Sally Bridgeland, former chief executive of BP Pension Trustees, has become the 14th member of the 300 Club of top investment professionals from different countries – the first woman to do so.The 300 Club, set up nearly three years ago, aims to raise awareness about the potential impact of current market thinking and behaviours.Bridgeland said: “The demands of maturing pensions funds will change considerably over the next decade, and individual savers need an investment environment they can trust for the longer term.” The 300 Club was right to challenge current thinking, she said. “I hope to contribute to the debate they have started,” she added. Bridgeland was chief executive of BP Pension Trustees for seven years until she left the £19bn (€23.8bn) UK corporate pension fund at the beginning of April.She recently took on the role of senior adviser to governance consultancy Avida International. Bridgeland is the founder of the charity Executive Shift and a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, as well as a member of the FTSE Policy Group. Before joining BP Pension Trustees, she worked at consultancy Aon Hewitt for 20 years.The 300 Club is chaired by Lars Dijkstra, CIO at Kempen Capital Management.The club’s name refers to the legendary 300 Spartans who held off the far larger Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, and is meant to symbolise a small group achieving something against the odds.Meanwhile, new research shows that, even though pension deficit contributions made by the firms in the FTSE 350 are at their lowest for five years, they still amount to nearly 40% of their Total pensions bill.The research done by consultancy Barnett Waddingham showed that the total IAS19 deficit reported by FTSE 350 companies in 2013 was £55.6bn, down £7.6bn from the aggregate shortfall from the year before.Deficit contributions paid last year were £8.5bn, down more than 20% from 2012.Nick Griggs, head of corporate consulting at Barnett Waddingham, said: “The fact 37p of every pound spent by companies on pensions is paid towards clearing pension deficits is striking and illustrates just how much companies are still having to pay to reduce funding shortfalls.”However, Griggs said the overall picture for defined benefit funding in 2013 had improved somewhat, with deficit contributions apparently putting less of a strain on company finances.“With TPR’s (the Pensions Regulator) new funding code of practice promising to be less restrictive on corporates going forward, directors should be optimistic about the future,” he said.The study showed the effects of auto-enrolment coming through for the 350 largest listed UK companies, with defined contribution costs increasing by an average of 16% compared with 2012.In other news, Aon Hewitt said changes that have been proposed to pensions accounting standards could take more than £25bn from the balance sheets of companies in the FTSE 350, and £1bn from their annual profits.As things stand, about 25% of the top 350 listed UK companies have an accounting surplus relating to their pension scheme, which is recognised on their balance sheet.Proposed changes to the IFRIC14 guidance, which supports international accounting standard IAS19, mean surpluses will no longer be recognised unless there is a realistic expectation the company will eventually be able to access it.Simon Robinson, principal consultant at Aon Hewitt, said: “We expect most companies with schemes that already have a surplus will not be able to recognise it under the new proposal – which would reduce the balance sheets of the FTSE 350 by £8bn.”But the proposal also affects companies making ongoing deficit contributions that are expected to have an accounting surplus in future, he said. “These contributions,” he added, “would now need to be recognised as liabilities on corporate balance sheets, which would amount to a further £20bn hit for FTSE 350 companies.”Finally, funding among UK defined benefit (DB) schemes has fallen by 1 percentage point over the last month, according to the Pension Protection Fund’s (PPF) 7800 Index.According to the index, funding fell to 90.5% at the end of July, with the aggregate deficit increasing by £23.7bn to £122.7bn over the same period.“The position has worsened from the previous year, when a deficit of £88.3bn was recorded at the end of July 2013,” the PPF added.The funding decline was despite assets increasing by 0.5% in value month-on-month and an overall increase of 4.2% in asset value since July last year.However, this contrasted with a 6.7% increase in liabilities, from £1.21trn to £1.29trn at the end of last month.
JOE Root is eager to begin working alongside a new England coach with Gary Kirsten still the firm favourite to succeed Trevor Bayliss.Kirsten was initially thought to be out of the picture, due to the touring demands of the job and his recently-agreed role with Welsh Fire in the Hundred, but the England and Wales Cricket Board have been willing to remove both hurdles.England are open to allowing assistant coaches to take an expanded role to allow the top man a less prohibitive schedule and the ECB may be tempted to use a vacancy in the Hundred to appoint an aspiring English coach such as Marcus Trescothick.Kirsten, who had a fine track record with South Africa and India, could be appointed as early as next week if talks continue to go smoothly, while two members of Bayliss’ backroom team – Chris Silverwood and Graham Thorpe – have shown interest in stepping up to the top job.The experienced Graham Ford has also been linked, but reports suggest former England captain and current Surrey chief Alec Stewart has now withdrawn.As Test captain, Root is not directly involved in the process, with director of cricket Ashley Giles in charge of making the appointment, but he has run the rule over the candidates and likes what he has seen.“I’ve been made aware of who has been going in for interview and some of those candidates are really exciting. You look at the list and I’m thrilled with the names involved,” he said.“There’s a lot of noise around certain individuals but the group have all done special things and could bring good things to English cricket. Ashley has got an exciting but difficult decision to make. That’s not my pay grade.“The sooner the better but ultimately I think Ash is just desperate to make the right decision.“One thing you always want from a new coach is a bit of energy and a slightly different way of going about things. Trevor did a brilliant job managing English cricket but I’m sure whoever comes in will want to put their stamp on it quite early.“Personally I’m looking forward to Test cricket being slightly more of a priority than it has been for the past few years.” (PA Sport)
You can keep Christmas circled on the calendar.A mega-watt crosstown match-up between the Lakers and the Clippers is expected to have all its stars, according to an ESPN report. While LeBron James (thoracic muscle strain) and Anthony Davis (right knee soreness) will officially be listed as questionable on the night before Christmas, both are likely to suit up for the game.A source confirmed to Southern California News Group that the Lakers had a morning walkthrough, and that both James and Davis were improving. James missed Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets, his first absence of the season, while Davis tweaked his knee in the third quarter of the game.ESPN reported that James also sat out with discomfort in his groin — perhaps an uncomfortable sign a year removed from his groin tear suffered last year on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors. That injury saw James miss 17 straight games, the longest absence of his professional career. How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBetween them, James and Davis constitute an irreplaceable bulk of the Lakers’ production: 53.7 points, 13.9 assists and 16.9 rebounds per game. They’ve powered a 24-6 start, and the Lakers are just 1-2 with one of their stars.The star power will be needed in a rematch with the Clippers, who topped them 112-102 in the season opener. And that was with just one of their stars: Kawhi Leonard played while Paul George sat on the bench with injury. With both healthy now, the Clippers (22-10) are hoping to move to a 2-0 lead in the season-long series. Both James and Davis played in the first meeting.Related Articles Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs