Microsoft Teams definitely DOES allow Guest users, and this is fantastic!

Further to my previous post about this, we have managed to get this working successfully now with a variety of guest users (with email addresses which are outlook.com, or associated with Azure Active Directory or Azure ADB2C accounts).

Why is this so useful? Because it means that in order to collaborate with users outside your organisation (including being able to share files, hold online conversations, video chats, do online voting within your team), all you need is one of the following Office 365 subscriptions (see this Microsoft link)

Guest access is included with all Office 365 Business Premium, Office 365 Enterprise, and Office 365 Education subscriptions. No additional Office 365 license is necessary. Guest access is a tenant-level setting in Microsoft Teams and is turned off by default.

This should not only be much cheaper than alternative collaboration software (e.g. box.com) but also allows your staff and guest users to use tools that they will increasingly become familiar with (Office 365).

 

 

 

 

PensionsDataStandardDraft1(2)

A (UK) Pensions Data Format Standard – let’s make it happen! (Part 2)

(This is a follow up to part 1 which you can see here. Posted by Patrick Lee on 15 August 2017 at a different location, but migrated here on 05 Feb 2018).

Proposed First Draft

I’ve now completed a first draft of a proposed standard, as a Microsoft Excel file (118kB, so quite small). You can download it here. Comments/criticisms most welcome. Let’s make this happen!

Why Microsoft Excel?

I’ve chosen to put it in an Excel file (as opposed to CSV or other non proprietary formats) for the moment because Excel offers the following advantages:

  • we can put several different worksheets/tables in a single file
  • field headings can have explanatory comments
  • I’ve using colour coding to visually group similar fields.

The goal

Treemap chart in Excel

Useful charts for business/data analysis in Excel 2016

(Posted by Patrick Lee on 10 August 2017 at a different location, but migrated here on 05 Feb 2018).

You may not know that Excel 2016 added some useful new charts for analysing data. I particularly like the Treemap, Box & Whisker and Pareto charts. (The images below are taken from this Microsoft post, please see that link for more detail on these and other charts).

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.

couple walking on beach

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.