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Senior Pensions Accountant
This Vacancy has been closed.
A unique place to work, the National Church Institutions (NCIs) support the mission and ministry of the Church of England. Their activities are hugely varied, ranging from management of a multi-billion-pound investment fund, to a grant-giving charity, a housing service for retired clergy and the administration of three multi-employer pension schemes. Our Belonging and Inclusion Strategy aims for everyone in the National Church Institutions (NCIs) to feel that they belong, and are valued for who they are and what they contribute. Together, our people contribute in different ways towards our common purpose, whichever NCI they work in and whatever their background.
The Finance department is a shared services function working across the NCIs to provide a comprehensive, cost-effective finance service to each organisation, and helping to co-ordinate joint projects where appropriate. The Finance department is on a change journey, transforming the way we work and the service we provide to the NCIs. This includes undertaking a Finance Transformation Programme to help Finance develop their service (replacing an existing finance system as well as associated process improvement and changes to ways of working).
The Church of England Pensions Board (“the Board”) is no ordinary pension fund. The Board has a global reputation for its ethical and responsible investment work. The Board provides pensions for 41,000+ members across more than 700 employers in the Church family. It is a statutory body which is corporate trustee and administrator of three complex defined benefit (final salary, hybrid and CARE) and defined contribution pension arrangements, and also administers two older schemes. On behalf of members, the Board stewards more than £3.2bn of assets, using a common investment fund structure. Overall these schemes encompass 7 different sections with different rules and benefit structures which would represent significant pension schemes in their own right.
The Board is also a registered charity, providing clergy retirement housing and other charitable services.
The Senior Pensions Accountant works with the Pensions Accounting Manager to deliver a comprehensive pensions accounting service for the Church of England Pension Board’s multi-employer pension schemes, ensuring compliance with relevant legislation, delivering the annual reporting cycle and ensuring the maintenance of appropriate control procedures. Located within the Finance Department, this role works seamlessly with the Pensions and Investment teams, and ultimately works for the Board’s members and beneficiaries.
The team work in a hybrid way, split between our Westminster office and from home. Our policies actively promote flexible working and a positive work/life balance, recognising that the nature of the role means the occasional need to work longer hours from time-to-time in order to meet urgent deadlines. Specific working arrangements can be discussed at interview.
To find our more about the wide range of opportunities we currently have available for Finance Professionals, please visit out microsite at https://jobs.churchofengland.org/finance.
We encourage interested candidates to submit their application as soon as possible as we reserve the right to close the vacancy early.
We are looking to appoint a Senior Pensions Accountant with excellent technical pensions accounting skills, who will support the Pensions Accounting Manager with the maintenance of accurate and up-to-date accounting records, and preparation of the statutory financial reports for the Church of England Pension Board’s multi-employer pension schemes.
You will be part of the Financial Accounting and Control team but will specifically support the Pensions Accounting Manager with all accounting services in relation to the pension schemes (including the monthly unitisation and rebalancing processes relating to the common investment fund). You will assist in the preparation of the annual statutory financial reports and with the year end audit process for three large multi-employer pension schemes, and the Common Investment Fund, as well as the accounts for two smaller entities, Thorney Island GP Limited and Thorney Island Limited Partnership.
You will be someone who is always looking to improve processes and worker smarter, collaborating with your finance and pensions team colleagues to drive best practice in everything we do. You will ensure strong financial controls and good balance sheet management is maintained. You will be a confident Excel user, able to use Excel to design and build financial statements and reports which can be quickly and easily produced.
Whilst you will have autonomy and be expected to be able to work independently, you will also work collaboratively with the Pensions Accounting Manager and the rest of the Financial Accounting and Control team to develop a high-quality finance service to the NCIs, including best practice external reporting and a robust financial control environment.
You will be a fully qualified chartered accountant, with good knowledge and experience of accounting for pension schemes. You will ensure operational processes are fit-for-purpose, implementing improvements where necessary, and work with colleagues in the Financial Accounting & Control Team to build and maintain a strong internal control environment. You will promote collaborative working across the Finance team and the wider department to ensure high standards of service for our customers. You will be someone who is able to develop effective relationships with internal and external stakeholders, including both senior stakeholders within the Pensions Board Pensions Administration and Investment teams, and the external auditors, actuaries and the custodian Northern Trust.
