Invesco Pensions Review 2013

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1 Invesco Pensions Review 2013 Vaue Engagement Company Pension Pan Compiance Design Communication Produced in association with Decision Magazine

2 Avert a pensions crisis pease At a time when pensions coverage has faen to new ows the government has continued in a series of confidence sapping measures and announcements. Tax reief has been reduced; caps on fund sizes have been introduced and then owered further; group PRSAs were effectivey wiped out by a change in PRSI rues; the pension evy has raided peope s savings and risk reserves have added further pressure to aready distressed defined benefit schemes. Furthermore, against a background of continuing specuation regarding the overa eve of tax reief for pension contributions, the government has confirmed its intention of imiting tax reief to pensions worth 60,000 per annum or ess. Whie this may have the appearance of fairness it is anything but fair and is going to be enormousy difficut to impement. In the first instance it is cear that itte thought has been put into the quite arbitrary setting of the 60,000 threshod. This is two thirds of an income of 90,000 and woud mean that huge numbers of senior empoyees of mutinationa firms woud be adversey affected by the measure. There are serious contradictions in the suggested changes to this upper imit tax reief. On the one hand the government introduced a specia assignment reief programme to ower the tax take on non-nationas coming to work here in Contents Where a itte TLC goes a ong way 3 Sustainabe soutions to deficits 4 Communicating the benefits 6 Taking risks out of the equation 7 The 600,000 question 8 Market trends and risks 10 Rerstructuring defined benefit schemes - the trustees roe 12 eadership positions for mutinationa companies and on the other hand they announce their intention to curtai their pension benefits. There is aso the question of how much the government stands to save in terms of foregone tax from such a measure. Whie it is impossibe to make even a reasonabe guesstimate without knowing the mechanism to be empoyed, there is the exampe of the Persona Fund Threshod (PFT) to go on. When the 2.3 miion threshod was introduced there was a widespread beief that there woud be a food of appications for higher PFTs from those fortunate individuas whose pension funds had aready exceeded that eve. The anticipated deuge faied to materiaise and the actua number was just over 1,200 and haf of those where from pubic sector appicants. In these circumstances the wisdom of the government s proposa must be in doubt. The direction of socia poicy must not be dictated by mere popuism. If urgent action is not taken to arrest the decine in coverage the country is heading towards a pensions crisis. There are now some straws in the wind which indicate that stabiity is returning to the economy. This is the time to restore peope s confidence in pension investment, not to dent it further. What is needed now is a firm statement by government that there wi be no more adverse changes to the pensions regime and a commitment to introducing positive measures to encourage ower and midde income earners to make provision for their income in retirement. In this review we re sharing with you Invesco s observations, opinions and recommendations about various pension matters. We hope you find them of vaue in your pension and persona financia panning. Des McGarry, Managing Director The auto-enroment soution 14 A question of adequacy 16 New soutions to the annuity diemma 17 Diversification matters 18 Panning for the future 20 Sef contro back on thje agenda 21 Preparing for the unexpected 22 2

