Last year’s report from Virgin Money was the best I read and this year’s report looks like it might make it a notable double.
The Virgin Stakeholder Pension comes under severe scrutiny
The report does not pull its punches, it has taken advice from a reputable firm (Hymans Robertson) and is in dispute with Virgin Money about how the default is constructed. Having read the Virgin Money explanation, I am quite with the IGC, I suspect that Virgin have difficulty making changes and keeping the Stakeholder Plan profitable , diversification costs as do the changes, these costs – bearing in mind the product is at the boundary of the cap, will fall to the shareholder.
The report doesn’t go into a lot of detail about hidden costs – I suspect the IGC is too busy sorting Virgin Money’s default out, but it does give policyholders a proper view of how their funds are performing.
The numbers aren’t any better for those close to retirement.
How IGC Chair, Sir David Chapman can claim that this performance is broadly in line with industry peers is hard to see – maybe this is dry humour. I am impressed that Virgin’s IGC are publishing the bad numbers.
In terms of lay-out and tone, the report is a compelling read, you skip through its 24 pages which buzz with colour, diagrams and insights. I liked the agenda items dealt with at each meeting.
On the minus side, the report doesn’t have much (anything) to say about the moral and ethical elements of investments, it talks a fair bit about the importance of NMG’s findings (Virgin were a subscriber), but it hasn’t yet tackled Virgin Money’s engagement with its policyholders. It would be good to see the same rigorous approach extended to these subjects as is displayed elsewhere in this report.
This is how a low-budget IGC should work. The tone is spot on – David Chapman is authoritative and precise, not a word is wasted. The tone earns a green.
The IGC has a limited job to do, to be effective – Virgin Money is a simpler organisation than- say-Aviva. However, it is getting on with the job with admirable focus. It gets a green.
As for Value for money, I hope more will come next year but this is not a report that moans about lack of help with VFM, it does what it can for now and I give it a green for its progress.
Well done Virgin Money IGC, a top report for a second year running.
You can read it here ; https://uk.virginmoney.com/virgin/assets/pdf/pensions-statement-of-the-year-2017.pdf