Defined benefit solutions

We’re the UK’s largest insurer and a leading provider of flexible solutions for UK Defined Benefit pension plans.

Our specialist team develops bespoke solutions that efficiently de-risk pension plans and provide certainty for their members. Combining exceptional financial strength, best-in-class member care and more than 10 years’ experience, we help trustees secure their long-term objectives.

What we offer

Whether it’s insuring a subset of members or starting the journey towards a full buy-out, we have the flexibility and expertise to help.


When it comes to de-risking, all pension plans have their own unique requirements. We create tailored buy-in solutions to suit trustees and sponsoring employers, providing long-term security for their members.

What’s a buy-in?

  • An insurance policy held by the trustees of a pension plan to protect against investment, inflation and longevity risks
  • With a buy-in, we make regular payments into the plan to meet monthly pensioner payroll requirements
  • The relationship between the pension plan and its members stays the same: the plan continues to pay the benefits, while we have no direct, visible relationship with members
  • A buy-in is an asset to back the insured liabilities and is often the first step in a longer-term de-risking strategy


Trustees who are looking to achieve a final settlement of all liabilities in a pension plan will typically undertake a buy-out solution. In this case, we will be responsible for all plan liabilities and for dealing with members directly.

What’s a buy-out?

  • An insurance policy bought by trustees that typically covers an entire pension plan’s liabilities
  • With a buy-out, we take on full responsibility for the pension plan, thus removing any associated risks and liabilities from the sponsoring employer’s balance sheet once and for all
  • After completion, we issue individual policies to members and become responsible for the pensioner payroll and member administration
  • Typically, the scheme will have no remaining liabilities and can be wound up

Why choose us?

Financial security

Highly rated by all the major agencies for financial strength, we’re a global composite insurer that’s able to diversify risk across multiple product types and markets. We’re also the only active UK bulk annuity provider with Global Systemically Important Insurer status.

Robust implementation

We see de-risking as a service rather than a product, which means we put trustees and their members at the heart of what we do. For each pension plan, we use dedicated in-house teams to deliver a smooth implementation and transition.

Proven track record

We have more than 10 years’ experience in the bulk annuities market and have successfully completed over 400 solutions for a wide range of pension plans with specific requirements.

Capital and asset management

Our strong Solvency II Coverage ratio (SCR) is almost double the regulatory requirement.* Combined with our proactive, long-term approach to asset and capital management, we’re strong today, tomorrow and beyond.

(*Aviva Interim results 2017)

First-class member care

Members’ needs are always at the forefront of our mind. When a member contacts us, they’ll always deal with a defined benefit expert who will take the time to provide the highest levels of help and support.


Our experienced deal management teams work closely with trustees and advisers to gain an in-depth understanding of their requirements. This ensures we can tailor bespoke solutions that truly match the needs of trustees.

Meet the team

Tom Ground

Managing Director

Tom was appointed Managing Director of Aviva’s Defined Benefit Solutions team in August 2017. He’s a key industry figure with extensive experience of some of the largest ever bulk annuity transactions in the market.

John Smitherman-Cairns

Head of Proposition and Business Development

John previously led the Bulk Annuities and Longevity Swaps teams at Friends Life. He moved to Aviva after the merger with Friends Life, working on Aviva’s £2bn longevity swap with Heineken. John has a wealth of experience in M&A and defined benefit de-risking.

Stephen Purves

Core Deal Management Lead

Stephen leads the Core Deal team and has more than 15 years’ experience in the market, including 10 years as a broker in Mercer’s de-risking team. He’s led on a number of significant transactions, including the £600m buy-in Pearson transaction for Aviva in 2017.

John Moffatt

Head of Operations

An expert in customer experience, John leads our in-house administration and implementation teams. From scheme inception through to member service, he ensures that all our client and member needs are central to what we do.

Toby Holmes

Senior Deal Manager

Toby helped establish Aviva’s Bulk Purchase Annuity team back in 2006. Since then he’s helped many trustees and their advisers achieve their de-risking ambitions by working collaboratively with them to achieve the best outcomes.

John Fothergill

Senior Deal Manager

John has been with the team since it was established in 2006. He’s worked on many significant deals for Aviva, including a buy-out for Cineworld and a £300m pensioner buy-in for Alcatel-Lucent. Recently John has focused on helping develop and streamline Aviva’s quotation processes.

Andy Morley

Senior Deal Manager

Andy has more than 20 years’ experience of defined benefit pensions, including 10 years working in de-risking and external relationship management. He’s worked on deals of all types and sizes, including pension schemes for FTSE-100 companies.

Gareth Jones

Senior Deal Manager

Gareth has led a number of significant transactions since joining Aviva. Previously, he was Head of Pensions for a regulated utility where he advised on pension strategy, acquisitions, workforce change and led engagement with economic regulators.

Sarah Cave

Deal Manager

Before joining Aviva, Sarah worked for Mercer, and has extensive experience of defined benefit pensions. She’s worked as a scheme actuary, provided corporate advice on M&A activity, and advised trustees on schemes of all sizes.

Paul Donnelly

Deal Manager

Paul joined Aviva as a graduate recruit and quickly progressed to become a deal manager. His focus now is on streamlined transactions, while he has experience of leading on larger deals.

Andy Vass

Deal Manager

Andy has comprehensive experience of the industry having worked for a number of insurers before joining Aviva in 2017. He’s previously worked on deals with a number of high-profile clients such as P&O, BMW and General Motors.

Contact us

Want to find out more? We’re happy to help. Here’s how you can get in touch:

Email us at, or call us on 0800 051 3680 (Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm)

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