3 Where a itte TLC goes a ong way Gerry Winters discusses the idea pan for defined contribution schemes. Members of defined contribution (DC) pensions schemes might sometimes fee a itte unoved and can suffer from an inferiority compex when compared to their defined benefit scheme cousins. They have seen a fow of negative media coverage concerning pensions incuding the osses on the stock market (with minima reporting on the positive recovery), fat cat pensions and of course the pension evy. The reaity is DC schemes are here to stay and wi be the pension vehice of choice for most private sector empoyees going forward. A DC scheme aready offers members a very tax efficient vehice for their retirement savings and affords greater benefit fexibiity at retirement than its DB cousin. With a itte TLC, DC schemes coud become more desirabe. Time Consider how much time has been spent on DB schemes over the past 10 years. Hundreds if not thousands of hours have been given to a aspects of the such schemes. Covering items such as good governance structures, ega advice on changes and member queries, actuaria advice on appropriate eve of contributions, investment advice on bespoke investment strategies and consutancy advice on communication programs. Why is DC different? A DC member desires and perhaps shoud expect to have the same eve of attention, time and experts aocated to them. Lifestye strategies The investment strategies of most DC schemes have been carved out of the DB word with very itte customisation. Gerry Winters Yet most DB schemes, because they are considered as a singe unit have adopted bespoke investment strategies over the past 10 years or so. These have been taiored to their objectives of paying pensions at different times. In an idea word each individua DC member shoud have his/her bespoke investment strategy taiored to their risk appetite and time horizon. What a difference that woud make? Contributions The biggest faw with most DC schemes is not the charging structure, nor indeed the osses suffered on the stock market in 2007/08 as these have a been recovered. The main issue is arguaby the eve of contribution going into the Risk Profiing Questionnaire Passive core funds + active sateite funds The idea DC investment strategy Rea Choice for members Annua management charge vs TER schemes. A pension costs the same at retirement whether it is purchased through a DB scheme or a DC scheme. If you have contributions of 20% of saary being paid towards a DB scheme and ony 5% of saary towards a DC scheme of course the resuting pension wi be different. Therefore the singe most important driver of benefits under a DC scheme is the eve of contribution being paid. So how can we get more TLC into defined contribution schemes? Through ILP Pension Trustees Limited we act as a trustee to over 50 defined contribution schemes. Each one required individua TLC so we pooed our resources and competed a very significant piece of research and deveopment work and everaged off the group as a whoe. We reviewed a our DC schemes and took note of each of their most effective features. We then used these to deveop our idea investment strategy - set out beow. Under this process the individua member of the DC scheme has benefitted from over 500 hours of research covering actuaria, ega, investment and communication discipines. Interested in DC panning? Contact Gerry Winters on or by emai to Mutipe Lifestye strategies Bond portfoio to match annuity prices Traditiona & aternative asset casses White abeed funds 3

4 Sustainabe soutions to deficits Finian O Drisco ooks at the options open to pension fund trustees seeking to address deficits. Finian O Drisco The Pensions Board s Annua Report for 2012 stated that at east 70% of defined benefit schemes were in deficit at the end of Of the schemes in deficit, it is estimated that ony around one third have submitted a funding proposa. The average funding eve of schemes in deficit is estimated to be around 80%. Whie this may appear to be a reasonabe funding eve the overa figure disguises the effect of the current priority rues on wind up. Because pensioner members have priority on wind up it means that coverage for active and deferred members is actuay consideraby ess than the 80% headine figure. The government s response to the crisis was a review of the funding standard and the foowing changes were announced ast year: Requirement to fund for a risk reserve in addition to the basic funding standard iabiities in respect of any investments not in EU government bonds or cash. An extended funding proposa term to 31 December 2023 can be appied for. The vaue of pensioner iabiities continues to be based on the annuity buy-out cost but this can be based on the sovereign annuity cost where sovereign annuities are actuay bought or the scheme invests in equivaent (e.g. Irish) sovereign bonds. The possibiity of appying to the Pensions Board for a reduction in accrued benefits under Section 50 of the Pensions Act (known as Section 50 amendments). The current deadine for submission of a funding proposa is 30 June It had been proposed to change the wind up priorities (currenty pensions in payment without increases have first priority) but a decision on this has been deferred pending a further government review. There is aso a State annuity fund caed the Pension Insovency Payment Scheme (PIPS) offering pensions at discounted rates to that avaiabe in the open market. However, PIPS is ony avaiabe to defined benefit schemes of insovent empoyers which are winding up in deficit. The recent changes were generay considered disappointing, especiay the risk reserve requirement. Funding proposas The sponsoring empoyer and the trustees must consider the future sustainabiity of the pension scheme as part of any funding proposa. Any proposed soution must be affordabe for the empoyer and members; understand the risks and the hoped for rewards; be robust where the future does not turn out as expected; and provide an adequate eve of benefits. Because pensioner members have priority on wind up it means that coverage for active and deferred members is actuay consideraby ess than the 80% headine figure Benefit Options The spectrum of options both for past and future service benefits is unimited. Coming up with a sustainabe soution that is acceptabe to a parties is not easy and wi invove difficut decisions and choices. It is important for a stakehoders to ceary set out their objectives at the start of the review process. This wi avoid misunderstandings and backtracking. 4

