Just Wrong!

“Bloody” and “Furious”, the two adjectives that describe me this morning after reading this.

Opening the link I discovered this absolute cock.

Just Group develops new business to disrupt the individual defined benefit transfer market

The individual defined benefit transfer market is depending on which Government agency you trust, anything between £14.3bn and £34.2bn strong – with the FCA splitting the difference at £20.8bn.

Just are using “disruptive” in the Fintechy senses, to suggest that they are using technology to disintermediate and create value for consumers. To support this claim, the blurb is studded with Fintechisms, the new business is a “Hub” and explained thus

just annoyingDigital technology powers the HUB Pension Solutions platform and has enabled us to create the services to better engage members at the beginning of the journey and to radically disrupt the way personalised information is stored, processed and communicated into formats that are readily usable by financial advisers undertaking structured scheme option exercises

This is mega-cock. Just annoying.  What this HUB does is allow advisers to make even more money out of DB schemes by doing all their work for them and subsiding the cost of advice. Will this subsidy be passed on in lower fees to employers (the customers of these exercises) – perhaps. But that will be as far as it goes.

To pass this off as “disruptive” is pathetic, this is simply a marketing “exercise”, cynically promoting further rape and pillage of DB schemes for the benefit of employers and advisers and to the general detriment of members – scheme beneficiaries.

What transfers disrupt.

Steve Lowe and his mate Tom McPhail should read yesterday’s blog by Sue Flood to understand the disruptive power of transfers. Lowe’s puff piece for the HUB, includes a reference to scams

The value of the 92,000 pensions transferred works out at more than £225,000 for each member.

That sounds a lot and for many it is a lifetime of savings needed to provide regular income through what could be a long retirement. Yet amid evidence of some members being unsuitably advised and others falling for scams, the regulator has been increasingly exercising its consumer protection muscles.

While defined benefit transfers can be initiated by the member, it is becoming more common for schemes to undertake member options exercises, in some cases “enhancing” the value of the offer to make it more attractive for deferred members to explore alternatives to the scheme benefits. Typically schemes will take direction from Pension Liability Management specialists about how to run these exercises and pay the fees for individual scheme members to receive regulated advice which is mandatory where pension benefits are valued at more than £30,000.

Look here, the amount transferred out with the help of “Pension Liability Management Specialists” is a tiny fraction of the £34.25bn , estimated to have been pulled by advisers from DB plans. It is dwarfed by the amounts “initiated by members”. Without so much as consulting a Pension Liability Management specialist, Barclays saw $4.2 bn of their £25bn scheme walk out the door – just in 2017.

Who are the architect’s of DB’s “disruption”?

Let’s ask how nearly £3bn transferred out of BSPS in 2017.

  1. The head of DB at tPR left the Pensions Regulator and joined PWC
  2. PWC are appointed to advise TATA
  3. PWC work with TATA to create an RAA which
    1. Bumps up transfer values (single lower discount rate, reduction of insufficiency deduction
    2. Offers a time-limited choice between PPF and BSPS2
    3. Massively denudes TATA of capital
    4. Sees members totally confused – opting into all kinds of nonsense as a result of CETVs

For which awards and champagne all round


Except it isn’t quite that simple. Far away from the Grosvenor House Hotel, down in Port Talbot, Al Rush is clearing up the mess left by the RAA exercise. Here are some of the stories of the real people for whom the RAA wasn’t an “exercise” at all.

Listen to the podcast and hear the voices of real people who – like Sue Flood, are transferring those telephone number transfers into the wrong type of scheme through the wrong kind of advisers leaving the wrong type of retirement.

Less triumphalism, more contrition and redress.

Firms like PWC and Just, have grown fat from the de-risking of DB schemes. The FCA are indeed about to act and I hope that they act decisively.

I hope that in time , people will come to look at the RAA for BSPS with more balance, that the £34.25bn will be considered  in the light of the FCA’s casework, that suggested that 53% of 2017 transfers were “questionable”.

It is not good enough for PWC, Just and Tom McPhail’s Hargreaves Lansdown, to benefit from this bonanza without taking responsibility for the consequences.

Instead we have all this obscene cock. I am indeed “bloody furious”.



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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5 Responses to Just Wrong!

  1. Adrian Boulding says:

    Henry, I thought the problem that you and Al Rush exposed in South Wales was poor quality financial advice from some people more interested in selling an expensive Sipp than looking after the members interests. But the article from Just that you have linked to is about mass DB transfers where it says the trustee/employer both appoint and pay for the regulated adviser that will deliver the member advice. Won’t this lead to a good decision, with a high quality adviser being appointed and monitored by trustees rather than potentially shady advisers using chicken and chips as bait? So are you sure you are right to be cross or should you be congratulating Just on improving the quality of the transfer advice process?

    • David Davison says:

      Absolutely right Adrian. Henry you would do well to better understand the offering before railing against it. Your righteous indignation in this case is totally misplaced unfortunately. What has been developed here has been designed to specifically deal with the issues you raise.

  2. S Lowe says:

    Henry I think that’s a really disappointing spin you’ve penned. The new business HUB Pension Solutions provides two significant benefits to

    help trustees who choose to run structured scheme option exercises. Firstly a personalised member education portal to help members understand the value of

    their current scheme benefits and options (something trustees need help with) and secondly a technological solution to massively reduce the cost of

    delivering personalised, scheme specific data when and only when members may choose to receive regulated financial advice – something which the scheme

    usually pays for not the member. Better member education and significantly lower costs. Not sure why you are so angry.

    And I don’t need to read Sue’s blog, I watched her deliver her speech and spoke to her after. Her experience is terrible. But don’t muddy the water Henry –

    we are supporting robust, structured scheme organised activity and helping to make it better for members and trustees.

    Credit where credit is due. This makes the current situation better – not worse.

  3. Gerry Flynn says:

    This is “Deja Vue” and a repeat of the miss selling scandal of the 80/90’s. To probable quote it wrong but “if we do not lean from history we are likely to repeat it in the future” and this is what has happened with this latest debacle.
    The problem is that human nature can be manipulated easily, {legally}, when things are presented in a particular way and especially when it comes to money, and more so when the figures involved look like you ringing Outer Mongolia, {00976 51 266740, Mongolian news agency English section if interested}.The FCA say that 53% of those transfers perhaps should not have taken place, I suggest they are being conservative in that figure. There must be a compelling and overriding argument for anyone to even consider transferring out of a DB scheme, and that would only apply in a small % of cases.

    I have said it before and I will say it again, the “Pension Freedoms” introduced by Mr Osborne are a disaster waiting to happen, the question is will it be sooner or later and who will end up paying for it.

  4. Bob Champion says:

    Probably there are far too many transferring from DB to DC. However there are some for whom it makes sense. Similarly if households are short of income in retirement should they downsize or take out a lifetime mortgage. Then there are the many who should but do not claim Pension Guarantee Credit but do not. All 3 issues and many more are linked a lack of education.
    It is for that reason I have launched itsyourretirement.co.uk a website that is aimed at increasing the financial education of those who are approaching or in retirement

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