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The SPI Fund of Scottish Provident Limited

Principles and Practices of Financial Management

Historically, the actual bonus has often been in excess of the rate that this formula would give and there have been successive reductions to move towards the target. The formula automatically brings in one aspect of current economic conditions, the expected long term return. Recent economic experience would also be a factor in that after a period of favourable experience (as applied during much of the 1990s), SPL would be more tolerant of rates in excess of the target and conversely after a period of adverse experience would aim for a lower rate. In seriously adverse conditions the general constraint referred to in 4.7 (1) above might apply.
 
1. Introduction
 
Purpose of the PPFM

1.1 This document applies to the business carried on within the ‘SPI Fund’ which is one of the With-Profits Sub-Funds of Scottish Provident Limited (‘SPL’). It aims to define the Principles and Practices of Financial Management (‘PPFM’) according to which this business (‘the Business’) is currently conducted.
1.2 This PPFM applies only to the SPI Fund. SPL publishes a separate PPFM for the Special Fund (a separate With-Profits Sub-Fund of SPL established by the ‘Scheme’, as defined below). The Special Fund is not invested in the SPI Fund. However, the SPI Fund is entitled to receive up to 10% of the distributed surplus within the Special Fund.
 
1.3 The PPFM may be revised by SPL from time to time and in any respect subject only to the constraints imposed by law and regulation. SPL will review the PPFM every year, although changes to Principles and Practices may be made more frequently.
 
1.4 This PPFM is the SPI Fund Version 2, dated 13 July 2004.
 
Availability of the PPFM and reporting
 
1.5 The PPFM is available to policyholders and their advisers (amongst others), thus helping them to understand the way in which SPL is currently seeking to manage the Business.
 
1.6 Accordingly, any policyholder with an SPL with-profits policy will be supplied with a copy of the relevant PPFM at any time on request and without charge. Other persons will be supplied with a copy of this document on request and on payment of a fee.
 
1.7 SPL will maintain a record of each version of the PPFM for at least six years from the date on which that version is superseded.
 
1.8 Under regulatory rules, SPL is obliged to publish an annual report on its compliance with the PPFM.
 
Governance
 
1.9 The governing body of SPL is the Board of Abbey National plc (‘Abbey’). Day to day decisions regarding the business are made by persons or committees authorised by either Abbey or SPL.
 
1.10 The PPFM is approved by the Abbey Board and a committee (the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee) established by the Scheme. Compliance with the PPFM is subject to assessment by the Committee. The Committee and Scheme are explained in more detail in the paragraphs below.
 
The Scheme and the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee
 
1.11 The SPI Fund was established by the scheme of demutualisation (‘the Scheme’) under which the business of The Scottish Provident Institution (‘SPI’) was transferred to SPL on 1 August 2001. The Scheme was approved by the Court of Session in Scotland and should there be any conflict between the Scheme and the PPFM, the Scheme shall take precedence. In particular, the Scheme includes ‘Principles of Financial Management’ which for the avoidance of doubt will be referred to below as ‘the Scheme PFM’ to distinguish them from this PPFM. As with the other provisions of the Scheme, the Scheme PFM take precedence over the contents of this document.
 
1.12 The Scheme also established the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee, which is independent of the Board of SPL. The responsibilities of the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee include the investment and bonus policy of the SPI Fund, and overseeing many aspects of the operation of the Scheme.
 
1.13 The SPI Fund includes both business issued in the UK and denominated in sterling, and business issued as Irish branch business and denominated in Irish currency.
 
PPFM relationship
 
1.14 The PPFM is not intended to alter the rights and obligations under any policy documents that SPL has issued. Should there be any conflict between what is said in the PPFM and what is said in any such policy document, the latter shall prevail. (For these purposed ‘policy documents’ includes policies and related literature.)
 
1.15 The Principles and Practices set out in this document describe the way in which SPL currently seeks to manage the Business.
 
1.16 Management of the Business is not a mechanistic process carried out strictly on the basis of compliance with a detailed set of pre-determined criteria. Rather, it requires SPL to make many judgements about the actions it should take in endeavouring to meet the objectives which are described in the Principles and Practices set out in the PPFM.
 
1.17 Those judgements are made by SPL in good faith, with a view to achieving what SPL believes to be a fair balance between the different interests of individual policyholders and groups of policyholders, and furthering the interests of policyholders as a whole. They are based, amongst other things, upon assumptions about the future, the fulfillment of which clearly cannot be guaranteed by us. Equally, SPL cannot guarantee that the judgements it makes will result in the objectives described in the Principles and Practices set out in this document being achieved.
 
1.18 With-profits contracts of insurance are long-term in nature. While SPL wishes its policyholders to have as clear an understanding as practicable of the material bases on which it seeks to manage the Business, it is not in policyholders' interests for it to do so by reference to inflexible criteria. SPL therefore seeks to respond to events in managing the Business, and to evolve the Principles and Practices by reference to them. These Principles and Practices have evolved significantly over time, in response to changing experience within the Business, and changing events outside it. This evolutionary process is likely to continue into the future.
 
1.19 For these reasons, policyholders are asked not to treat the statements made in this document as binding commitments on, or binding representations by, SPL as to how it manages the Business or as to how it will do so in the future. Instead, they represent the criteria to which SPL currently have regard, and the objectives it is currently seeking to pursue, in making judgements about the management of the Business. While those judgements will be made in good faith, the statements in this document are not intended to enable those judgements to be challenged with the benefit of hindsight.
 
Interpretation
 

1.20. In this document, references ‘the Actuary’ are to the actuary who has been appointed to the role concerned in accordance with applicable regulatory rules and SPL’s governance structure.

 
1.21 Except where the context otherwise admits, where the expression ‘net investment return’ or ‘investment return’ is used in this document, such expression means the investment return after the deduction of tax and all relevant costs, charges and expenses (including where SPL judges it to be appropriate, for the cost of guarantees and the provision of capital) and after taking account of the outcome of all relevant business risks, including insurance experience.
 
New business
 
1.22 Other than as described in Section 9 (Volumes of new business) below, the SPI Fund is not currently open to new business.
 
2. Structure of the PPFM
 
The Principles
 
2.1 The Principles describe SPL’s aims and objectives in the management of the Business and are designed to be long-term in nature (although this does not mean they will not change, particularly if there is a need for change due to difficult circumstances). The PPFM contains two different types of Principle: ‘Overriding Principles’ and ‘Operating Principles’.
 
2.2 The Overriding Principles are intended as enduring and overarching standards adopted by SPL. There are then more detailed Operating Principles and Practices covering specific topics.
 
2.3 In the event of any conflict between them, the Overriding Principles take precedence over the Operating Principles and Practices, and the Operating Principles take precedence over the Practices. Within the Overriding Principles, the first and second Overriding Principles take precedence over the others.
 
2.4 Unless the FSA grants a waiver, three months’ written notice will be given to those policyholders affected by any intention to change the Principles. SPL cannot undertake that every person potentially affected by any change will actually receive a notice.
 
2.5 Principles are shown in bold text in this document.
 
The Practices
 
2.6 The Practices aim to set out the way in which SPL seeks to manage the Business in more detail. Taken with the Principles, they aim to provide sufficient detail to enable a knowledgeable observer to understand the material risks and rewards for a policyholder investing in the SPI Fund. SPL may change the Practices without advance notice as SPL’s circumstances and the business environment change.
 
3. Overriding Principles
 
3.1 The Overriding Principles are as follows:
 

(1) The SPI Fund will be managed on a sound and prudent basis with the objective of securing that its assets are sufficient to meet its liabilities and related reserving and capital requirements without the need for capital additional to its existing resources and such other assets as the shareholder may from time to time agree may be utilised.

(2) SPL seeks to operate within the legal framework governing its long-term insurance business. This framework includes:

(i) the Scheme and SPL’s Articles of Association;

(ii) the contractual commitments made to all SPL’s long-term policyholders (including guarantees); and

(iii) the requirements, from time to time, of the FSA as the regulator of its long-term business.

(3) SPL aims to balance the interests of different groups of policyholders fairly (and fairly in relation to the interests of the shareholder).

(4) Bonus rates may be smoothed so that some of the fluctuations in the value of the investments of the SPI Fund are not reflected in payments on with-profits policies.

 
  1. Returns on with-profits policies may be reduced by adverse experience within the SPI Fund, and in extreme circumstances, returns on policies may be reduced by adverse experience on other insurance business in the long-term fund.

  2. SPL will endeavour to give policyholders participation in the asset classes they have been led to expect by statements made by SPL, and with the overall risk profile in the fund that they have been led to expect by statements made by SPL (in each case in the context, for example, of policy documents and related literature, changes in industry investment policies and outlook and the financial condition of SPI Fund).

 
3.2 The first Overriding Principle may impose restrictions on the ability to declare bonuses or may require adjustment to the liabilities, perhaps by reduction to the investment returns credited to the asset shares in accordance with Section 4.
 
Current Operating Principles and Practices
 

This part of the PPFM describes in sections 4 – 10 SPL’s current Operating Principles and Practices under a number of headings. The issues discussed in sections 4 to 10 are:

Section 4: The amount payable under a with-profits policy;

Section 5: Investment strategy;

Section 6: Business risk;

Section 7: Charges and expenses;

Section 8: Management of the inherited estate;

Section 9: Volumes of new business; and

Section 10: Equity between SPI Fund, the Special Fund and the shareholder.

The following points are necessary to the understanding of this part:

There are three distinct sub-classes of business within the Business which are relevant for the purposes of many of the sections which follow. These classes are the:

(A) conventional with-profits business;

(B) unitised with-profits business; and

(C) deposit administration business.

The conventional with-profits business comprises the classes of with-profits policy where there is no choice of investment and there is usually a guaranteed benefit available at a fixed date, with bonuses declared once per year.

The unitised with-profits business includes all the with-profits business under which benefits are expressed in terms of the value of with-profits units, usually arising as a result of the exercise of choice within the policy between investing in with-profits or in property-linked or index-linked funds.

The deposit administration businessconsists of the Active Simplified Pension Investment Funding Plans, which are group pension policies effected by the trustees of occupational pension schemes.

As a general guide, sections lettered (A) below refer to conventional business, sections lettered (B) refer to unitised business, sections lettered (C) refer to deposit administration business, and unlettered sections and sections lettered (D) apply to all three classes.

4. The Amount Payable under a With Profits Policy
 

Introduction

The SPI Fund is primarily an investment fund. There is some averaging, or smoothing, of achieved investment results.

Each policy will have a contractual or guaranteed benefit, but SPL may add annual bonuses or final bonuses from time to time. These are targeted at achieving guideline payout amounts for each type of policy.

This section discusses in turn the four topics of guideline payout amounts, annual bonuses, final bonuses and smoothing.

Guideline payout amounts

 

4.1 Sections 4.2 to 4.7 cover the methods used by SPL to guide its judgment of the amount that it believes it is appropriate to pay individual with-profits policyholders.

4.2 (1) The normal form of a with-profits policy has historically been that it is subject to either a single premium paid at the start or to premiums payable in regular (and usually equal) instalments paid annually (or more frequently).

4.2 (2) The deposit administration contracts differ from the above in that neither the premiums nor the benefits are defined in advance. The premiums are determined according to the contributions under an occupational pension scheme, and the benefit is expressed as a notional account from which amounts can be applied from time to time to secure benefits for individual members in terms of the rules of the occupational scheme.

 

4.2 (3) The primary method used by SPL to guide its judgment of the amount it believes it is appropriate to pay individual policyholders is to calculate ‘asset shares’, although some exceptions apply. There are some differences in the way asset share is calculated for different classes of policy, both between conventional, unitised and deposit administration business and between classes in the conventional category.

Naturally, the size of an individual policyholder’s asset share changes over time. It may increase or decrease from time to time, according to (amongst other things) investment performance and other experience within the SPI Fund (for example, asset shares may be adjusted in order to accommodate exceptional developments within the SPI Fund).

 

The following classifications of conventional with profits policies are relevant for later sections of this PPFM:

  1. All individual policies treated for tax purposes as basic life assurance and general annuity fund contracts. Endowment assurances (including low-cost mortgage endowments and flexible endowments) and whole of life policies are the main classes in this group.

  2. Policies written on individual terms for the provision of retirement benefits. This group includes the Self-Employed Retirement Annuity and Personal Pension contracts (SEDA contracts) and the Individual and Executive Pension Arrangement policies (E-Type contracts).

More details are given in the following sections.

 

4.3 (1) (A) For those contracts in classes (i) and (ii) in 4.2 the primary guide for a maturing policy (or for a pension policy at a normal retirement date) is asset share. A second important consideration is whether the target payment should be 100% of asset share (or more or less than 100%). This second consideration is discussed in section 8. The overall aim is to give each maturing policy its fair share of the available funds, basing relative entitlements on asset shares, subject to a minimum payout based on any guarantees given for any particular policy. More details of the current asset share calculation method are given in section 4.4.

4.3 (1) (B) For all unitised contracts the aim is to pay a fair share of the available assets, basing the payments to policyholders on a percentage of asset shares as described in 4.3 (1) (A) above and section 8. More details of the current calculation method are given in section 4.4.

4.3 (1) (C) For the deposit administration contracts the aim is that the notional account available to secure benefits for members represents a fair share of the available assets, based on a percentage of asset shares as described above, subject to any guarantees applying to each contract.

4.3 (1) (D) In seeking to achieve the aims set out in paragraphs (A) to (C) above, SPL is bound by the terms of the Scheme.

4.3 (2) SPL aims to calculate the guideline amounts to within an accuracy of a few percentage points. However the application of other principles and practices, particularly the degree of smoothing applied (see section 4.12), may result in a wider gap between the theoretical guideline amounts and the actual payouts. Guarantees of minimum amounts may also apply.

4.3 (3) Material changes to methods would only be made following a decision of SPI Fund Supervisory Committee, based on a recommendation by the Actuary. Any change in the methods is subject to the terms of the Scheme.

4.3 (4) SPL seeks to base its decisions on what it believes to be the best and latest reasonably available information. Assumptions and parameters for the current and immediately previous year are subject to revision at any time as more detail becomes available on emerging trends. Such assumptions and parameters will be set by the Actuary and reported to the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee.

Changes to assumptions and parameters for earlier years would be unusual and made only after the Actuary had submitted a report to the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee giving his explanation and justification for the changes.

Examples of previously applied assumptions and parameters that might be changed in this way are investment returns, charges or allocations of miscellaneous surplus that have been derived from the SPI Fund’s historical experience and actions.

4.4 (1) (A) (i) This subsection describes the method used to calculate the guideline asset shares for endowment policies in class (i) of 4.2 (ii).

 
Background: the Scheme
 

The starting point for the calculation of asset shares are the relevant provisions of the Scheme. In summary, the Scheme required asset shares to be determined by the Actuary as at the effective date for the Scheme using the asset share basis and methodology employed by SPI prior to the effective date. The accumulation thereafter must be in a manner consistent with that basis and methodology, except to the extent required to allow for the distribution of any surplus assets in accordance with the Scheme.

In determining the underlying rate of investment return applicable to the accumulation of asset shares in respect of each class of SPI Fund With-Profits Policies, the Scheme requires assets to be notionally hypothecated separately to UK and Irish business and, within each such territory, separately to Active Simplified Pension Investment Plans and other SPI Fund With-Profits Policies, having regard to SPI’s practice in respect of such notional hypothecation of assets prior to the effective date of the Scheme.

Paragraph 5 of Schedule 2 of the Scheme deals with this subject in more detail.

 
Current Practices
 

Within the framework set by the Scheme, SPL currently seeks to adhere to the following practices.

Asset share calculations are done separately for a range of policy terms starting in different years and now due to mature. The method is based on ‘model points’. This means that a sample size of regular premium payable is accumulated at the applicable rate of net investment return. The rate of return used for any year is an after tax rate, based on the prevailing tax rates for the relevant period. There is charged to the asset share an estimate of the cost of death benefits under the life assurance element of the policies and an estimate of the expenses incurred in maintaining the policies and managing the business. An adjustment may be made to the investment return if it is thought that there have been profits or losses made from policies surrendering or lapsing before maturity or from other miscellaneous sources including the costs of guarantees.

An adjustment may be made to asset shares with a view to distributing any surplus or deficit in the SPI Fund either immediately or over a period up to and including the remaining lifetime of the SPI Fund with profits policies, as required under the Scheme PFM. This adjustment is currently implemented by means of an enhancement or reduction to the investment return (net of taxation) credited to asset share. The enhancement or reduction is reviewed from time to time, and in any case normally not less frequently than every three years.

 
4.4 (1) (A) (ii) This subsection describes the method used to calculate the guideline asset shares for policies in class (ii) of 4.2. The method is similar to that described for class (i) above (and the comments regarding the Scheme PFM apply), but with appropriate allowance for the following differences:
 
  1. The policies are pensions policies and are subject to different tax treatment.

  2. On the early death of a policyholder, these polices will tend to yield a profit to the fund or have a neutral financial effect, rather than to cause a loss.

 

4.4 (1) (B) This subsection describes the method used to calculate the guideline asset share for unitised policies. The comments in 4.4 (1) (A) (i) regarding the Scheme PFM also apply in this context.

A model is maintained which rolls up an accumulation of a sample premium at the achieved net investment rate, and allowing for the adjustments described in 4.4 (1) (A) (i). The model allows for the different tax treatment of different classes and for the applicable management charges. The annual management charge allowed for in this calculation is currently fixed at 0.60% per annum for life policies and 0.85% per annum for pensions policies. These are the charges which applied before demutualisation and are considered by the Supervisory Committee to be consistent with policyholders’ reasonable expectations. The resulting accumulation for the date of the premium concerned is taken as the guideline asset share for units allocated in the year of that start date.

 

4.4 (1) (C) This subsection describes the method used to calculate the guideline asset share for deposit administration policies.

A model is maintained which rolls up an accumulation of the aggregate amount of premiums paid, less explicit charges, at the applicable rate of net investment return rate, and allowing for the adjustments described in 4.4 (1) (A) (i). The resulting accumulated value is adjusted at the end of each calendar year to reflect the fact that a proportion of the notional account will be deemed to have been used to secure benefits. The resulting adjusted accumulation is then comparable with the notional account value. There are several tranches of notional account bearing different guarantees, and this calculation is carried out for each tranche separately. The resulting adjusted accumulation for each tranche is taken as the guideline asset share for that tranche over all relevant policies.

 

4.4 (1) (D) The guideline payout amount is tested against any guaranteed minimum payments promised to the policyholder. Where any guarantee gives an amount greater than the guideline payout amount the guaranteed amount is paid.

4.4 (2) Some of the assumptions and parameters used relate to factors that apply to all classes of policy. The principal assumptions in this group are:

 
  1. Investment return, based on the actual net return achieved in each calendar year.

  2. Taxation, based on what SPL judge to be a best estimate of actual current tax payable, in particular in relation to taxation of investment returns and tax relief available on some expenses.

  3. Investment expenses, based on what SPL judge to be a best estimate of the actual expense incurred or for periods after demutualisation, the terms of the Scheme.

  4. Other profits and losses reasonably allowable or chargeable against the relevant classes (eg for the costs of certain guarantees, as described in 6.4, and capital reserves).

 
4.4 (2) (A) There are some assumptions and parameters used only for conventional with profits policies. The principal such assumptions are:
 
      1. Premium size. This is based broadly on a typical policy size for the starting year concerned.

      2. Any allowance for death benefits is based on one of the standard industry mortality tables.

      3. Expenses charges other than investment expenses. These are based on:

      1. Our own detailed analysis of actual incurred running costs.

      2. An initial cost based on an estimate of typical costs for the year of entry.

      3. For periods after demutualisation, the terms of the Scheme.

 
4.4 (3) (A) Within each of the classes listed in 4.2, SPL currently uses common assumptions and common values for many parameters. There is, therefore, a degree of approximation, but SPL believes that such approximation is a reflection only of the sharing of experience that SPL believes is part of the essential character of with-profits business. This approximation, or shared experience, is across generations of policyholders and between types of policy within each of the broad classes in 4.2.
 
4.4 (3) (B) For the unitised classes, the experience within the SPI Fund borne by the policies is limited to the investment and financial experience and other profits and losses reasonably allowable or chargeable against the relevant classes. Other elements, such as expenses are dealt with outside the SPI Fund. Guarantee and other costs may be charged against the investment return where SPL judges it to be appropriate. The sharing and approximation is limited to the assumption that within any completed calendar year, the achieved net investment return accrued evenly over the year.
 
4.4 (3) (C) For the deposit administration contracts the experience within the SPI Fund borne by the policies through asset shares is limited to the investment experience of the part of the SPI Fund hypothecated to these contracts and other profits and losses reasonably allowable or chargeable against these contracts. Guarantee and other costs may be charged against the investment return where SPL judges it to be appropriate. The sharing and approximation is limited to the assumption that within any completed calendar year, the achieved net investment return accrued evenly over the year. SPL believes this degree of sharing of experience is consistent with the nature of these contracts.
 
4.4 (4) The overall methods for determining guideline payout amounts are as documented in the PPFM (as updated from time-to-time). What SPL believe to be sufficient further details of the underlying models to enable them to be taken over by new staff are included in the procedure notes for the models used and successive changes to the parameters and assumptions are documented in reports submitted to the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee.
 
The interpretation of the results and the development of proposed bonus scales are documented in the reports submitted by the Actuary to the meetings of the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee at which decisions on new scales of bonus are to be declared.
 
4.4 (5) The methods and parameters discussed in this section 4.4 are subject to controls exercised by the Actuary, the SPL Board, the governing body (the Abbey Board) and the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee.
 
Values for parameters for the current or previous year that are assessed under agreed methods will be subject to sign-off only by the Actuary and reported to the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee. Changes to parameters for earlier periods will be made by the Actuary, but only after the submission to the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee of a written report explaining and justifying the changes.
Changes to methods will be subject to sign-off by the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee on the recommendation of the Actuary.
 
4.5 The sections above contain general descriptions of how SPL brings investment returns, other profits and losses, expenses, charges and tax into account in determining the guideline amounts for payments to policyholders. Further details of the determination of actual amounts to be paid are included under Final Bonuses (sections 4.9 to 4.11 below). Some further specific details are noted in the subsections below.
 
4.5 (1) In recognising the investment return to use in its asset share models SPL currently makes only those distinctions between different parts of SPI Fund, or between different classes of policy, that are documented in 4.4 above. The actual calculations use net of tax returns and the different tax applicable to different classes of business is allowed for.
 

This practice has evolved to the current position over a period of many years. It is possible, for reasons of fairness, that the practice will continue to evolve.

For example, if it is fair to do so, SPL may in recognising the investment return to use in its asset share models, make further distinctions between different parts of the SPI Fund, or between different classes and vintages of policy. In particular, the return from any assets bought specifically to cover guarantees may be reserved to meet the costs of these guarantees.

4.5 (2) In setting the expense parameters to use, SPL expects to set these at levels that would, if applied across all policies, give an overall level of expenses close to the actual expenses apportioned to the SPI Fund. The general basis for setting the charging and expense parameters is that laid down in the Scheme.

 
In summary, the Scheme provides that there shall be charged to the SPI Fund only such part of the total costs, liabilities and expenses incurred by SPL as the Actuary and the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee consider fair and equitable, having regard to policyholders’ reasonable expectations.
 
The Scheme then goes on to set out, in detail, (by way of elaboration of this provision) the charges to be borne by the SPI Fund in the 10 years following demutualisation.
 

4.5 (3) The Scheme contains complex and detailed provisions regarding the taxation of the SPI Fund. In summary, SPL is to charge (or credit, as the case may be) the SPI Fund for taxation (as defined therein) as if the SPI Fund constituted the whole of a long-term fund of a mutual life assurance company carrying on business in the UK and Ireland with no other business other than the business carried out in the SPI Fund.

In setting the parameters for netting down gross items to net of tax amounts for use in the model the aim is to set parameters at levels that would, if applied across the whole fund, result in a tax charge broadly similar to that actually paid by the SPI Fund.

4.5 (4) When bonus is allocated to conventional and deposit administration policies the shareholder is entitled to a transfer of one ninth of the value of the allocated bonuses. These transfers can give rise to a tax charge on the company. Neither the relevant cost of transfers to shareholders on surplus distribution, nor any additional tax attributable to the transfer is charged to the asset shares of policies.

4.5 (5) Guarantees, other risks and cost of provision of capital may be charged for within the asset share models. To the extent that any such costs fall on the SPI Fund and are not charged to asset shares they will affect the overall level of surplus or deficit within the fund. This may then have an effect on the actual payment scale adopted, either through the mechanism of influencing the percentage factor described in the first paragraph of 4.3 (1) (A) and sections 8, or that of influencing the adjustment described in 4.4 (1) (A), or both. The effect of guaranteed annuity options under certain pensions plans is discussed under the Final Bonuses section below

 
Annual Bonuses
 

4.6 Distributions of surplus take the form of ‘bonuses’ and there may be both annual and final bonuses. These are discussed separately.

Although most of SPL’s annual bonus rates are currently zero, Sections 4.7 and 4.8 cover SPL’s approach to setting annual bonus rates for policies in the SPI Fund. Annual bonuses normally become guaranteed additions to the policy benefits, so long as the benefits are not surrendered early.

If positive returns are made on the SPI Fund’s investments, at present, SPL’s priority will be to direct net investment returns towards increasing surrender values and terminal bonus levels (including, where applicable, reducing market value reductions), before declaring annual bonuses.  These practices will be kept under review and are subject to change in light of circumstances.

The framework for the SPI Fund’s bonus policy is set by the Scheme, and the following Principles and Practices should be read with that context in mind.

For the conventional with profits policies, annual bonuses take the form of percentage additions to the benefit payable on the policy. For unitised policies they take the form of an annualised growth rate in the bid value of the units, as an addition to a guaranteed minimum growth rate (the latter may be zero). For deposit administration business they take the form of an annual rate of increment on the value of the notional account, as an addition to a guaranteed minimum increment (the latter may be zero).

4.7(1) The Scheme provides that annual bonuses will be maintained at levels consistent with policyholders’ reasonable expectations, having regard to the past practice of SPI. Consistent with such past practice, any changes to annual bonus rates will be gradual under normal circumstances.

SPL’s general aim in setting rates of annual bonus is to give policyholders the security of having guaranteed addition to benefits, but only to the extent that the company believes such guarantees will be supportable under reasonably foreseeable economic conditions and that the giving of them would not adversely affect other policyholders.

4.7 (1) (A) SPL believes that the following factors are relevant in determining classes of conventional business for which different rates of annual bonus would be appropriate:

 
  1. The tax treatment of the policy.

  2. The assumptions in the premium basis and in particular any guarantees.

  3. Any guarantees explicitly included in the policy document.

  4. Material in marketing, policy or other relevant literature that gives rise to expectations of future actions.

  5. The form in which benefits can be taken.
 
The first Overriding Principle leads to a general constraint on SPL in that it will declare annual bonuses only if it believes it can do so without undue risk to its solvency. If the SPI Fund has no, or very little, surplus of its own, there is likely to be no annual bonus.
 
4.7 (2) (B) SPL has several different series of with-profits units. Bonus rates may vary between series, and within any one series the rate for units allocated to life assurances may be different to the rate for units allocated to pension plans. Certain series also offered ‘initial’ units which were to be subject to higher charges, and correspondingly lower bonus.
The factors that have caused different series to be thought necessary or desirable have been:
 

(i) The relevant business was to be subject to a different tax treatment.

(ii) The underlying guarantees were to be different.

(iii) The policies to which the units applied were issued in the UK or Ireland (as Irish branch business).

 
Units denominated in UK and Irish currencies respectively will have investment returns based on the hypothecation of assets described above.
 
4.7 (2) (D) The SPI Fund is not currently open to new policyholders, but the factors referred to in 4.7 (2) (B) would be relevant (amongst other things) to any decision on a new bonus class were the SPI Fund to be reopened. In any event, the ability of the SPI Fund to reopen is constrained by the Scheme.
 
4.8 (1) (A) Annual Bonus on conventional contracts in the SPI Fund is guaranteed once added, although the guarantee applies only at maturity and (usually) death. On early surrender there is no entitlement to the full nominal value of the bonus.
 

The contracts in the classes being discussed are usually long term. Life plans are contracts for at least 10 years, although some pension plans can be for shorter terms. SPL can, therefore, take a longer term view, often averaging experience over several years. The annual bonuses carry a guarantee once declared and so a conservative view (ie, an underestimate of likely surpluses) is appropriate. It follows that the annual bonuses are normally based on a deliberately low estimate of average results although during a period of high investment returns some of the excess may be used to declare a higher bonus. Any shortfall between the declared annual bonuses and the actual results can be covered by final bonuses (subject to smoothing).

SPL aims not to have rapidly varying annual bonuses, although this policy may be affected by experience - such as an unexpected period of poor investment performance. Accordingly, there must be an expectation that a roughly similar (but not necessarily identical) bonus rate to that in place at the time of the adoption of this document could be declared in the immediately following few years.

It is possible to calculate the bonus rate that would result from an estimate of future experience. SPL’s starting point for annual bonuses is the bonus supported by a low estimate of likely average investment returns and adjusted for tax and any non-investment factors that are thought likely to be significant. One such factor that can be important is the effect of any guaranteed options inherent in the contracts. Two examples of guarantees which might be allowed for are the guaranteed annuity options attached to some pension plans, and also the underlying guaranteed sum assured. The cost of this latter item has historically been much higher for business in class (ii) of section 4.2 than for class (i).

The groupings of policies indicated in 4.2 should normally expect to share an annual bonus scale within each of the groupings.

Recent economic experience will be relevant to the extent that for those contracts where a final bonus can be paid under the policy terms, SPL aim to keep an element of the potential benefit to pay in the form of final bonus. After a period of less favourable conditions, any margin for final bonus will have been reduced and one way of helping to rebuild the margin is to have a lower rate of annual bonus for a period. In particularly adverse conditions (as have applied in 2002 and 2003) the general constraint referred to in 4.7 (1) may apply. Conversely after a period of favourable experience and growing final bonuses, some of the potential for final bonus may be converted to guaranteed benefit by means of a higher annual bonus.

