Things will come to a head this week. For Guy Opperman today will either be the day his Pensions Bill will make it into the Queens Speech or his first term in office will be remembered as “close but no cigar”.
For Boris Johnson this is either the week he gets Brexit over the line or the week he metaphorically dies in a ditch.
Deadlines are like that, they focus the mind and build to an almost unbearable crisis.
Three little ducks…
Three little ducks went swimming one day, over the fields and far away, mother duck went “quack, quack, quack” but only two little ducks came back.
Originally we thought that the pensions bill would enable CDC for the Royal Mail, consolidation for small DB plans and the pensions dashboard for the people.
Rumours have it that “DB consolidation”, the output of the DB white paper, might be dropped, we will have to wait and see.
If we have a pensions bill without a dashboard and a way forward for Royal Mail, I’ll be surprised – and I’ll be disappointed. But as the Pensions Minister pointed out to me recently, decisions of exclusion and inclusion are made beyond his pay grade.
One lame duck
I don’t express my views on Brexit on this blog, but for the process that we’ll follow to implementation or delay, I’m lost – emotionally and for words.
It seems that political expediency is taking over, the process of attrition now means that we are moving towards something that will cause argument whatever it is. If we have a no-deal Brexit, it will be challenged in the court, if we leave with a deal that “betrays” the Northern Irish, we will have Irish trouble and if we delay – as still seems most likely, we will see a large part of the country in uproar.
Here are today’s odds for when Betfair thinks we are most likely to leave, next year remains favorite but not by as much as last week and the odds for a deferral beyond 2022 have lengthened.
Britain is one lame duck, hardly able to swim and certainly unable to fly.
Meanwhile we get on with it
While all this politics goes on, I have a busy week getting to know what is going on in the pensions industry – not that I’m going to see much industry either at A Meeting of Minds Winning Advisers where I’m moderating the pension sessions tomorrow or at the PLSA annual conference from Wednesday to Friday where I am independently blogging thanks to the PLSA’s enlightened views on journalism.
This meeting of minds event is “aimed at the Owner/MD of top 70-400 financial advisory firms in the country, who typically have £150M – £200M funds under management and between 4 and 20 RIs. They represent independently spirited firms prospering post RDR”. I am really interested in IFA views not just on how they can continue to prosper, but as to the challenges they see themselves facing.
As for the PLSA, it’s been over 10 years since I last attended and I’m excited to spend two and a half days with a quite different set of people, see how they are prospering and how they face the challenges to come.
Politics and pensions
If we have a pensions bill, and I suspect we will, it will change the landscape. CDC will re-open the possibility of collective pensions organised under trust, the dashboard will present IFAs with ways of talking to people at retirement without the cost of assembling a dashboard of their own. Both CDC and dashboards involve innovations that may help those facing the difficult choices at retirement while in the pensions equivalent of the straits of Hormuz.