Clara will have 10,000 members by the end of the year
That was the bold claim of Richard Zugic- Clara’s chief financial and operating officer , speaking at the PLSA alongside Nikesh Patel of Kempen.
It would mean that Clara would have broken its duck on securing pension schemes to consolidate and provided the consolidators with a welcome shot in the arm.
Certainly there was no shortage of confidence at a reception held by Clara at the end of the day. Attended by many luminaries including TPR’s CEO, the event was paid for by Kempen , the Fiduciary Manager , who are getting ready to manage the assets which will arrive with the members.
It’s not been an easy 5 year journey for Clara but the talk at the reception was of the final steps to the top of the mountain. Simon True, CEO of Clara told his audience that Clara considered the rewording of the Gateway that governs the schemes that consolidators can prospect, meant that Clara had the opportunity to prosper.
This is not the view that has been taken by Edi Truell and his Pension Superfund who have mothballed their consolidator, pending a more co-operative approach from the Pensions Regulator and fresh legislation on consolidation from the DWP.
But the consolidators have further competition awaiting them from the PPF who have made no secret of their desire to compete for the affections of small pension schemes. Indeed, if the Tony Blair Institute had its way, the PPF would become the consolidator of “not much choice” for thousands of small DB plans. If they were to be given, as has been suggested a “crown guarantee”, it would become the Government’s agent and the money in the PPF’s consolidation scheme (and the liabilities) would effectively sit on the Treasury’s balance sheet
David Taylor of the PPF apparently made a good job of his panel session. He is my choice to be interim CEO though why Oliver Morley should have resigned that post, the PPF being about to be appointed public consolidator, defeats me. My suspicion is that the PPF won’t get the gig.
That would leave Clara, the only consolidator in town, which will please Clara and Kempen’s marketing teams but I wonder if it will make much sense to Clara’s backers. We have still to hear how superfunds can get money back out of the schemes they take over and much of the detail in the DB Options consultation paper, has yet to make it to the interim regulation let alone the primary legislation needed to put superfunds on a proper footing.
I congratulate Clara on its strong presence at the PLSA. It presages deals. But I worry that right now Clara has a lot of bubbles in its proposition – but not a lot of pensions.