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XPS forms strategic alliance with abrdn to launch DB pensions master trust

XPS forms strategic alliance with abrdn to launch DB pensions master trust

08 Mar 2022

XPS Pensions Group plc, the pensions actuarial, consulting and administration business, has entered a strategic alliance with abrdn plc to launch a UK defined benefit (DB) master trust. 

The abrdn pensions master trust is scheduled for full launch in Q2 2022.  It is believed to be the first UK DB master trust to be developed and launched through a strategic alliance between an independent pensions consultancy and a leading global asset manager.  XPS will provide the actuarial and investment consulting, administration, secretarial and covenant services to the master trust.

The abrdn pensions master trust will use abrdn’s investment expertise and scale, and XPS’s high-quality service delivery, to help small and medium-sized schemes set their pensions strategy and then deliver this within an efficient operational model.  This is expected to provide cost savings, governance improvements and an opportunity to increase member benefit security through a one-stop-shop solution, encompassing all services required to run such legacy DB pension schemes.  Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations will also be embedded into investment decisions alongside an integrated risk management approach.  Crucially, this should allow corporate sponsors to free up more time to focus on their underlying business.

There are still over 4,000 small to medium sized DB pension schemes with combined assets of nearly £200 billion that could potentially benefit from consolidation, by providing opportunities to those schemes that are not always available to them as standalone schemes.

Commenting on the announcement, Paul Cuff, Co-CEO XPS Pensions Group, said: 

“We are delighted to partner with abrdn in the development of an exciting new defined benefit master trust.  This new solution should really help bring governance and efficiency improvements to the benefit of thousands of pension scheme members.  We have worked hard with abrdn to develop integrated funding and investment solutions that pass on the combined benefit of their investment management expertise and our investment, actuarial and administration expertise.  This master trust gives smaller schemes access to the same opportunities that much larger schemes enjoy and gives peace of mind to corporate sponsors allowing them to dedicate more time to running their business.”

Stephen Bird, CEO abrdn plc, said: 

“As abrdn continues to focus on delivering solutions for clients, I am delighted that we will be launching a UK defined benefit master trust in conjunction with XPS Pensions Group. The abrdn pensions master trust has been designed with XPS Pensions Group to harness the relevant expertise of both firms and offer a solution that provides a professional governance model, high-quality pensions consultancy and administration services, material expense savings through economies of scale and access to a broad range of abrdn’s relevant investment strategies.”



The trend towards increased consolidation in the UK pension market is anticipated to continue over the next few years. This in part is as a result of increased focus from regulators on DB schemes. This follows a more developed market in defined contribution pension scheme consolidation, where a requirement to demonstrate value for members has accelerated the consolidation trend.

A DB master trust is a multi-employer DB pension scheme for unconnected employers. DB master trusts pass on the benefits from the economies of scale they bring to all stakeholders of DB pension schemes.  These can include cost savings, governance improvements and an opportunity to increase member benefit security.

To find out more about the abrdn pensions master trust click here.

For more information please contact:

Headland (on behalf of XPS Pensions Group)
Claire Rumbellow or Féidhlim Macauley
[email protected]
+44 (0)790 926 6737

Debbie Cowe, Media Relations Manager, abrdn
[email protected]
+44(0)7711 774017


About XPS Pensions Group

XPS Pensions Group (XPS) is the largest pure pensions consultancy in the UK, specialising in actuarial, covenant, investment consulting and administration. XPS combines expertise, insight and technology to address the needs of over 1,500 pension schemes and their sponsoring employers on an ongoing and project basis.  We undertake pensions administration for over 948,000 members and provides advisory services to schemes of all sizes including 47 with over £1bn of assets.  We also provide pension advisory and administration services to over 200 defined contribution schemes, with over one million members and combined assets in excess of £15bn.

XPS Pensions Group was awarded Actuarial/Pensions Consultancy of the Year and Investment Consultancy of the Year at the 2021 Professional Pensions Awards and highly commended for Third Party Administrator of the Year and Education /Thought Leadership Initiative of the Year.  In 2020, XPS was awarded Third Party Administrator of the Year at the UK Pension Awards for the second year running and has also been ranked the No.1 Third Party Administrator in the Professional Pensions Administration Survey in four of the past six years. Also in 2020, XPS Pensions Group was awarded the FT's PIPA Technology Services of the Year Award and in 2019 awarded Actuarial/Pensions Consultancy of the Year at the UK Pensions Awards.

XPS Pensions Group has also been ranked Gold in the Employee Engagement category and Silver in the Employee-Centric Company category at the 2020 UK Employee Experience Awards. XPS Pensions Group also won two awards at the 2020 Business Culture Awards winning Best Business Culture Transformation Initiative and the overall Gold Award winner for Business Culture.

About abrdn

At abrdn, we enable our clients to plan, save and invest for their futures.

We structure our business into three areas – and together they reflect our focus on enabling our clients to be better investors:

  • Investments: We work with clients to create solutions across asset classes, regions and markets globally – combining multi-layered research and market insights with technology and diverse thinking.
  • Adviser: We offer market-leading platform technology and tools that enable UK wealth managers and financial advisers to create more opportunity for their business and their clients.
  • Personal: We help people throughout the UK plan for their financial futures – through our financial planning business and our digital investing services.

Across our investments, adviser and personal businesses we manage and administer £532 billion of assets for our clients, and abrdn plc has over 1 million shareholders. (Figures as at 30 June 2021)

Our investments are built on an insight strength that comes from multi-layered research and a large global footprint. Our teams collaborate across multiple capabilities, to create forward-thinking solutions that aim to meet our clients’ needs and deliver more sustainable outcomes. Our investments business manages £456.6 billion on behalf of individuals, governments, pension funds, insurers, companies, charities and foundations (as at 30 June 2021) – with support and expertise from 800 investment specialists in over 30 locations.

Winner of ‘Cashflow Driven Investment Manager of The Year’ at UK Pensions Age Awards 2022

abrdn is the single global brand for all areas of our business. In July 2021 our plc listing became abrdn plc. In September our investments business, formerly Aberdeen Standard Investments, became abrdn.


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