Ian Neale, Aries Director, is a frequent contributor to the debate in the national pensions press.  Read Ian's incisive commentary, and share his unique insights into the problems and opportunities of pensions in the UK.  Here is a recent sample to get you copied in. Ian welcomes your response - just click here to send him an email.


in Pension Funds Insider

DB schemes, Master Trusts and Collective Defined Contribution (CDC) schemes can take advantage of coming together, Ian Neale discusses the benefits.

Looking back over 2018, member protection and collective provision have been two themes connecting a handful of key developments in pensions. What the White Paper on protecting defined benefit schemes, consolidation, master trusts and Collective Defined Contribution (CDC) schemes all have in common is that coming together delivers better results.

It used to be a given that pension provision was a collective enterprise. Emerging from the paternalistic era in the 1980s, fixed-term employment contracts and self-employment (quasi or genuine) became more common. Individuals gradually acquired more options with the advent of contracting-out via protected rights, self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs), automatic enrolment and flexible access.

'Taking back control' is appealing, but with advantages also come responsibilities. Pensions professionals understand the concept of risk. The average citizen though, asked by a financial adviser 'how much risk do you want to take with your pension?' might well respond 'risk?!! I don't want to take any risks with my pension! Why would I put my savings at risk?'

Awareness is growing though, however slowly, that in the modern world where money purchase rules dominate, individual members bear all the uncertainties and risks associated with inflation, investment, longevity and so on. As awareness grows, so does the level of discomfort – and complaints. . . .

14 Dec 2018   Read the full article


in PMI Technical News

by Gareth Stears

What happens when you complain to your pension provider? The answer will largely depend on whether they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or not.

What rules must my pension provider follow when I complain?
Pnsion providers have to create a complaints procedure and they have to stick to it. The procedure must meet the "Treating complainants fairly" requirements in the FCA's handbook unless your provider is an occupational pension scheme. The FCA regulates pension providers, but with the specific exception of occupational schemes. Instead, these schemes (with few exceptions ) must create an "internal dispute resolution procedure" (IDRP) that meets requirements set out in legislation .

Your scheme must confirm its IDRP to you within two months of you joining or (if sooner) within a month of your employer giving the scheme your details. You can request the information again once a year; as can a recognised trade union. The scheme must inform members before changing anything in its IDRP (or within three months of the change if prior notification is not practical). Under FCA rules, your provider has to give you only basic details about its complaints procedure at the point of sale or first contact, on request, and when acknowledging a complaint.

How do I make an official complaint?
Under FCA rules, providers receive an official complaint whenever a customer claims they have caused them (or may cause them) loss, distress, or inconvenience. You can claim this in writing or just express it in passing on the phone. It doesn't matter whether . . .

21 Nov 2018   Read the full article


in Pension Funds Insider

In a previous blog I drew attention to the recent update to "Combating Pension Scams: A Code of Good Practice' from the Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA).

Since then, there have been several developments. HM Treasury has run a short consultation on draft regulations to "ban cold-calling", expected to come into force before the end of the year. The Pensions Ombudsman has upheld a complaint against the Northumbria Police Authority that it should not have transferred a policeman's pension. And in a well-coordinated action, The Pensions Regulator has joined forces with the Financial Conduct Authority to re-launch the ScamSmart campaign.

Stopping scams at the source

Declaring certain activities are illegal and prescribing fines for perpetrators on conviction will not stop people being separated from their pensions. The cold-calling regs will make it harder for scammers, but the potential financial rewards are huge: the latest figures show an average of £91,000 per known victim in 2017. The chicanery will continue; the regs will simply trigger another chicane around the law.

By common consent, it is far better to prevent scams by stifling them at birth, than relying on the law to deter or catch criminals. If the ground is no longer fertile, the seeds will not germinate. Successful prevention then depends upon both individuals and pension trustees and administrators being well-prepared to resist attack by fraudsters. . . .

16 Nov 2018   Read the full article

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