 

4.8 (1) (B) For the unitised business, Annual Bonus is the rate at which the unit price grows. It is declared in advance as an annual rate, although the unit prices are altered daily to reflect the declared rate. The starting point for Annual Bonuses will be the current expectation of the average long term investment return on the fund. From this will be deducted, for example:
 

(i) Any tax due. That is, SPL expects to reflect the tax differences between Life and Pensions, and between UK and Irish business.

(ii) An annual management charge as described in 4.4 (1) (B).

 

i. An allowance for a build-up of final bonus. The allowance will vary with the investment strategy. Typical current allowances might be 1% if all investments were in government fixed interest bonds, or 2.5% if 50% of the fund were in ordinary shares traded on the stock market.

ii. A further deduction may apply where there are higher guarantees (and so restrictions on SPL’s ability to apply MVAs).

 
Some units have guaranteed minimum rates of 4% on the pension units and 3% on the life units. These minimum rates should continue, even if other rates are zero. Some older pensions plans had ‘initial’ or ‘capital’ units allocated in respect of their first few monthly premiums. These carry an extra annual management charge which reduces the rate at which the price of these units grows, and in some cases may cause the price of ‘initial’ or ‘capital’ units to reduce.
 
4.8 (1) (C) Annual Bonus on deposit administration contracts in the SPI Fund is ‘guaranteed’ once added, although the guarantee applies in full only on application of the notional account to secure benefits for an individual member. The starting point for setting the annual bonus is the bonus that could be supported by a low estimate of likely investment returns. However, the term of the contract is inherently uncertain as it depends on the incidence of retirements and other events that give rise to benefit payments. A bulk transfer value payment may occur as a result of the occupational scheme being wound up or seeking alternative investments. Contributions to an occupational pension scheme will also vary from year to year, giving rise to unpredictable variations in the premiums paid. SPL therefore aims to set bonuses such that the level of notional account will, subject to the effect of any guarantees, be close to the Guideline payout amount, with a view to meeting the aim of 4.3 (1) (C). It follows that if asset shares are relatively low, annual bonuses are likely to be lower than those implied by a low estimate of investment return. Conversely when asset shares are relatively high bonuses are likely to be higher than those implied by a low estimate of investment returns.
 
4.8 (2) (A) For conventional business, annual bonuses are declared once a year. This annual declaration is a declaration for the policy year ending in the calendar year just completed.
 
4.8 (2) (B) For unitised business, the rates are set for the future. The time for which they will apply is not fixed and they are reviewed from time to time. There will be a review at the time of the annual declaration for conventional business. There will also be a review in the middle of the year, although this mid-year review is less likely to lead to a change in rate. In principle the rate can be reviewed at any time, but reviews more often than twice a year would be exceptional.
 
4.8 (2) (C) For deposit administration business, the annual bonus rates are declared once a year and apply to the policy year ending in the calendar year just completed.
 
4.8 (3) (A) Subject always to the general constraint referred to in 4.7 (1), SPL would not expect to change an annual bonus rate on any of the conventional classes by more than the larger of a change in the percentage rate of 1, or 25% of its previous value.
 
4.8 (3) (B) Subject always to the general constraint referred to in 4.7 (1), SPL would not expect an annual bonus rate on any of the unitised classes to change at any one resetting by more than the larger of a change in the percentage rate by 1, or 25% of its previous value. Where there has been more than one change in any calendar year the normal limit for aggregate change for the year would be the larger of a change in the percentage rate of 2, or 40% of the value at the end of the previous year.
 
4.8 (3) (C) The annual bonus rates on the deposit administration business are normally declared as a percentage addition to the relevant rate of guaranteed increments which are themselves defined as a percentage of the notional fund. Subject always to the general constraint referred to in 4.7 (1), SPL would not expect to change an annual bonus rate on deposit administration business by more than the larger of:
 
  1. 30% of the relevant rate of guaranteed increment, or

  2. 2% of the notional fund.

 
4.8 (4) (A) On the conventional classes included under (i) and (ii) of 4.2, the annual bonus declared applies for years in the past. SPL may declare an interim bonus to apply for claims arising during the year on account of the current period for which no bonus has yet been declared. This is most commonly set at the same rate as the most recent declared rate, but it may be set at a different rate if there is an expectation that the next declared rate will be at a different level.
 
4.8 (4) (B) The concept of interim bonus does not apply to the unitised business.
 
4.8 (4) (C) On the deposit administration business, the annual bonus declared applies for years in the past. SPL may declare an interim bonus to apply for claims arising during the year on account of the current period for which no bonus has yet been declared. This is most commonly set at the same rate as the most recent declared rate, but it may be set at a different rate if there is an expectation that the next declared rate will be at a different level.
 

4.9 Sections 4.10 and 4.11 cover SPL’s approach to setting final bonus rates. Final bonuses are adjustments made to the claim value of a with-profits policy which is terminating in whole or in part.

Final bonuses may be declared on all unitised policies and on those conventional policies in classes (i) and (ii) of 4.2.

For deposit administration contracts, SPL would not normally expect to declare final bonuses as the approach to annual bonuses is designed to produce payouts close to the Guideline amount for these contracts.

The framework for the SPI Fund’s bonus policy is set by the Scheme, and the following Principles and Practices should be read with that context in mind.

 
4.10 The Scheme provides that final bonuses will be set having regard to the intention that payouts on maturity, vesting and surrender should be determined by reference to asset shares (as determined in accordance with the Scheme), subject to the application of smoothing (in accordance with the Scheme).
 
4.10 (A) The subsections (i) and (ii) below of this section describe the Principles that apply to the setting of final bonus for the contracts in the correspondingly numbered subsections of section 4.2.
 
4.10 (A) (i) Where, at the maturity date of an endowment, the guaranteed sum assured and the annual bonuses added over the years are materially less than the Guideline payout amount already described, then SPL will seek to reduce (but not necessarily eliminate) the gap by declaring, subject to smoothing (see Smoothing section below), a scale of final bonuses.
 
Whole life contracts and endowment contracts that become death claims will be given the same final bonus rate as applies to maturing endowments that have been in force for the same period.
 
4.10 (A) (ii) These are pensions business. For the SEDA contracts the benefit available at the normal retirement date is an annuity payment. For the E-type contracts the benefit available at the normal retirement date is a choice between a cash fund and an annuity payment, with conversion rates between cash and annuity which are fixed in the policy conditions and which may not reflect the economic conditions at the time of retirement. The general principles for setting final bonus are as for endowment policies in (i) above except that the Guideline payout amount is compared with a representative cash sum which represents the value of the benefits to be taken into account for determining final bonus. For the SEDA contracts the relevant cash sum is the cost of purchasing the annuity benefit on SPL’s current immediate annuity premium rates. For the E-type contracts the relevant cash sum is the cash fund.
 
4.10 (B) For unitised business the term ‘final bonus’ can be interpreted in two ways. Each policy will have certain occasions when a negative amount cannot be applied, but for surrender at other times the ‘final bonus’ can be negative or positive (or zero). A positive adjustment is normally called a final bonus and a negative adjustment a Market Value Reduction (MVR). The same methods and principles apply in both circumstances except that the target percentage of the Guideline payout amount may differ on surrender.
 
The overall aim is to pay out over time something close to the full amount of the net investment return to policyholders as a class (subject to smoothing), but this may be modified as indicated in 4.3 (1) (B) and 4.4 (1) (B).
 
4.10 (2) (C) Under a deposit administration contract, benefits are taken principally by securing benefits for members of an occupational scheme as they retire at various times during the lifetime of the contract. Bonuses payable on the eventual termination of the policy would be inappropriate as most of the members’ benefits would have already been secured.
 
4.11 (1) (A) (i) For life policies (class (i) of 4.2) the final bonus is currently declared as a percentage addition to the sum assured and accrued annual bonuses. SPL will calculate for a representative policy for each term of maturing endowment the theoretical final bonus rate required to match the payout to the Guideline payout amount. SPL may then adjust the theoretical figures to give a reasonably smooth progressive scale. The aim of the adjustments will not be to alter materially the overall amount to be paid, but only to produce a reasonably regular scale.
 
Recent economic experience is already reflected in the calculation of the Guideline payout amounts and may be further reflected in the degree of Smoothing applied (see sections 4.12 to 4.14 below).
 
Policies becoming claims by death are currently awarded the same rate of final bonus as maturing endowments of the same completed duration (if there are such policies). For terms below 10 and for very long terms there may be no maturing policies and in these cases SPL project any apparent trend from the terms at which matures are occurring. Lower rates of final bonus may apply to endowment policies surrendered before the maturity date or to whole life policies that are surrendered, as opposed to becoming a claim by death.
 
4.11 (1) (A) (ii) For pension policies (class (ii) of 4.2) the final bonus is declared as a percentage addition to the sum assured and accrued annual bonuses. The method used to set the scale is similar to that described in 4.11 (1) (A) (i) with the following differences:
 
  1. In calculating the theoretical final bonus rate SPL will use the representative cash sum described in 4.10 (A) (ii).

  2. Calculations are carried out separately for regular premium and single premium policies and for the SEDA and E-Type contracts. Separate final bonus scales are set for regular and single premium policies, in each case aiming for average rates that are reasonably representative of SEDA and E-type policies.

 

Recent economic conditions can affect the scale in three ways. It affects the calculation of the Guideline payout amount, it may affect the calculation of the representative cash sum and it may be a factor affecting the application of Smoothing.

Lower rates of final bonus may be paid to policies where a benefit is being taken at dates other than those on which guaranteed benefits apply under the policy.

