DC road testing – August Play Pen Pension lunch

It’s come to a pretty pass when a man can walk into a room full of pensions people , ask a question and not get an answer for the fear of the advisers.

When our good colleague , a company secretary of a major European food producer,asked us our views on who was doing a good job in delivering DC pensions, I thought we would have a proper discussion on the service delivery levels of the various providers that we introduce to our clients.

If this had been top gear , we could have expected a fair and frank exchange of views laced with personal vituperation and a good few laughs.

This being a pensions lunch, we all dove for cover , guarding our comments with so many provisos that our Company Secretary  looked about as comfortable as Justin Gatlin on the medal podium.

Where does a man get a straightforward opinion on what he and his company should do?

In all my time advising on money purchase pensions, I have never known a time when there is so little consensus about the choices, let alone the solutions.

Our lunch flitted from SIPPs to Mastertrusts, we tried to get some

Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

consensus about which of the insurers were geared up to helping companies with the intricacies of auto-enrolment, we discussed middleware solutions to “opt-outs” but in the final estimate, was our Company Secretary any the wiser?

There are great  solutions out there, solutions that range from mastertrusts like NOW and NEST through to SIPPs like Vantage. In the middle are a great range of insured products including group personal and stakeholder pensions, investment platforms, corporate wraps and insured mastertrusts.

There is nothing particularly odd about this range of options. It is much the same when you consider buying a car.

What is different about pensions is that the simple question “which options work” cannot be answered. It cannot be answered because while people are quite prepared to opine as to whether a Ferrari or a Maserati is a better coupe, they freeze like rabbits in the headlights when you ask whether Friends or Standard Life have better service delivery.

The answer is always “that depends”.

There comes a time when enough is enough. When people outside of pensions turn on pensions advisers and ask us to put up or shut up. Questions about whether mastertrusts are better than SIPPs are of course client dependent, no one expects the same answer all the time but I think the general public expects us to have some answers, be prepared to show some leadership.

I left our Play Pen lunch yesterday in two minds. On the one hand I was impressed that we’d had the discussion that we did, on the other I was depressed that the choices available to our Company Secretary did not seem to have been made simpler.

Present at yesterday’s lunch

Simon Kew- Jackal Advisory

Peter Weiner- Pensions Trust

Noel O’Dwyer – Glanbia

Henry Tapper- First Actuarial

Vivi Friedgut- Black Bullions

Clive Worlock- Charles Stanley

Kevin Steinlechner – Radcliffe & Newlands

Steve Power – Punter Southall

Matthew Beaman- Grant Thornton

Paul Munro – Xafinity Consulting

Next lunch- same time  – same place Monday 3rd September

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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7 Responses to DC road testing – August Play Pen Pension lunch

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  2. Jessica King says:

    Hi there. Thanks for letting me into the play pen. Don’t suppose I could come along to the next Pensions lunch, in my capacity as senior intern at World News Media? Always looking for the inside story on developments in the pensions industry.
    Will it be too soon to predict by then the long-term effects of auto-enrolment? Be good to explore some Open Market Option schemes.

    • henry tapper says:


      Of course you could – the next one is on Monday September 3rd at the same time and place – The Counting House 50 Cornhill!

      If you want to learn more call me on 07785 377768 or just follow the discussions board on the Pension Play Pen

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