Pensions at Leeds

As a member of our staff you have access to excellent pension benefits. After pay, pension is arguably the most valuable benefit for us all, even though retirement may seem a long way off. Think about how important your pay is to you today; that's how important your pension will be to you when you retire.

You might want to join a pension scheme because:

  • it’s an income for life when you retire;
  • the pension will increase annually in line with inflation (with the exception of the DC Plan where you can choose the type of pension you want);
  • you get a tax free cash sum on retirement;
  • there are early retirement options;
  • you get automatic life assurance cover based on your current salary;
  • there’ll be a pension for your spouse or dependant and/or children on your death (with the exception of the DC Plan where you can choose whether or not you want to include this benefit);
  • there are ill health early retirement benefits if you become too ill to work;
  • the University pays significant employer contributions; 
  • you’ll  be able to increase scheme benefits by paying extra contributions (additional voluntary contributions (AVCs));
  • you might be able to transfer benefits from previous pension schemes to increase the benefits you get.

The cost to you isn’t as much as you might think:

  • You get tax relief at your highest rate on your employee contribution;
  • If you contribute through the salary sacrifice (Pensions+) route your national insurance contributions are reduced even more.

In addition, you might also receive the basic state pension; more details can be found on the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/new-state-pension/overview.

Your retirement might seem like a long way off, but you should also consider the cover the pension scheme provides for your family if anything happened to you.

Scheme options

Which pension scheme you're eligible to join will depend on your type of contract of employment.

There are three main pension schemes offered to staff:

  • The Universities Superannuation Scheme;
  • The University of Leeds Defined Contribution Plan;
  • The University of Leeds Pension & Assurance Scheme. 

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

This is a national scheme for academic and academic related (professional and managerial) staff. If you’re eligible, you’ll automatically join the scheme from your first day of employment.

University of Leeds Defined Contribution Plan (DC Plan)

If you’re a member of support staff and you meet the eligibility criteria, you’ll automatically be put into this scheme. You can find more information on our DC plan page.  

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance Scheme Career Average Section (PAS CARE)

This is an alternative pension scheme for support staff at the University. You won’t automatically join this scheme, but you can opt to do so if you meet certain criteria.

You can find more detailed information about the scheme benefits on our PAS CARE page.  

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance Scheme Final Salary Section (PAS FS)

This section of PAS has now closed to new members. Existing members can find further details on our PAS final salary page.

For details on how your data is used, you can download the PAS Fair Processing Notice and Mercer and Scheme Actuary processing activities as data controller below.

NHS

If you’re employed in a clinical role at the University and have been a previous member of the NHS scheme in the last 12 months, you may be able to join the NHS pension scheme. You’ll find more information about the NHS pension scheme on their website.

Please contact the Pensions department for further details on 0113 343 4139.

Universities Superannuation Scheme

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is a national scheme for academic and academic-related (professional and managerial) staff. All eligible new staff will be enrolled into the scheme from the first day of employment. 

Full details of the scheme and its benefits can be found on the USS website.

Scheme Benefits

The scheme offers valuable benefits for your future as well as providing protection for your beneficiaries while you are a member of the scheme. 

Contribution rates

The contribution rate is paid as a percentage of your pensionable salary. The current employer rate is 21.1%, and the employee rate is 9.6%.

If you wish to increase your benefits, you can opt to pay contributions to the Investment Builder section of the scheme. 

Opting out

It is possible to opt out of the scheme once you’ve been enrolled.  The process and forms are available on the USS website.

Access further information - MyUSS

To complete the scheme nomination forms and view further details of your benefits, we would encourage you to register for the MyUSS account.

Defined Contribution Pension Plan

If you're a member of support staff and you meet the eligibility criteria, you'll automatically be put into the Defined Contribution Pension Plan (DC Plan) if you're not already in a pension scheme. If you're a new member of support staff, this'll happen three months after you join the University.

About the scheme

The DC Plan is a defined contribution scheme. You and the University pay a percentage of your salary into the scheme, and the money’s invested by The People’s Pension to give you a pot of money when you retire.

More details can be found in the Plan booklet which you can download below, and from The People’s Pension website.

Main benefits of joining

  • The DC Plan can provide you with an income for life when you retire; 
  • You can get a tax free cash sum on retirement;
  • There are early retirement options;
  • You benefit from automatic life assurance cover of 5 times your pensionable salary;
  • There’ll be a return of your investment pot if you die before retirement;
  • There’s an income protection scheme if you become too ill to work;
  • The University pays employer contributions;
  • You’ll  be able to increase scheme benefits by paying extra contributions;
  • You could be able to transfer benefits from previous pension schemes to increase the benefits you get.

And the cost to you isn't as much as you might think:

  • You get tax relief at your highest rate on your employee contribution;
  • If you contribute through the salary sacrifice (Pensions+) route your national insurance contributions are reduced.

Eligibility

You’ll automatically become a scheme member after you’ve worked at the University for 3 months if you:

  • are not already a member of another pension scheme at the University;
  • are over  22;
  • are under state pension age;
  • earn more that £10,000 a year (£833 a month).