 

4.11 (1) (B) For unitised business a model is maintained which calculates a roll-up of premiums. Two sets of calculations are carried through. One is a roll-up at the rates of annual bonus rates that have applied over the years and the other is a roll-up at the achieved investment returns. The investment return used is net of charges, the cost of guarantees (as described in 6.4) and, where relevant, net of tax. The investment return may also be net of a deduction for the costs of charges and expenses where SPL judges such a charge to be appropriate. The return in any one calendar year (other than the current year) is deemed to have accrued evenly over the year. This implies a degree of investment smoothing on the way in. Calculations are performed separately for units allocated in various periods. These unit allocation periods generally correspond to calendar years but may be shorter, for example where investment returns have varied particularly widely or rapidly.

The primary output from the model is the ratio that the roll-up at the net investment return bears to the roll-up at the bonus rates. Where this ratio is greater than 1.000 there is potential for a final bonus and where the ratio is less than 1.000 there is theoretical justification for an MVR. The overall aim is to pay out over time something close to the full amount of the net investment return (after the deductions referred to above) to policyholders as a class, subject to smoothing. The neutral value of 1.000 for the ratio may be departed from when the 100% factor discussed in 4.3 (1) (A) and sections 8 and 10.4 is departed from.

Different scales also apply to contracts subject to different tax treatment and to contracts denominated in different currencies.

Within each scale of final bonus or MVRs a different rate may apply to each of the unit allocation periods referred to above.

When a new scale of final bonus or of MVRs is set the aims are:

 
  1. To set the scale at levels such that no individual policyholder is more than a few percentage points away from the theoretical result.

  2. To set a scale that shows a modest bias towards longer term policies. This is justified as longer term policies have contributed more to the stability of the fund.

  3. To set a scale that tends to be progressive – that is longer term policies tending to get a higher level of final bonus or less severe MVRs.

  4. To limit the size of change at any one review. Changes in excess of 10% in the payout level should be exceptional. There is, however, no limit on the frequency of reviews.

 

There will often be some conflict between these aims, particularly following periods when large stock market movements have been recorded. Aim (a) would normally be taken as having priority over (b) or (c).

Small MVR percentages (less than 5%) will often not be imposed unless there is evidence of larger than average surrenders or, perhaps, as part of a tailing off in a scale where higher rates exist.

4.11 (2) Unitised business scales of final bonus and of MVRs are set by the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee. Whenever a new final bonus scale is set, a new MVR scale accompanies it with there being no units subject to both final bonus and MVR. However, if conditions deteriorate and management decides to introduce a new MVR scale, without there being a new final bonus scale, it is possible that there will be units to which both an MVR and a final bonus would apply. The calculation systems will apply both rates and produce a net result.

4.11 (3) As a general rule the amount payable on a conventional policy that is being surrendered or transferred up to a few years before the date on which the guaranteed benefits apply will be aimed at achieving a Guideline payout amount based on an asset share calculated similarly to 4.3 (1) (A), but normally using a percentage figure of asset share that might be up to 10% less than that used for maturing policies.

4.11 (4) (A) SPL currently reviews the scales of final bonus twice a year for conventional policies, although it reserves the right to review them more frequently should there be a material alteration in the economic conditions or the current assessment of the financial position of the SPI Fund. For this purpose a material change would normally be one that might affect the Guideline payout amounts by 10% or more.

4.11 (4) (B) SPL currently reviews the scales of final bonus twice a year for unitised business, although it reserves the right to review them more frequently should there be a material alteration in the economic conditions or the current assessment of the financial position of the SPI Fund. The unitised business is treated as incorporating less smoothing than conventional business and for this purpose a material change would normally be one that might affect the Guideline payout amounts by 5% or more. The MVR scales are checked more frequently, although many reviews do not lead to a change in the scale.

 
Smoothing
 
4.12 Sections 4.13 and 4.14 cover SPL’s approach to smoothing. Smoothing means that the amount paid or allocated as bonus may not be exactly equal to the Guideline payout amounts. There are two elements to smoothing:
 
      1. smoothing changes over time in asset shares when making payouts; and

      2. smoothing differences in payouts between different vintages of policies within policy classes.

 

4.13 The framework for smoothing is provided by the Scheme. According to the Scheme PFM, payouts at maturity, on vesting and on surrender of SPI Fund With Profits Policies will, subject to any minimum guaranteed amounts, be determined by reference to asset shares (as determined in accordance with the Scheme) and will be smoothed having regard to the smoothing policy employed by SPI before the effective date of the Scheme so as to avoid, other than in exceptional circumstances, excessive differences in payouts on similar policies over short periods of time.

The following Principles and Practices should be read in the context of this framework.

4.13 (1) SPL may differentiate in its smoothing policy between claims of different types, in particular:

  1. Early surrenders may be treated differently, and often less favourably, than maturity or death claims.

  2. Unitised contracts will be subject to less smoothing than will apply to conventional business.

 

4.13 (2) SPL is required by the Scheme to manage bonus policy with the overriding aim to distribute all the surplus of assets over liabilities in the SPI Fund over the remaining lifetime of the with-profit policies in the SPI Fund. To this extent, smoothing must therefore be neutral over the lifetime of the fund. SPL has not adopted any specific shorter time period over which it will aim for smoothing to be neutral.

4.13 (3) SPL believes the total cost or scale of smoothing over the shorter term should be kept small in relation to the size of the fund.

4.13 (4) (A) Other than in exceptional circumstances, SPL expects to base any decision to change the surrender bases for conventional with-profits policies primarily on whether Guideline payout amounts are sufficient to support the payouts resulting from the current scale.

A percentage adjustment such as is referred to in 4.3 (1) (A) may apply, although the percentage is likely to be lower than would be applicable to a date on which guaranteed benefits would apply. Secondary influences may include the rate of surrenders in the fund and the overall level of surplus in the fund (and considerations similar to those noted in 4.3 (1) (A) apply).

4.13 (4) (B) Other than in exceptional circumstances, SPL expects to apply MVRs for unitised business based primarily on a comparison of the Guideline payout amounts with the annual bonus additions. The percentage adjustment referred to in 4.3 (1) (B) may apply and may differ from that which would be applicable to a date on which guaranteed benefits would apply. Secondary influences will be the rate of surrenders in the fund and the overall level of surplus in the fund (considerations similar to those noted in 4.3 (1) (A) apply).

4.14 (1) The speed at which SPL might adjust the value of with-profits policies will not be affected by any rule that smoothing requires to be neutral over any specific time period other than over the life of the fund. On a short to medium-term basis SPL is more likely to be influenced by the degree of over or under-payment in current payouts and the aggregate result of previous smoothing. As the overall resources of the fund are limited, any over-payment to one group of policyholders has the result that there is less available for other groups of policyholders. If SPL believes the current payouts are potentially a material drag on the likely future payouts to policyholders remaining in the fund it is likely to adjust the value of current payouts quite rapidly.

4.14 (2) For the purpose of 4.13 (3) ‘small’ is currently taken to be 5% of the fund.

4.14 (3) (A) SPL seeks to apply different strategies for certain different classes of policy.

For policies in classes (i) and (ii) of 4.2, the aim will be to return the actual payout levels to the Guideline payout amounts by making changes to the bonus scale that will result in immediate changes to the amount of payout that will result in most, if not all, of the gap between actual payout and Guideline payout amount being eliminated.

4.14 (3) (B) For unitised business the strategy for smoothing is similar to that described in 4.14 (3) (A), but subject to the proviso that because there is a more frequent checking of the position for unitised contracts, it is probable that in a period of particularly adverse conditions the unitised scales might be changed sooner, and possibly also more frequently, than might apply to the conventional business.

4.14 (3) (C) For deposit administration business, the aim of smoothing will be to return the value of the notional account to the Guideline payout amount by setting annual bonus rates which would achieve this aim over a period of 3 to 5 years on a low estimate of future investment returns on the assets notionally hypothecated to this business

4.14 (3) (D) As a general rule SPL expect to take a more generous view when applying smoothing to contracts that have been in force for at least ten years than to contracts that are leaving the fund earlier. This means that longer term policies are more likely, and early surrenders less likely, to gain from smoothing.

4.14 (4) The current approach to changes in value at any one review of bonuses has been indicated in 4.14 (3) (A) to (D). SPL would not expect the change over a whole year to be more than might result from two reviews in one year for conventional and deposit administration business, or from three reviews in one year for unitised business.

4.14 (5) (A) Our general approach to surrender and transfer bases for conventional business is to adopt formulae which approximately reproduce the Guideline payout amounts described in 4.11 (3).

4.14 (5) (B) SPL’s approach to surrender and transfer values for unitised contracts is based on setting final bonus and MVR scales that approximate to within 5% of the Guideline payout amounts at the time the scale is set. SPL would normally expect to review the scale when it became aware of a shift in the theoretical scale of 5% or more, although at times of very rapid fluctuations in asset values this 5% limit might be exceeded.

4.14 (5) (C) The calculation of the transfer value of a deposit administration contract which has been in force more than 5 years is on a prescribed basis specified in the policy document. All such policies currently in force have been in force for at least 5 years.

4.14 (6) Where a partial payment is made under a policy in circumstances where no penalty can apply (most commonly where there is ‘income’ from a with profit bond) and there is, in consequence, an overpayment relative to the appropriate Guideline payout amount any cost is charged against the fund and not against the individual policy concerned. Policies taking advantage of such guarantees do not therefore have their own costs taken into account when the policy finally becomes a claim for the full remaining benefit, other than in respect of the way in which such costs have a general impact on the fund.

 
5. Investment strategy
 

5.1 The framework for the SPI Fund’s investment strategy is set by the Scheme.

The Scheme states that:

(i) the investment policies for the SPI Fund shall be determined by the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee having regard to the recommendations of the Actuary and the nature of the liabilities of the SPI Fund; and

(ii) the policies shall seek to maximise the investment return earned on the assets in the SPI Fund while recognising the need to safeguard the SPI Fund’s financial security.

 

The following Principles and Practices should be read in the context of this framework.

5.2 (1) The SPI Fund currently aims to invest in a broad range of asset types which may include bonds, equities, property, cash and alternative investments.

‘Bonds’ includes fixed-interest investments issued by the UK and overseas governments and non-governmental bonds (for example, those issued by companies).

‘Equities’ includes ordinary shares issued by U.K. and overseas companies.

‘Cash’ is taken to include bank deposits and short-dated commercial paper.

