Hymans Robertson wins Highlands and Islands Enterprise tender

24 August 2016 Consultancy.uk

Hymans Robertson has won the independent DB trustee contract put to tender by the Trustee of Scottish economic and development fund Highlands and Islands Enterprise DB scheme. The firm will provide actuarial, investment consultancy and administration, among others.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is the economic development agency of the Scottish Government. The organisation, which was founded in 1991, has various goals that aim to improve and develop Scotland along the lines of business, social enterprise, health and sustainably, among others. The organisation employs around 300 staff that are located from Shetland to Argyll. 

The tender win will see Hymans Robertson provide independent Trustee support to the HIE’s DB scheme. The consulting firm will provide a range of services to the Trustees, including actuarial, investment consultancy and administration. The DB scheme has assets of £80 million and 875 members. In 2012, the last reported funding shortfall was at £27 million, however the current valuation of the fund was not yet disclosed per the release of HIE’s annual accounts report.

Hymans Robertson wins Highlands and Islands Enterprise tender

Zahir Fazal, BESTrustees, Chair of trustees of the scheme, remarks “We appointed Hymans Robertson as we believe its approach to funding — which integrates investment, contributions and covenant — would result in a partnering approach between the trustees and our sponsor, HIE. We were also impressed by the collegiate and enthusiastic style of the team, who working together as one, evidenced how they would add value through its member-focussed administration services. All of this was underpinned by its understanding of our marketplace and the similar work it has undertaken for other schemes in our sector.” 

The trustees of the scheme says “Zahir’s experience and support through the tender process was invaluable. We now look forward to working closely with Hymans Robertson, Zahir and HIE to help bring a truly integrated risk management approach to our scheme’s funding strategy and provide a high quality administration service to our members.”

Calum Cooper, Partner and Head of Trustee DB at Hymans Robertson, comments that the firm is “delighted” to have been selected as partner. “To meet pension payments both in the near term and into the future, trustees need to ensure their schemes have the assets in place to back cashflow requirements. We take an objective-led approach, with a focus on understanding and managing the cashflows, structuring investments in a way that balances the need to generate required returns but avoiding exposure to capital losses. We believe this is essential to ensure schemes can meet the pensions promised to members, and we look forward to working together with the trustees of the HIE scheme to do that in a risk-controlled and cost effective manner” Cooper adds.

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.