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UPDATE on 2017 #USS valuation.

Universities UK has told me:
“Employers support the JEP’s recommendations, subject to acceptance from the USS Trustee and The Pensions Regulator, and to further information for employers on risk and its implications.”

#UUK: ”We look forward to discussions with UCU, and with the USS Trustee, over the coming weeks as we seek a jointly agreed solution.”
#UUK has further clarified that employers support “all of the recommendations put forward by the panel” – subject to the conditions outlined in earlier tweeted statement.
Read 14 tweets
Good @USSBriefs thread on #USS HESC yesterday afternoon in Manchester... it was inquorate so advisory+motions will be sent to HEC to deliberate... negotiators do have meetings before then so will need to balance existing @UCU policy with advice/guidance from 91 delegates yday /1
I hope this + results of HESC on Pay + Equality dispute mean extra HEC meeting(s) to avoid squeezing everything into short slot on a larger agenda (of other very important things). To be effective, we need time for focused discussion on enacting motions properly/transparently /2
Please unroll @threadreaderapp
Read 3 tweets
Re the @ucu Manchester conference, the afternoon session on #USS was inquorate, and hence any of the linked motions that passed were advisory rather than becoming official union policy. 1/
So official @ucu policy on #USS remains as spelled out here in motions from earlier quorate HE sector conferences: 3/…
Read 17 tweets
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.@ucu HESCs on Pay+Equality (am)&USS JEP(pm) were intense! Lots decided after v intense complicated discussions but only morning decisions “count”- USS conference advisory as (sadly) inquorate. Those motions get referred 2 HEC as advisory but also advise negotiatiors this week /1
@ucu *🚿Shower and re-humanify interlude after a LONG day indoors at the (sadly) today unexplored @sim_manchester museum + trains. #unionstrong reps function better after 🚿☕️...*
RESUMING! TL;DR on pay+equality dispute = we're reballoting, but *not* right away: early new year to allow time to regroup+build (understanding+momentum) with commitment to improved resourcing+coordination. Returning to aggregated balloting after long, important discussion /2a
Read 27 tweets
As I mention in this linked thread, @ucu's policy regarding #USS will be determined in a conference in Manchester tomorrow. There I comment on a number of motions. Below, I detail my reservations over Motion 5 in particular. 1/
Here is the action called for by Motion 5 (which was proposed by @leedsucu): 2/
I explain in this linked blog post, and those to which it links, why I oppose clause a and won't say anything further here about it. 3/…
Read 21 tweets
My name is Felicity Callard & I deeply regret I cannot stop myself watching recordings of other universities' #USS pensions town hall meetings late in the evening.

And UCL's recent one was pretty darn amazing if you're into this kind of thing H/T @UCL_UCU
At 19 minutes you can hear UCL President & Provost reflect on what the less than 50% turn out on the pay & equality ballot means:

"So that particular concern about pay seems to have gone away for this year at least." Gone away for whom, we ask? 2/
At 22 minutes you can watch the President & Provost asking Phil (Harding) [UCL Finance Director & UUK negotiator] "to answer the Test 1 stuff because the technical aspects of that defeat [him]". Though he has read @Sam_Marsh101's stuff. 3/
Read 11 tweets
🚨🚨🚨Alerting #USS members: today, tomorrow, & Wed are important days, since @ucu's position re #USS & JEP proposals will be set by the end of special sector conference Wed afternoon. By noon today, we should learn what motions have made it onto the agenda (see highlighted): 1/
One big question is whether 2 motions of the National Dispute Committee (NDC) will be ordered onto Wed's agenda. See this tweet, including further tweets & comments below: 2/
Without taking a view as to whether it should be ordered onto Wed's agenda (and perhaps the *procedural* case for doing so is strong), here's my take on the *substance* of NDC motion 1. 3/
Read 25 tweets
So that article on how several UK universities are “near bankrupt” includes advice from consultancy EY Parthenon (also used by #USS): “universities facing financial difficulties should look to sell off land & real estate in order to avoid insolvency”… 1/
24 hours earlier I went to the excellent book launch of @bceagle71’s “The New Enclosure” @VersoBooks…, on the privatisation of land in neoliberal Britain 2/
I haven’t yet read book yet. Brett @bceagle71: do you cover land owned by universities at all (and how much of it has been sold off over last 40 years or so)? 3/
Read 3 tweets
#USS consultation ends TOMORROW 5pm. So important to convey to #USS & employers how you feel abt 2017 valuation. We at @USSbriefs have a template. Responding takes 5 mins #USSbriefs61 #ResileAndResubmit… 1/
(Re)read #USSbriefs59 on how @Sam_Marsh101's findings not only make a mockery of #USS valuation, but raise profound questions in relation to #USS & #UUK governance… 2/
And read @NJSHardy's v short thread on why employers' reflections on risk appetite in their responses to JEP are meaningless given they're based on Test 1 3/
Read 4 tweets
@davidpapineau @Sam_Marsh101 Here, David, are some thoughts: First, the primary fiduciary duty of a DB scheme trustee is to ensure that PAST promises will be paid in full when they come due. They must ensure this, even if the measures they take in the form of de-risking the portfolio into bonds or... 1/
@davidpapineau @Sam_Marsh101 ...higher contributions to recover a deficit on past promises render it unaffordable to continue to make new DB promises going forward in the form of future accrual. 2/
@davidpapineau @Sam_Marsh101 Second, the #USS execs and trustees have an incentive to submit at a valuation that the regulator (tPR) will deem acceptable. They don't want to submit a valuation that tPR will try to take enforcement action against, because deemed insufficiently prudent. 3/
Read 7 tweets
Further confirmation of #USS's "large and demonstrable mistake" regarding Test 1. See this chart prepared by @Sam_Marsh101 for Sheffield's USS Working Group. The important figures are in row 1. 1/
See now for a clear statement by @GuyCoughlan, #USS's Chief Risk Officer, that Test 1 is supposed to test whether the gap between columns ONE and 3 of row 1 is not too large. 2/
"...when we add in future expected returns, plus future contributions..."