Contribution rates

You’ll pay 3% of your pensionable salary into the DC Plan, and the University will pay an employer contribution of 6%. If you choose to pay more, the University will also increase its contribution. The maximum University contribution is 10%.

If you’d like to pay more into your pension, or talk to someone about it, e-mail the Pensions department.

Transferring a pension into the DC Plan

You may be able to transfer benefits from DC pension arrangements you’ve had before into your fund. If you’d like to do this, e-mail the Pensions department to ask for a Transfer Enquiry Form.

Opting out

Your joiner pack, which will be sent to your home address by People’s Pension when you join the DC Plan, contains details of how to opt out of the scheme. You might not get a refund of your contributions if you opt out more than a month after joining the scheme.

Rejoining

You can rejoin the scheme after opting out if you change your mind, or if your circumstances change. Contact the Pensions department and they’ll send you an application pack.

Retirement

If you're over 55, you might be able to access the funds you have built up with The People’s Pension. You’ll need to contact them to get details.

To help you decide whether to use this fund to provide an income, or whether to take it as a cash sum, you might need the help of a financial advisor, or you could use the services offered by the government website.

Life Assurance cover

If you’re an active member of the scheme and you die, your dependant(s) will get a lump sum of 5 times your pensionable salary. You can download and complete a Member Wishes Form below to tell us who you’d like to get the lump sum payment.   

Income Protection Scheme

If you’ve been in the DC Plan for more than 12 months, and you’re off work ill for more than 26 weeks, you might qualify for payments under the income protection scheme, which provides an income of 50% of your salary.  For more information please email the Pensions department.

Support staff pension induction course

To help you understand more about the benefits provided by the scheme and your alternative pension options as a University employee, the Pensions department runs a monthly pension induction course.  You can email them for a booking form.

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance (PAS) Scheme CARE section

This is an alternative to the DC Plan for support staff at the University, who can opt to join if they meet certain criteria.

About the scheme

The Career Average (CARE) section of PAS is a defined benefit scheme, where the benefits built up are worked out using a set formula.  

Joining the Scheme

You can opt to join the scheme if you meet the eligibility conditions below and you’ve been employed by the University for less than 12 months, but you won’t be put into the scheme automatically. Please e-mail the Pensions department for an opt in pack.

If you don’t join within the first 12 months of your employment, you might not be given a further opportunity to join this scheme.

You can download a summary of the main benefits of the CARE section of PAS below, and more detailed information can be found in the scheme booklet, also available to download below. Each year you will receive a statement summarising the benefits you have built up in the scheme at the end of the scheme year, which is 31 March.

Death in service benefits

If you die while you’re an active member of the scheme, a lump sum of three times your pensionable salary will be payable to your dependant nominee. Please download and complete the Member Wishes form below to provide a guide as to who you would like the lump sum to be paid to. 

A spouse’s or adult dependant’s pension may also be payable. This would automatically be paid to your spouse but, if you’re unmarried but have an adult who is financially dependent on you, you should download and complete the potential dependant form below.

Increasing your scheme benefits – additional voluntary contributions (AVCs)

To increase the value of your benefits on retirement, you can pay extra contributions to the scheme. These are known as additional voluntary contributions (AVCs).

AVCs are a very useful way of filling a gap in your pension benefits if you don’t have a lot of benefits from other sources, or you could to use AVC’s to enable you to retire early. They're also a very tax efficient way of improving benefits. They’re deducted from your pay before tax is calculated, so you get tax relief at your highest rate, eg an AVC contribution of £100 only costs £80 to a basic rate tax payer.

The AVC arrangement offered by PAS allows you a choice of investments. You can download the AVC booklet below for details.

If you're considering paying AVCs, please e-mail the Pensions department to request an AVC application form.

Pension estimate

If you’re considering retirement, you might want more details about the benefits you’ve built up in the scheme and the options available to you.  Please e-mail the Pensions department, giving an idea of your planned retirement date, and they’ll provide an estimate for you.

Support staff pension induction course

To help you understand more about the benefits provided by the scheme and your pension options as a University employee, the Pensions department runs a monthly pension induction course.  Please e-mail the Pensions department for a booking form.

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance (PAS) Scheme Final Salary section

This section of the PAS scheme is now closed to new joiners, but existing members continue to build up further benefits.

About this section of the scheme

The Final Salary section of PAS is a defined benefit scheme, where the benefits built up are worked out using a set formula based on the number of years and days you have as a scheme member and on your final pensionable salary at the date you leave the scheme.

You can download a summary of the main benefits of the Final Salary section of PAS below, and more detailed information can be found in the scheme booklet, also available to download below. Each year you'll receive a statement proving details of the estimated benefits you'll build up if you remain in the scheme until age 65.

Death in service benefits

If you die while you're an active member of the scheme, a lump sum of 3 times your pensionable salary will be payable to your dependant nominee.  You can download and complete the Member Wishes Form below to provide a guide as to who you would like the lump sum to be paid to. 

