I’ve taken to tweeting when listening to people talk at conferences.
A tweet a day keeps boredom away but like a micron particle in Brownian motion, when I get worked up, I tend to over – agitate … (overtweeet) – this clearly happened yesterday.
Several of my tweepy followers pushed off, fed up with their timelines bunged up with my thoughts from the #opdu conference.
You can read my running commentary on this great event run by the Occupational Pensions Defence Union (thanks Grant, Jonathan and the team) – on my twitter timeline.
If you would like to follow me on @henryhtapper then please do, I suspect that some of you already do and that some of you used to but got fed up! I am trying!
Enough of this and on to Bill Galvin, who is the Pension Regulator. Like the Government Actuary, he has his own department but his is situated in sunny Brighton (not dismal Chancery Lane). His job is to make sure that pensions run smoothly which they have been doing over the past few years.
This is partly due to the excellently managed Pension Protection Fund, which takes on unloved DB schemes forsaken by careless or bankrupt employers. Sadly many of the employers became bankrupt stumping up contributions to the pension schemes so the Pension Regulator treads a fine line between keeping companies honest and solvent. This Bill Galvin and his team, do very well.
But so much of their time has been spent overseeing defined benefit schemes , that defined contribution plans have had to sit on the subs bench , seldom getting a run out in front of the fans. Judging from Bill Galvin’s speech yesterday, I suspect he hasn’t been watching his reserves too much of late.
He looks and sound distinctly uncomfortable on the subject, This is Bill yesterday on the paper mountain his department produced on DC at the start of the year
“I know some people thought that there was rather too much paper but defined contributions are very complicated and there’s a lot of different parts to look at”
Sorry Bill, that’s the comment of a hapless amateur! DC schemes can be assessed against some pretty simple measures and if you’d stuck with your original concept of what made for good – the November 2011 “Good DC outcomes” paper, you’d be a lot better off than with the “32″ good DC characteristics you came up with in January (the number that you couldn’t remember).
If this is a criticism , it is a criticism of resource not of competence. I don’t want my Regulator getting hung up on how many DC characteristics there are, but I want to know that within his department , there is someone who I can trust to be authoritative on DC. The Pension Regulator does not have such a person, as far as I can see it does not even have a head of DC.
Which is astonishing! They did have a head of DC (who I’d rather forget) but they packed her off into retirement with a gong and a fat pension and have not found a replacement in the last six months.
DC is not reserve team anymore, it is in the premier league and it is expected to exceed DB in terms of assets by as early as 2019. It is what most of us will relay on to supplement our £145 pw basic state pension. It is the principal vehicle for the savings of the 11m odd auto-enrolling over the next five years and it is what got me up this morning to write this!
So having a pensions regulator who bumbles along without a head of DC producing paper mountains of tedious stuff about 32 characteristics of good DC is not good
Bill, tPR need a gong-worthy head of DC asap. (tweet that someone)
Where to look?
– well there are a lot of pension managers with experience of running DC schemes who are currently losing their jobs as companies cut back. Some of these have experience working with insurers, some worked for insurers and some worked with insurers , in house administration teams and third party administrators.
Yes it is complicated – but so is the PPF and just about everything else in pensions and the very best people can cut through the crap ,make it sound simple , sound and be authoritative on what really matters.
If you want me to put together a short-list for you, I’d be happy to!
My final tweet on the matter read like this
Have to like Bill Galvin at
#opdu Very straightforward honest and open! give him some DC resource
- Diagnosing the real cost of DC (henrytapper.com)
- 2 cheers for the Regulator’s new clothes (henrytapper.com)
- Pension regulator in new guidance (bbc.co.uk)
- The Regulator’s right to be cautious about mastertrusts (henrytapper.com)
- “Comply or explain” – will “bottom up” regulation work for pensions? (henrytapper.com)
- Never mind the width – feel the quality! (henrytapper.com)
- The problem with actuaries (henrytapper.com)
- Pension agnostic? (henrytapper.com)
- OFT rattles pension consultant’s cage -shock! (henrytapper.com)
- Dear OFT…. (henrytapper.com)