Covenant Lead

USS

Covenant Lead

Business Area: Finance

Place of Work: Liverpool

Contract Type: Permanent

Hours: Full Time

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has circa 396,000 members, and over £60 billion in assets, we’re one of the largest private pension schemes in the UK and in the top 50 worldwide. Established in 1974, we’re entrusted by over 350 higher education sector employers to manage and administer the pension scheme and its investments through our two companies, Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited and USS Investment Management Limited.
 
Our purpose
Working with Higher Education employers to build a secure financial future for our members and their families.

 

The role
To monitor the financial strength of the sponsoring employers and assess their ability individually and in aggregate to support the Scheme. Assess the impact of changes / deterioration in covenant strength through the development and delivery of a covenant monitoring framework and communicate this effectively with senior stakeholders internally and externally.
 
Key responsibilities
Establishing the covenant management framework
• Lead the implementation of the covenant monitoring framework and associated processes
• To develop clear roles and responsibilities for covenant monitoring and sharing of employer intelligence across the organisation
• To design the process, and support delivery of technology, required for data capture / analysis and provide efficient and robust analytical processes and outputs on ongoing basis.
• To develop, implement and embed a wider framework for assessing and monitoring the employer covenant to the Scheme

Data collection and analysis
• To lead the collection of debt monitoring data from sponsoring employers through existing tools and processes for year 1 and develop a longer-term solution for year 2 and beyond.
• To monitor health of sponsoring employers through the analysis of financial data provided.
• To provide additional covenant-strength data / key indicators through industry research and analysis
• Manage covenant rolling reviews and internal ratings
• Prioritise, prepare and support the annual data collection and validation processes including resolving data quality issues with employers so as to maintain consistent comparable data across employers
• Set up internal communications so as to ensure new secured debt notifications/ enquiries from employers are known to covenant monitoring function within 1 working day of receipt

Case management and employer engagement – Unsecured debt metric exceedances
• Identify employers exceeding relevant metrics and validate / gain better understanding of data if necessary through engagement with employer
• Work with employers to create a mutually acceptable mitigation plans with aim of maintaining or improving metric position
• Advising on the covenant impact of corporate transactions, insolvency cases etc

Case management and employer engagement – New secured debt arrangements
• Lead the evaluation process for in-scope employers who may be considering or executing new secured debt arrangements
• Process must ensure covenant framework does not unnecessarily prejudice employers’ ability to complete such transactions in a timely manner, whilst appropriately protecting the scheme’s covenant and creditor positions.
• To review and propose conclusions to requests for “covenant-enhancing” / other exemptions (in collaboration with Finance department)
• Coordinate with other internal teams in response to potential new secured debt arrangements ensuring that internal stakeholders are engaged promptly and have the necessary analysis and information to respond urgently when required
• Engaging with legal / other professional advisers where required to support evaluation and any security taking process.

Stakeholder engagement/ relationship management
• To ensure effective collaboration with Client Engagement, and other internal teams and build relationships with FDs of c150 in-scope employers
• Manage the relationship with and submissions to the USS Pensions Committee and Trustee Board
• Manage the relationship with the Scheme’s appointed covenant advisor

Reporting
• Preparing and delivering quarterly covenant reporting to the Pensions Committee
• Preparing and presenting relevant insightful industry reports on a regular and event-driven basis to governance committees and boards.
• Support triennial covenant assessments, including working with external advisors to influence the view of the strength of the employer covenant
 
Your experience
Essential
• Financial acumen - the successful candidate will ideally have an Accounting (ACA/ACCA), or similar qualification (e. g. CFA)
• Corporate data analysis – experience in analysing financial statements, assessing the impact of corporate transactions, and understanding of debt markets. Critical review of investment business cases.
• Experience of assessment and/or design of corporate finance/investment/investment transactions
• Project management experience
• Broad understanding and experience of the use of management information systems
Preferable
• A solid understanding of the UK pensions industry, ideally in the context of defined benefit schemes, and of a multi-employer nature.
• Familiarity with the key financial characteristics of the UK Higher Education sector
 
USSL is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We recognise the diverse lifestyles and priorities of our employees and have reflected this in in the company’s Flexible Working Framework, which, wherever possible, supports employees to find a balance that works for them whilst ensuring we always put our members’ interests first.

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