A spouse’s or adult dependant’s pension may also be payable.  This would automatically be paid to your spouse but, if you’re unmarried but have an adult who is financially dependent on you, you should complete the Potential Dependant Form below.

Increasing your scheme benefits – additional voluntary contributions (AVCs)

To increase the value of your benefits on retirement, you can pay extra contributions to the scheme.  These are known as additional voluntary contributions (AVCs).

AVCs are a very useful way of filling a gap in your pension benefits if you don’t have a lot of benefits from other sources, or you could use AVC’s to enable you to retire early.  AVCs are also a very tax efficient way of improving benefits. They’re deducted from your pay before tax is calculated and so you get tax relief at your highest rate, eg an AVC contribution of £100 only costs £80 to a basic rate tax payer.

The AVC arrangement offered by PAS allows you a choice of investments.  You can download the AVC booklet below for details.

Please e-mail the Pensions department to request an AVC application form.

Pension estimate

If you’re considering retirement, you might want more details about the benefits you’ve built up in the scheme, and the options available to you.  Please e-mail the Pensions department, giving an idea of your planned retirement date, and they’ll provide an estimate for you.   

University of Leeds Pension & Assurance Scheme – Statement of Investment Principles

University of Leeds Pension and Assurance Scheme Implementation Statement as at 31 March 2021

Purpose of this statement

This statement has been produced by the Trustee of the University of Leeds Pension and Assurance Scheme (PAS) to set out the following information over the year to 31 March 2021:

• the voting activity undertaken by the PAS’s investment managers on behalf of the Trustee over the year, including information regarding the most significant votes; and

• how the Trustee’s policies on exercising rights (including voting rights) and engagement activities have been followed over the year.


Trustee policies on voting and engagement 

The Trustee’s Statement of Investment Principles (SIP) in force at 31 March 2021 describes the Trustee’s policy on the exercise of rights (including voting rights) and engagement activities as follows:


Investment managers are expected to exercise rights and voting powers with the objective of preserving and enhancing long-term shareholder value.  In addition to the exercise of rights and voting rights, investment managers are expected to engage with key stakeholders (which may include issuers of debt or equity, corporate management, regulators and governance bodies) relating to their underlying investments in order to improve corporate behaviours and governance, improve performance and social and environmental impact and to mitigate financial risks.


With the exception of the segregated Liability Driven Investment portfolio with River & Mercantile, which has no voting rights and limited ability to engage with key stakeholders given the nature of the mandate, the PAS invests entirely in pooled funds.  As such, the Trustee has delegated responsibility for carrying out voting and engagement activities to the PAS’s investment managers. 


Conclusions

Based on the information provided by the PAS’s investment managers, the Trustee believes that its policies on voting and engagement have been followed over the year. In particular:

• The Trustee received an ESG monitoring report from their Investment Consultants in July 2020. This provided the Trustee with an overview of each of the PAS’s investment managers’ approach to ESG and engagement, and analysed their activity over the year to 31 March 2020.

• Over the year to 31 March 2021 the investment managers in the PAS’s Equity Portfolio had low abstentions, showing that they are exercising their right to vote on behalf of the PAS.

• All of the Equity Portfolio managers utilise Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) as an external proxy voting service. Whilst the investment managers often vote in line with the proxy voting service, this is not always the case.  This suggests that the investment managers review the recommendations provided by the proxy service to ensure they are appropriate.

• The examples of key votes show that the investment managers within the Equity Portfolio are voting on issues which they believe could impact shareholder value.

• In terms of engagement, most of the PAS’s investment managers have been able to provide evidence that they are actively engaging with key stakeholders on behalf of the Trustee where possible, although the nature of some of the funds the PAS invests in means this is not always possible.


Shortly following the year-end, the Trustee completed a review of the PAS’s Responsible Investment Policy, which includes consideration of how Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues are taken into account in the PAS’s investment strategy.  This also includes considering the extent to which the Trustee will seek to achieve consistency with the University’s Responsible Investment Policy.  


Voting activity over the year to 31 March 2021 | Summary

This section provides a summary of the voting activity undertaken by the investment managers within the PAS’s Equity Portfolio on behalf of the Trustee over the year to 31 March 2021.  There are no voting rights attached to holdings within the Non-Equity Growth Portfolio, so no voting information is shown for these funds.

Manager Legal and General (LGIM)   Ninety One Asset Management   First Eagle Investment Management
Fund name LGIM UK Equity (5% Capped) Passive Fund World (ex UK) Developed Equity Index Fund Ninety One Global Core Equity Strategy Ninety One Emerging Market Multi Asset (EMMA) Fund First Eagle Amundi International Fund
Structure  Pooled  Pooled  Pooled  Pooled  Pooled
Ability to influence voting behaviour of manager  The pooled fund structure means that there is limited scope for the Trustee to influence the manager’s voting behaviour.  
Number of company meetings the manager was eligible to vote at over the year 846 2,645 95 113 123
Number of resolutions the manager was eligible to vote on over the year 11,447 31,896 1,263 1,092 1,752
Percentage of resolutions the manager voted on  100% 100% 92% 92% 94%
Percentage of resolutions the manager abstained from*  0%  0%  3% 6%  0%
Percentage of resolutions voted with management, as a percentage of the total number of resolutions voted on* 93% 80% 88% 87% 96%
Percentage of resolutions voted against management, as a percentage of the total number of resolutions voted on*   7% 20% 9% 8% 4%
Percentage of resolutions voted  contrary to the recommendation of the proxy advisor  1% 0% 0% 4% 6%

*Values may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

Voting activity over the year to 31 March 2021 | Significant votes

The Trustee has asked the investment managers to define what they consider to be a “significant vote” at their discretion. In future, the Trustee may consider specifying what it considers to be a “significant vote” for reporting purposes. A summary of some key votes provided by the investment managers is set out below. 

