The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has reappointed Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) to model insolvency risk for its levy calculations, replacing Experian.
The firm will take over the brief from the 2021/22 levy year, the lifeboat fund said in an announcement to schemes, and will also be tasked with building an online portal for levy payers.
D&B was originally appointed to the PPF upon its launch, but was later dropped in favour of Experian in 2015. The firm is now returning after a competitive tender process run by the PPF.
The PPF stressed that no action needed to be taken by schemes at this point, and that Experian would continue to provide its services over the next two years.
PPF executive director and general counsel David Taylor said the tender had been run in line with the rules governing public corporations, with Experian's current contract ending in 2021.
He added: "D&B will replicate our existing model and will only make changes to it where we are persuaded that these are worthwhile.
"In considering any changes, we will take into account that the current model is performing well and our desire to keep a stable scoring methodology.
"We are committed to maintaining and building on our model's existing strengths - its transparency, stability and predictiveness. We will also consider with D&B how to provide an online portal to meet users' needs. We will consult on any changes planned."
Experian and D&B were each contacted for comment, but neither had replied by the time of publication.
Broadstone technical director David Brooks called the re-appointment of D&B an "interesting development".
He said in an emailed comment: "The original employer failure score provider to the PPF was unceremoniously kicked into touch in 2014 with Experian's model and pricing taken into account in that decision. Little comment has been made by PPF on their re-appointment this time. However, the continued use of the Experian methodology by D&B would suggest this decision has been heavily based on price.
"The PPF notes that there will be no changes to the scorecards unless compelling evidence is given. This may be a good opportunity for employers that think the scorecard for their sector doesn't properly reflect their risk of insolvency to lobby the PPF and D&B for a change."
Willis Towers Watson retirement business director Joanne Shepard also commented that if D&B wanted to make changes to the calculations which determine levy bills, they would have to present a case to the PPF, which is likely to consult on them.
"As such, the initial impact on levy-payers should be administrative rather than financial," she said. "The PPF should try to minimise how much confusion is caused by D&B building a new portal, and to avoid any access difficulties for levy payers: we'd hope to see access rights to the current portal transferred to the new one so that no one has to re-register.
"Unless and until the model changes, this should not affect the actions that employers can take to mitigate their levy - such as reviewing the financial information used in their scoring to ensure it has been picked up correctly, understanding the impact the new financial information might have on their score and investigating if their PPF score could be improved by preparing a mortgage exclusion or an accounting standard change certificate."
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