020 3740 0111

Having clear objectives for your suppliers is critical to judge how well they are performing. We support the setting of a clear strategy, supporting objectives and roles and responsibilities for your scheme, so that all suppliers understand what is expected of them and how performance will be measured.

How can you tell if you are getting the best possible service from your suppliers for the budget that you are willing to spend? An independent assessment of the service which can consider both qualitative and quantitative aspects, as well as looking at value for money, can help identify areas for improvement across all parties involved.

Undertaking a full market review can be a daunting process. We bring our broad knowledge of the market place and potential suppliers to the selection exercises, helping our clients make confident decisions about the suppliers they wish to partner with. In a world of gate keepers and ringmasters, we are facilitators helping you build relationships that can stand the test of time.

Muse AdvisoryDC Consultant

Muse AdvisoryMaster Trust

Muse AdvisoryActuary

Muse AdvisoryAdministration

Muse AdvisoryFiduciary Manager

Muse AdvisoryLegal Adviser

Muse AdvisoryInvestment Consultant

Muse AdvisoryAuditor, Communications and Covenant

Muse AdvisoryAdviser Consolidation

Case Studies

Choosing your Covenant Adviser

Our client found themselves needing to select a new Covenant Adviser but feeling unsure of how to go about it and unaware of what was on offer in the market.

Read more

Conflicted advice

Our client’s covenant provider had just been appointed to provide advice to the sponsoring employer. The Trustee were not happy with the potential conflicts in this and decided it was time to change. The Trustee and the executive support team had limited knowledge of the market for covenant advice, and wanted someone to guide them through the process, make sure they were seeing the right advisers, asking the right questions and avoiding the sales and marketing that can so often obfuscate the realities of working with an adviser.

We were appointed because we can help our clients make a good decision, supported by a process that elicits the information they need to make that decision.

The selection begins

The first step was to help our client understand the market and the options available. We helped them obtain relevant information, not the standard marketing brochures that they received after direct approaches, and segmented the market for them. Broadly, there are the specialists, the consultancies and the large accounting firms. By providing our insights and knowledge of each, we helped the client select the shortlist of firms that represented the best likely match for them.

Through discussion about the market and the providers, we were also able to draw out the elements that were particularly important to the Trustee. This formed the basis of the selection criteria and requirements against which providers would be judged. In this instance, it was an understanding of regulated markets that would set them apart.

A request for proposal was issued, and the responses analysed. This is an area where clients find our input most valuable. We read the responses and provide a summary, which highlights the key strengths and weaknesses of the responses, but also brings our insights and perspectives from outside of the material that has been provided. For example, how does covenant advice fit within Integrated Risk Management.

Next, presentations were held. Surprisingly, the presentations were generally weak, perhaps the market is not used to presenting against the sort of brief that we provided. We want to make sure that our clients see their potential providers in a meeting scenario, so presentation briefings focus more on these attributes and aspects, rather than letting providers drive the agenda, accentuate the positive and gloss over the weaker areas. 

Decision time

Our process enabled the Trustee to determine the right provider for them, in terms of the services being provided, their understanding of the client and regulated markets, but, perhaps most importantly, the way they would work with the client.

The thinking and discussion that goes into the requirements, shortlisting and criteria mean that bidders have a much clearer idea of what is wanted from them, and the client receives responses that are geared to what they need.

Key learnings

  • Our market commentary provides some insight that clients find useful. We have a full understanding of what they do, and how it fits within Integrated Risk Management and regulatory requirements.
  • Putting the effort in at the start of the process, in defining requirements, considering the shortlist and the selection criteria, can reap rewards later in the process.
  • Issuing a presentation brief to providers helps to make the most of the time spent with them and avoid a glossy sales pitch.

Reviewing Full Services

After a long relationship with their provider, our client had decided it was time to consider their options. There were some cracks appearing, but they were not aware of what the market was offering: that's where we came in.

Read more

Relationship trouble

Our client had been with their full services provider for over 15 years and enjoyed, on the whole, a good relationship. However, more recently some strains had started to appear and frustrations were building. The Trustee began to feel that they were not hearing the best thinking on investments and funding. They were concerned that fees were no longer competitive and that they were not an important client.