Legal and General - UK Equity (5% Capped) Passive Fund

 Vote 1  Vote 2  Vote 3 
Company name Plus500 Ltd Rank Group International Consolidated Airlines Group
Date of vote  16 September 2020  11 November 2020 7 September 2020 
Summary of the resolution Approve Special Bonus Payment to CFO Elad Even-Chen at the company’s special shareholder meeting. Resolution 2 - Approve the remuneration report; and Resolution 3 - Approve remuneration policy. Approve Remuneration Report
How the manager voted Against LGIM supported both resolutions Against
Rationale provided for the voting decision LGIM voted against the special bonus based on the belief that such transaction bonuses do not align with the achievement of pre-set targets. LGIM does not support one-off discretionary bonuses (or transaction bonuses) as these are not within the approved policy to reward the achievement of pre-set targets.  The company and its stakeholders have been impacted by the COVID crisis. As an active owner and responsible investor, LGIM wants to ensure this is reflected in the executive remuneration package paid for this year. LGIM was comfortable that the impact of COVID-19 had been appropriately reflected in the remuneration of the executives and therefore decided to support the remuneration report.   LGIM were concerned about the level of bonus payments, which are 80% to 90% of their salary for current executives and 100% of their salary for the departing CEO. Whilst the bonuses were determined at the end of February 2020 and paid in respect of the financial year end to December 2019, LGIM would have expected the remuneration committee to exercise greater discretion in light of the financial situation of the company, and also to reflect the stakeholder experience 
Outcome of the vote Resolution was withdrawn ahead of Annual General Meeting Resolution 2 - supported by 91% of shareholders  Resolution 3 - supported by 96% of shareholders Passed - 28.4% of shareholders opposed the remuneration report
Implications of the outcome LGIM will continue to monitor the Company.  LGIM’s engagement with the company on the topic of remuneration led to an informed vote decision.  The Company has recently appointed a new board. LGIM will continue to engage closely with the renewed board. 
Criteria on which the vote is considered “significant” There was a level of media interest regarding the withdrawal of the resolution. This, combined with the other shortcomings of the company in relation to the expectations of a company listed in London, make this a significant vote. It illustrates the complexity of remuneration practices and the importance of engagement.  LGIM considers this vote significant as it illustrates the importance for investors of monitoring their investee companies’ responses to the COVID crisis. 

 Legal and General - World (ex UK) Developed Equity Index Fund

 Vote 1  Vote 2  Vote 3 
Company name Tyson Foods Fast Retailing Co. Limited. The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G)
Date of vote 11 February 2021 26 November 2020 13 October 2020
Summary of the resolution Report on Human Rights Due Diligence Elect Director Yanai Tadashi Report on effort to eliminate deforestation
How the manager voted Against Against For
Rationale provided for the voting decision The pandemic highlighted potential deficiencies in the application of the company’s human rights policies. It is believed that there have been over 10,000 positive COVID-19 cases and 35 worker deaths.  As such, the company is opening itself up to undue human rights and labour rights violation risks.   LGIM believes that companies in which they invest their clients’ capital should uphold their duty to ensure the health and safety of employees over profits. They believe that producing this report is a good opportunity for the board to re-examine the steps they have taken and assess any potential shortfalls in safety measures so that they can improve controls and be better prepared for any future pandemic or similar threat. Japanese companies in general have trailed behind European and US companies, as well as companies in other countries, in ensuring more women are appointed to their boards. On a global level LGIM consider that every board should have at least one female director. Globally, LGIM aspire to all boards comprising at least 30% women.  In the beginning of 2020, LGIM announced that they would vote against the chair of the nomination committee or the most senior board member (depending on the type of board structure in place) for companies included in the TOPIX100 where these standards were not upheld.  Following extensive engagement on the issue, LGIM decided to support the resolution.  Although P&G has introduced a number of objectives and targets to ensure their business does not impact deforestation, it was not doing as much as it could. The company has not responded to CDP Forest disclosure; this was a red flag to LGIM in terms of its level of commitment. Deforestation is one of the key drivers of climate change. Therefore, a key priority issue for LGIM is to ensure that companies they invest assets in are not contributing to deforestation. LGIM has asked P&G to respond to the CDP Forests Disclosure and continue to engage on the topic and push other companies to ensure more of their pulp and wood is from FSC certified sources. 
Outcome of the vote The resolution failed to get a majority support as only 17% of shareholders supported it.  Shareholders supported the election of the director.  Passed - The resolution received the support of 68% of shareholders (including LGIM). 
Implications of the outcome LGIM will continue to monitor the company.  LGIM will continue to engage with and require increased diversity on all Japanese company boards, including Fast Retailing. LGIM will continue to engage with P&G on the issue and will monitor its CDP disclosure for improvement.
Criteria on which the vote is considered “significant”  Significant interest from LGIM clients in the outcome of the vote.  LGIM considers it imperative that the boards of Japanese companies increase their diversity.  It is linked to LGIM’s five-year strategy to tackle climate change and has attracted a great deal of client interest. 

