View Vacancy -- Director of MRC Pensions

Open Date
15/05/2023, 09:30
Close Date
11/06/2023, 23:55
MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences
Within UKRI, the MRC seeks to improve human health through world-class research. With an annual budget of over £800 m, MRC provides support both to individuals, through fellowships and grants, and to institutions, such as the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and the Francis Crick Institute. The outcomes of our research span discovery science, improvements in public health and the development of new treatments for common diseases.   
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MRC - 1
£77,453 - £87,304 plus London allowance (£3,727 & £1,402)
Administration & Management
Full Time

Purpose of the Role

Have responsibility and oversight of the day-to-day operation of the Scheme, including funding, investment strategy and pension administration. Working in conjunction with the Pensions Manager, the Trustee Board, the appointed advisors: third-party pensions administrators: investment consultants; scheme actuary; solicitors and legal advisor; and its investment managers; to coordinate and ensure the successful operation of the funding, cash flow, regulatory compliance and day-to-day operation for the Scheme. Responsibilities include oversight of all aspects of servicing meetings of Trustees and its subcommittees.


The Director of MRC Pensions will take the lead in anticipating the effect on the Scheme of policy and legislative changes, and co-ordinate any changes to the Trust Deed and Rules, Scheme documentation, asset allocation and funding, website, and risk register. At all times be expected to work closely with UKRI as Principal Sponsoring Employer and the Chair of the Trustee Board, as well as key advisers.


  • Investment Subcommittee (ISC)
  • Triennial Valuation working group
  • Annual Scheme Audit
  • Overall stewardship of the Scheme

Key Areas of Accountability:

Leadership / teamwork / collaboration:

    • You will be responsible for extensive communications engagement with staff and members, produce scheme booklets as well as maintaining the staff pensions website
    • You should bring excellent stakeholder management, influencing and communication skills to the role, and the ability to build positive working relationships with a range of different contacts.
    • You should have an interest in public sector pensions policy and be cognisant to changes in the wider regulatory regime as promulgated through regulation and their actual or potential impact to the Scheme. Critical influencers are commonly: the Pensions Regulator (TPR); UKRI; and UKRI sponsor DSIT, and associated Government Departments such as the Cabinet Office and or HMT (Treasury), each of whom can influence or impact the Scheme
    • Foster close working relationship with Chair of the Trustee Board, cognisant to both the needs of scheme and employer, managing the relationship between the Employer and Trustee
    • Be a visible focal point for all members of the Scheme, using judgement and skill in manging a diverse range of stakeholders
    • Manage and mentor the Pensions Manager as line manager

    Delivery / programmes / projects / process:  Key projects and delivery will include:

    • Pensions Dashboard
    • GMP equalisation
    • Scheme document library and archive (Diligent)
    • Update of Scheme Rules
    • Maintenance of member website and enhance online calculations on BenPal/OneView4
    • Maintain key scheme documentation, including as part of ongoing ESG disclosure
    • Ensure service contract between the Scheme and Mercer is reviewed and maintained
    • Triennial Scheme valuations, Scheme funding and investment strategy


    • Monitor investment consultant and work with the Trustee Board to review investment manager appointments and performance
    • Monitor performance of pension administrator (currently Mercer) and transform quarterly stewardship reporting in conjunction with the Pensions Manager
    • Maintain open dialogue with MRC and UKRI regarding funding and investment strategy
    • Embed new trustee directors and maintain trustee knowledge
    • Monitor management of risk within investment portfolio and wider scheme
    • Monitor any changes to public sector pension provision
    • Comply with external audit of accounts and review management audit report
    • Deliver triennial valuation within twelve months of effective date
    • Deliver annual scheme specific training day in January
    • Review briefing papers in good time for each meeting
    • Attend Chairman 1:1 meetings
    • Strategic asset allocation and investment, including ESG disclosure
    • Manage annual programme of activity for internal auditor
    • Ensure new Trustee Directors complete the trustee toolkit and additional new modules
    • Prepare and present an Annual Administration Budget

    Working Relationships: 

    Direct reports:  Pensions Manager

    Key working relationships essential for this post:

    • Chair of Trustee Board
    • Pension Scheme advisors:
      • Scheme solicitor – DLA Piper
      • Scheme Actuary – AON
      • Investment advisor – Redington
    • Third party Scheme Administrator – Mercer
    • Pension Scheme external auditor – KPMG
    • Pension Scheme internal auditor - BDO
    • Pension Scheme Trustee – MRC Pension Trust Limited
    • MRC Head office senior managers; Research Directors, Heads of Units and Corporate Departments
    • Shared Service Centre (UKSBS) and other parts of UKRI (Research Councils, IUK) and third-party founders
    • UKRI Pensions Steering Group
    • Senior UKRI HR personnel
    • The Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT)
    • UKRI auditor – the National Audit Office (NAO)

    Education/qualifications/training required:

    • Fully qualified pensions professional: Fellow of Pension Management Institute of at least five years standing, or equivalent. Minimum of ten years DB (Defined Benefit) pensions experience
    • Excellent working knowledge of funded DB pension schemes structures and current industry practice, including legal and regulatory framework, investment strategy and DB funding objectives


    Previous work experience:


    • Demonstrable experience of leading a defined benefit pensions function to deliver key pension objectives, governance framework and funding targets


    • Awareness of public sector pension provision and redundancy policy, but not essential


    Knowledge and experience:


    • Provide leadership and guidance on pension issues affecting the Scheme
    • Strong analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills with the ability to analyse complex information, summarise key conclusions or recommendations, and evaluate information from diverse perspectives
    • Strong management and organizational skills, with the ability to progress multiple work tasks at the same time, prioritise work effectively, and working at pace to meet tight deadlines
    • Proactive with an ability to work on your own initiative
    • Ability to respond flexibly and positively to unexpected changes or demands, including providing budgetary and management control
    • Completion of statutory audit process – from draft accounts to final
    • All-round ability to translate policies into actions and plans, to deliver key objectives
    • Ability to co-ordinate strategic thinking and ensure stakeholder engagement
    • Manage conflicts and Scheme resources


    Personal skills/behaviours/qualities:


    • Excellent written and oral communication skills with demonstrable experience of drafting reports or papers to a high standard and conveying complex issues in a digestible format to multiple audiences
    • Ability to influence others, strong inter-personal skills, build trusted relationships with senior stakeholders and work with people at all levels
    • High attention to detail
    • Willingness to engage with all stakeholders and help mentor the Pensions Manager.
    Applicants should submit their CV with a cover letter describing the motivation for the post and how the candidate fits the person specifications
    The MRC is a great place to work and progress your career, be it in scientific research or the support functions.The MRC is a unique working environment where our researchers are rewarded by world class innovation and collaboration opportunities that the MRC name brings. The MRC is an excellent place to develop yourself further and a range of training & development opportunities will be available to you, including professional registration with the Science Council.

    Choosing to come to work at the MRC (part of UKRI) means that you will have access to a whole host of benefits from a defined benefit pension scheme and excellent holiday entitlement to access to employee shopping/travel discounts and salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme, as well as the chance to put the MRC and UKRI on your CV in the future.

    Our success is dependent upon our ability to embrace diversity and draw on the skills, understanding and experience of all our people. We welcome applications from all sections of the community irrespective of gender, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age. As "Disability Confident" employers, we guarantee to interview all applicants with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy.

    UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.

    We will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.  The role holder will be required to have the appropriate level of security screening/vetting required for the role.  UKRI reserves the right to run or re-run security clearance as required during the course of employment.

    This opportunity is closed to applications.