Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association launches Defined Benefit Taskforce | PLSA
Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association launches Defined Benefit Taskforce

Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association launches Defined Benefit Taskforce

10 March 2016

Chaired by Ashok Gupta, formerly deputy chair of the Bank of England’s Procyclicality Working Group

A Taskforce to tackle the problems faced by defined benefit pension schemes was launched today by Joanne Segars at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s Investment Conference.

The group of industry experts and academics is seeking views and evidence from schemes of all sizes, as well as sponsors, regulators, government and intermediaries to allow it to get to the heart of the issues affecting defined benefit (DB) schemes.  

The Taskforce intends to report its initial findings in the summer and then at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association Annual Conference in October 2016 to announce recommendations to Government to help ensure DB pensions are sustainable for the long term.

Joanne Segars, Chief Executive, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, said:

“The difficulties facing defined benefit schemes are much talked about and they often seem too complex or enormous to address – but those problems aren’t going away any time soon. The issue cannot be ignored because there are around 16 million1 people in DB schemes and the health of those schemes can also have a material effect on employers, government and the wider economy.

“The DB Taskforce, chaired by Ashok Gupta and supported by experts from across our industry and academia, will tease out the detail of these challenges and, equally importantly, set out possible solutions. Some of those solutions may be radical, but if we work together I am confident we can find the right answers.”

Ashok Gupta, Chair, DB Taskforce, said:

“There is broad consensus that the pensions sector should provide long-term sustainable outcomes for members and act as a powerful engine of growth to the economy. It is clear however, that for some time pension schemes have been grappling with a wide range of challenges, including scheme funding, changing regulatory requirements, and an uncertain macro-economic environment. These have hampered their ability to deliver both commonly agreed objectives.

“The taskforce, which I am delighted to Chair, will consider these issues in depth, and seek solutions that enable UK schemes to cut through the Gordian Knot that we face today.”

Defined benefit Taskforce members

  • Ashok Gupta - Chair
  • Duncan Buchanan - Partner, Hogan Lovells, President, Society of Pensions Professionals
  • Frank Johnson - Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association DB Council
  • Jackie Peel - Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association DB Council
  • Stephen Soper - Senior Pensions Adviser, PwC
  • Paul Trickett - Chairman of Trustees of the Legal and General Mastertrust and Zurich UK pension scheme
  • Kevin Wesbroom - Senior Partner, AonHewitt
  • Lesley Williams - Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association Chair

A copy of the Taskforce’s Terms of Reference is attached. The Terms of Reference and further details will be published on the Taskforce section of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association website, here, on Thursday 10 March 2016.

Footnote 1

16 million comprises: 11 million in the Pension Protection Fund universe, source – Purple Book 2015, chapter 2; and, 5m in the Local Government Pension Scheme, source – Local Government Pension Scheme Advisory Board Annual Report 2014.


Ashok Gupta

Ashok Gupta divides his time between directorships and entrepreneurial activities. He chairs AA Insurance Services and eValue Investment Solutions. He is also a non-executive director of New Ireland Assurance, a JP Morgan Investment Trust and is a member of the FRC Codes and Standards Committee and Actuarial Council. He was recently joint deputy chair of a Bank of England Working Group on Procyclicality. He was formerly Chairman of Skandia UK, a Founder Director of the Phoenix Group, an NED of the Pensions Regulator and J Rothschild Assurance plc (now St James Place Capital). His executive career has included Group Strategy Director at CGU (now Aviva), FD & Actuary of Scottish Amicable and a Principal of Towers Perrin.

Duncan Buchanan

Duncan is a partner in the London Pensions group of Hogan Lovells International LLP. Duncan advises both employers and trustees on the operation of work based pension schemes. He has a particular interest in unregistered pension plans and structuring arrangements for high paid executives. Duncan is the President of the Society of Pension Professionals as well as being a member of the Association of Pension Lawyers' and a lapsed APMI.

Frank Johnson (Chair DB Council)

Frank joined RPMI Railpen Investments in 2004 as Finance Director and became Managing Director, Investments in 2009, supporting the Trustee of the multi-employer rail industry pension schemes. He oversaw the investment business streams of RPMI and Railpen Investments, with assets under management of some £20 billion, until his retirement from RPMI in 2015. Frank is an independent non-executive director at First State Investments, UK and at GO Investment Partners. He is also a non-executive director of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association and Chairman of the Association’s Defined Benefit Council.  He also sits on the board of the Railway Benefit Fund, a registered charity. Frank is a chartered accountant and holds a Commerce degree.  Before joining RPMI, Frank held a number of finance director posts in the transport sector.

Jackie Peel (Vice-Chair DB Council)

Jackie has been UK & Ireland Benefits Director at Mars, a multinational food company, since 2011. Her principal responsibilities are for the defined benefit (final salary and cash balance) and defined contribution pensions arrangements. She is also a member of the Mars Global Benefits Leadership Team which steers the company’s strategic direction for benefits. Jackie has also held in-house roles as Associate Director of pensions at Barclays Bank and Pensions Director at VT Group plc (a service company specialising in government outsourcing contracts). Before moving in-house, Jackie spent 17 years with Aon Hewitt in various roles specialising in Executive benefits and Global benefits.

Stephen Soper

Stephen has recently joined PwC in the role of Senior Pensions Adviser. He previously held the positions of Interim Chief Executive and Executive Director for Defined Benefit (DB) Regulation on the board of the Pensions Regulator. A Chartered Banker, Stephen began his career at RBS in 1986 within the international banking division and subsequently worked in executive positions at the Allied Dunbar Group, Zurich Financial Services, Eagle Star and Aon.

Paul Trickett

Paul is a non-executive director and trustee working with a number of organisations in the asset management and pensions fields.  He is Chairman of Trustees of the Legal and General Mastertrust and of the Zurich UK pension scheme. He also chairs the advisory board of Muse Advisory.  He has previously worked at Goldman Sachs asset Management, Towers Watson, where he ran the EMEA investment consulting business sand the British Coal pension schemes where he was Chief Executive.

Kevin Wesbroom

Kevin is an experienced pension consultant who has been advising pension clients for nearly 35 years. He is a qualified actuary and currently the UK lead for Global Risk Services, a fusion of actuarial and investment skills designed to help clients make sense of rapidly changing investment markets and new developments such as buy out, longevity and risk driven solutions.

Lesley Williams (Chair, PLSA)

Lesley is Group Pensions Director at Whitbread, with responsibility for corporate pensions strategy and to the Trustee Company for the operation of the Pension Fund and its investments.  The Whitbread pension fund has a closed DB and open DC section.  Lesley has worked in the pensions industry for almost 30 years, with previous positions in Gateway Foodmarkets, Abbey National, the Pearl Group and Henderson Global Investors.  She is a Fellow of the PMI and has an MBA.  She has been a council member of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association since 2009, and became chair of the association in October 2015.


Lucy Grubb, Head of Media and PR, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association
T: 020 7601 1726, M: 07713 073023, E: [email protected]

Eleanor Carric, Press Officer, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association
T: 020 7601 1718, M: 07825 171 446, E: [email protected]

Kathryn Mortimer, Press Officer, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association
T: 020 7601 1748, M: 07901 007713, E: [email protected]

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