The problem our client faced was in knowing how to address these issues and what was available in the market after 15 years of development and change. That is why we were appointed: to bring the Trustee up to speed with the latest offerings and find a provider that would bring fresh views and work well with the trustee.

Broadening horizons

We facilitated a discussion on the service requirements, which helped the Trustee identify specific issues and focus on how they liked to work with their adviser, and how the relationship should work. We were able to challenge the existing ways of working and help them start afresh.

We then managed the selection process. We approached a broad range of firms to ensure the client saw the full spectrum of offerings in the market and options for their future relationship.

For us, selecting a new adviser is about the relationships between client and provider. Our role is to ensure that there are opportunities to build relationships, see what the provider would be like to work with and ensure that the Trustee are satisfied that a provider can meet their requirements. To do this, we held a series of calls with candidates and issued an RfP, we facilitated a decision based on that initial contact with providers and progressed on to presentations.

Presentation is a bit of a misnomer. It is important that the client and any potential provider work well together and have a similar culture. Therefore, our approach was to run a mock trustee meeting. We set a scenario agenda that covered the full range of services, allowing candidates to approach as they would at a real meeting.

It was interesting for the Trustees to see the range of approaches that were taken and to hear some, essentially, free advice! It gave a good feel for what the relationship would be like and how well the two parties would gel in practice.

A Brighter Future

The Trustees were surprised by what they saw: electronic governance software, asset-liability modellers and transactional member websites! The Trustees were not receiving any of these and had some eye-opening discussions with the providers on funding, investment and integrated risk management approaches.

The Trustee found themselves in a bit of a bind: two strong candidates and a split vote for the preferred candidate! From our point of view, this was fantastic news. It was great to know that we had found two providers that were such a good match as to make the decision impossible.

However, a decision was reached and a new provider was appointed.

Key learnings

  • It is important to regularly take stock of your relationship with advisers and ensure that you are seeing the best of what they can offer. This is particularly necessary where you are receiving full services, so do not have any readily available point of comparison.
  • The market is competitive, but the tools and technology are similar with advantages and disadvantages to each provider’s offering. The focus of a market review should be on relationships and working together, and not give undue weight to the flashy tools that providers might choose to emphasise. 
  • Having a clear set of requirements and an idea of your preferred ways of working can help inform the shortlist and the criteria by which a decision can ultimately be made.

What our Clients Say

"We appointed Muse through a competitive tender to support our actuarial selection process as a result of the thoroughness of their approach, their deep knowledge of the market and value for money. Their support was invaluable in helping us to concentrate on what would make the difference for us from our Actuary so that we could make the selection from some very strong candidates. The team was flexible and approachable; they managed the project for us professionally to ensure that the candidate firms were well briefed and engaged with the project. Muse played an important part in enabling us to select a firm best suited to our requirements and ways of working."

Richard Raggett, Trustee Secretary,
States of Jersey Pension Schemes

"Muse were able to understand the different styles and requirements of our two Trustee Boards and guide them both through a process, which resulted in a robust decision having carefully considered the right sort of provider and the requirements of the service. Their insights into the market and broad understanding of the part covenant advice plays in integrated risk management was invaluable in evaluating the market, and their facilitated process helped maximise effective use of pensions staff and trustee time."

Kate Fraser, Secretary to the Trustees,
ScottishPower and Manweb Pension Schemes

Our People

View Profile For Ian McQuade
View Profile For Ian McQuade

Ian McQuade

I have 30 years’ experience across pension scheme management and administration, governance, project management and review, selection and implementation work.

View Profile

What do you do?

I help our clients run their pension schemes more effectively. That might be leading projects to improve the administration or management of their pension schemes, supporting them in setting the Company or Scheme’s strategy, or just helping them deliver complex projects. As a Director, I also do a lot to promote the business to new prospects and support the day to day management.

What is your background?

There have been three themes to my life in pensions. Firstly, the administration and management of pension schemes – in the dim and distant past I ran the operations for a large Third Party Administrator. Secondly, all things DC – I first got involved in Money Purchase schemes when contracting out was introduced in 1988 so I have seen it grow into Defined Contribution. And finally, Project and Programme Management – I have led all sorts of projects covering administration, valuation and investment aspects of pensions, as well as many wider change and HR projects.

What do you bring to Muse?

