Case studies

Independent expert actuary

Client

Aon Hewitt was requested to assist an organisation and their legal advisers defend an action claiming unfair employment terms and $6 million compensation in relation to former public sector DB retirement provisions.

Challenge

The many challenges they had were that:

  • this related to a decision 20 years previously to provide (generous) Defined Contribution superannuation benefits to new employees transferring employment from a public sector enterprise that had provided public sector Defined Benefit superannuation
  • there was limited documentary evidence of the details of decisions and communications at that time
  • the employer was associated with many other companies that had undertaken Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution conversions, so that an unsuccessful defence may set an expensive precedent
  • the complainants’ lawyers had obtained actuarial advice that purported to identify and quantify substantial losses for the complainants
  • data to produce definitive calculations was largely unavailable due to the passage of time and various superannuation transfers.

Solution

Aon Hewitt partnered with the client and their lawyers to:

  • provide a very experienced actuary who had practical experience of market conditions and superannuation trends at that time, particularly Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution conversions
  • review the actuarial reports to determine inconsistencies or omissions
  • produce reports which provided insight into the usual actuarial approaches for such a conversion and challenged the process and assumptions of the other actuary
  • analyse the development of the employer’s superannuation over ensuing years and develop a model to identify that employees were actually better off in most circumstances
  • attend Court including detailed cross-examination by opposing counsel.

Results

After Aon Hewitt’s advice and support, the client achieved:

  • a Court decision in their favour involving multi-million dollar savings
  • the establishment of a precedent to limit the risk of similar future challenges.

 
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Shannon O'Shea