‘Alternative investments’ include hedge funds, but use of these may be constrained by the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee. Credit quality is controlled by investment guidelines.

The aim of the strategy is prescribed by the Scheme - see paragraph 5.1(ii) above. SPL believe that the consequence of this is that it should aim:

(i) to achieve security for the guaranteed benefits through choice of asset mix, widely diversified risk and matching of expected cash flow from the investments with the projected cash flow required to meet required payments to policyholders; and

(ii) (as a secondary aim) to maximise the return, consistent with acceptable risk.

The degree of matching between assets and liabilities will depend upon the level of surplus assets within the fund. Where a large surplus exists a higher level of exposure to ‘real’ assets (equities and property), which have a less predictable, but potentially higher, future cash flow than bonds or cash, will normally be maintained. If there is no, or only a small, surplus matching will be closer with a lower exposure to ‘real’ assets.

The part of the SPI Fund’s assets notionally hypothecated to UK business includes a high proportion of investments denominated in sterling currency, while that part notionally hypothecated to Irish business includes a high proportion denominated in Irish (Euro) currency.

 

5.2 (3) Where a mis-match between assets and liabilities represents a risk to SPL’s overall solvency, assets to hedge those risks may be purchased and held either inside or outside the SPI Fund. This applies both to equity risk and to interest rate risk (for example with respect to the interest rate risk arising from guaranteed annuity options).

In addition, where a negative view is taken by SPL of the immediate progress of equity values is taken, additional hedging of short-term equity exposure may take place within SPI Fund. This could involve purchasing put options (say for maturity a number of months in the future) or by purchasing collars at nil cost. (A ‘collar’ is a bought put option in conjunction with a sold call option.)

Derivatives may also be used to implement policy decisions where this would be efficient portfolio management.

At the time of writing, the SPI Fund has entered into hedging arrangements which are intended substantially to reduce the SPI Fund’s market-risk exposure to certain guarantee costs. These arrangements may be altered, replaced or terminated in the future.

 

5.2 (4) The acceptable risk profile of SPI Fund has been assessed at the level of the hypothecation of assets described in above, but other than this SPL have not imposed any further constraints on the investment strategy to apply to particular parts of the fund.

5.2 (5) SPL aim always to keep assets within the counterparty limits set by financial regulators and may impose on the fund stricter limits, where it is judged to be prudent. More details of current practice can be found in 5.3 (4).

5.3 (1) Any transfer of assets to SPI Fund would be made only after the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee had received a report from the Actuary that he was satisfied that the financial support being provided to the SPI Fund was in the interests of the SPI Fund policyholders. From an accounting viewpoint, such asset transfers would be valued taking into account the chance of recovery and the likely amounts and timing of recovery. This would not, however, prevent actual recovery being great or less if prospects changed.

5.3 (2) The SPI Fund investment strategy is currently reviewed by management monthly.

5.3 (3) If the level of statutory surplus is high and a positive view was held of the future values of real assets, exposure to real assets could also be higher. At weaker levels of solvency cover SPL would move progressively towards closer matching of liabilities by assets whose return is more certain. In the last few years, the solvency cover in the SPI Fund has been weak.

5.3 (4) Counterparty limits are set based upon counterparty credit ratings, or SPL’s assessment where no published ratings apply. The relevant exposures are calculated based upon the value of all investments excluding assets and liabilities of dependants, but including all debts. Derivatives, the value of units in collective investment schemes and its trade investments are specifically excluded from this calculation.

Investment guidelines are kept under regular review and may vary in the light of changing financial conditions, industry developments and the Overriding Principles. The guidelines on asset allocation as at the date of this PPFM were as follows:

 

 

Percentage

 

 

Equities

25 - 40

Real estate

0 -15

Fixed interest

35 - 55

Alternative assets

0 - 5

Cash

5 – 20

 

This therefore requires that a minimum of 5% of the fund is held in cash at all times.

As at the date of this PPFM, the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee has limited use of hedge funds to a maximum of 5% of the fund.

Credit quality is controlled by investment guidelines.

 

5.3 (5) The use of new investment instruments would require prior approval in principle from the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee.

5.4 There are no material holdings of assets in the SPI Fund that would not normally be traded because of their importance to SPL, nor is it currently expected that there will be in the future.

 
6. Business risk
 

6.1 Although it is primarily an investment fund, the SPI Fund also assumes significant insurance risks and also bears some of the risks borne by any trading company. This section of the PPFM covers the exposure of with-profits policies to business risks.

6.2 With-profits funds are typically exposed to risks arising from:

 
  1. other with-profits policies;

  2. non-profit policies; and

  3. more general business risks arising from investment in connected companies.

 
As noted in the following sections, the SPI Fund is somewhat different to the typical pattern.
 

6.3 The SPI Fund will not normally undertake any business risks other than those resulting from maintaining and acquiring with-profits policies. The SPI Fund is not currently accepting new policyholders, so such business risks will in future be restricted largely to those arising from maintaining (and having acquired) existing with-profits policies, and from associated activities and the past - such as risks associated with investments made in the ordinary course of business. Also, the SPI Fund is exposed to business risks taken on prior to demutualisation (for example, potential mis-selling). Other investments, such as investment in connected companies (eg investment management companies, service companies or overseas subsidiary insurance companies), would normally be made either directly by the shareholder or from outside the SPI Fund. Any proposal for any such material investment by the SPI Fund would be considered by the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee and by the Actuary.

In the unusual event of SPI Fund agreeing to any such investment, or where such investments already exist within the fund, then all profits and losses from such investment would be earmarked for the SPI Fund. The management of, and the risks and rewards from, non-profit policies are outside SPI Fund and could affect the SPI Fund only in the extreme event of the insolvency of the whole of SPL.

6.4 The SPI Fund has operated since demutualisation, and the Scottish Provident Institution operated for many years before demutualisation, a system of notional ring-fencing with the ring-fenced portfolios of business being the UK and Irish business, and within each of these the deposit administration business and the other SPI Fund business. This ring-fencing is long-standing practice, but not legally watertight in the event of insolvency of the fund or of SPL.

The Scheme constituted the SPI Fund, the Special Fund and the Non Profit Fund as separate sub-funds of the Long Term Fund of SPL and states that the SPI Fund shall provide no financial support for any other sub-fund except the Special Fund. However, the establishment or maintenance of the sub-funds is ‘for the purpose of establishing policyholder entitlements from time to time and shall not be taken to limit the availability of all the property from time to time of SPL to meet the liabilities which it is obliged by law to meet’.

Hence the ring-fencing of the sub-funds is not watertight in the event of the insolvency of one of the sub-funds or of SPL.

 
Treatment of guarantee costs
 

As explained in section 5, at the time of writing, the SPI Fund has entered into hedging arrangements which are intended substantially to reduce the SPI Fund’s market-risk exposure to certain guarantee costs.

These arrangements may be altered, replaced or terminated in the future. The hedging arrangements may not cover all guarantee costs. To the extent not covered, guarantee costs will be met through a deduction from the investment return available to be applied to all asset shares within the SPI Fund.

Currently no explicit, fixed charge for guarantees is levied and before introducing any such explicit charges for guarantees we would communicate this fact to policyholders, the proposal having previously been commented on by the FSA, and approved by the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee and by the Abbey Board in its capacity as Governing Body.

 
6.5 SPL has not established a formal monetary limit to the taking on of business risk by the SPI Fund, but the general statements in 6.3 apply and any such risk is expected to be small in relation to the overall size of the fund. Any costs arising from business risks will be borne by the fund (or part of the fund) which took them on and expects to profit from them if the experience is favourable. Risks taken on prior to demutualisation (for example mis-selling which took place prior demutualisation) will normally be deemed to have transferred to the SPI Fund and may be charged to the SPI Fund. Risks taken on after demutualisation (other than normal insurance risks directly associated with the conventional with-profit policies) are normally outside SPI Fund, in particular mis-selling which occurred after demutualisation would not be charged to the SPI Fund.
 

6.5A Regarding the allocation of risks taken on after demutualisation, the Scheme provides that such risks will be met by the SPI Fund where they are "properly attributable" to the SPI Fund in accordance with the principles underlying the Scheme or such an attribution is "fair and equitable", having regard to policyholders’ reasonable expectations.

6.6 (1) SPL has no formal monetary limits for the taking on of business risk in the SPI Fund, but the general statement above that this would be done only in rare circumstances applies.

6.6 (2) Where any profits or losses did arise these would belong to the SPI Fund and would either (exceptionally) be allowed for as a specific adjustment to the investment return for the year, or (normally) would affect the residual size of the inherited estate and hence the guideline payout amounts. (See also the following paragraph. This is discussed at more length in section 8)

6.6 (3) Profits and losses from business risks within the SPI Fund will normally be taken as affecting the size of the inherited estate. This implies a large degree of smoothing with any benefit to individual policies emerging over many years. Profits and losses arising on business outside the SPI Fund, for example profits from non-profit policies, fall to the shareholder and will not affect with profits policies.

6.6 (4) Accordingly, all profits and losses from business risks within the SPI Fund have at least some effect on the size of the inherited estate. Only very large profits and losses would be treated other than as an addition to or deduction from the estate.

6.6 (5) There is a degree of segregation of liabilities as described in 6.4. Within any notionally segregated portfolio there is pooling across all categories of policy, except that within the conventional pensions classes the further sub-categories listed in 4.2 (i) and (ii)) which are treated as different bonus series are separate, although to the extent that costs cannot reasonably be borne within the class they may be charged initially to the estate and hence, indirectly, to other classes.

 

The unitised business participates only in the investment and financial experience, but this may include the cost of guarantees as described in 6.4. The conventional business shares also in other elements of the insurance experience, including expenses and mortality.

Charges and expenses are discussed more fully in the next section. Within classes there are no particular risks borne by particular generations of policyholder.

 
7. Charges and expenses
 

7.1 This section of the PPFM covers the way in which SPL applies charges and apportions expenses in respect of the SPI Fund. Most of the costs are initially incurred within related service companies and then recharged to the SPI Fund.

