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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 as much as I can. I work on a range of projects covering governance, administration, adviser reviews, trustee effectiveness, and everything in between!

Internally, I’m responsible for our supplier research and our thought leadership. So, I pen the odd article here and there and send the occasional tweet out into the unsuspecting world.

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 Membership and Commercial Development Committee. I am PMI and PRINCE2 qualified.

What is your background?

I started out in Mercer’s administration business, before moving into their Governance, Secretarial and Outsourced Pensions Management team in 2011.

My work has covered a wide variety including communications, MND processes, administration reviews, valuation negotiations, adviser selection and review, and business planning and strategy.

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 done to the ground level.

Since joining Muse in 2013, I’ve built my knowledge on administration, particularly focusing on costs and contracts. I drafted the PMI’s Key Principles to Administration Agreements, and was involved in The Mercury Project cost comparison survey that we run for large schemes.

What do you do for fun?

I’m currently grappling with the Spanish language and plotting my return to the cockpit of a Piper PA-28. Other than that, you might find me reading, swimming, ambling around London secretly lost but determined not to appear so, or back in Portsmouth being Uncle to 4 exhausting kids.

I am also a School Governor of a new academy school in Kilburn.

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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 since 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.

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?

I love to be outdoors which is lucky as my dog is also a fan of fresh air. We are currently being trained in agility, although I think he is mastering it more quickly than I am. We also like to go geocaching; a combination of rambling and treasure hunting. And my husband and I are attempting to tame our allotment and grow our own vegetables.

When I find myself stuck indoors I enjoy cooking (and eating!), knitting and learning French although not necessarily all at the same time.

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