A very important discussion took place on the way different firms of actuaries make different assumptions on pension liabilities. Which means that some LGPS funds may may appear to be doing better or worse than their peers purely to the "House view" of their advisers. Which is not at all a good place for the LGPS to be in.
The Treasury "employer cap" on their contributions was also debated. If Council contributions for future pension service rise above 13% then the Government will force cuts to benefits or increases in contributions for staff. Which of course could result in staff leaving the scheme and bring about its collapse. To stop this we have to cut the massive fees we pay to our fund managers and advisers as well as increase our investment returns.
I also made an argument that the reason that pensions seem more expensive nowadays is that interest rates (gilt yields) are at a 200 year historic low and we need a more modern and realistic means of valuing the true likely costs and not an outdated and broken accountancy yardstick.
The Chair pointed out that his pension fund had assets of £1.5 billion yet were currently only paying out £47 million per year in pensions. So if nothing else changed (which he fully accepted will not happen) his scheme had enough capital to pay this figure for 30 years even if there was no further investment income or contributions.
It seems now that the Tory Chancellor, George Osborne, is determined to force the 89 LGPS funds to pool and consolidate into 6 regional "sovereign wealth infrastructure funds" (whatever that actually means). This could result in the demise of the Tower Hamlets Pension Committee and Board However, I hope and expect that the governance arrangement of the LGPS in the future will mirror the partner approach of Pension Boards rather than that of existing pension committees. We shall wait and see.
I will try and visit other London Council Pension Boards as an observer and report on what takes place. I live an exciting life.
(please note that this is my personal report)