Actuarial fees for small schemes have fallen over 2013 as competition for their business rises, Kim Gubler Consulting (KGC) finds.
In its Annual Actuarial Fee survey, KGC found there was an overall increase in fees for larger schemes.
For schemes of 5,000 lives, the average annual actuarial fee rose from around £25,000 in 2012 to approximately £30,000 this year, although costs did not rise above those seen in 2010, a triennial valuation year.
Bigger schemes, of 10,000 lives, saw a similar increase, from just under £35,000 to just over, although fees did not break the £40,000 mark seen in 2010.
However, fees continued to fall this year among 2,000-life schemes, where a gradual decrease from 2010's average annual actuarial fee of £20,000 continued.
KGC said it is competition among providers that has kept fees below 2010's levels, despite this year being a triennial valuation year.
Costs per member remained highest in smaller schemes, demonstrating the benefits of scale in actuarial services.
KGC analysed the average annual actuarial unit cost per member (UCM) among schemes of different sizes.
It found that in 2013, compared to a 10,000-life scheme, the UCM for a 2,000-life scheme was 168% higher than for a 10,000-life scheme, while the UCM for a 5,000-life scheme was 67% higher.
However, this is an improvement for smaller schemes on 2012's figures, when the UCM for a 2,000-life scheme was 187% higher, and on a 5,000-life scheme 50%, than in a 10,000-life scheme.
Despite average costs per member and overall falling among lower schemes, the gap between the highest and lowest pricing has grown over 2013, the survey found.
Among 5,000-life schemes the difference between the highest and lowest fees for triennial valuations increased to £45,000 over this year, which is an 8% increase on 2012's figures.
In 10,000-life schemes, the difference in cost between the highest and lowest increased by 4% over 2013 to £53,000, although this represents a 19% fall on 2011's figures.
KGC research analyst Hayley Mudge said: "While many respondents claimed the competitive nature of the actuarial market was the most important factor in their pricing strategy, the growing gap between the highest and lowest pricing does seem at odds with this opinion.
"KGC looks forward to comparing the results with next year's survey and would like to thank all of the participants for their assistance in providing such comprehensive information."
To gather its data, KGC surveyed 19 actuarial firms on the charges they levy on schemes of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 lives.
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