£1 Billion Longevity Swap to Cover Broker’s Former Staff

The pension scheme for staff at broker Willis Towers Watson has announced it has entered into a longevity swap to cover £1 billion of its potential liabilities.

Willis Pension Scheme has agreed the transaction with Munich Re which will cover pensions in payment in the Scheme and provides long term protection for the Scheme against additional costs resulting from pensioners or their dependants living longer than expected.

The transaction covers around 3,500 Scheme members.  The longevity risk has been transferred to the reinsurer via a Guernsey based captive insurance company fully owned by the Trustee of the Scheme, established under Willis Towers Watson Guernsey ICC Limited.  This is part of Willis Towers Watson’s Longevity Direct solution which allows pension schemes to use a ‘ready-made’ incorporated cell company to access the reinsurance market.

Ian Aley, Head of Transactions at Willis Towers Watson and lead adviser, said: “The longevity swap market is currently very buoyant and represents an opportunity for pension schemes such as the Willis Pension Scheme to manage a material risk whilst retaining the flexibility to achieve the required investment returns to complete their journey plan. Completing this transaction despite some challenging circumstances following the recent lockdown demonstrates how collaborative working can deliver outstanding results”

Peter Routledge, Chair of the Willis Pension Scheme, said: “I am delighted that the Trustee has taken a first and significant step to ensure that our members’ benefits are secured against future improvements in life expectancy, supplementing the Trustee’s wider risk management program to protect the Scheme against investment and demographic volatility. The transaction was concluded effectively, enabling us to access the longevity swap markets whilst pricing was attractive relative to Scheme funding. Having considered the options for accessing the reinsurance market we concluded that Longevity Direct offered the best value solution for our Scheme.”

Martin Lockwood, Head of Longevity at Munich Re, said: “This transaction demonstrates Munich Re’s experience and commitment in the Longevity market and its ability to adapt to a challenging working environment.”

In the first six months of the year, Willis Towers Watson has been the lead adviser on both longevity swap transactions amounting to £11bn and £3.1bn of bulk annuity transactions across 13 pension plans that have completed this year.