What our clients say
Areas of expertise
Venetia is an experienced professional trustee, with a broad portfolio of pension schemes ranging in asset size from £100m to £6bn, and covering occupational defined benefit, hybrid and defined contribution schemes. She also works with a master trust and two independent governance committees overseeing workplace personal pensions.
An experienced pensions lawyer and ombudsman before joining LawDeb, Venetia’s particular areas of expertise are:
- Working with trustees to improve board effectiveness and better use of advisers
- Negotiating and project-managing complex transactions involving multiple parties and competing interests
- All aspects of governance, and the legal, regulatory and tax framework for operating occupational and personal pension schemes
- Member engagement and effective communication, to improve retirement outcomes
- Dispute resolution, ombudsman processes, litigation and court procedures, involving members, trustees, employers and/or professional advisers
- Led for the Trustee board in reaching a satisfactory final settlement with a sponsoring employer and its parent company in relation to a longstanding funding negotiation involving the Pensions Regulator, which included a material cash settlement, and a strengthened covenant through a change in sponsoring employer and a parent company guarantee
- As a member of the actuarial valuation subcommittee, recently successfully negotiated a 150% increase in employer contributions in circumstances where the covenant was strong but there was significant corporate resistance to increasing the funding to the scheme; together with agreeing a secondary funding target and de-risking triggers.
- Handled a multi-party scheme merger proposal led by an overseas parent seeking to consolidate its UK pension arrangements, in which there were a number of complex issues to be considered, such as proposals to weaken the trustee’s powers, potentially detrimental covenant implications, and differing funding levels and investment strategies.
- Sitting on three investment sub-committees, she has been involved in various portfolio re-shaping and de-risking exercises, including introducing LDI, increasing hedging ratios, and improving VAR (value at risk) through reducing equity exposure
- Member of joint working party with sponsor, selecting, negotiating and successfully transitioning >£300m defined contribution assets from a hybrid occupational scheme to a master trust provider, in order to facilitate members having direct access to ‘at retirement’ solutions, online tools for pension planning, and enhanced communication channels to promote greater employee savings and engagement
- Led for the Trustee board in successfully negotiating two financial settlements with administrators following identification of errors with material implications for the scheme and affected members
- Represented an independent governance committee of a major pension provider on an industry-wide steering group conducting research on members’ perceptions of value for money in contract-based pension provision, aimed at leading to improvements in the quality of the service and product offering of all major UK pension providers
Professional roles and qualifications
- A qualified (non-practising) solicitor and associate member of the Association of Pension Lawyers
- Former Council Member of the Society of Pension Professionals (SPP)
- Member of the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) Central London Group