A lot of practical experience from having run and been involved in the running of pension schemes, from the very largest in the country to some of the smallest that exist, for getting on for three decades! An ability to engage with stakeholders at all levels, a ‘get-it-done’ attitude, and underneath the playful exterior, a deep understanding of the market.

What do you do for fun?

It’s not always fun, but I am one of the legion of MAMILs that plague the countryside at weekends. For the uninitiated, that’s Middle Aged Man In Lycra. Sorry for that image! I tend to enjoy the rides up to about 65 miles, but it gets much harder after that. The upside is the lovely countryside, the great company and the fabulous coffee and cakes!

Email Ian McQuade
View Profile For Jo Fellowes
View Profile For Jo Fellowes

Jo Fellowes

My expertise spans project and change management, pensions governance, administrator and adviser reviews and data integrity.

View Profile

What do you do?

I joined Muse in 2015 as a Senior Associate and became part of the employee team as a Consultant in 2017. My responsibilities and role is varied, which I love. I can find myself supporting a client with an administration provider review at one moment and consulting on pension management effectiveness and Trustee governance the next.

What is your background?

I started my career in the Pensions and Reward industry in 2000, progressing through various roles in administration, project management and client service management. Simultaneously I gained my BSc in Economics and Mathematical Sciences, along with various other vocational qualifications including certificates in natural sciences, interior design and I also became an NVQ assessor.

I have also worked at British American Tobacco as a Pensions Project Manager, with responsibilities across provider management, risk reduction, data rectification, communications and governance. After covering maternity leave for the UK Pensions Manager, I also became involved in HR projects and was later promoted into HR as the UK Talent and Organisation Effectiveness Manager.

Of course during this time I continued to study, completing my MBA and CIPD. I left BAT in 2014 and travelled and volunteered overseas as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language, before joining Muse early in 2015.

What do you bring to Muse?

My experience has spanned both provider and in-house management on behalf of Trustee and the employer, giving me insight of the different agendas and challenges facing each. As a life-long learner, I am also adept at assimilating and analysing information quickly. But my real passion lies in helping clients identify, design and implement project and change management solutions.

What do you do for fun?

I absolutely love to travel, explore new places and try new and adventurous activities. My most extreme adventures were tornado chasing in the USA, and a skeleton bob in Lillehammer, although my most recent pursuits are a little less risky and include glider lessons, art classes and cake decorating. I am a runner, albeit perhaps a little too prone to injury, and when I’m fit I also enjoy hiking and generally being outdoors. And of course, I’m still planning on more study!

Email Jo Fellowes
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

View Profile

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.

Email Damon Lacey
View Profile For Rosanne Corbett
View Profile For Rosanne Corbett

Rosanne Corbett

I specialise in pensions and benefits governance, trustee effectiveness, workshop facilitation, change projects and risk management.

View Profile

What do you do?

My work is varied; from trustee effectiveness reviews, facilitated workshops and risk management to reviews of the DC market and provider selection exercises. Managing projects is something I like to do and I have managed them on both sides of the fence, which gives me a good perspective on what clients want.

What is your background?

I became an international employee benefits consultant with Mercer in 1999. My language skills were useful, having lived in Germany. I helped multinational companies design and implement their employee benefit structures, choose the right providers and communicate with employees. I have led benefit audits, multinational pooling implementation and global governance and risk management projects.

From global, I moved to local and became heavily involved in UK-specific pensions and trustee governance as the Pensions Act 2004 came into force.

What do you bring to Muse?

My get up and go. A former colleague once described me as a “completer finisher”, someone to depend on to get the job done. I am a perfectionist in nature and if I’m doing something, I will do it to the best of my ability and make sure it meets, and ideally exceeds, expectations. I have a thirst for learning (I’m doing a physics degree in my spare time) which means I like to challenge and push the boundaries.

What do you do for fun?

I love the outdoors. In the day time, you might find me horse riding, walking my dog and trying to entice my children to come along. My passion is amateur astronomy, so at night, I’ll be found in the garden, eyes glued to the sky.

I love art and have dabbled at Chelsea School of Art only to realise that my enjoyment lies in painting for pleasure. I'm also vice chair of the governing body of a school. Being a governor has made me appreciate the time and energy that trustees need to commit to do a good job!

Email Rosanne Corbett

We are Members of