Pensions Data Standard1

A (UK) Pensions Data Format Standard – let’s make it happen!

 

(Posted by Patrick Lee on 8 August 2017 at a different location, but migrated here on 05 Feb 2018).

I have long thought it would be useful for there to be a standard format for exchange of data files for DB (Defined Benefit, i.e. final salary or career average revalued) pension plans, at least in the UK initially.

This would make it easier for pension plans to share information (with actuarial consultants, but also other advisers e.g. buyout companies, investment analysts), not just in mergers and acquisitions, but also in risk transfers (longevity, or pensions buyouts) and would improve the comparability of analysis across companies by investors etc. It should also reduce costs for trustees and plan sponsors, and may increase the quality of the data held.

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How corporate pension liabilities could vary by 10% or more, even on an agreed set of assumptions

(Posted by Patrick Lee on 1 August 2017 at a different location, but migrated here on 05 Feb 2018).

Why is there a range of answers, even using a given set of assumptions? Are these differences real, or artificial?

It would clearly make a difference whether a company’s pension liabilities were £475m, £500m or £525m …

The value of an organisation’s defined benefit (final salary or CARE – career average revalued) pension plan promises normally depends on many uncertainties, including:

  • how long the plan members and their partners are expected to live
  • what proportions of active members will leave service, or retire on ill health, before reaching normal retirement age
  • what the future rates of salary growth and price inflation (and hence pension increases) will be
  • assuming that a perfectly matching asset portfolio can’t be found (normally such a portfolio doesn’t exist), then what the future rates of reinvestment (for cashflow mismatches) will be.
PowerBIDashboard

Creating a corporate dashboard (using OData and Microsoft PowerBI)

Building a corporate dashboard so that you have key management information at a glance

(This article was first posted on 17 June 2017 on a different blog site, but migrated here 05 Feb 2018).

I have recently been building some corporate dashboards (as recommended by Daniel Priestley in his best selling book “24 Assets: Create a digital, scalable, valuable and fun business that will thrive in a fast changing world”). From chapter 15 of the book:

A key asset is a dashboard that allows the team to see how the business is performing. Carefully select some of the metrics that drive performance and make sure they show up prominently on your dashboard. You might select metrics like cash at bank, payments collected, expected invoices, revenue per employee or monthly users; the general rule is that whatever you measure will improve.

Accessing your valuable and key data

Dashboards need data, and this data will almost certainly need to come from a variety of sources in your organisation. There are lots of different ways of exposing your data sources so that the key information can be pulled into your dashboard. I reviewed several different options (including direct connections to databases, WebApi or MVC from websites and OData). My conclusion was that OData seemed the best current approach. Your data is valuable, so whatever method you use needs to be secure (i.e. with access protected via encryption and passwords) and you can do this with OData (and the other methods I have mentioned too). (Contact us if you need help with this. )

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WebPocketMoney.com: an easy way to track your children’s pocket money balances online, with a natural “Tell me” user interface.

WebPocketMoney 1.0 released!

(Posted by Patrick Lee on 6 May 2017 at a different location, but migrated here on 05 Feb 2018).

We are delighted to announce the release earlier this week of WebPocketMoney.com, our cloud based app that enables parents and their children to track and manage pocket money online.

A new, sophisticated online tool for parents and children to track and manage pocket money balances

This web app has been designed to help parents and children manage pocket money in a user-friendly way that encourages saving. It uses notional accounts rather than physical accounts (which are often difficult to create for children) and this has the advantage that you can offer your children much higher interest rates (e.g. 5% or 10% per month) than are commonly available in the real world, in order to encourage them to save.

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Migrating to the cloud (Microsoft Azure and Office 365)

(Posted by Patrick Lee on 22 Apr 2016 at a different location, but migrated here on 05 Feb 2018).

I thought I’d share a few thoughts from our experience of moving from Windows servers on which both our corporate and client websites and email were stored to the cloud, specifically Office 365 and Microsoft Azure.

The process itself was relatively painless (particularly for migrating email to Office 365). The only problems we experienced were in migrating some older websites, and some web-based software which, for reasons best known to its manufacturer (whose blushes I will spare by not naming here), needed to be installed as a desktop program (albeit one with a web interface). Both of these needed to be installed on a virtual machine (a windows server within the cloud) rather than as stand alone web apps (or app services as they are now known) in Azure. We also had a few teething problems moving some databases from SQL Server 2012 or 2014 to SQLAzure, but found solutions to these after a bit of experimentation.