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All Change Please, all Change! The end of the Line for LIBOR

It’s the end of the line for the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), the interest rate benchmark for many financial products since the 1980s. Sterling Overnight Index Average (SONIA), an alternative rate, will become the new benchmark of choice and pension schemes have been directed to step aboard pronto. What will the journey to SONIA … Continue Reading

Don’t Delay, Process that Pension Transfer Today!

Our heading shows the stark warning to pension scheme administrators following the recent determination by The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) in the complaint brought by Mr John Tenconi (Mr T) against the James Hay Partnership (James Hay). TPO upheld the complaint due to James Hay’s unreasonable delays and ordered that James Hay pay £43,700 (plus interest) into … Continue Reading

Now is the Climate for Change

As the Pension Schemes Bill (the Bill) continues to progress through parliament, it has been subject to many amendments, one of which would require pension schemes to take into account the government’s net zero targets on carbon emissions, as well as the Paris Agreement goals of limiting the rise of average global temperatures. As at … Continue Reading

Lost in the post: solving the case of the missing member!

TPO has ruled that a pension scheme was liable to pay a full deferred pension to a claimant, despite the scheme having no record of his benefits other than a guaranteed minimum pension (GMP). This determination shows the significant weight that TPO places on HMRC’s GMP records and the inferences that can be made from … Continue Reading

The Geometry and Trigonometry of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act – What Is the Final Pensions Angle?

If you are going round in circles trying to figure out the final shape of the new insolvency legislation, read this blog which takes a look at the impact the final amendments made to the legislation will have in the pensions sphere. The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (the Act) received Royal Assent on … Continue Reading

The Geometry and Trigonometry of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill – What’s the Next Pensions Angle?

Part Two Yesterday, we looked at the proposed new moratorium process and the implications for pension schemes. Today we consider the new restructuring plan process. Background The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill (the Bill) is passing through parliament at the moment. Some of the measures included in the Bill are in response to the current … Continue Reading

The Geometry and Trigonometry of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill – What’s the Pensions Angle?

Part One The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill (the Bill) is passing through parliament at the moment. Some of the measures included in the Bill are in response to the current pandemic and will provide temporary easements for company directors from an acute economic downturn. Other measures have been under consideration for a while, and … Continue Reading

Member Communications: Radio Ga Ga or Radio Silence?

On 29 April 2020, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) published guidance on communicating to members during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak. TPR is placing the burden on pension plan trustees to discourage members from making rash decisions in relation to their pension savings that could have long-term effects. It will be interesting to see how The … Continue Reading

Stop press – Furloughed employees and pension contributions – TPR fills in (some of) the gaps

No sooner had I published my blog this morning, on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the treatment of furloughed employees’ pension contributions – highlighting gaps in the HMRC guidance – the Pensions Regulator (TPR) published detailed guidance providing some much-needed clarity and reassurance for struggling employers. The overriding message is that, whilst employers … Continue Reading

Furloughed Employees and Pension Contributions

Last weekend HMRC published revisions to its guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), providing further details on the extent to which the HMRC grant would cover the pay and benefits of furloughed employees. If you are not already familiar with the key features of the CJRS (How many of us had to look … Continue Reading

COVID 19: Emerging Investment Risks for Pension Schemes

Daily policy initiatives by governments across the world who are desperate to avoid the worst ravages of an economic recession are fuelling a lot of the volatility in public markets with which investors are now sadly familiar. However, many pension funds have significant private market exposures through alternative investments. Those holdings are not immune to … Continue Reading

Assessing the value of pensions promises – parent company guarantees

The Pensions Regulator’s 27 March guidance emphasised the need for trustees of defined benefit pension schemes to engage with their sponsoring employers to understand the implications of the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic for their scheme’s employer covenant. Where employers seek reduced or suspended contributions, although the focus will naturally be on the scheme’s direct participating employers and … Continue Reading

PPF Puts in Place Practical Policies

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has issued what might be the first of several coronavirus announcements. The first announcement provides information for trustees who are seeking to certify or re-certify contingent assets before the 31 March deadline. With immediate effect, trustees who are required to submit hard copy documents with their contingent asset certification/re-certification, should … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Pensions Business Planning

Whether you are more in the Mary Poppins or Corporal Jones camp when it comes to dealing with unexpected emergencies like the Coronavirus outbreak, the choice between taking minimal precautions for continuing business operations as normal and panicking is not very palatable. Pension fund operations are highly complex and, just like their counterparts in the … Continue Reading

The Early Bird Catches The Worm

In October 2019 pension trustees’ investment duties were expanded. Further changes will take place from 1 October 2020, which will affect defined benefit (DB), defined contribution (DC) and hybrid pension schemes. In order to be in a position to comply with those duties, trustees will need to take action now. Trustees not only need to … Continue Reading

Ticket to Accreditation – Choices for Professional Pension Trustees

It turns out that accreditation systems are like buses – you wait patiently for what seems like ages, and then two come along at once. Many in the pensions industry were surprised by the Pensions Management Institute’s (PMI) announcement on 13 February that it has launched an accreditation system for professional pension trustees. This followed … Continue Reading

The Tortoise and the Hare approach to pensions change

If you were expecting The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) response to consultation on the Future of Trusteeship and Governance to create headline news, then you will have been disappointed. The response feels like more of a “holding document”, designed to let the pensions industry know that TPR has taken away a lot of action points but needs … Continue Reading

Stewardship Code – A Long Engagement

Unlike the best romantic stories, this proposal was expected, grounded in practicalities and wholly lacking in passion. Part of it was borne from the principle that pension trustees and investment managers should develop a closer working relationship. The Need for a Committed Relationship Responsible investment and investment stewardship are hot topics at the moment in the … Continue Reading

IR35 Reforms – A Taxing Time for Pension Trustees and Corporate Sponsors

The off-payroll tax rules (commonly known as IR35) are changing on 6 April 2020.  Pension trustees who have members of their board paid for their services through a personal service company (PSC) may need to start making those payments net of income tax and NICs under PAYE.  Although the rules have not been finalised (and HMRC … Continue Reading

A pithy precis of parliamentary process (for passing pensions law)

“There is broad agreement on the principles, but there are huge dangers lurking in the detail… Those dangers have to be flushed out before the bill is sent to the other place.” (Baroness Sherlock) Yesterday the pension schemes bill (the bill) had its second reading in the House of Lords. There was much comment and … Continue Reading

Should Veganism Feature on the Pensions Menu?

The recent Employment Tribunal case of Mr Jordi Casamitjana, which caused quite a stir in the media, focused on the Tribunal’s decision that ethical veganism was eligible to qualify as a “protected characteristic” under the Equalities Act 2010. In that case, Mr Casamitjana was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct by his employer, the … Continue Reading

A long time ago in a member state far, far away…

On 19 December 2019, an epic story with multiple twists and which many thought would never happen will reach its conclusion. And there will be no droids or Wookies involved. Yes, it’s the day we are expecting the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Communities (“CJEU”) in connection with the German case … Continue Reading
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