5 Past Service The options surrounding past service benefits have been extended with the possibiity of appying for a Section 50 reduction in accrued benefits. Any benefit changes, and Section 50 amendments in particuar, need to be carefuy considered. Trustees shoud satisfy themseves that it is in the best interest of their members as utimatey it is the trustees who make a Section 50 appication to the Pensions Board. Where a Section 50 appication is made the trustees must be happy that the new benefit structure is sustainabe and that the funding is robust enough to withstand future shocks. When appying for a Section 50 amendment, the Pensions Board wi consider the ega and actuaria advice received by the trustees to ensure the above conditions have been met. Coming up with a sustainabe soution that is acceptabe to a parties is not easy and wi invove difficut decisions and choices for a stakehoders Future Service As can be seen from the iustration beow, the range of options for future service is even greater. However, again it is important for companies and trustees to ensure that any proposed soution is sustainabe and has been robusty tested. Athough past and future service have been shown separatey, they are not mutuay excusive and any soution must consider the two in tandem. As we have seen over the ast number of years, doing nothing and hoping the situation wi resove itsef is not an option, so a stakehoders must engage. To find out more about how Invesco can hep you review your benefits strategy contact Finian O Drisco or emai to Past Service Existing Benefits Existing Benefits: Increase Empoyee Contributions Remove Indexation (section 50) Modify Benefits Compusory commutation Introduce saary cap Remove discretionary pay (Section 50) Cease accrua Maintain Fina Saary Link Break Fina Saary Link Wind Up Scheme Future Service Existing DB Scheme Existing Scheme: Increase Empoyee Contributions Modify Pension Benefits Remove Indexation Heaviy Modify Benefits Remove Indexation and/or change Accrua/Fina Saary Hybrid with Saary Cap/ Non Pensionabe Pay Defined Benefit Cash Accrua Defined Contribution 5

6 Communicating the benefits No matter what the medium, quaity communication is key writes Gary Morrissey. The most natura thing for peope to do during a period of financia uncertainty and market voatiity is to ask questions, particuary when it comes to their pension which is often a very significant part of their ife savings. This puts an onus on pension providers and scheme administrators to ensure that members have access to a reevant information whenever and wherever they want it. Scheme members are no onger content to receive a benefit statement once a year. They recognise that outside of their famiy home, their pension is probaby the most important and vauabe investment they ever have and they are keen to ensure that it continues to perform we. Instanty connected At Invesco, we make a of the key information about a member s pension readiy avaiabe on our InvescoOnine patform. This efficient service offers access to a the detais members need in terms of fund vaues, pension and risk benefits. They can aso access their contributions history and generate up to date, fuy compiant benefit statements in seconds. In addition, members have the abiity to switch future contributions or accumuated funds from one investment strategy to another, as we as change their AVCs. Invesco have consistenty ed the fied in investing in technoogy and IT systems to offer the best possibe user experience and we continue to update and improve these services wherever we can. Foowing the reease of the atest version of the Invesco mobie app, members are now abe to access amost a of the same functionaity on their phones as they can on their PC. Moving forward from simpy dispaying information, the app now aows members to manage and change detais of their pension on the go. Feeing socia? We continuay ook to improve our offering across a of the main socia media sites incuding Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and our bog. As we as serving as another way to reach us, these channes provide reguar investment updates inks to reevant pensions media coverage and discussion information on new or improved products Providing the right support Whie socia media and mobie apps are paying an important roe in deivering information to scheme members, traditiona channes and support aso remain essentia in any pensions education programme. In our experience, some decisions about investment strategy are best made foowing persona, face to face discussion. It is for this reason that we arrange specia cinics for pension scheme members to expain their scheme structure and benefits as we as the range of investment options open to them. Additionay, we have a dedicated administration team just a phone ca away. Gary Morrissey Invesco aims to provide the most comprehensive communications service to pension scheme members, so they know that whichever channes they choose we wi have a soution for them. Want to know more about Invesco s member education and communications services? Contact Gary Morrissey on or by emai to 6