Ninety One Global Core Equity Strategy

Vote 1  Vote 2  Vote 3
Company name Johnson and Johnson NXP Alphabet
Date of vote 23 April 2020 27 May 2020 3 June 2020
Summary of the resolution Require Independent Board Chair Advisory Vote to Ratify Named Executive Officers' Compensation Establish Human Rights Risk Oversight Committee
How the manager voted For Against Against
Rationale for the voting decision Ninety One supported an advisory recommendation to the Board about appointing an independent chairperson. Ninety One believed there was a misalignment between quantitative pay for performance, i.e. the executives’ compensation was not justified given the performance of the Company.  Ninety One felt that expertise was needed at a board level first.
Outcome of the vote Failed Failed Failed
Criteria on which the vote is considered “significant” Thematic vote and previously a contentious issue for the Company.  The resolution came under materially more scrutiny as it is held in Ninety One’s sustainability fund.  Thematic vote (Social)

Ninety One Emerging Market Multi Asset (EMMA) Fund 

Vote 1 Vote 2 Vote 3
Company name Ambev Haci Omer Sabanci Holding AS Ternium
Date of vote 24 April 2020 30 March 2021 5 June 2020
Summary of the resolution Amend Restricted Stock Plan Approve Upper Limit of Donations for 2021 Re-elect Directors
How the manager voted Abstain Against Against
Rationale for the voting decision There was a lack of information on the proposed amendments. Lack of disclosure Ninety One believed the board lacked sufficient independence among its members. 
Outcome of the vote Not available Passed Not available 
Criteria on which the vote is considered “significant” Possible changes as a result of the proposal may affect financial outcome of the Company. Thematic vote (Social) Governance concerns deemed material, which may affect the financial outcome of the Company.

First Eagle Amundi International Fund 

Vote 1  Vote 2  Vote 3
Company name Exxon Comcast Richemont
Date of vote 15 May 2020 2 June 2020 31 August 2020
Summary of the resolution Reduce Ownership Threshold for Shareholders to Call Special Meeting Require Independent Board Chair  Re-elect Johann Rupert as Director and Board Chairman 
How the manager voted Against Against For
Rationale for the voting decision Last year there was a proposal to reduce the ownership threshold for being able to call a vote to 10%. In response to this proposal, Exxon lowered the threshold from 25% to 15%. This was a substantial reduction, and the new level now compares favourably with direct peers. First Eagle believed the new proposal to lower the threshold to 10% was unnecessary given the efforts put forth by the board in response to the previous proposal, especially when compared with governance best practices.  A shareholder proposal submitted in 2020 requested that the company adopt a policy that the chair of the board be an independent director. First Eagle look at these situations on a case-by-case basis.  In this case, Comcast has a lead independent director (Edward Breen) who is empowered to call meetings with all the other independent directors without the CEO present. First Eagle believe this is an effective counterbalance to a non-independent board chair.  ISS (the proxy voting service used by First Eagle) recommended voting against Johann Rupert because of the failure to establish a sufficiently independent board and because he holds an excessive number of mandates at listed companies. First Eagle believe that family-controlled businesses tend to invest with a 10- or 20-year time horizon concentrating on what they can do now to benefit the next generation and mitigate the downside risk.  Richemont’s emphasis on patience, long-termism and financial prudence dovetails with First Eagle’s own investment philosophy and timeframe, so they supported Mr. Rupert in his re-election. 
Outcome of the vote Failed No vote was reported because it was not presented at the annual meeting by the shareholder proponent and therefore, was not acted upon by the shareholders. However, if the shareholder proposal had been acted upon, this proposal would have been defeated by over a majority of the votes cast based on proxies delivered prior to the closing of the polls for the annual meeting  Passed 
Criteria on which the vote is considered “significant”  First Eagle’s criteria for determining whether a vote is "significant" is whether engagement with the issuer in respect of corporate governance may have had an impact on the voting decision.  First Eagle also take into consideration the size of the holding to determine whether a vote is "significant".    

Engagement activity over the year to 31 March 2021

The Trustee has requested engagement data from the PAS’s investment managers, and the tables below set out a summary the engagement carried out by each of the managers over the year.  This is followed by some examples of engagement carried out over the year which the PAS’s investment managers have provided.  