Pension Scheme Accounting
Responsible for ensuring a strong financial control environment is maintained and that all income, expenditure and asset movements are correctly accounted for, including:
- Managing the delivery of a smooth, well-controlled and timely month-end and year-end timetable, working with the Pensions Accounting Manager and wider Finance teams to develop and improve this in line with best-practice methodology
- Assist with the preparation of annual statutory financial reports for the pension schemes, Common Investment Fund, Thorney Island GP Limited, and Thorney Island Limited Partnership in accordance with UK GAAP and the Pensions SORP
- Support the Pensions Accounting Manager in developing the annual report and accounts in accordance with best and emerging practice by keeping abreast of new developments and proactively horizon scanning for upcoming legislative changes
- Ensuring that the balance sheet is well managed, with reference to value, importance and sensitivity of accounts, including that reconciliations are completed on a timely basis, and that suspense, control and clearing accounts are regularly monitored
- Ensuring the pension scheme accounting records within the finance system are kept up to date by posting monthly journals and performing monthly reconciliations, including relevant reconciliations to the Pension Administration System (UPM)
- Prepare returns to our custodian, Northern Trust, to allocate cashflows / cash transfers amongst schemes/sections and posting of regular journals to the finance system
- Ensuring that all processes within the Pensions Accounting team are documented, represent best practice and are regularly reviewed
- Prepare and submit regular compliance reporting using appropriate financial information (e.g. Office of National Statistics returns)
- Ensuring all accounts templates are updated annually, including reviewing accounting policies and ensuring compliance with relevant reporting legislation, regulatory requirements and best practice within the charity sector (including but not limited to UK GAAP, Pensions SORP and Charity SORP)
- Reviewing the year-end trial balances, analysing key variances with previous years to identify potential omissions or misstatements
- Supporting with the external audit process, including acting as a key contact for the auditors in planning and delivering the audit, liaising with other members of staff in Finance and other departments to deliver the auditors’ requirements, preparing schedules to support each note to the financial statements and providing explanations when requested
- Support the Pensions Accounting Manager with drafting the Board and Committee reporting to support the presentation of the Accounts and presenting draft accounts for review and sign-off on behalf of the trustees
- Ensuring accounts are signed off and filed with the relevant bodies
- Producing ad hoc reports and information for management and other stakeholders, as required, for example evaluating pension scheme administration costs
- Supporting the Pension administration Team with requests for information, including supplying information in relation to actuarial valuations of the scheme
Technical expertise, advice and support
Supporting the Pensions Accounting Manager with the provision of technical expertise, advice and guidance on Pension accounting practices, issues and problems, including:
- advising on and implementing appropriate accounting treatments for new and continuing activities in relation to the pension schemes (e.g. new investment vehicles, new pension schemes, responding to changing legislative requirements etc.)
- Keeping up to date with best practice and developments in pension reporting requirements and proactively managing personal and continuing professional development
- Providing feedback and appropriate responses to any regulatory consultation exercises in relation to pension accounting standards, promoting the interests of the Church
Ensuring effective cash management for the Pension schemes, including the development of regular cash flow reporting as required, including:
- Input into and manage the production of daily, weekly, monthly and annual cashflow forecasting and monitoring spreadsheets and active management of cash balances to maintain the liquidity of all the Schemes while optimising the funds available for investment
- Collaborating with members of the Pensions Board, including the Pensions Investments Team and the Pensions Administration Team
- Collaborating with other members of the Finance department, including the Finance Business Partnering team, Finance Systems team, Tax and Compliance, and Procurement, to ensure that services are delivered in an efficient and effective manner
- Providing support for projects within the Finance team (which could include for example, process improvement projects, system projects, implementation of new processes and solutions etc.)
- Developing excellent working relationships and clear communication with the Pensions Board Finance Business Partner, to ensure a consistent understanding of Pensions Board / Scheme activities, and that this is reflected accurately in both statutory and management reporting
- Undertaking other ad hoc tasks as required to ensure the Finance team delivers a high-quality, cost-effective service to its customers
The Ideal Candidate
- Full accountancy qualification is required (e.g. ACA, CIMA, ACCA, CIPFA, etc.)
- Good technical accounting skills, with specialism in Pension accounting
- Highly developed analytical skills, able to provide insightful, accurate analysis of complex financial data and communicate clearly to finance and non-finance audiences
- Excellent IT skills, including advanced Excel and strong finance system skills, with a good understanding of data structures and chart of accounts optimisation
- Ability to manipulate data, analyse information, identify anomalies and extract pertinent information. Excellent attention to detail
- Well organised with an ability to work calmly and effectively under pressure
- Good communication and interpersonal skills both written and oral, able to communicate effectively with finance professionals, senior management and trustees, and non-accountants to achieve cooperation and results
- Proactive, self-motivated and enthusiastic
- Persistent and resilient; able to overcome challenges and find solutions
- Good technical financial accounting skills, including up-to-date knowledge and experience of reporting under relevant accounting standards including FRS102, and the Pensions SORP
- Experience gained from working as a pensions accountant or external auditor covering all aspects of pensions statutory reporting
- Experience of problem solving and implementing process improvements
- A good understanding of pension scheme controls and processes including unitisation and working with common investment funds
- A good understanding of investments and back office functions and controls would be beneficial
- Experience of accounting for investments
- SAP (Finance System) and/or UPM (Pensions administration system) experience
- Other professional pension accounting memberships (e.g. PRAG) would be beneficial
- Other relevant pension qualifications
The Church of England is for everyone and we want to reflect the diversity of the community the Church serves across the whole country. Therefore, while of course we welcome all applications from interested and suitably experienced people, we would particularly welcome applicants from UK Minority Ethnic Backgrounds and other under-represented groups.
Our aim is for everyone in the National Church Institutions (NCIs) to feel that they belong, and are valued for who they are and what they contribute. Together, our people contribute in different ways towards our common purpose, whichever NCI they work in and whatever their background.
In the National Church Institutions (NCIs), we support the mission and ministries of the Church of England. We work with parishes, dioceses, schools, chaplaincies and other ministries, and with national and international partners including mission agencies and other denominations and faith groups.
- We strive for excellence
- We collaborate
- We act with integrity
- We show compassion
- We respect others
We believe our commitment to belonging and inclusion fuels our progress and drives us forward. The NCIs are a safe, inclusive workplace for people of all backgrounds and walks of life. We welcome applications from people of all faiths and of no faith. We want to encourage applications from a diverse group of people who share our values. Even if you have never thought about working for us before, if you have the skills and experience we’re looking for then we would like to hear from you.
If there is anything we can do to support you in your application please get in touch via email to email@example.com.
- As a Disability Confident Leader, we actively look to attract, recruit and retain those of you who are disabled.
- We are a member of the Armed Forces Covenant and welcome applications from those of you who have served in our Armed Forces and their families.