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

Ian Neale looks at the recent joining of regulatory forces and asks: what has this achieved?

An industry perception of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) as police playing whack-a-mole, not very successfully either, is not improved by the frequent sight of stable doors being closed after horses have bolted.

As these two regulators have just published a joint strategy for regulating the pensions and retirement income sector, it's timely to ask whether this is worthwhile, on balance; and indeed whether there is any point at all in having a regulator?

How did we get into this mess? Before the Big Bang on 6 April 1988, when the Financial Services Act 1986 came into force, the pensions industry (and many other industries) operated quite well without regulators.

Then investor protection suddenly became important, so LAUTRO and FIMBRA were set up as self-regulatory organisations (SROs) for the life assurance and financial intermediary sectors respectively. Alongside several other SROs, they were required to create, monitor and enforce rules for their members.

That didn't work, so they were replaced by one body, the Personal Investment Association. Further regulatory failures convinced the government that self-regulation lacked credibility, so in 1997 we got the Financial Services Authority (FSA) instead.

Besides consumer protection, the FSA was now also charged with . . .

05 Nov 2018   Read the full article


in Pension Funds Insider

Amid a minor flurry of government activity relating to pensions in the past week, a really significant publication passed almost under the radar. On 22 June the Pension Scams Industry Group (PSIG, originally the Pension Liberation Industry Group) released v2 of "Combating Pension Scams: A Code of Good Practice".

The original version published in 2015 set out the due diligence steps to be taken in order to help identify whether a receiving scheme is one to which a transfer payment should be made. Most schemes, providers and reputable advisers have adopted it. This update - which has been warmly welcomed by the Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion - incorporates the following key changes:

  • promotion of calling members directly as part of due diligence information collecting: an early phone call will usually help identify the reasons for the transfer request and the source and circumstances of the request.

  • expanding protection to include asking insistent customers to contact The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) for impartial guidance which will help them to better understand the risks.

  • recent developments: an update on QROPS regulations; the Hughes v Royal London judgment (which ruled that a member has a right to a statutory transfer even where no employment link exists with the receiving scheme employer); the growth in "international SIPPs" as scam vehicles; and acknowledgement of the government's proposed forthcoming cold calling ban . . .

03 July 2018   Read the full article


in PMI Pensions Aspects

Everywhere in the public sector seems to be underfunded at the moment. Services are 'collapsing', 'in crisis' and 'cut to the bone'. Reduction of central government funding, notably to local authorities, is often the immediate cause. But there are also underlying societal trends which are more profound and less amenable to short-term correction.

The economically active percentage of the UK population is shrinking. The rising incidence of disabilities and infirmities, fuelled by obesity and manifested in illnesses such as diabetes, is one factor. Another is the growing number of people who survive into extreme old age. More and more people need help with everyday living. Help at the moment still, by and large, requires other people, and people are expensive.

Many retired, elderly or chronically infirm people have to manage on a fixed income, often a quite low income, that cannot stretch to paying someone to help for more than a short time each week. State benefits don't go far, as a rule, and local authorities adult social care budgets, even with the maximum extra 3% council tax precept, fall far short of meeting demand.

Inexorably, as public sector workers are pressed ever harder, standards compressed, and services outsourced on price, the individual needing help is being squeezed as well: to pay more, and often receiving less in return.

So far, so familiar you might say, but where will it all end? Without descending into arguments about allocation of taxes . . .

May 2018   Read the full article

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