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Bfinance appointed by the Brunel Pension Partnership

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Independent investment consultancy bfinance has been appointed by the Brunel Pension Partnership, an investment pooling project, to undertake an independent review of the plans to pool the investment assets of ten local government pension funds in the South West. 

bfinance writes that it secured the mandate following a competitive tender involving leading investment consultants. Announced in 2015, the Brunel Pension Partnership is an investment pooling project, which was set up to explore the options for pooling the investment assets across ten funds in the South-West, including The Environment Agency Pension Fund, and the Local Government Pension Funds of Avon, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire.
 
With collective pool assets of c GBP23 billion, the project aims to achieve savings over the longer term from both lower investment management costs and more effective management of the investment assets.  Funds that are part of the Brunel Pension Partnership envisage that the pooling of assets will result in net savings of c. GBP16 million annually, and a potential to increase savings to GBP70 million per annum over time.
 
bfinance has been engaged to provide independent investment advice to the Brunel Pension Partnership, which is to establish the Brunel Company, an FCA-authorised business.  This will be responsible for managing the assets of the pool. bfinance will be involved in key areas of the pooling plans, including providing independent advice on the 22 proposed portfolios that will be made available to the funds, as well as reviewing the specifications for the portfolios, including structure, fee levels, and projected savings.
 
Additional investment advice will include a comprehensive cost benefit analysis for the funds in relation to the use of internal investment resources versus the appointment of external managers, review of the potential transition costs of the selected investment strategy and other potential costs which could be incurred.
 
Sam Gervaise-Jones (pictured), Head of Client Consulting, UK & Ireland at bfinance, says: “We are very pleased to have been appointed by the Brunel Pension Partnership to conduct this review. Brunel is the first pool to request a formal review of its pooling plans and we are confident that there will be more pooling projects turning to investment consultants for expert investment advice on how best to execute their plans.
 
“While the landscape for consultants has changed significantly since UK public pensions started pooling their assets, we believe there are significant opportunities for investment consultants to be involved. There remain a lot of niche areas that will require the investment expertise of consultants depending on the implementation route that is chosen.”
 
bfinance has worked with more than 40 of the leading local government pension funds in the UK, representing in excess of 50 per cent of total assets under management, and internationally has advised over 70 public pension funds.  Most recently bfinance was awarded Investment Consultant of the Year 2016 at the LAPF Investment Awards.
 
Matthew Trebilcock, Brunel Pension Partnership, says: “We welcome our partnership with bfinance and are confident that their specialist expertise and experience in the competitive landscape of pooling funds will provide us with a thorough and tailored cost benefit analysis of the proposed investment portfolios that the Brunel Pension Partnership have designed for the ten funds that are part of the project to ensure that it is the most appropriate approach for the Partnership.”

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