👆That is exactly what the figure in column ONE of row 1 does! /2
Read 24 tweets
"𝗡𝗘𝗪 𝗠𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗥𝗜𝗔𝗟 𝗘𝗩𝗜𝗗𝗘𝗡𝗖𝗘": Remember this statement from #USS to FT pensions correspondent @JosephineCumbo?: 1/
Here is "𝗡𝗘𝗪 𝗠𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗥𝗜𝗔𝗟 𝗘𝗩𝗜𝗗𝗘𝗡𝗖𝗘" in spades: 3/
Read 12 tweets
How much, exactly, *do* the #USS team understand about their own valuation?

And now, @Sam_Marsh101 opens back up those Latourian 'blackboxes' and exposes the modelling problems. And the #USS wrath is great 1/
And what about the various pieces of software – e.g. ORTEC – that are central to the #USS modelling? How blackboxed are these? How was ORTEC selected by #USS? Who within #USS is able to open up the ORTEC blackbox? #justwondering… 2/ screen shot from doc linked to in tweet about the ORTEC model
The ORTEC commissioning means stochastic risk modelling is now done 'in house'. But how well does #USS understand ORTEC innards?

Note they're keen to emphasise one of their risk function team 'pioneered stochastic risk models in finance' in early 90s.… 3/ paragraph about stochastic risk modelling from doc linked to in tweet
Read 5 tweets
After a chat with a colleague, I've decided to try my own simple explanation of the big technical problem with #USS Test 1. Like @etymologic's superb thread, but no maths. I assume Sam Marsh or Mike Otsuka will spot errors (if they're not busy correcting USS's). Wish me luck 😬
What USS SHOULD have said to employers: ‘if we keep our current investments and contribution rate, we'll be in great shape after 20 years. We'll have more than we need, even if we have to start closing the scheme. If we do need more money, it won't be more than you can afford.'
'We need to be careful, and the risks are quite high right now. You might have to pay us a bit more money up front, or we could find other ways to reduce the risks currently facing the scheme. Let's discuss how we'll manage risk in the next 20 years and see what suits you.'
Read 8 tweets
As the dust settles on the skirmishes of the early part of the week, some reflections on how #USS responded to my analysis. In short, @UCU's motion from June calling for Bill Galvin to resign is looking more pertinent than ever. 1/ @JosephineCumbo @MikeOtsuka @henryhtapper
First, the claim of an "incomplete understanding", and regret that "these views were not shared and discussed with us prior to publication, as the fundamental issues have been addressed in various forms over the course of the valuation". 2/
I'm glad that #USS think they can see inside my head, but their mind-reading appears to have gone awry. I have a very good understanding of their funding proposals, having read pretty much all the documentation they've released over the past 4 years. 3/
Read 13 tweets
This is getting exhausting. You get used to #USS remaining incommunicado. And now this is the 4th communication in 2 days.

They are very very keen that we know that 'There is no such error in #USS’s valuation' even as 'Dr Marsh’s analysis is not wrong in isolation' #USSstrike
Just saying: if you receive an essay where one short paragraph contains

3 sets of bold
1 instance of bold & italic
The phrase 'To be clear'
... & the adverb 'emphatically'

you might think writer is worried their points don't actually hold up… (see pdf) screen shot from attachment linked to in the web page
You've got to hand it to Bill & #USS.

19 April: Bill in leaked email to VCs:
Doubts about valuation were 'unwarranted'
Trustee 'cannot & will not resile from outcome of valuation.

