Pensions Technician jobs(Also known as Pensions technical consultant, Senior technical administrator, Pensions technical manager)
A pensions technician assists the administration and advisory teams of a pension consultancy firm with the interpretation and deployment of working doctrine in accordance with pension governance and legislative requirements. The pensions technician ensures that sales teams and advisors are issuing policies in accordance with the ever-changing rules of pension law. Whilst larger firms employ one or more of their own technical staff, some technical consultants choose to freelance to smaller firms who do not have this capability in-house. Whilst it is the pensions administrators who ensure the client-facing operation runs smoothly, it is the technical staff which makes sure that the teams stick to the rule of law and operate methods of practice which are within the regulatory framework of current government demands. The role relies on the pensions technician's ability to interpret changes in the law which affect the issue, management and cessation of pensions policy. It is a legal requirement that firms who sell pension plans do so in accordance with current legislative demands, and the consequences for not doing so are severe. In this respect, it is a dynamic role which requires the candidate not only to be versed in the current requirements of law, but also to be adaptable enough to recommend changes in operational policy when the landscape of HMRC doctrine alters the process of scheme deployment and management.
SalarySome reports put the average salary for a pensions technician working in the UK at around £105,000 (source: Barclays Finance) but crucially, a candidate working outside London with less than ten years' experience can expect a figure much lower than this. Because many of the larger consultancies are based in central London, the regional deployment of earnings potential is unbalanced. For example, a technician with five years' experience working for a firm on the outskirts of Birmingham may expect to receive remuneration of around £35,000-£45,000. Career development within the pensions industry favours those who are prepared to take regular exams and continually seek to improve on their interpretative capability. As a general rule, advisors outside London will typically be earning £23,000 to £35,000, whilst a move to a more technical role could add an additional £7,000 to £12,000 to this figure.
- Advise on and provide support for scheme, legislative and technical issues arising through the rule of practice.
- Interpret legislative requirements and communicate to the advisory team.
- Understand the pensions policy and its potential impact on pensions policy administration.
- Provide guidance and interpretation of active scheme ruling.
- To ensure the requirements of HMRC, DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) and TPR (The Pensions Regulator) are met.
- Support the provision of technical training to the administration teams.
- Attend project meetings and assist with project planning.
- Consult with outside bodies when issues or complaints arise.
QualificationsIt is possible to join a pensions management firm as a pensions administrator, and this requires no formal academic qualifications beyond GCSE Maths and English. Administrators often elect to become pensions advisors, so the role then becomes client facing, albeit mostly telephone-based. Again, it is possible to find placement in this position with GCSE qualifications alone, although employers are now keen to seek candidates with A levels in business or even English language, or an equivalent GNVQ. As the role of pensions technician is seen as a middle-management type job, a recognised certificate in business management or business law will put the candidate in a better position to be considered over unqualified but experienced placement competitors. There are many business schools throughout the UK which offer courses which are deemed to be suitable, and it is worth consulting with the candidate's local college of further education. Due to the changing nature of pensions legislation, employees with a pensions firm will be expected to participate in further learning courses and even exams as part of their in-house development.
- Excellent communications skills, both written and verbal.
- Strong knowledge of pensions administration requirements and legislation.
- Ability to stay up to date with the constantly-changing requirements of pension law.
- Keen interest in taking a more technical focus towards project management.
- Detailed understanding of retirement, transfers and death calculations.
- A broadly capable head for figures.
Working ConditionsA majority of advisors and technicians are office-based, so this would be classified as a low-risk profile in terms of potential workplace hazards. It is worth noting, however, the usual trip hazards and lifting hazards which can sometimes claim victims of the white-collar world. Some technicians will be expected to make visits to client sites, so it pays to take a considered interest in any potential site hazards which can vary considerably, as a site could be a warehouse, quarry, or area of heavy industrial manufacture. Brief health and safety warnings will be given on site, and high-visibility clothing and hard hats should be provided where necessary.
ExperienceBecause very few people of school leaving age have a desire to work immediately in the pensions management industry, most enter either at an administrative level, or on an advisory team but in a lower, telephone-based customer service role. As a well-developed sector of corporate industry, the pensions services allow for rapid and fulfilling promotion and personal development for those who are prepared to invest the time and effort, take exams and stay up to date with the ever-shifting pensions legislative landscape. As a general rule, firms advertising for a new pensions technician will normally demand at least five years' experience working within the pensions industry, so it is a role best considered as a career target rather than an intermediate stepping stone.
Gordon Deuchar-Sinclair started his career in pensions from the bottom rung, and now works for a large national pensions administration company.