Pension analysts typically have one of three primary functions: they are either pension benefits calculators, pension plan assessors, or pension data gatherers. All three are related but represent slightly different skill sets, and often take place in different environments. Pensions — retirement benefits for employees and, in some countries, citizens generally — always form the base of the work. Some analysts help companies form their pension plans or assist individuals in selecting which pension investments are right for them. Others work for government entities to assess the legality of proposed and enacted policies. Math skills, data translation, and excellent communication skills make up the job’s core requirements.
A pension is a financial vehicle that is essential to many people’s retirement planning. Analysts help to make sure that pensions are properly calculated, distributed, and accounted for. In nearly all cases, the job is very numbers-heavy, which means that university degrees in accounting, statistics, or math are very typical pension analyst requirements.
The most straight-forward pension analyst jobs usually take place in private companies that offer pension benefits to retiring employees. This sort of analyst usually works to determine appropriate payout amounts, averages, and standards. Calculations must depend not only on the employee’s own work history and salary level, but also on the overall liquidity of the corporation, the number of pension obligations, and any available financial market forecasts.
Most companies and government entities that offer pension benefits make payments out of a centralized account. This account is rarely static, however. It is often held in trust or is invested in stocks, bonds, or other return-bearing vehicles. A pension analyst usually helps make recommendations on longer-term investments, which can help shape and fill the benefits obligations later on down the line.
Companies often simply present employees with their pension plan, but employees generally get to choose how they want their payments distributed. They may even get a say in how money is invested or held before disbursement. A private pension analyst can help people in these sorts of situations make the best choices.
Private pension analysts are usually employed by investing and financial planning firms. They typically maintain a small roster of clients at any given time and provide each with detailed summaries and recommendations. Pension analyst duties in this setting may also include broader retirement planning, often including financial counseling advice that extends beyond structuring and waiting for benefits pay-outs.
In most countries, pensions are governed by a complex series of laws and regulations. Many of these have to do with tax exemptions and filing statuses. Companies can often qualify for tax breaks and other benefits if they offer so-called “qualifying” pensions, for instance, and the employees who benefit may also be eligible receive deductions or deferrals on interest earned. Pension analysts who work for government tax agencies or regulatory bodies usually evaluate these plans and audit them for true qualification.
A pension analyst focused on auditing is most often engaged in testing different plans and payment schemes. Testing is usually random, and must generally be double-checked against regulations and published laws. Analysts who find mistakes or disparities must usually pursue the proper channels for prosecution or program suspension. The senior-most analysts in these settings usually carry the weight and authority of the government with them, and can make recommendations as official agents.