Trans­fer of BoI’s pen­sion schemes to af­fect up to 30

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS THIS WEEK - BARRY O’HAL­LO­RAN

Bank of Ire­land is trans­fer­ring man­age­ment of work­ers’ pen­sion schemes with a short­fall of €477 mil­lion to ad­vis­ers Wil­lis Tow­ers Wat­son in a move af­fect­ing close to 30 jobs at the lender.

The bank is known to have been look­ing for some time at dif­fer­ent op­tions for ad­min­is­ter­ing pen­sion schemes, that are now han­dled in-house, in­clud­ing con­tract­ing the work to a spe­cial­ist.

Bank of Ire­land con­firmed yes­ter­day it will out­source this work to Wil­lis Tow­ers Wat­son from Novem­ber 2019. It is un­der­stood 28 Bank of Ire­land work­ers do this work, al­though the bank’s state­ment did not con­firm this fig­ure.

De­fined ben­e­fit plans

Bank of Ire­land is trans­fer­ring the day-to-day ad­min­is­tra­tion of the schemes to Wil­lis Tow­ers Wat­son rather than re­spon­si­bil­ity for man­ag­ing the money that the lender and work­ers have in­vested in them.

The schemes in­volved are de­fined ben­e­fit plans, which pledge to pay work­ers a set pro­por­tion of their salaries on re­tire­ment, but do not in­clude a de­fined con­tri­bu­tion pen­sion oper­ated by the bank.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bank of Ire­land an­nual re­port the schemes had a to­tal deficit of €477 mil­lion at the end of last year.

News of the move prompted the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Union (FSU), which rep­re­sents many Bank of Ire­land staff, to warn that the lender can­not trans­fer work­ers to Wil­lis Tow­ers Wat­son against their will.

Maeve Bre­hony, se­nior in­dus­trial re­la­tions of­fi­cer, said the union would pre­fer if the bank kept key ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing ad­min­is­ter­ing staff pen­sions, in-house. “Our im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity is to en­sure em­ploy­ees, whose roles are im­pacted by this de­ci­sion, are pro­tected in ac­cor­dance with the FSU change man­age­ment agree­ment and re­de­ploy­ment pol­icy,” she said.

The union’s agree­ments with Bank of Ire­land in­clude tough pro­tec­tions against in­vol­un­tary re­de­ploy­ment and re­dun­dancy.

Bank of Ire­land con­firmed any changes would be vol­un­tary. “Over the next 12 months staff ad­min­is­ter­ing the schemes can con­sider the var­i­ous op­tions avail­able in­clud­ing re­de­ploy­ment within the bank or trans­fer to Wil­lis Tow­ers Wat­son,” it said.

The com­pany did not say how much it would pay Wil­lis Tow­ers Wat­son for the work.

In­creas­ingly com­plex reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing pen­sions are un­der­stood to have led Bank of Ire­land to hire the ad­vis­ers to ad­min­is­ter the re­tire­ment schemes in­volved.

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