropriate qualification for those working as advisers for FCA purposes and is accredited Ofqual – the qualification regulator – at Level 6 in the QCF.
Advanced Diploma in Retirement Provision (ADRP)
The Advanced Diploma is a comprehensive and in depth qualification for retirement benefit professionals. The overall aim is for a professional with sufficient experience to demonstrate being a pensions specialist within a self administered scheme, a third party administrator, a life assurance company, or the consulting and advisory services. The Advanced Diploma fulfills the examination requirement for Associate Membership of the PMI (APMI).
PMI Level 3 Award in Pension Trusteeship (Defined Contribution and Defined Benefit Schemes) (APT)
The APT qualification is aimed at Trustees, providing formal recognition of a Trustee’s knowledge and understanding (TKU) in line with the requirements of the Pensions Act 2004. The Defined Contribution (DC) and Defined Benefit (DB) APT examination is a multiple choice examination made up of 90 questions.
Faculty and Institute of Actuaries
Actuaries are problem solvers, business analysts, consultants and risk assessors and this profession is aimed at individuals who have excellent mathematical skills. Most Actuaries start their training at Actuarial firms after they have graduated from university with a good degree, 2:1 or above. The Actuarial jobs market in pensions is highly competitive, you will need to apply as a student to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) who will consider your suitability based on your educational qualifications. To become an Associate member you need to complete the following:
- Either CA1, CA2, CA3 or CA1, Work-based project.
- Work based skills - 1 year minimum.
- Professional Skills Course.
To qualify as a Fellow you need to complete all of the following:
- CT1-CT9, CA1, CA2, CA3.
- 2 ST subjects and 1 SA subject.
- Work-based skills - 3 years minimum.
- Professional Skills Course (if you have not yet taken the Professional Skills Course you must do so within 12 months of becoming a Fellow).
The Chartered Insurance Institute
The CII is the professional body that manages the qualifications for the financial services and insurance industries. Individuals who pursue careers as consultants, advisers and administrators can take a variety of qualifications which are specific to their career and job requirements including banking, group risk & healthcare protection, pensions and mortgages.
To be compliant and able to work as an Wealth Advisor or Pensions Consultant who provides direct financial and investment advice you have to pass certain CII qualifications and maintain your studies to have level 4 RDR status. Many assistant consultants and paraplanners also obtain this level of qualification.
Details of the CII syllabus can be found on www.cii.co.uk
Association of Pension Lawyers
The APL is an association established and run by lawyers specialising in pensions in the UK, with the aim to promote awareness of the importance of the role of law in the provision of pensions, and to operate as a forum for discussion and education amongst pension lawyers. Visit www.apl.org.uk
Useful links to other pension sites of interest