Engagement overview | Equity Portfolio

Manager Legal and General Ninety One Asset Management Ninety One Asset Management  First Eagle Investment Management
Fund name LGIM Passive Equity Ninety One Global Core Equity Ninety One EMMA  First Eagle Amundi International
Does the manager perform engagement on behalf of  the holdings of the fund Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has the manager engaged with companies to influence them in relation to ESG factors in the year? Yes Yes  Yes Yes
Number of engagements undertaken on behalf of the holdings in this fund in the year  n/a* 86 11 242
Number of engagements undertaken at a firm level in the year  974 230 230 1,014

 *LGIM did not provide fund level engagement figures for their passive equity funds. This is because they do not currently track the engagement activity for the underlying funds held within passive mandates. 

Engagement overview | Non-Equity Growth Portfolio

Manager M&G Mercer** Willis Towers Watson Cairn Janus Henderson
Fund name Real Estate Debt (RED) Funds II, III, IV and V PIPV Infrastructure Secure Income Fund Pathfinder Fund II Multi-Asset Credit Fund
Does the manager perform engagement on behalf of  the holdings of the fund No* Engagements are delegated to the underlying managers Engagements are delegated to the Equity Ownership Services (EOS) at Hermes as well as the underlying managers No* Yes
Has the manager engaged with companies to influence them in relation to ESG factors in the year? No Not tracked See above No Yes
Number of engagements undertaken on behalf of the holdings in this fund in the year n/a Not tracked 737 n/a 106
Number of engagements undertaken at a firm level in the year 65  Not tracked n/a 26 1,185***

*The nature of the M&G RED funds and the Cairn Pathfinder Fund II means engagement activities are not carried out at a fund level.

**As a fund-of-funds provider, Mercer do not engage directly with the underlying holdings within the fund, nor do they currently keep a record of the engagements undertaken by the underlying fund managers. This is partly due to the differing reporting provided by the underlying fund managers on engagement activities within private markets, which makes it difficult to collate and compare between different providers.  Mercer are working with the underlying fund managers to improve this reporting for future years.

***The Janus Henderson firm level engagement figure has been estimated using data available over the year to 31 December 2020

Examples of engagement activity undertaken over the year to 31 March 2021 

LGIM Passive Equities

It came to LGIM’s attention that Amazon had been accused of interfering with efforts by its workers to unionise, ahead of a vote by workers in an Alabama facility on unionisation. LGIM signed a letter along with more than 70 other investors to emphasis the role that worker representation plays in supporting companies in identifying and managing operating risks. They highlighted that Amazon should meet expectations set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Amazon have now launched its Global Human Rights Principles. LGIM are also encouraged by the announcement that Amazon have commissioned a human rights impact assessment by an external consultant.

Ninety One Global Core Equity

Rio Tinto – Environmental and controls

There was a mine blast at an Aboriginal heritage site at Juukan Gorge. Ninety One had an initial video call with Simon Thompson, Chairman of Rio Tinto in June 2020 to understand what happened leading up to the blast. A second video call was held in September 2020 with the Chairman following the issue of the independent board report and imposition of fines on the CEO, Head of Iron Ore, Head of Corporate Relations by the company. 

On the second call, Ninety One stressed their concern that this incident was symptomatic of a greater cultural issue and they emphasised that they would like to see the board take steps to address this.  Following the second call, the subsequent response was that the board met again and announced the resignation of the three executives involved including the CEO.

Ninety One EMMA

Ninety One continue their multi-year engagement with Samsung Electronics regarding various governance issues, including capital allocation and board structure. This interaction focused on board composition and ensuring that a proper oversight function exists. Ninety One have requested the report from the consulting group on compliance once published and have asked for a call with Dr J Kim to assess progress compared with when they last spoke near the start of his term in 2018. This will help assess whether there has been a genuine improvement in board function and engagement.

First Eagle Amundi International

First Eagle wanted to gain a better understanding of the cause for the change in leadership at a European-based multi-national food company, the progress on the search for a new CEO and restructuring of the business, and the impact on employee morale.  First Eagle are satisfied with the discussions they have had with the company so far and will continue their dialogue to get more clarity on the CEO succession. 

Willis Towers Watson Secure Income Fund

WTW identified emergency social housing as an area that could benefit from institutional capital, while still providing returns.  WTW partnered with a specialist manager in this area, who offered them an investment opportunity which provides both an attractive risk and return trade-off, but also allowed the manager to be in a position of injecting much needed capital into an area where there are critical levels of under-investment.

WTW worked closely with this manager to negotiate a set of terms that offer strong governance rights to investors and an attractive fee schedule.  Based on ongoing research, WTW identified that credit analysis was an area that the manager could strengthen. They therefore requested that the manager include an independent credit expert, with a right of veto, to their Investment Committee. This individual has now been added. 

The portfolio makes a material contribution to emergency accommodation in the UK, providing over 4,100 beds across 650 properties. The Fund offers an attractive yield while at the same time providing accommodation which costs, on average, 69% less than alternative provision.

