Pensions Review of 2012

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Well that was the year that was or was is it that’s another fine mess you have got me into or was it bring me sunshine……

January saw public sector pensions in the news again, with the Unite union rejecting the government’s latest reform proposals.  Further strike action was avoided in May when a deal was finally agreed with Unite, GMB and Unison.  January also saw equalisation in the headlines again (is it really 22 years since Mr Barber reared his head), this time with a consultation document issued by the government on how to equalise GMPs……

In February, we were very pleased to receive our accreditation under ISO 27001, an internationally recognised standard for Information Security Management.

March brought the budget and the normal tinkering with pensions and much speculation in the press about the abolition of higher rate tax relief for contributions, unfounded for this year but maybe not for future years?  A white paper regarding single state pension provision was promised for the autumn (very late autumn obviously……)

April and the NAPF were saying that it was time that the talking stopped about excessive pay for executives and action taken by way of comprehensive voting to bring a halt to so-called “golden packages”

Age discrimination was the hot topic in May and the decision by the courts that you could enforce a retirement age of 65 in certain circumstances.

A code of good practice was issued by the regulator in June in respect of enhanced transfer exercises and pension increase exercises, ETVs and PIEs…….the pensions world does like an acronym.

August saw the PPF in the news with the announcement of their newly formed specialist administration services panel (SASP).  We were very pleased to be one of only eight firms appointed to this Panel, building on our appointment to the PPF’s Actuarial Valuation Panel in 2011.

A Which report in September showed that the over 55’s are not saving enough for retirement and quoted some worrying figures of how much they are short of their targets. Quite simply a large number are burying their heads in the sand and hoping for the best.

This month also saw us opening our new London office.  It also saw our staff numbers crashing through the 70 barrier (and it’s still rising…)

October and after countless discussions, debates, seminar topics by the bucketful, and arguments, auto enrolment finally arrived with a fanfare. Will it work?  Who knows, but hopefully it’s a good start and not a false dawn.

The Pensions Minister has talked throughout the latter part of the year about defined ambition schemes a sort of half way house between defined benefit and defined contribution. In November Professional Pensions announced a competition asking for entries on how the industry would devise such a scheme. Watch out for the bizarre, the incomprehensible, the clever, and just maybe the pension scheme for the future.  November also saw the stationing of our first secondee with the PPF in Croydon.

As for December, festive cheer was in short supply at 11 Downing Street with Chancellor George Osbourne’s further tightening of pension tax allowances.  And finally, looking forward to 2013, the government’s announcement on the consultation on “smoothed” discount rates for pension scheme valuations is certain to stir debate in the actuarial community.

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