7.2 The Scheme provides that there shall be charged to the SPI Fund only such part of the total costs, liabilities and expenses incurred by SPL as the Actuary and the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee consider fair and equitable, having regard to policyholders’ reasonable expectations. The Scheme then goes on to set out in detail the charges to be borne by the SPI Fund in the 10 years following demutualisation in order to fulfil this requirement.

7.2 (1) (A) The overall aim of SPL’s approach to applying charges in respect of the conventional business is to charge only that part of the actual expenses of SPL (including any incurred indirectly and recharged to SPL) as can be fairly and equitably attributed to the management of the conventional business, having regard to policyholders’ reasonable expectations and the relevant provisions of the Scheme.

7.2 (1) (B/C) The approach is different for the unitised and deposit administration business. For these class of business there were stated levels of charges disclosed in the product and marketing literature (although there are provisions that would allow SPL in certain circumstances to alter these levels). For the unitised classes the overall aim of SPL is to levy charges at these levels.

7.2 (2) (B) There is also an explicit annual management charge payable by SPI Fund to the SPL Non Profit Fund in respect of the Unitised With Profit Business.

 
The circumstances which might lead SPL to increase the levels of annual management charge would be an overall increase in the costs of managing the business which was making it uneconomic, or unprofitable, to continue the policies on their existing basis. SPL would also expect to consider the basis on which other similar companies were charging. Any such change would be subject to the provisions of the Scheme.
 
The implicit annual management charge which is currently taken into account in determining Guideline payout amounts is however lower than the explicit actual charge to SPI Fund, having been fixed at the level which applied before demutualisation. The excess of the actual amount over that taken into account in determining the Guideline payout amounts falls to be met from the SPI Fund estate.
 

7.2 (3) (A) SPL does not currently foresee circumstances in which it would expect to depart from the principle that the conventional with-profits business should be charged according to a fair and equitable attribution system based on actual incurred costs, subject to the provisions of the Scheme, the latter including the specified charges which apply in the 10 years following demutualisation.

7.2 (3) (B) The charges for the unitised contracts arise from:

  • A Bid/Offer spread – that is units may be sold to policyholders at a higher price than is used to buy them back.
  • Policy fees charged by cancelling units.
  • Charges for insured mortality and morbidity risks charged by cancelling units
  •  

    The effect of these charges on policyholder benefits is in principle the same as if the policyholder had elected to invest in investment-linked units within the SPL Non Profit Fund, rather than with-profit units. There may be profit margins in the charges which accrue to the Non Profit Fund of SPL.

    SPL does not currently foresee circumstances in which it would seek to increase the bid/offer spread.

    Many of the policy fees charged have a standard provision that they are reviewable annually (in some cases specifically in line with increases in Retail Prices or National Average Earnings). SPL expects to implement such changes, with the aim of keeping charges broadly in line with increases in costs.

    In most cases, charges for insured mortality and morbidity risks may be reviewed. SPL would expect to review these from time to time to reflect emerging trends in mortality and morbidity.

     

    7.2 (3) (D) SPL would expect for all policies to take action on charges and expenses to reflect adverse changes in the external fiscal or regulatory environment, subject to the provisions of the Scheme.7.3 (1) (A) The principles stated in 7.2, 7.2 (1) (A) and

    7.2 (3) (A) apply to all Conventional With Profit business.

    7.3 (1) (B) The charges currently applied to unitised business are at the rates or on the bases indicated in the original disclosure, save where they have been uprated in accordance with the original disclosure. The explicit annual management charge that is charged to the SPI Fund is 1% of the value of the units. The implicit annual management charge taken into account in determining the Guideline payout amounts is 0.60% in respect of Life units and 0.85% in respect of Pensions units. To the extent that the explicit charge exceeds the implicit charge, the balance is in effect charged to the estate and hence ultimately to all with profit policyholders. This continues the pre-demutualisation practice.

    7.3 (2) (A) In determining the Guideline payout amounts the aim is to use expenses per policy that, if applied across the whole of the fund, would give an aggregate expense close to the actual charges and expenses borne by the fund. In the 10 years following demutualisation, the per policy expenses used are the same as those used to determine the actual charges.

    7.3 (2) (B) On the unitised business, the charges reflected in the Guideline payout amounts are the same as the actual charges with the exception of the annual management charge which has been fixed at the level current immediately prior to demutualisation.

    7.3 (3) (A) SPL does not currently foresee circumstances under which the charges attributed to SPI Fund in respect of the conventional business would be based on anything other than the actual costs charged to the SPI Fund

    7.3 (3) (B) On the unitised business, the charges levied are based on disclosed rates of charging. The charges are transferred out of SPI Fund and the corresponding actual expenses are then also borne outside SPI Fund. The charges include margins which allow SPL to operate these classes of business at a profit, with this profit accruing to the shareholder. SPL expects to continue with the current basis of charging which is not based on actual costs, the difference between charges levied and actual costs being a profit or a loss for the shareholder.

    7.3 (4) The administration and investment management in connection with the policies in SPI Fund are outsourced, which may be to connected companies in the Abbey National Group or to third parties. SPL believes that these agreements are currently on fair terms and reviews these terms from time to time, but not to any fixed timetable. Contracts are subject to normal third party terms and can be cancelled on giving appropriate notice.

    7.4 (1) The initial and renewal expenses attributed to the SPI Fund are those prescribed by the Scheme for the 10 years commencing 1 August 2001. After expiry of this period SPL expects to charge to the SPI Fund the expenses fairly attributable to or fairly apportioned to the SPI Fund, and that these will be assessed using the methods outlined in 7.4 (2) below.

    7.4 (2) The method used to judge how to attribute expenses within the SPI Fund is a two-stage process. The first stage is to split the total actual expenses into broad categories such as new business costs, ongoing maintenance costs, policy termination costs and general costs. There is a more detailed breakdown within each of these. The second stage is to apportion each of the categories between different classes of business. The appropriate measure for apportionment will vary; for example administration costs might be split by numbers of policies but investment expenses are more likely to be related to the value of the policies. The underlying criteria in making any decisions about apportionment is to select the most appropriate basis which SPL believes is the fairest for customers as a whole.

     
    8. Management of the inherited estate
     
    8.1 An insurance company may have more, or less, money in its with-profits fund than it needs to meet the Guideline payout amounts for all the policies included in the fund and to cover any necessary reserves and provisions (perhaps for guarantees) and other liabilities. Such an excess or shortfall is called an inherited estate, and this section describes SPL’s Principles and Practices on the management of any such inherited estate.
     
    8.2 (1) SPL will manage any positive inherited estate as part of the SPI Fund and for the benefit of policyholders in that fund. SPL will manage the impact of any negative estate with the aim of eliminating it, whether immediately or over a longer timescale.
     

    8.2 (2) SPL will apply any positive or negative inherited estate in the SPI Fund as an adjustment to the payout amounts available to policyholders in accordance with the Scheme, aiming to eliminate any inherited estate equitably (subject to any minimum level which may be required directly or indirectly by the Financial Services Authority, or considered necessary by SPL for the prudent management of the Fund). The aim is to produce the result that after all sums falling to be paid in respect of policies invested in the fund have been so paid no inherited estate shall remain and SPI Fund shall cease to exist.

    8.2 (3) The Principle in 8.2 (2), when combined with the fund not being open to new policyholders, means that the over the long term the target level of inherited estate is effectively zero, and at any given time the target level is determined by the regulatory and prudential requirements.

    8.2 (4) The implications of SPL’s preferred scale of inherited estate is that if SPL believes there to be a positive inherited estate, the percentage factor described in 4.3 (1) (A) may be set at more than 100 or the adjustment referred to in 4.4 (1) (A) may be an enhancement, or both. Conversely, if SPL believes there to be a negative inherited estate, the percentage factor described in 4.3 (1) (A) may be set at less than 100 or the adjustment referred to in 4.4 (1) (A) may be a reduction, or both.

    8.2 (5) Any positive inherited estate within the SPI Fund is reserved (by virtue of the Scheme) for the sole benefit of the SPI Fund as indicated by 8.2 (2). SPL expects to manage other with-profits funds so that any inherited estate within those funds is also used primarily for policies invested in those other funds.8.2 (6) SPL is constrained in its use of any inherited estate in SPI Fund by the Scheme. The effect of the constraints is summarised in 8.2 (2) above.

    8.3 (1) If the SPI Fund is in surplus, subject to the terms of the support mechanism set out in 10.4 below and any other support arrangements from time to time, the following management actions would, for example, be considered (which could be combined or operated separately):

    1. enhance payouts to policyholders invested in the SPI Fund;

    2. make immediate enhancements to asset shares;

    3. make future enhancements to asset shares on the basis of a defined profile of future augmentations;

    4. use to meet the cost of honouring guaranteed benefits for policyholders in the SPI Fund where the guaranteed benefits are higher than the Guideline payout amounts;

    5. allow the surplus to roll forward in the SPI Fund as an estate - it would then act as the first resort for any future deficit and in the meantime, while it constitutes surplus, it would be available to meet risk based capital requirements (see further section 10 below);

    6. use for bearing valuation strains incurred in writing new business in the SPI Fund (valuation strains arise where the required reserves and provisions for a new policy exceed the funds immediately available from the premiums after expenses have been paid - such strains can normally be recovered as the policy ages); and/or

    7. use to cover miscellaneous losses attributable to the SPI Fund.

    And conversely, any underpayment below the guideline amount, any recovery of valuation strain and any miscellaneous profits would be put to the credit of the estate.

    8.3 (2) Any inherited estate is managed along with the rest of SPI Fund and does not follow any different investment strategy, but this may not always be the case.

    8.3 (3) SPL does not have any explicit guideline in place for the size or scale of any inherited estate, other than those which may be implied by regulatory or prudential considerations. However, the Principle contained in 8.2 (2) above has the effect that the size of an inherited estate whether positive or negative will tend to reduce over time and will be reduced to zero over the lifetime of the fund.

     
    9. Volumes of new business

    The SPI Fund is currently not open to new policyholders although some policyholders have rights to effect increments and SPL has no current plan to re-open SPI Fund, although it reserves the right to do so. Some existing group policies for pension schemes also contain right to effect increments for existing members and rights to add new members. Such new members are admitted and increments are issued if requested, either as additions to existing policies or as new policies, but no other new business is being written.