Mercer 

During the year, Mercer completed due diligence on a renewable power co-investment. This is a leading renewable energy developer based in the US that operates wind, solar and geothermal facilities. The lead manager is highly experienced in the sector. While the manager has actively worked towards incorporating ESG principles into its investment and asset management process for their funds, the co-investment only addresses ESG at a high level. After extensive engagement from Mercer with the manager, they have agreed to implement a comprehensive ESG reporting structure and ESG initiatives. Mercer’s engagement on this topic helped the manager recognise the urgency behind enhancing their impact capabilities. 

M&G 

M&G have engaged to ensure relevant investee companies are seeking to identify the use of modern slavery in their supply chains and operations, and to mitigate this use when identified. While M&G does not consider itself the moral compass for their clients, they believe that there is a basic universal expectation that investors will not profit from modern slavery, with reputational risks for those that do. M&G has a policy of engagement with investee companies to face the issue head on. Engagement on human rights and modern slavery is ongoing, encouraging companies to act in line with the “Find it, Fix it, Prevent it” initiative. Investee companies have included Sainsbury’s, Upfield, Boohoo, Quadient, Marston’s and TUI.

Janus Henderson

In January 2021, Janus Henderson presented their outline of a potential framework to assess carbon emissions associated with a portfolio of auto loans and leases to a syndicate of banks, including Porsche Bank Austria.  Janus Henderson discussed the possibility of making the data available to all market participants with the next iteration of a new issue deal.  Porsche Bank Austria indicated that it will conduct an internal review to identify whether delivery and disclosure of this data is feasible.

Janus Henderson believe there is a strong potential for a partnership to bring the first Auto Asset Backed Securities (ABS) deal to the market with clear carbon-related data reporting on the underlying collateral pool.  As a result of their discussions with the issuer, Janus Henderson continue to monitor and assess the Auto ABS primary issuance market and engage with issuers with regards to their carbon emission data and how the manager can push for transparency of underlying collaterals’ impact on the environment.

A message from the PAS Trustees concerning COVID-19

The Trustees of PAS are writing to you at this unsettling time to provide you with reassurance regarding your pension benefits in light of the outbreak of COVID-19.

Please be assured that we are working with our advisers to closely monitor developments. We’re sending you this update because you may be understandably concerned about the impact of the current instability on PAS.

Pension administration service

We are working closely with Jill Nimmo, Pensions Manager, and the Pensions and Payroll team at the University to make sure there is no disruption to the service you receive. For those members who are currently in receipt of a pension, your pension will continue to be paid as normal. The payroll team have contingency plans in place to ensure that payments will not be disrupted.

If you have reason to contact the Pensions team at this time, the contact details are:

Email: pensions@leeds.ac.uk

Telephone: 0113 343 4138

Beware of pension scams

The Pensions and Payroll team are all working from home in line with Government guidelines. Whilst this should not lead to significant delays in processing member requests, you may be asked to provide additional information and/or asked further security questions than you would normally. This is being done to ensure that steps are taken to counter the possibility of fraudulent activity at this time. Please be patient whilst we work through the coming weeks.

Your pension

You will no doubt have seen articles in the press regarding COVID-19 and the impact that it could have on you financially and on pensions. Pension schemes have been impacted by the uncertainty that we have seen in stock markets because they hold large amounts of money in investments, such as equities, which have suffered losses.

PAS has seen falls in the value of the assets that we hold. However, as we hold a diversified range of assets, some of which are designed to help protect against risks, the funding position of PAS has been protected from the full extent of the volatility in the markets. The Trustees are conscious of the risks that continue to exist and we are working closely with our investment advisers and Scheme Actuary to ensure that we are monitoring the funding position and taking action when required.

We are also in contact with the University and aware of the robust plans that they have in place to ensure that they can continue to support PAS now and in the future. We will continue to monitor this and take action if the position changes.

We have heard reports of pension scammers trying to take advantage of pension scheme members worried about the current investment market turbulence.

Please be extremely wary of any uninvited approaches about your pension savings. These could be by telephone, email or text and may pretend to be from a legitimate source, such as HMRC.

If you are concerned about scams, please click here for more information.

May 2020

Pensions+

Pensions+ is a way for you to further reduce the cost of paying your pension contributions, and it can be applied to all of our pension schemes.

Pensions+ is a salary sacrifice scheme which has been given approval by HM Revenue & Customs.  It means that your pension contributions can be deducted from your salary before national insurance contributions are calculated.

You already get tax relief at your highest rate.  By contributing to the scheme through Pensions+, you can make even more of a saving on your national insurance contributions.

For examples of the savings and detailed information about the scheme, you can download the Pensions+ booklets on PAS/USS and the DC Plan below.

When you join USS or PAS, you’ll automatically pay your pension contributions through Pensions+ if you meet the minimum earnings criteria, unless you ask not to.

If you’ve joined the DC Plan, you’ll only contribute via Pensions+ once you’ve been in the scheme for more than 3 months.

IMPORTANT: If you're a member of PAS or USS and you pay into the scheme through Pensions+, you won’t be able to get a refund of your contributions if you leave within 2 years. You must opt out of Pensions+ within 3 months of joining the scheme to retain the right to a refund.

