There are no rats and the ship is not sinking (a message for BSPS members)


Thanks to the moderators of the BSPS Facebook groups for access and to the poll’s author for permission to publish. This is a very worrying post from a BSPS member.

The poll is recent and is the only data I have seen relating to BSPS member intentions.

It tells a tale… if members act in line with this (exit) poll, something like £3bn would leave BSPS before BSPS2 arrived. As the bulk of BSPS’ assets refer to retirees and are destined for the PPF, this could leave BSPS2 looking a little unpopulated.

It could also leave the regulators with a difficult problem if the transfers are not subject to good advice.

poll bsps


I’ve been asked for some thoughts. I have three.

  1. Firstly, even denuded of 85% of potential members, BSPS2 would remain viable and – assuming the residual sponsorship was not reduced, the solvency of the scheme should improve.
  2. Secondly, the run on BSPS1 is unlikely to mean further reduced transfer values. This is not a transfer now while stocks last situation and there is no need to panic.
  3. Thirdly, though I can feel confident about BSPS2, I cannot say the same for all the 86% of those who will transfer out. Will 83% of those who expect to be advised, have ongoing advice, that remains to be seen, will the 4% who will make their own way end up happy, well we have some evidence that they may not,


So, on balance, I have to urge extreme caution to BSPS members who are not in retirement.

Even though time seems to be conspiring against these members, there is considerable downside in taking a transfer without being sure what happens next. It is unlikely that you will fall into a bearpit, but scammers are digging them. It is more likely that you underestimate your life expectancy and the needs of your spouses. It is more likely that your investment pot will fall prey to “pounds cost ravaging” or “sequential risk” (ask your adviser). It is likely that the investment hurdle rate you need to hit, to justify drawing a pension from your own pot will be higher than you think, after you have paid all fees.

That transfer value did not happen by accident. To put money behind the defined benefit promise, the BSPS Trustees and the scheme’s management have done well. We know that the management costs of the scheme are some of the lowest amongst all occupational pension schemes. If cost control is a proxy for a well-governed scheme, you can feel confident that transferring to BSPS 2 will keep you under this excellent umbrella.

It is an umbrella that will shelter many and an umbrella that is not available if you choose to transfer out. Though there is certainty in your transfer – there is no certainty that it will provide you with equivalent outcomes. The British Steel Pension Scheme has let nobody down.

Think before you press the trigger. If you are not a BSPS pensioner, you are likely to have a minimum of twenty years of life ahead of you. That is a long time for your money to last and a long relationship with your financial advisor.

But in terms of the timeframes of an occupational scheme like BSPS (or BSPS2) it is no time at all.

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 There are no rats and the ship is not sinking (a message for BSPS members)

  1. Mark Meldon says:

    Hey, ho, Henry, the flood (of now Biblical proportions) continues. Average age of IFA’s I know are our age (fiftysomething) so we won’t be breathing when may transferors get to NRA, I guess.

    Whilst there are circumstances that allow me peace of mind when recommending a DB transfer, I’d say that is around 15%-20% of the relatively small number of enquiries I have had post April 15. Anecdotally, other IFA’s seem nearer the 75% mark what with their contingent fee structure.

    What is to be done?


  2. Brian Gannon says:

    Henry whilst I agree that members should be cautious you keep saying things which are not right. The hurdle rates and critical yields in a TVAS must take into account the fees and charges of advice plan fees and fund fees. You keep making this statement and unless the member is being advised by a scammer or liar then the hurdle rates and critical yields will already take account of fees.

  3. henry tapper says:

    In my own experience , I was presented with a low cost passive approach and then found that I was supposed to be paying advisory fees. Only the AMC was loaded into the calculation. I was told this Is common practice – was this wrong?

    • Brian Gannon says:

      Hi Henry. Every single.TVaS I have ever provided a client has always included the cost of.advice as well as all other charges. So I would say he’s very bad for not including it for you. I include the initial fee and the ongoing advisory fèe. Whether or.not it’s a legal requirement it’s sharp practice at best to exclude advice fees.

  4. henry tapper says:

    Elliott Smith has written feelingly on this in Citywire, the second half of this long article is particularly relevant

  5. Mark Meldon says:

    Henry, what Brian Gannon says is correct. I outsource any TVAS requests (for the fear of getting the input and thus the output wrong) to O&M Pensions and I have to provide them with the “cost of advice” figures as well as product charges by providing an illustration of the product to be used whether “insured” PPP or SIPP. So the output from the TVAS will include deductions for all fees, both product, advice and funds (for a SIPP). I doubt they will be “penny perfect” but they will be close!

  6. Pingback: Steel men had “time to choose”, the FCA has “time to change”. | AgeWage: Making your money work as hard as you do

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