John Ralfe has been expressing his frustration that none of the CDC champions have made him a two page offer to tell him what a CDC pension offer might look like.
I’ve not done this yet, partly because I’ve been thinking about it and partly because I’ve wanted to hear from others more expert than me on what I might be able to say.
But I think it’s right to hold yourself a hostage to fortune and rise to this challenge, so this is what I’d want to read before I invested my DC pension savings in a DC Scheme.
Thanks for your enquiry.
I am the proposition manager for this CDC pension and this is my proposition to you. It is the same proposition I make to all prospective members as this pension plan does not pay inducements to some and charge commissions to others.
My offer to you at your age (60) is to pay you a pension of £1,000 for every £20,000 you invest in my plan. For every £1,000 you give me , I will offer you a pension of £50 a year for the rest of your life.
It is my intention to increase the pension I pay you every year in line with inflation (as measure by the consumer price index.
These pensions assume you do not want a pension to continue to your partner, spouse of any other dependent, I can give you an offer for these options and this will depend on their ages.
I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not guaranteeing you these amounts in year to come. It is likely that at some stage I will have to reduce your pension. Based on our financial modelling, I would have to have done this three times in the last 100 years; at the time of the Great Depression in 1931, during the Second World War and during the Suez Crisis in 1956. The nearest we’d have come to cutting benefits since then would have been the Banking Crisis of 2008. You may have heard that in Holland some similar funds actually did cut benefits by up to 7%.
My estimate of the amount I can pay you is based on educated guesses about how things will be in the future. I have much more confidence that these guesses will be right over the long-term than the short term. I have very little confidence that I will be right year are after year. In fact I predict that I will be too optimistic 50% of the time and too pessimistic 50% of the time.
The good thing is that I can afford to be wrong within certain tolerances. It is only when I am out by a wide margin that I will have to reduce benefits. I estimate that on average this will happen once every 40 years.
The rate I am offering you is around a third more than you can currently get from a comparable annuity. You may think that this is a little over-optimistic but there are sound financial reasons for this rate being higher.
Firstly the cost of guaranteeing you benefits is very high and probably accounts for half of the extra pension I am offering you. The reason guarantees cost so much is that not only do those offering them have to set money aside (reserving) but the investment strategy to back up the guarantee will not offer the same long-term returns as I can hope for.
Secondly, I am able to treat you as one of thousands of people in my plan and your money is pooled with the money of thousands of others. The economies of scale I get from you all means I have lower costs and can pass these on to you through a better rate.
What is more, I do not have to worry about you living too long as an insurer offering an individual annuity has to. Your life expectancy is part of a big pool of life expectancies I have to manage and I am able to allow you to insure each other. This pooling is very efficient, again I do not have to set aside money for you as you are insuring each other!
So there is nothing “magical” about the better rate that I offer, it is achieved by treating you as one of a large crowd and it comes because I am guaranteeing you nothing.
Having read this, you may be reconsidering investing in my plan. If you really value the guarantee or want the freedom to invest as you like, you should look at other options.
There are one or two other things I’d like you to know about my offer.
Firstly, I promise to treat you fairly if you decide you want to leave my plan. You can take your money from me and reinvest in an annuity, invest in a drawdown plan or go and buy your Lamborghini. I won’t try to stop you by placing transfer penalties and you’ll get a fair share of the fund based on your initial investment and how the fund is faring. If the fund is faring worse than I’d hoped , you might find that the fair value is depressed and if it’s doing better , it may be slightly better than you’d expect.
Your expectations should be based on using the calculators I will provide you with which will show you what I think the normal transfer value will be. Your transfer will only be lower or higher than the normal transfer funds in extreme circumstances.
Finally I would like to say a little about how we pay you your pension. There are two ways in which you can receive your payments “taxed” and “part taxed”. The taxed version assumes you have taken your entitlement to a “tax-free lump sum” and I will tax your pension under PAYE as earned income at your highest marginal rate. The “part-taxed” version assumes you haven’t taken your tax-free cash and I will pay you a quarter of your monthly payments “gross” of any tax with the rest fully taxed.
The choice you take should be based on whether you need your cash early or are prepared to wait, waiting will be more rewarding as you will have part of your money invested tax-free for longer.
The decision you take shouldn’t be taken lightly. We would like the opportunity to talk further with you about our plan and you can call us to discuss how it works, mail us or look at our proposition in more detail.
I hope you have found this explanation helpful and that you feel it properly explains why I run the pension the way I do. Thanks for your attention and engagement.
A Friend of CDC
This article first appeared in http://www.pensionplaypen.com