Pension scheme managers are responsible for overseeing, managing and coordinating all activities and procedures relating to the pension schemes within their remit. These guys tend to be employed by pension funds, insurance companies, employee benefits consultancies and multinational corporations that look after their own pension schemes.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be responsible for strategic planning, policy development and asset management. Furthermore, you’ll be making sure the pension schemes that your organisation offers comply with statutory requirements and incorporate new legislation.
Essentially, your role will be all about making sure the pension schemes under your control function effectively, provide customers with a quality service and are administered properly.
Consequently, not only will you be responsible for financial analysis and strategic decision-making, you’ll also have direct managerial responsibility for a dedicated team of pensions administrators.
Your role will also incorporate elements of consultancy, as you’ll be responsible for liaising with fund members, beneficiaries, trustees and other stakeholders, delivering presentations and writing financial reports to make sure everyone concerned is kept abreast of the scheme’s progress and development.
Finally, you’ll also be in charge of conflict resolution and claims management, as well as negotiations concerning mergers, acquisitions and other organisational changes.
Salary & benefits
Junior pension scheme managers and administrators in the early stages of their careers can earn between £18,000 and £30,000 per annum.
However, once you have gained professional qualifications and a solid amount of experience as a full-on pension scheme manager, your wages are likely to increase dramatically, with most people earning between £55,000 and £135,000 a year.
Weekly work schedules are fairly standard, with the majority of pension scheme managers working five days a week on a nine-to-five basis. Weekend and evening work is fairly uncommon.
Travel, on the other hand, is more frequent, and mainly involves attending meetings or holding discussions with fund beneficiaries and trustees across the country.
In order to break onto a fast-track pensions management graduate scheme, you’ll need a decent undergraduate degree (2:1 minimum), preferably in a subject such as economics, maths, statistics, operational research, business management or law. However, you don’t necessarily need a financial, numerate or business-focused degree to thrive in this profession.
If you don’t opt to take the university route, you can always begin by working as a pensions administrator and gradually move up the career ladder. It must be noted, though, that in order to progress to senior management levels in the future, you will need to obtain relevant professional qualifications at some point.
Training & progression
Graduate training programmes are offered by most employers in the pensions industry. These schemes usually run over a period of 12 to 24 months and tend to involve ‘on-the-job’ training, in-house training sessions and studying towards the completion of professional qualifications, which are administered by relevant regulatory agencies.
The standard professional qualifications for aspiring pension scheme managers are managed by the Pensions Management Institute (PMI), while other useful credentials can be obtained from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP).
There are various options for career progression in this field, including moving into an actuarial role, specialising in a niche area of the overall benefits framework or taking on a freelance consulting role.