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

We need to get a grip on retirement saving
People need to know how much they have saved in various pensions during their working life, and where the money actually is now.

Beginning with a government consultation six years ago, the Coalition Government decided on 17 July 2012 that 'pot follows member' was the solution to address the proliferation of small pension pots. The majority of respondents had favoured the alternative 'aggregator' approach, mentioning reasons like lower administrative costs and better protection for individuals.

Enabling legislation for 'pot follows member', an initiative particularly associated with former Pensions Minister Steve Webb, exists in the Pensions Act 2014; but there has been no indication of when - or if - it will be commenced.

Instead, a groundswell of support has since materialised for the pensions dashboard concept, something very like the 'virtual aggregator' preferred by many back in 2012. In Budget 2016, the Government declared it would "ensure the industry designs, funds and launches a pensions dashboard by 2019. This will mean an individual can view all their retirement savings in one place."

The industry swallowed hard and put together a Prototype Project, managed by the ABI with Treasury sponsorship, which demonstrated in May 2017 that the idea was feasible. To retain momentum after the general election in June, industry contributors agreed on a further Project . . .

17 Nov 2017   Read the full article


in PMI Technical News

This article looks at the momentous events that occurred in 1997, and discusses the extent to which the industry is still feeling their effects. From GMP accrual being ceased to the introduction of pensions freedoms, we look at the key events that have shaken up pensions, and shaped the industry into what it is today.

The recent news that the rise in state pension age to 68 will be brought in seven years earlier than expected in 2037 drew criticism, with one newspaper describing it as 'picking the pockets of millions of people'.

For many, this change twenty years into the future may seem a long way off, but if we look at what's happened with pensions in the twenty years leading up to this point, then without a doubt 1997 was particularly portentous.

This was a year that it is now claimed changed the retirement prospects of the nation forever – a year that set the tone for much of what was to come by way of further changes to pensions.

Twenty years ago – the world of pensions was a very different place

In the 1990s, most defined benefit schemes were still open to new members, who could look forward to an income of up to two- thirds of their final salary in retirement. Some schemes were in surplus. Employer contribution holidays for several years were quite common, driven partly by Inland Revenue restrictions on surpluses.

However, pension provision was becoming more burdensome. The landmark 1990 Barber case had ruled that pensions were deferred pay, and banned sex discrimination in pensions. . . .

Nov 2017   Read the full article


in Pension Funds Insider

Ian Neale discusses the alternative to simply banning foul behaviours and looks at more successful preventions.

By common consent the legislation we are bound by is unduly complex, convoluted and too damn much. Some of it is undoubtedly necessary. A lot could be improved by better drafting: a focus on the wood as well as the trees. We can all think of laws we could well do without, though. Regulations that address an imagined offence, of which the government produces little or no evidence that it actually happens or is likely to happen, are one example. 'Just-in-case' is no good reason for swelling the statute book.

Good legislation should not only be evidence-based; it should be enforceable – and enforced. In 2006 a government obsessed with the idea that everyone would recycle their tax-free cash back into a pension scheme decided to ban recycling. That legislation was a joke: it had no effect, because it was unenforceable. To be caught, you had to shop yourself.

Other legislation while in principle enforceable, is brought into disrepute by not being enforced. Think back to the introduction of stakeholder pensions: employers had merely to designate a scheme. How many were prosecuted for failing to take that simple step? One, and only then because, again, he self-reported.

This issue has been raised again by the government's new plan to ban cold calling about pensions, in response to their consultation about pension scams. It bears the hallmarks of a knee-jerk reaction to undesirable behaviour: . . .

22 Sept 2017   Read the full article

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