The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has updated its COVID-19-related guidance to tell trustees they must continue to prioritise transfers between defined contribution (DC) schemes during the pandemic and stay alert to scams.At the end of March trustees of defined benefit (DB) schemes were told they could delay new member requests for quotations for transfers to DC schemes by up to three months to review their transfer basis, but TPR today said “this is not the case for transfers between DC schemes where the valuation of benefits is less complex”.David Fairs, TPR’s executive director of policy, said: “Our latest guidance should help trustees of DC schemes prioritise what’s most important – such as ensuring DC to DC transfers are completed in a reasonable time, so savers don’t lose out.“As well as carrying out their due diligence on transfers, trustees should help protect members by highlighting the risk from scammers in their own communications,” he added. Last month TPR published guidance asking trustees to write to DB members looking to move retirement funds to warn them of the risks during the pandemic and urging them to consider their decisions carefully.IHS Markit syncs UK, US pension risk transferLegal & General has simultaneously agreed pension risk transfer transactions for IHS Markit US and UK pension plans, the first time the insurer struck a “cross-country” deal.The UK transaction was for £37.8m (€42m) and covered around 150 members in the IHS (Global) Ltd. Pension and Life Assurance Scheme. The US transaction was for $97.2m, covering around 1,200 members in the IHS Retirement Income Plan.Stafford Napier, chair of the UK plan trustees, said: “This transaction is a key step in our plans to de-risk the provision of pension benefits for our members in the UK. We had been discussing the opportunities for de-risking with our sponsoring employer for a number of years.“With the support of the company, our advisers and Legal & General we were able to complete the transaction efficiently and on time even in the face of the challenging financial circumstances surrounding the coronavirus emergency.”Recent market volatility, in particular wider credit spreads, has however led to some attractive pricing in the UK bulk annuity market.“We would anticipate a global approach to de-risking being one of the key levers that sponsors with UK and US obligations look to utilise going forwards.”Greg Robertson, transactions specialist at Willis Towers WatsonGreg Robertson, transactions specialist at Willis Towers Watson, which advised on both deals, said the co-ordinated transaction “further demonstrates the value of innovation in the bulk annuity market.“With demand for transactions still high, it remains important for schemes to differentiate themselves in order to maximise insurer engagement and to secure attractive pricing.“One of those differentiators might now be a global approach to de-risking. We would anticipate this being one of the key levers that sponsors with UK and US obligations look to utilise going forwards.”IHS Markit is a global provider of research, market intelligence and analysis. L&G noted that it has been a client of its asset manager LGIM for more than 15 years.Pace de-risks again with AvivaPace, the Co-operative Pension Scheme, has insured the defined benefit liabilities of an additional 2,300 members after striking a £350m buy-in with Aviva.The deal was completed using a pre-agreed “umbrella contract”, and comes on top of £1bn deal between the two parties announced in January. The Pace pension fund has also struck a £1bn buy-in with the Pension Insurance Corporation.The process to select an insurer, in this case Aviva, and negotiate terms was led by Aon on behalf of the trustee. Legal advice was provided by Linklaters and investment advice by Mercer.Chris Martin, of Independent Trustee Services Limited and Pace trustee chair, said: “The trustee board is delighted to have been able to take this further step in enhancing the security of our members’ benefits.“The ability to transact this quickly and efficiently is testament to all of the hard work from our colleagues in the Co-op Pensions Department in getting Pace to a position where such security enhancing options are possible. Thanks also go to all of our advisers for their work in exceptionally challenging circumstances in making this outcome possible”.Tom Scott, principal consultant in Aon’s risk settlement group, said: “By leveraging the previous buy-in transaction with Aviva, we were able to capture a short-term pricing opportunity on behalf of the trustee.“Swift execution was required in the circumstances, which was made possible by the scheme being well-prepared and having efficient and nimble governance processes in place.”Looking for IPE’s latest magazine? Read the digital edition here.