wealth and investments
FIRM Assessment – an introduction

From 2019, Regulations require ‘trustees to have an effective system of governance proportionate to the size, nature and complexity of’ the scheme and ‘to carry out and document an own risk assessment ’, reassuring the Pensions Regulator (tPR) that they are meeting best practice expectations. Pension schemes are hugely complex beasts with vast swathes of data and ever-changing regulations to keep track of. Information about all the factors trustees are required to monitor is scattered. Much of the data they need to reassure their stakeholders, as well as tPR, is distributed over a variety of sources, and the subtle interplay and interdependencies between all the different factors are tricky to gauge.

In response to the 2019 Regulations, and more importantly, to support our clients in better managing all of their pension scheme risks, Mercer has launched Forensic Integrated Risk Management (FIRM) Assessment. We believe this offering will be a valuable benefit for all defined benefit (DB) schemes.

What is FIRM Assessment (‘FIRM’)?


FIRM is an independent, peer-reviewed assessment of the top 12 high-level aspects influencing a DB scheme’s operation and compliance, including; risk management, member experience, administration and governance.

Studying up to 200 data points, FIRM drills down into the underlying factors that contribute to each of the aspects you need to manage in your Scheme. FIRM draws on 200 years’ experience of Mercer’s Subject Matter Experts who have developed the tool. These include its investment and covenant consultants, Scheme Actuaries, administrators, and technical experts in each of the key areas trustees need to be alert to.


FIRM unites deep expertise and the Pension Regulator’s impending requirements for a scheme specific risk assessment to be completed, documented and shared with them.  It will help you determine what ‘good’ looks like for your Scheme and members. 

Why use FIRM?


Advice often comes with more caveats than the advice itself and frequently sits in isolation. In order to make good decisions you need a point of view (solid - firm advice), that sits within a holistic view of your Scheme.  You need your advisors to think forensically and in an integrated way to help you achieve your objectives (Forensic Integrated Risk Management – FIRM advice).  FIRM Assessment will provide you with:

  • Independent analysis of the advice you are receiving.
  • Benchmarking against best practice.
  • A priority, action-based plan for future governance spend. 

It will support you in meeting new legal requirements to complete a triennial risk assessment specific to your Scheme.

You will benefit from:

  • An instant visual snapshot that highlights areas of success or concern. 
  • “1:12” peer reviewed advice (rather than the industry norm of “1:1”).
  • A longitudinal view to show change and improvement.
  • An industry benchmark for best in class.

These combine to help you give your members improved security and to give you peace of mind, regulatory confidence, increased control, visibility and clarity of actions, impact and progress.

More than meeting regulatory requirements


FIRM Assessment will support you in meeting the Pensions Regulator’s new requirement to provide your own scheme specific risk assessment, proportionate to your scheme, on a triennial basis. As importantly, you will also benefit from greater control and visibility of the impact of your actions assessed in an integrated way, over a period of time.  Through FIRM, Mercer can equip you with the right information to measure the value you are achieving from your governance spend. For more information, please contact us, and provide your details below.  

The Pensions Regulator has published its long-awaited consultation on its new single code of practice. Read our summary and what action you should consider taking.

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