7 Taking risks out of the equation Decan Keena ooks at the management of risks for pension schemes. In the eary 2000 s, a significant change was made to how companies accounted for DB schemes. The od SSAP 24 approach was repaced by FRS 17 and IAS 19 which had the effect of pacing DB scheme deficits on a company s baance sheet, thereby effectivey transforming them into corporate debt. As a resut, DB scheme deficits are viewed by anaysts and others as having a direct impact on companies debt eves and vauations. This has been exacerbated by the annua sovency test required by the Pensions Act. This test was designed to set a minimum eve of funding. However, it has now become an onerous standard particuary for mature schemes with its requirement to vaue pensions on an annuity buy out basis. This has contributed to a situation where the vast majority of schemes are faiing to meet the standard and the situation has ony been made worse by the introduction in recent egisation of the risk reserve. These factors have combined to aert companies and trustees to the need to consider the risks inherent in DB schemes and the short term voatiity inherent in the strategies being pursued. In particuar, companies need to consider how pension scheme risks sit within their overa business. Whie discounting iabiities at a rate dependent on the asset mix with the intention of smoothing out voatiity over time may have been seen as a reasonabe approach, it is not compatibe with annua reviews and good risk management. It is aso contrary to the wordwide move to market vaue accounting for assets and iabiities - that is the price that a wiing buyer and seer woud agree on if they possessed a reevant information. As a genera rue, if you do not expect to be rewarded for taking a risk, you shoud not take it. This approach might appy for risks such as currency, infation and duration. On the other hand you might expect to be rewarded for certain other risks ike equity investment. Some risks such as empoyer covenant whie undesirabe may be unavoidabe of course. It is important that a of the risks associated with a pension scheme are identified and quantified as far as possibe. A pan shoud then be drawn up for managing and monitoring risks on an ongoing basis. This pan woud be structured in terms of taking the highest risks ike empoyer covenant and Decan Keena investment oss first. Then moving to put in pace measures such as a funding proposa and perhaps a change in investment strategy to mitigate them, you woud move on through the various risks unti the owest are aso addressed. A risk management pan such as this may not bring a scheme back up to the funding standard but it wi assist companies in assessing the viabiity of their DB schemes into the future. Risk management shoud therefore be high on the agenda for trustees and sponsoring empoyers. To see how Invesco can hep deveop strategies to manage pension scheme risk contact Decan Keena, Consuting Actuary, on or by emai to The traditiona approach to funding DB pension schemes has rewarded the taking of investment risk. Liabiities were typicay discounted at a higher equity risk discount rate the so caed equity risk premium so that advance credit is taken for expected equity outperformance. Whie this approach kept costs at a manageabe or affordabe eve for the sponsoring empoyer, it did not truy refect the underying cost of the benefits. Additionay, in the traditiona mode, voatiity from vauation to vauation was spread over the future ifetime of the scheme thus smoothing this voatiity. This again may have ed to greater risk taking as the consequences were not fet immediatey but spread into the future. The main risks may be summarised as foows: Investments Schemes hod risky assets to achieve a higher return Empoyer covenant Infation Saaries Currency Cash fow and iquidity Longevity Reguatory Record keeping That the empoyer wi be unabe or unwiing to continue funding the scheme Liabiities are inked to infation which may not be matched by scheme investments Unknown future saary increases wi impact directy on iabiities for active members Liabiities are Euros but investment may be outside the Eurozone Are investments sufficienty iquid to pay benefits as they fa due? Peope are iving onger thereby increasing iabiities Impact of future changes in the reguatory regime Risk of incorrect data and/or benefit cacuations 7

