To his credit, James Baxter of Tideway (who I have criticised in a recent blog for selling not advising) , has posted a reasoned response. The key matter for me is whether members of DB schemes are being panicked out of them by the prospect of falling CETV rates. I post my views in my response to James’ self defence. Reading both comments – lengthy as they are, may be helpful in understanding the fundamental dynamics of the great transfer debate. I post both James’ comment and my response without further comment, if you haven’t read the blog in question – it is linked here
RESPONSE FROM JAMES BAXTER OF TIDEWAY
Its a shame you did not come to the conference and hear the talk and subsequent Q&A session that put these slides into context.
I agree with your comment that CETVs are non negotiable. We speculate that the reductions in values offered in the schemes mentioned is down to increased outflows through the transfer option and trustees obligations. If you have a better explanation I would be keen to hear it.
The BA scheme reduction was announced in their ‘Trustee’ news letter which can be read hear:
This pre announcement caused a rush for the exit door…not us. RBS gave no notice to their changes in the summer of ’15 , SGN made a similar announcement at the end of 16 for a forward date with the same panic effect on members as the BA announcement. Again nothing to do with Tideway, but as an adviser active in this space we get to deal with these panicked members.
The panic in members is also caused by the likes of Tata, BHS and the media not Tideway. To the contrary we spend time reassuring members of FTSE 100 blue chip company schemes with resilient covenants, that in fact their benefits are going to be paid in full and fear of this is certainly not a reason to consider a transfer.
I’m sure if we met Henry, aside from establishing a shared love of boats you would quickly recognise that we are one of the good guys. We have a great website, issue plain English guides and work hard on our PR. Aside from this we do no selling. All our advisers are employed on generous basic salaries without any incentives around specific cases or business volumes. All our inquiries are in bound from members who have usually read our guides, thought about there options and have sensible plans and ideas as to how to take advantage of pension freedoms and a generous CETV. We facilitate transfers to DIY platforms, other wealth managers and advisers as well as offering an end to end service for those who want that. Our 1% contingent fee is both competitive and hugely popular with consumers, it actually makes it easy for them to pull out at any time if they decide to stick with the scheme benefits and some do as you would see if you read the testimonials on our website. We are absolutely not pushy and do get a huge amount of repeat business from schemes where we have become the trusted firm to use.
Mercers are now predicting around 40% of DB actives and deferreds will want to transfer. The Pensions Regulator tells us that probably 80,000 members transferred in the 12 months to 31/3/17, Tideway has completed around 1% of these by volume and 2% by value. We are not alone in meeting an increasing level of customer demand.
How many DC pensioners are buying index linked annuities at NRD these days? Not many, and quite correctly. Who given the choice would lock in capital at today’s annuity rates and can predict that the income they will need in their 60’s will be the same in their 80’s and 90’s. That’s assuming they can any way afford an indexed annuity to meet their age 60’s and 70’s income need, most are a country mile away.
I lost both my parents before age 75, my parents in law in their mid 80’s can live on two state pensions per month quite happily and have a DB benefit to spare, but just had a £25,000 stair lift fitted after one fell and broke a hip, try doing that on a defined benefit. My 95 year old next door neighbour gets three visits a day at home costing in excess of £2,000 a week, again try doing that on a defined benefit. I think I have a pretty good comprehension of what retirement looks like.
Fixed life time incomes bought at today’s interest for 60 year old’s are unlikely to prove fit for purpose. It therefore should surprise no one, especially an actuary, that 50 to 60 year old’s offered such large sums of money will prefer flexible access to a conservatively invested fund over an annuity.