They're gonna stick with their position through thick & thin #USSstrike… screen shot from weblink in tweet
Read 3 tweets
Huh, there appears to be tussle btw #UUK & #USS over how to narrate shift from Sept to Nov valuation (& whose fault it is). I had inkling abt this yesterday after one of @JosephineCumbo'sthreads conveying #USS's 3 responses to @Sam_Marsh101's findings (…) 1/
#USS, via @JosephineCumbo, tries to shift focus on to employers by saying Sam's analysis "ignores the need for the scheme to attain a position within the risk appetite of sponsoring employers, and the time required to make such adjustments" 2/
And then look at #JEP p.45 :

A classic case of "A said B did it, but B said A did it" – & we as JEP are flagging this up & couldn't possibly say whether it was A or B.

▶️ #USS and #UUK fighting over who's responsible for shift to Nov valuation?… 3/ excerpt from p. 45 of JEP referred to in the link in the tweet
Read 4 tweets
#USS has sent a further statement responding to questions on their statement this morning. USS was asked whether the figures, released to @Sam_Marsh101 last week, were also shared with the Joint Expert Panel and where they found errors with his analysis.

Response to follow:

USS: "We provided all of the information and analysis that was requested by the Joint Expert Panel. Given that it ignores downside risk, the approach Dr Marsh looks to support by using asset projections alone is not applicable in the context of USS.

USS: As such, it was not requested by - or provided to - the JEP or employers. It is not as fundamental to the valuation approach as Dr Marsh seems to believe or as recent commentary would suggest.

Read 12 tweets
#UUK September 2017 survey followers: another "want less risk" submission has been found!

OCR, the examination board (Oxford, Cambridge & RSA Examinations) – which is part of Cambridge University 1/…
You can see from the Cambridge University Pensions Working Group minutes (e.g.…) that Cambridge University's response informs OCR's – as well as the Colleges' – responses. 2/ Excerpt from minutes that makes clear that OCR will use the University's response
You can see that Cambridge University's response has informed OCR's response in the other responses to UUK/USS consultations, too, i.e. the Oct 2016 survey… and the March 2017 USS consultation… 3/
Read 4 tweets
As promised, a new blog post: "USS’s valuation rests on a large and demonstrable mistake: when corrected there is no deficit as at 31 March 2018 and no need for detrimental changes to benefits or contributions". 𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝗿𝗲-𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝘁. 1/…
It begins: "It is hard to overstate the importance of USS’s confirmation yesterday of the accuracy of union-appointed JNC member Sam Marsh’s modelling of some implications of their valuation." 2/
From the concluding section: 3/
Read 64 tweets
Looks as though @etymologic was right: trying to find that 3rd person is a fool's errand #USS #Test1

@Sam_Marsh101's threads imply:
✅ Current use of Test 1 irremediably broken
#NoDerisking #NoDetriment #NoDeficit
✅ Major governance questions for USS & UUK
#USSstrike 1/
We at @OpenUPP2018 @USSbriefs are collaborating with @Sam_Marsh101 this weekend to get his findings (and, crucially, their implications for current consultation & for #JEP phase 2) into #USSbriefs form so that they can be used by #UCU & #USS Scheme members ASAP 2/
We are all profoundly indebted to @Sam_Marsh101.

His efforts to acquire the necessary data from #USS (in the face of persistence resistance/reluctance) and then to analyse them to expose the car crash of Test 1, have taken over a year.

THANK YOU Sam. 🌿🍁🍃 #USSstrike
Read 3 tweets
It has been over a month since @Sam_Marsh101 submitted his Addendum to the JEP and #USS. If he's right, the current valuation contains a significant, hidden layer of prudence ABOVE AND BEYOND the following that JEP lists here: 1/
I say more about the significance of Sam's Addendum in this blog post, where I also explain why #USS and @GuyCoughlan owe us an answer to Sam's findings. 2/…
I believe that, so far, this is the only response @Sam_Marsh101 has received: 3/
Read 11 tweets
Given importance of HE sector "there may be a case for future governments to consider alternative options" (incl "state-backed guarantee" or "measures enabling more risk-taking"). Powerful piece from @JMariathasan on #USS DB debate post-#JEP… #USSstrike 1/
Article argues that central problem lies in regulatory changes that transformed management of a DB pension scheme into "a risk management problem, not an investment one" 2/
Read 4 tweets
🚨💣😱.@Cambridge_Uni's response to a 2016 consultation re strength of the #USS covenant has recently been released via FOI. Cambridge disputes PWC's finding of a strong covenant over 30 as opposed to merely 20 years! The following statement in their response is a bombshell: 1/
"We would be concerned if the increase in visibility of a strong covenant was used to support a less prudent approach to the 2017 valuation than that adopted in 2014, either in terms of the assumptions adopted or the time horizon for de-risking." 2/
We are all aware that tPR's challenge, in their Sept 2017 letter, to the PWC/#USS assessment of the strength of the covenant, wreaked havoc on our DB pension and helped explain the shift to the more conservative November valuation. 3/
Read 25 tweets
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