Welcome to Essex Pension Fund
The Essex Pension Fund is one of 86 pension funds which make up the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). The LGPS is the largest defined benefit pension scheme in England and Wales with a fund value of over £340billion.
On its own, our Fund looks after 174,000 Scheme Members, over 740 Employers and is valued at over £9.5billion, placing us within the top 10 LGPS funds in the country.
The team itself is made up of over 60 members of staff and you’ll see further down in the bio’s what each team are responsible for. We’re very fortunate in that we have a wealth of knowledge and experience which is due in no small part to our staff wanting to build a career with us. The Director herself began working in the Fund over 35 years ago as an entry level employee. In fact if you add up the number of years our staff have worked with us it totals over 700 years, which is the equivalent to each team member having worked with us for over 11 years. That’s pretty impressive when you consider the average time someone stays working for the same company is around 4 years. Have a look at some of the things our staff have said about working here in the testimonials below.
As we’re called Essex Pension Fund, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we only look after our scheme members and employers who live and work in Essex. However, this isn’t true, we actually have over 44,000 pensioner members who we pay a total of £17million each and every month. Our pensioners don’t only live in Essex or the UK, we make payments to over 60 countries around the globe, ranging from the Caribbean to Cambodia!
A message from our Director:
“I am a firm believer in taking an holistic approach when it comes to the way we do things here in Essex Pension Fund. To help create the family friendly environment we have, we place an emphasis on flexibility and to strike the perfect balance between our work life and our home life. I like to encourage staff to move from team to team when opportunities arise so they can have a more rounded understanding of what we do whilst this also strengthens their knowledge and improves their overall skills.
There is no doubt in my mind that our staff are at the heart of everything we do. Without a talented and dedicated team we wouldn’t be able to provide the high level of service our scheme members and employers have become accustomed to. I can see the pride the team take in wanting to be friendly, understanding and knowledgeable when helping and guiding our scheme members, whether this is face to face, through telephone and MS Teams conversations, emails or traditional letters, we listen to the feedback we’re given through our surveys in order to continually improve what we do.
I remain enormously ambitious and I know the team share the same feelings and beliefs as me when it comes to delivering against the goals and standards we’ve set ourselves in our 3 year Business Plan and all our Fund specific Strategies.”
Jody Evans, Director of Essex Pension Fund
Have you ever thought about a career in Pensions?
Probably not… However, have you thought about a career in an environment where the people you work with make you feel welcome, supported and a valued member of a team? People who help make where you work a vibrant, fun, inclusive and innovative place to be? People who invest their own time to help you develop and be the best version of yourself? People who want to make a positive difference to the lives of over 174,000 Scheme Members and their communities?
If the answer is yes, then Essex Pension Fund (EPF) might just be the place for you. The Fund’s overall goal is to ensure pensions are paid to our Scheme Members when they fall due. This isn’t easy and all our teams who make up the Fund work closely to make sure this happens. So how do we achieve everything we have set out to do? Take a moment to look at how many teams we have and their main responsibilities by reading a brief overview which have been written by our Team Managers:
Customer and Contact Team
The Customer and Contact Team is the first point of contact for all Scheme Members, past and present, as well as over 700 Employers. We use various methods of communication to ensure we help answer any enquiries our Members or Employers have whilst utilising the team’s knowledge to help our Members understand their pension options so they’re able to make important and sometimes life changing decisions.
Our team is responsible for helping our Members investigate transfers into the Scheme of any pensions they may hold outside of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), as well as aggregating any pensions they hold with other LGPS Funds. We also calculate and provide estimates of their pension benefits to help with their retirement planning and we also provide information and guidance on how Members can increase the value of their benefit by purchasing additional pension.
In addition to this we are responsible for the maintenance of accurate Member records, and ensuring our data is always as up to date as it can possibly be.
As the world of digital communication is rapidly growing, it is also our responsibility to utilise and manage our Member Online service and dedicated inboxes.
Deferred and Pre-Retirement Team
The Deferred and Pre-Retirement Team is accountable for overseeing the successful transition of Scheme Members paying into the Pension Scheme to subsequently leaving the Scheme. This would generally involve calculating a deferred benefit or a refund of contributions specifically for those who had been active Members in any of the Police and Firefighter Pension Schemes and the LGPS.
On leaving the Scheme we advise Members of their options which includes the opportunity of transferring their pensions to another pension provider. If a Scheme Member joins another LGPS Fund, we also help them to investigate aggregating their LGPS pensions by joining them together. We also provide information for divorce purposes and assist with any other general information deferred Members of the Scheme may require.
This requires the team to not only work with Members and Employers, but also to liaise with other pension funds, financial advisers and solicitors to ensure that clear and accurate information is provided to all parties in a timely manner.
Our team also manages all death on deferment cases, working with the bereaved family to sensitively assess whether death benefits are due to the spouse or partner, and to dependent children.
The Retirement Team’s main objective is to ensure both our active and deferred Members in the LGPS, Police and Firefighter Pension Schemes receive payment of their retirement benefits promptly.
We work closely with our Members and their Employers to ensure there is a smooth transition from working life into retirement. As the Fund is the final link within the retirement process it is important that we develop and maintain a good working relationship with Employers and their payroll providers, making them aware of the information they have to provide and when they must provide it.
The Fund is often the only remaining relationship former staff members have with their previous Employer. Therefore, we play a vital role when individuals approach us seeking information or decisions concerning things such as early payment of their deferred benefits on ill health grounds. We are always mindful of the sensitivity surrounding our Members personal requests so we make sure we can guide them, and their former Employers through this process in an understanding way.
We pride ourselves in providing a bespoke, professional and friendly service, offering our Members the opportunity to discuss their concerns, answer questions and provide information in ways which best suit their needs. Whether their preferred method of communication is face to face, over the telephone or through email, we will help guide them through the entire retirement process.
Pensioner and Payroll Team
The Pensioner and Payroll Team are responsible for all processes relating to a Scheme Member from the time they begin to receive their pension.
This predominately involves processing death in retirement cases; from the point we have received a notification that our Scheme Member has died to working with the bereaved family to calculate ongoing pension entitlements for the surviving spouse or partner and any dependent children.
We will always act with sensitivity and compassion at this emotive time and aim to resolve any issues and arrange payment of any monies due as swiftly as possible.
We also conduct annual child pension eligibility reviews, annual injury pension reviews and resolve over/under payment of pensions amongst other processes.
In addition to this we are also responsible for running 6 payrolls each month along with all the associated tasks this brings (such as creating new payroll records, ceasing records, changing bank details, the BACS submission etc.). By running our own payrolls and not outsourcing this element of the role, we are able to provide a very professional and efficient service, paying over 43,000 pensioners each month with a total monthly amount of over £17 million.
System Development and Support Team
The System Development and Support Team are responsible for managing all aspects of the Universal Pensions Management (UPM) system (our bespoke pensions administration software system), including document, profile, security and process management.
We liaise with over 700 Employers and their payroll providers to onboard all new Members of the Scheme, and to update and maintain all records throughout the year, including processing monthly returns, pensions increase and annual allowance details each year, which allows us to generate the Annual Benefit Statements (which is a statutory requirement).
The team collates and reports data to team managers to ensure that relevant information about Scheme performance is reported to statutory bodies as needed, including for Actuarial Triennial Valuations.
In addition to this the team manages the online portals (Member Online and Pensions Online) and supports users to troubleshoot any issues they encounter with using the system. The Support Team also works with Civica to test new online facilities, and implement UPM system developments, updates and patches.
The Technical Hub works with team managers to ensure the correct interpretation of current and new Scheme regulations, and wider pensions legislation, to ensure our systems and processes remain fit for purpose.
The team liaises regularly with our peers and attend regional and national meetings to ensure we both influence and keep up to date with Scheme developments. The team also drafts responses to government consultations on the Local Government, Police and Firefighter Pension Schemes and is responsible for assessing the training needs of Fund Officers and co-ordinating its delivery.
The team is also responsible for the Fund’s Communications Policy and undertakes regular reviews of the guidance the Fund provides to Scheme Members and Employers, and also internally to our staff, to ensure it is consistent and up to date.
The Employer Team is responsible for the initial onboarding of Employers into the Fund, starting from the point that they first apply to join the Scheme. We manage and reconcile all contributions from them up until they leave the Scheme, at which point we will manage the cessation process from the Fund.
Our biggest responsibility is for funding arrangements. We manage and supply all information to the Funds Actuary, Barnett Waddingham, for various reporting requirements.
Currently every three years the LGPS is statutorily required to have a valuation to establish the level of Funding, this will then set new rates for the Employers each April after the valuation is complete. The Employer Team manage this process from start to finish.
The Compliance Team are responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Governance arrangements in place for the Fund’s Boards and Committee. Namely the Essex Pension Fund Strategy Board, Pension Advisory Board and the Investment Steering Committee.
Our team monitors the Fund’s achievements against objectives, management of risk and performance against Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to enable onward reporting to the Pension Strategy Board.
In addition, the Compliance Team are accountable for the monitoring of the Fund’s contracts with external suppliers.
The Investment Team are responsible making sure the money received into the Fund from its Scheme Members and Employers are invested effectively. To this end the team are responsible for shaping and implementing the Fund’s Investment Strategy over the medium (3 to 6 years) and long term (50 years). This translates into a range of activities including business as usual and projects across the asset portfolio, shortlist fund managers, custodians, operators and advisers during procurement processes, and analysing and monitoring investment performance across the asset portfolio along with oversight of the monitoring of all stakeholder activities (custodian, pool operator, fund managers and investment advisers).
The Team advises senior leaders and decision makers on the Fund’s Pension Strategy Board and Investment Steering Committee on both the Investment Strategy and other Fund Strategies and policies.
Accountable for influencing and furthering the interests of the Essex Fund within the group of partnering organisations which form the ACCESS pool, with particular reference to both the future design and implementation of the £40bn + pool’s sub fund layered architecture and the migration of fund assets now and in the future. The Team act as the interface between EPF, and the ACCESS pool including ACCESS Support Unit (ASU).
We take the lead and have responsibility for the oversight, translation of data and co-ordination of the Fund’s Annual Report and Accounts and all aspects of investment accounting, including liaising with internal and external auditors.
We haven’t any opportunities currently – please check back regularly for any updates.
Why choose Essex Pension Fund?
This is a great place to work and we’re all extremely proud of the work we do and the difference we make to so many people. EPF is one of the largest Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) funds in the country (we sit in the top 10 out of nearly 90 funds across England and Wales). The Fund is valued at just over £9.5billion, with over 740 Scheme Employers and 174,000 Scheme Members so it’s huge! We have a team of around 60 staff who all work closely together to make sure we do everything we promise to deliver.
Everyone in EPF encourages each other to succeed and there is a real sense of pride and commitment when it comes to wanting to perform at your best and making a difference. We’re a very approachable, caring and diverse team who help create a safe and friendly working environment. There are always development opportunities and if you are dedicated, have the drive and determination you can have a very rewarding career with us. Listen to what our staff say about working here…
“I really enjoy working in Essex Pension Fund as it’s a friendly and caring environment and my work life balance is perfect” – Mel
“If you are looking for a supportive and rewarding workplace then Essex Pension Fund is the place for you. I have always been made to feel like I am a valued member of the team and encouraged to be the best I can be. Not to mention the fact we are a very happy and welcoming office!” – Sarah Jane
“Essex Pension Fund have given me the opportunity to balance my family and work life perfectly which is really important to me.
Also knowing that I am listened to, have the opportunity to progress and understand where and how I fit in with the team as a whole is really reassuring” – Senita
“The Essex Pension Fund is a collaborative working environment, where everyone is treated with significance despite their role. One of my favourite things about working here is that, employee wellbeing is made a priority. Not only is flexible working available, which helps balance work, home life and studying (for those on the graduate scheme), but managers along with colleagues are very compassionate towards one another” – Yetunde
“For me, working for Essex Pension Fund you really are part of a team that contributes to all the Funds successes. I feel supported in all that I do and this support has enabled me to progress in my career. Pensions is forever changing but the Fund is very innovative and forward thinking – always looking at ways to improve the working environment which makes it such a great place to work” – Dan
“I have been in the Graduate programme since June, and I am really enjoying my time here in such a welcoming and supportive workplace!” – Peter
“Coming straight out of university, I feel like I am really being nurtured into ensuring I can do my new role to the best of my ability. As well as on the job training, regular check ins are arranged to see how I’m getting along. I am never made to feel like a question is a silly question; in fact I am always encouraged to ask questions. Overall, a system has been created where despite your background or personal ambitions, there is room for everyone to thrive” – Yetunde
“I have worked for the Fund for 4 years and it has truly been a wonderful time. I felt accepted as part of the ‘family’ from day one, making so many friends and looking forward to our next after work social or team event. Despite the rough edge that lockdown brought we all went out of our way to keep the bond and make others smile and not feel so isolated. We sent recipes and pictures of how wonderful or awful they turned out and pictures of kids and pets who were sharing our ‘lockdown laughs’ with the rest of the team. The last 4 years has flown by and I feel so lucky to be sharing my time with such lovely people” – Amanda
We’re evolving all the time and we want to make where we work the best it can possibly be. We’re always thinking of different ways for how, when or where we work, taking into account the needs of the business of course. We think it’s important to strike the right work life balance and to make EPF a place where people choose to work.
We’re a very flexible place to work with the majority of your time spent working from home (although you can work in the office more if this suits). Depending on the role you apply for, you may be required to attend the office up to two days a week and occasionally more if there is a business need.