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Job Photographs

  • A man is sitting at a desk in an office, using a computer.

    Using a spreadsheet to review pensions contributions.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, speaking on a telephone.

    Giving advice to a member of the pension scheme by telephone.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, reading a journal.

    Keeping up to date with changes in pensions regulations.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, writing on a paper document.

    Preparing information for members of the pension scheme.

  • A man is standing next to a row of shelves, full of files.  He is removing one of the files.

    Finding information from staff records.

  • Two men are sitting at a desk in an office.  They are talking and looking at something on a sheet of paper.

    Discussing an estimate of retirement benefits with a member of staff.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, in an office.  Another man is standing next to him.  They are both looking at something on a computer screen.

    Supervising the work of a pensions clerk.

  • Pensions Consultant

Pensions Consultant

Introduction

Pensions Consultants might establish and manage pension schemes for employees. They might be responsible for policy making, advising the trustees of the scheme and giving information about the scheme to employees. Some might manage administrative and clerical staff, and liaise with investment professionals.

Also known as

  • Manager, Pensions
  • Consultant, Pensions
  • Adviser, Pensions
  • Pensions Officer
  • Pensions Manager
  • Defined Benefits Pensions Consultant

Work Activities

People who want to have a pension (as well as the one provided by the government) regularly pay sums of money, known as contributions, into a pension fund or scheme. Employers usually make additional contributions. The total amount is invested, and the profits provide the money to pay out the pension.

Pensions Consultants could be involved in various ways, including designing, advising on, choosing, establishing and managing pension schemes for private and public sector employees, and individuals. There are different types of pension scheme available, with different contributions and benefits.

Some Pensions Consultants have an important policy-making role in helping to set up a company pension fund and the employee benefit package. You liaise with:

  • Actuaries
  • Investment Consultants
  • Managers
  • Stockbrokers
  • Analysts
  • Tax Inspectors
  • Human Resource Managers
  • Trade Union Representatives
  • Lawyers
  • officials of the Department for Work and Pensions
  • regulatory bodies

Some Lawyers specialise in pensions work.

A key aspect of a Pensions Consultant's role could be to advise the trustees who are legally responsible for the pension plan (although there are some types of pension scheme that don't have to have trustees). The pensions professional could be responsible for making sure that the fund is managed properly, although an Investment Fund Manager usually deals with the actual mechanics of investment.

These Investment Managers can either be part of the same organisation or hired as Consultants. Pensions Consultants use information from these specialists to advise both the trustees of the pension scheme and senior management.

Managing a pension fund usually involves making sure that legal, regulatory and taxation requirements are met. Pensions Consultants need to be able to interpret new legislation. You should also make sure employers and employees know about the benefits and obligations of the scheme. You are responsible for the production of annual reports and publicity material.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Pensions Consultant, you'll need to be able to:

  • analyse complex information and explain it in a way that non-specialists can understand
  • manage a team of administrative and clerical staff
  • make confident decisions
  • pay close attention to detail
  • prioritise and plan tasks
  • have numerical and analytical skills
  • have a thorough understanding of employment law, taxation, accounts and statistics
  • have good verbal and written communication skills
  • have sound judgement
  • have IT skills; in particular, you should be able to use spreadsheets
  • have teamwork, interpersonal and supervisory skills

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £26,500 - £29,000
  • With experience: £32,000 - £38,500
  • Senior Pensions Consultants earn £44,500 - £50,000

Hours of work

Pensions Consultants often work long hours, which could include early mornings and late evenings.

Where could I work?

Employers include:

  • the pension departments of organisations
  • insurance companies
  • pension consultancy firms
  • firms of Actuaries, Accountants and Solicitors

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in the following places:

  • local/national newspapers
  • employers' websites
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • the Find a Job website
  • job boards, such as PensionCareers.co.uk

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most people who start training as Pensions Consultants are graduates, often with a degree in a subject such as business, economics or finance.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Some people start as Pensions Administrators and gain promotion after obtaining qualifications.

A good place to start is studying for an Institute of Financial Services (IFS) level 3 diploma in financial studies. You will need to find a college that offers this subject.

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Training

The Pensions Management Institute (PMI) offers the advanced diploma in retirement provision, leading to Associateship of the PMI.

The exams of the PMI include subjects such as the different kinds of pension scheme, law, investment, communication and management. Candidates must also gain relevant work experience.

Pensions Practitioners who advise people on certain types of packaged investment products for pensions and retirement planning must take an approved qualification such as the PMI diploma in regulated retirement advice. People who complete it can join the PMI Accredited Adviser Programme; this allows them to gain a Statement of Professional Standing and record their continuing professional development.

A relevant PMI qualification for people starting as Pensions Administrators is the retirement provision certificate. This leads to credits on the PMI qualifications framework.

The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals offers the foundation degree in pensions administration and management.

Pensions professionals working in insurance companies have the option of studying for the Chartered Insurance Institute's exams, such as the certificate in life and pensions.

Work Experience

The following previous experience could help you get into this career:

  • financial role such as accountancy
  • experience of working within an administrative role
  • knowledge or experience of pensions administration

Qualifications

There are no minimum requirements for student registration with the Pensions Management Institute (PMI). However, the PMI recommends that students have at least 2 A levels, together with GCSEs in English language and maths.

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Most entrants to the PMI advanced diploma have a degree or other higher education (HE) qualification. Other qualifications in the PMI qualifications framework are also relevant for entry.

For entry to a degree course, the usual requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

However, course requirements vary, so please check college/university websites very carefully.

UCAS tariff points from the following qualifications might be accepted by some institutions for some courses, in combination with other qualifications:

  • the ifs certificate or diploma in financial studies
  • the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) certificate for introduction to securities and investment

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Entry

Applicants who lack the minimum recommended academic entrance requirements can apply to register with the Pensions Management Institute if they have relevant skills in pensions work.

Access courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (for example, Access to Business) could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Distance learning

The Pensions Management Institute (PMI) offers relevant professional qualifications by distance learning.

Statistics

  • 12% of people who work in occupations such as pensions professional work part-time.
  • 12% have flexible hours.

Further Information

Professional institutes

Professional institutes have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

The Pensions Management Institute is the main professional institute for this career.

Recruit.co.uk

Publisher: Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)

Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ

Tel: 0845 2573772

Email: directions@financialskillspartnership.org.uk

Website: www.directions.org.uk/careers

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)

Skills for the financial, finance and accountancy sectors

Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ

Tel: 0845 2573772

Email: info@financialskillspartnership.org.uk

Website: www.financialskillspartnership.org.uk

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900

Website: www.insidecareers.co.uk

London Institute of Banking and Finance

Address: 8th Floor, Peninsular House, 36 Monument Street, London EC3R 8LJ

Tel: 020 7444 7111

Email: customerservices@ifslearning.ac.uk

Website: www.ifslearning.ac.uk

Pensions Management Institute (PMI)

Address: PMI House, 4-10 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS

Tel: 020 7247 1452

Website: www.pensions-pmi.org.uk

Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP)

Address: Shelly House, Farmhouse Way, Monkspath, Shirley, West Midlands B90 4EH

Tel: 0121 7121000

Email: info@cipp.org.uk

Website: www.cipp.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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