     
    10. Equity between the SPI Fund, the Special Fund and the shareholder
     

    10.1 Although most of the money in SPI Fund is earmarked for policyholders’ benefits, the shareholder of SPL also has certain rights. This section of the PPFM aims to cover the approach to maintaining the balance between these conflicting interests. At the time of writing there is, effectively, only one shareholder as SPL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abbey.

    10.2 (1) (A/C) On the conventional and deposit administration business the shareholder is entitled to transfer out of the fund an amount equal to one-ninth of the value of bonuses allocated to policyholders.>

    10.2 (1) (B) On the unitised business, the shareholder has no rights to participate in the profits of the with-profits business. The shareholder’s rights are limited to taking the charges and expenses discussed in Section 7 above.

    10.2 (1) (D) The principles in (A) and (B) above are laid out in the Scheme. The shareholder could agree to take less than the share indicated in (A).

    10.2 (2) Any proposal to amend these profit-sharing arrangements to the detriment of policyholders could be undertaken only after prior publicity to policyholders, discussion with applicable regulators and approval by the courts.

    10.2 (3) Where the SPI Fund seeks to, or in reasonably foreseeable circumstances might seek to, rely on support from the shareholder (and then if the shareholder has decided to provide support, which it is not obliged to do) then some constraints on SPI Fund activity (for example on the investment activity) are likely to be required to give due weight to the interests of those (usually the shareholder) with alternative claims in normal circumstances on the funds providing support to the SPI Fund. Any such constraints would be imposed only after a report from the Actuary and the approval of the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee.

    10.2 (4) The SPI Fund is entitled to receive out of the Special Fund an amount equal to one-ninth of the value of bonuses allocated to policyholders in the Special Fund.

    10.3 (1) The current basis on which SPL divides profit in the SPI Fund between policyholders and the shareholder is that the shareholder does transfer its one-ninth of the value of bonuses added to conventional and deposit administration policies.

    Likewise the SPI Fund does receive its one-ninth of the value of bonuses added to policies in the Special Fund. This does not have a direct effect on the shareholder, but may have a small indirect effect in that it may increase the surplus in the SPI Fund.

    The basis of calculation of the value of annual bonuses added is that the value is calculated on whatever basis is used for the annual statutory valuation that reveals the surplus out of which the annual bonus is declared.

    Interim and final bonuses added to claims (whether by death, maturity or surrender) on conventional policies are included in the amount on which the one-ninth is calculated based on the amount added to the claim value. The transfer is then made as a cash amount.

    It is first necessary to determine the profit available to be divided in the SPI Fund and in the Special Fund. This is determined by the SPI Fund Supervisory Committee after taking actuarial advice. The Actuary in framing that advice will have valued the assets and the liabilities, determined a surplus and then considered whether part of any surplus ought to be carried forward as a reserve to provide for future uncertainties, rather than being immediately divided.

    10.3 (2) If the valuation basis is altered (and there is an annual bonus), or if the surrender value basis is altered, then this would be reflected directly in the value attributed to the bonus and hence in the amount transferred to the shareholder from the SPI Fund, or from the Special Fund to the SPI Fund.

    10.3 (3) Other factors that might affect the balance between the shareholder share and policyholders’ share include, but may not be limited to:

     
    1. Tax. This would have an indirect effect only in that the levels of tax levied on the fund are one of the factors helping to determine the rates of interest used in the statutory valuation.

    2. Distributions in anticipation of a surplus. Generally this covers amounts added as interim or final bonus at the time of a claim, rather than as annual bonus. Amounts added to conventional policies as annual bonus result in a transfer to shareholders during the life of a policy, but bonus added at time of claim results in a transfer only at the end of a policy’s life.

    3. Mix of business. The proportion of distributed surplus allocated to the shareholder will vary if there is a change in the mix of business or a difference in the relative amounts of surplus distributed to different classes. The underlying proportions of one-ninth of the conventional and deposit administration bonus and nil of the unitised bonus will not alter, but if the share of surplus allocated changes between the classes then the shareholders’ one-ninth will be calculated on a different proportion of the total.

     

    10.3 (4) The company is not currently writing new policies, other than increments to certain existing policies where there is an obligation under the policy conditions to continue to accept such additional premiums.

    There are certain minor classes where the benefits offered are priced on what now appear to be over-generous terms, causing a strain on the fund. These policies are not currently being awarded any bonus, but if they were then the shareholder transfer would add to the strain. Although these strains might be described as systematic, the volume of business written is not such as to make the strain significant.

    10.4 (1) SPL holds capital in respect of certain risks that the SPI Fund may be exposed to. This is called Risk Based Capital or RBC. Part of the RBC may be held within the SPI Fund and part within the Non Profit Fund of SPL. In this document, we have called these types of RBC the Inside RBC and Outside RBC.

    At the time of writing, all the RBC is held as Outside RBC. The amount of Outside RBC is limited in amount and the governing body of SPL is not obliged to provide further Outside RBC in excess of that amount.

    This section of the PPFM briefly summarises how RBC works, and the relationship between the Inside and Outside RBC.The realistic balance sheet for the SPI Fund will be recalculated at each future period end as required by legislation (when finalised), or more frequently if considered appropriate for the prudent management of the SPI Fund.

    At the same time, the RBC requirement of the SPI Fund will be reassessed. The following approach will be applied in dealing with surpluses or deficits in the SPI Fund and, with them, changes in RBC:

     

    (i) As is normal in the day-to-day operation of a with-profit fund, fluctuations in the realistic position of the SPI Fund will, in the first instance, be dealt with by appropriate management actions. For example:

    (a) by reassessing the policies and practices of the SPI Fund (e.g. asset mix, investment policy); and/or

    (b) by reassessing the level of discretionary benefits which can be paid to policyholders.

    (ii) Recourse would then be had to the Inside RBC (if any). (iii) Then, except as contemplated by 10.4 (2) below, the Outside RBC may only be drawn down into the SPI Fund when:

    (a) no further management actions may lawfully be taken; and

    (b) the SPI Fund cannot support the guaranteed liabilities on some or all of its policies,

    provided that Outside RBC may, in certain circumstances, be drawn down by the SPI Fund where the governing body of SPL, with the agreement of the Supervisory Committee (after consultation with the Actuary), determines that it would be inappropriate to take all available management actions (we call this a draw down on a Facultative Basis). It is not possible to determine now what those circumstances will be because they will depend on the conditions at the time, including the size and causes of the deficit, whether that deficit were considered temporary or permanent, the outlook for the SPI Fund going forward and all other circumstances.

    (iv) Unless the governing body of SPL, with the agreement of the Supervisory Committee (after consultation with the Actuary), otherwise determines, if any Outside RBC is drawn down and a realistic surplus subsequently emerges, Outside RBC is to be repaid by the SPI Fund before benefits are increased.

    (v) From the date of this PPFM onwards, a "realistic" deficit arising would be addressed by one or more of the following actions:

    (a) a change to the asset mix or investment policy of the SPI Fund, such as a reduction in the proportion of the assets invested in equity or property;

    (b) changes to the operation of the SPI Fund consistent with the policy and other provisions and the need to treat policyholders fairly;

    (c) a gradual reduction in asset shares in the future by means of a reduction going forward in the investment return otherwise credited to policies by a pre-determined amount each year; and/or

    (d) an immediate reduction in asset shares (applied either uniformly or according to the elapsed length of time on the policies).

     

    If a realistic deficit arose, the governing body of SPL, with the agreement of the Supervisory Committee (after consultation with the Actuary), would choose the appropriate combination of actions set out above taking into account all the circumstances including, without limitation, the size and causes of the deficit, whether that deficit were considered temporary or permanent and the outlook for the SPI Fund going forward.

    For example and by way of illustration only (but without limiting the ability of SPL to take any of the other actions referred to above), a smaller, temporary deficit may be addressed by a reduction in the proportion of the SPI Fund invested in equities below the then current level and/or combination of future yearly reductions in investment return.

    Again without limiting the ability of SPL to take any of the above actions, a larger, more permanent deficit might be addressed by permanent reductions in the proportion of the SPI Fund invested in equities and/or immediate asset share reductions.

    Similarly, at each point that RBC is reassessed, the possible changes to practices within the SPI Fund and potential management actions in relation to future discretionary benefits in adverse scenarios would also be reassessed.

    This means that provided there was scope for changes to practices or the ability to make future reductions that could reduce the amount of RBC needed, the policyholders would not need to suffer the consequences of such immediate actions to provide any increased RBC requirement but would implicitly be providing such RBC.

    10.4 (2) As well as calculating the solvency of the SPI Fund on a ‘realistic’ basis, we calculate solvency on a ‘statutory’ basis.There will be a statutory deficit in the SPI Fund if the ‘statutory value’ (determined in accordance with applicable regulations) of the assets allocated to the SPI Fund is lower than the ‘mathematical reserves’ in respect of all the business in the SPI Fund.

    The solvency rules which apply to life companies are expected to change on the date on which the proposals contained in FSA Policy Statement 04/16 "Integrated Prudential Sourcebook for insurers" (June 2004) enter into force (with or without modification or addition). We have called this date the PS 04/16 Effective Date.

     

    If a statutory deficit exists or arises on or after the PS 04/16 Effective Date, sufficient Outside RBC will be drawn down into the SPI Fund to meet that deficit. That amount will be held in a special account called the ‘Statutory Capital Support Account’ (or SCSA).

    Should there be a need to draw down Outside RBC for one of the reasons contemplated in 10.4 (1), and the SCSA is in credit, then the Outside RBC requirement will first be met through a debit to the SCSA.

    Only if there are insufficient funds in the SCSA will further amounts be drawn from the Outside RBC held in the Non Profit Fund.

    If a statutory surplus subsequently emerges, the governing body of SMA may determine that such surplus should be used to repay any amounts standing to the credit of the SCSA to the Non Profit Fund.

    10.4 (3) The SPI Fund is to be run without having regard to the availability of the support arrangements described above.

     
     


    Phoenix Life Limited, trading as Phoenix Ireland, is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules.