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Your administration agreement forms the framework for the relationship, but can be a weighty document. Our common sense and pragmatic approach ensures the aspects of most relevance to the day-to-day operations are clearly defined, easily accessible in schedules and are appropriate to you.

Negotiations and commercial discussions can be tough. An independent party can help deliver the hard messages to your administrator, allowing you to build a positive relationship.

Regular benchmarking and review of your contractual terms is good practice. Services change and relationships evolve, and this needs to be reflected in revised terms. We bring an outside perspective on your agreement to help you see the wood for the trees.

We co-wrote the PMI’s Key Principles of Administration Agreements. We are acknowledged experts and can bring our knowledge and market experience and ideas to support your negotiation.

Muse AdvisoryRenewal and Negotiation Support

Muse AdvisoryDevelopment of Contract Schedules

Muse AdvisoryBenchmarking of Terms and Commercials

Case Studies

Approaching Renegotiation

When you approach the end of your current contract, it should not just be rolled over into a new term. It is important to ensure the contract is reviewed and refreshed. Read how we helped our client secure a much better contract.

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Setting the scene

Although it’s not a document anyone wants to be constantly referring to, the contract between Trustees and their administrator is crucial in governing the relationship. It is important that as a renewal approaches it isn’t just rolled over. It needs to be looked at afresh to make sure it still reflects what the Trustees need from the service, and the services actually being delivered.

Our client was approaching their contract renewal, and had gone through significant changes since originally outsourcing. The service hadn’t evolved in line with the changes to the scheme, and therefore they had some issues with the service. The administrator was acknowledging these and taking steps to remedy them. The causes were understood, although it was still a drain on our client’s time.

Our client wanted to know how to get the best from their administrator, and how the current contract could be developed to better support service governance and the relationship. We were appointed to use our experience of administration contracts and the administration market to identify what had gone wrong and why, how it might be fixed and how the contract could better reflect the Trustees’ needs.

Understanding your services

The core focus of the project was to get the perspectives of both parties on the services past, present and future. What had gone wrong? Why? What needed to change?

We spoke with the client for their take on the requirements, and we met openly with the administrator to hear their side of the story. Relationships are not one-sided and there are often things that clients do that make the life of the administrator harder than necessary. We also reviewed the existing contract against what we would expect from a modern administration agreement and in the context of what the client wanted from the service.

Following a series of conversations and a review of background documents, we were able to put together our thoughts and recommendations. We were able to give our client our views on the administrator, our suggestions for developing the contract and ideas on how best to approach the renegotiation.

The results

Although the client wasn’t necessarily considering a market review, it was a potential outcome. Undertaking a formal review of the contract and services does add some competitive tension to discussions with the administrator, and provides the extra incentive to meet the client halfway on some key issues.

This review was never a matter of cost for the client, and rightly so. It was far more important that they secure contractual terms that drive the right behaviours in the administrator, and reflect the services as they are today and accommodates what they may be in the future.

Having said that, our client was able to secure a healthy fee reduction alongside a revised team structure, a refreshed senior team supporting the account and a sea of change in key contractual terms.

But this wasn’t purely about the paper. The review has also helped the client and the administrator take practical steps to better address the historic issues, supported by the right contractual terms. This has all led to an improvement in the relationship rather than continuing friction or expensive and time-consuming market reviews.

Key Learnings

  • Contract renewals are an opportunity to review the contract, but it is important that the focus is not just on securing fee reductions. The contract needs to work for both parties.
  • Giving careful consideration to the services you have received, and the services you want to receive can help identify areas that may need changing in the contract.
  • Engaging openly with your administrator, whilst maintaining an element of competitive tension should increase the chances of securing the changes you are seeking.

What our Clients Say

"We engaged Muse, in advance of our administration contract renewal, to review the service and contractual terms and ensure we received overall value for money from our third party administrator. I was delighted with the outcome and the material improvement we achieved."

Geoff McKenzie, Head of Pensions,

Our People

View Profile For Damon Lacey
View Profile For Damon Lacey

Damon Lacey

My experience is in outsourced pensions management/ trustee secretarial, trustee governance software, administration and advisor reviews

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What do you do?

I am a Consultant and like to get involved in a range of different projects. My main focus has been administration reviews, selections and transitions and adviser reviews, but I have also worked with clients on governance and trustee effectiveness.

I oversee our comprehensive supplier research programme and our thought leadership, making sure that we bring our best thinking to our clients and the wider industry.

Outside of Muse, I am a member and Social Committee Chair for the PMI London Group Committee, and a co-opted member of the PMI's Development Committee. I am APMI and PRINCE2 qualified and am now working through an MBA.

What is your background?

I started out as a pensions administrator, before moving into their Trustee Executive Services team with Mercer where I provided outsourced pensions management, project management and secretarial support to clients.

My background has shown me a wide variety of projects and issues and given me a decent technical grounding having once sat and calculated pensions! 

What do you bring to Muse?

Well, apart from my wit (and sarcasm!), my practical experience of administration and governance allows me to speak with clients from the perspective of actually having done the work and knowing how the overall strategy filters down to the ground level.

Since joining Muse, I’ve built expertise on administration and the administration market. I drafted the PMI’s Key Principles to Administration Agreements, and lead on our triennial cost comparison survey, The Mercury Project.

What do you do for fun?

I’m currently grappling with the Portuguese language, having managed a reasonable level in Spanish. Other than that, you might find me reading, swimming, running or back in Portsmouth being Uncle to 6 exhausting kids.

I am Chair of Governors at a primary school in Kilburn, a charity Trustee for a local charity and foster cats for a local animal shelter.

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View Profile For Karen Cadman
View Profile For Karen Cadman

Karen Cadman

My specialities are pension scheme management, administration reviews and managing change projects.

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What do you do?

I joined Muse as a Senior Associate in 2012, and have focused on administration-related projects, supporting Trustees through important change. Specifically I have project managed administration selection and transition projects as well as supporting a large data rectification exercise.  I have also worked with clients seeking to review and improve the service from their administrator.

In addition to managing a range of stakeholders (and personalities!) and work-streams, my role has been to provide challenge and guidance throughout the projects.

What is your background?

I started my pensions life as an administrator in the pre-Maxwell, pre-computerised 1980s. Since then, I have worked as a Pensions Manager supporting schemes through significant change, including in-sourcing, changing administration systems and introducing new schemes.

Before joining Muse I was working in the Cabinet Office as Head of Civil Service Pensions, setting up new governance arrangements and then leading the client side of the move to a mutual joint venture for administration.

What do you bring to Muse?

I've been a client, and I worked with consultants. I bring the different view from that side of the fence, and can see things from the client's perspective.

I also bring a combination of calm common sense and humour to my work. Well, at least, I like to think so! Anyway, there's always my love of spreadsheets, which comes in handy.

What do you do for fun?

Wherever possible, outside of work you’re likely to find me outdoors.  As well as growing our own vegetables we are about to embark on beekeeping and are rapidly realising how much there is to learn about this.  Not being a fan of the gym, my formal exercise takes the form of Tai Chi, which is harder than it looks.  Informal exercise consists of tramping through the countryside in all weathers, accompanied by the dog.

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