You can still be a member of a pension scheme even if you opt out of Pensions+.

Contact the Pensions department if you'd like a Pensions+ opt out form.

Leaving the pension scheme

If you leave the University or decide to opt out of a pension scheme, you'll stop paying contributions. Contributions you've made may either be paid back to you, held as benefits in the scheme until you retire, or you might be able to move them to another scheme, depending on how long you've been a member.

You can opt out of any of our schemes at any time, and if you leave the University’s employment you’ll automatically leave the scheme and stop paying contributions. If you’re a member of the DC Plan, you can choose to continue paying your own contributions, but the University contributions will end.

Depending on which scheme you're in and how long you've been paying in, you might be able to get a refund of your contributions; otherwise you'll need to either leave the benefits where they are or move them to another suitable pension scheme.

If you're in USS or PAS and have been paying in to the scheme for:

  • less than 3 months: you’ll receive a refund of your contributions, minus a deduction for tax and national insurance, or you can opt for leaving service benefits or transfer the benefits to another suitable pension arrangement;
  • less than 2 years: you might be able to have a refund of your contributions minus a deduction for tax and national insurance, or you can opt for or leaving service benefits or transfer the benefits to another suitable pension arrangement;
  • more than 2 years: you’ll be entitled to leaving service benefits or you can transfer the benefits to another suitable pension arrangement.

If you're a member of the DC Plan and you've been paying in for more than 1 month, you'll be entitled to leaving service benefits or you can transfer your fund to another suitable pension arrangement.

To find out more information on calculation and payment of the benefits on leaving, take a look at our scheme specific pages.

You’ll receive a letter from the scheme once you’ve left. This will show the benefits you’ve built up while you were a member and will give details of any options available to you.

How to opt out

Our scheme specific pages will give you details on how to opt out of each scheme.

Because of pensions legislation, the University might have to put you back into a scheme in the future, but you’ll be told about this in advance.

Transfer option

You might be able to transfer the benefits you’ve built up to a new employer’s pension scheme or to a personal pension arrangement. The transfer value would be the capital value of your deferred benefits at the date you transfer.

Contact details

If you’ve got any queries or need any further information, contact details for the schemes are as follows:

If you’re a PAS scheme member, contact the Pensions department either by email or by post to Pensions Department, EC Stoner Building, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT.

If you’re in the DC Plan, you’ll need to contact The People's Pension.

If you’re a USS member, you should contact USS.

For NHS enquiries, contact NHS Pensions.

Pre-retirement course

If you're considering retirement, it might help you to attend one of the University's pre-retirement courses.

The Pensions department runs a half day pre-retirement course twice a year, usually in March and September, to help you plan for your retirement, and all members of staff who are over the age of 60 are invited to attend because it’s a useful planning tool in the run up to retirement.

The course covers:

  • Health & wellbeing in retirement
  • University pension benefits
  • State pension benefits 
  • Financial matters

Places are limited so, once you receive your invitation, send your acceptance form back as soon as possible to reserve a place. You’ll only be able to attend the course once.

If you’re retiring before the age of 60, you’ll need to let the Pensions department know because you won’t automatically be invited.

Retirement

There's no longer a specific age when the University will ask you to retire, but there are certain things you'll need to do if you're considering it.

The normal retirement age under the rules of USS, PAS and the DC Plan is 65, although you may continue to work at the University beyond this age. If you do decide to go on working, you’ll still pay pension contributions, the University will continue to pay employer contributions, and you’ll build up more benefits in the scheme until you do retire.

To get your pension benefits you:

  • must be over the age of 55;
  • can be any age if you've been granted an ill health retirement pension;
  • will need the approval of the University if you're in PAS and want to receive payment of your pension benefits before age 65.

USS and PAS: arranging for payment of your pension benefits

For both the USS and PAS schemes:

  • you need to leave the service of the University to access pension benefits;
  • you can ask for a retirement quote from the Pensions department before you make a final decision about your retirement date;
  • to retire you need to hand in your letter of resignation to your School/Service, giving the appropriate period of notice;
  • once you’ve decided what date you want to retire, you’ll need to let the Pensions department know and they’ll arrange for the payment of your benefits.

In addition, if you’re in the PAS scheme and you want to retire before you’re 65, you’ll need the University’s consent. Contact the Pensions department and they’ll make arrangements for the University to consider your retirement request; once it’s been agreed, you can decide what date you want to retire.

DC Plan: arranging for payment of your pension benefits

You can contact The People's Pension, who'll arrange for a quotation of benefits to be provided to you. You don’t have to leave the University to access these benefits, but you must be over age 55.

There’s more information on our DC Plan pages.

USS Flexible retirement

Under USS rules it is possible for you take a portion of your benefits as long as you also reduce the number of hours you work. You can take up to 80% of your benefits as long as you reduce your hours by at least 20%.

However, you need to have discussed the change in hours and had this agreed by your Head of School/Service before contacting USS about this, as it’s a change to your terms and conditions of employment and not an automatic right.

See the link below for more details about the flexible retirement benefits on the USS website.