8 The 60,000 question Frank Downey examines the potentia impact of proposed new maximum pension income imits. The maximum pension fund imit is set to be reduced further if the Minister for Finance acts on his statement in Budget 2013 that tax reief on pension contributions wi ony serve to subsidise pension schemes that deiver income of up to 60,000 per annum. Per the Budget statement this is to take effect from 1 January Prior to 2005, the amount of pension funding that coud be made depended on earnings and service and there were no absoute monetary imits. In effect it was possibe to fund for a pension of up to two-thirds of fina remuneration and a pension fund of over 20 times earnings at retirement coud be justified. The Finance Act 2006 introduced a maximum aowabe pension fund on retirement for tax purposes (caed the Standard Fund Threshod or SFT). The SFT imit was initiay set at 5 miion, but had increased to just over 5.4 miion by 2008 through indexation. Individuas coud protect higher pension vaues by appying to the Revenue Commissioners for a Persona Fund Threshod (PFT) certificate. The SFT was substantiay reduced in the Finance Act 2011 to 2.3 miion (with effect from 7 December 2010) but with provision again for individuas to appy for a PFT to protect higher pension fund vaues. Tax at 41% is charged on the vaue of the fund/benefits over the SFT (or PFT if higher) at the point of retirement and the pension benefits are then taxed in the usua manner. The effective tax rate on pension benefits in excess of the SFT (excuding evies/usc) is just over 65% for higher rate tax payers. Frank Downey Treatment of defined benefit pensions One of the major anomaies of the current system is the treatment of defined benefit arrangements when compared with defined contribution arrangements. When vauing a pension from a defined benefit scheme, a mutipier of 20 is appied to determine the capita vaue of a pension regardess of age and whether or not there is provision for a spouse s pension and/or pension increases (uness a ower factor is approved by the Revenue for a particuar scheme). Based on the Revenue s factor, the maximum defined benefit pension is 115,000 per annum ( 2.3m 20). However the actua cost of providing a pension of 115,000 per annum can be much higher, based on current annuity rates, depending on the age at retirement, the provision for a spouse s pension and pension increases. For instance, the current cost at age 65 of incuding provision for a spouse s pension but without pension increases is around 2.7 miion but woud be over 4.6 miion at age 60 with provision for both a spouse s pension and pension increases. This means that it is possibe to fund for a higher pension fund vaue under a defined benefit scheme without breaching the SFT imit due to the basis on which the Revenue vaues defined benefit pensions. Proposed 60,000 pension income ceiing The Minister stated that the necessary arrangements to give effect to the 60,000 per annum pension cap wi be put in pace in 2014 and that consutation on the specific changes required to the existing regime wi continue with the pensions sector and government. However the methodoogy for doing this is not entirey cear. Two approaches appear to be possibe: 1. Reduce the current SFT. If the pension mutipier of 20 is retained, the SFT woud be reduced from 2.3 miion to 1.2 miion. It has been suggested that the mutipier might be increased to 30 which woud mean an SFT of 1.8 miion. It can aso be reasonaby argued that the current SFT of 2.3 miion means that the maximum pension is aready at 60,000 per annum for someone retiring at age 60 based on current annuity rates. 2. Appy the tax charge on the vaue of a pension in excess of 60,000 per annum. There woud sti be issues around what is the vaue of the pension and how ump sum benefits, defined contribution schemes and previous pension schemes shoud be vaued. 8

9 Due to the high tax charge on benefits over the SFT it is important to manage the position carefuy to minimise the impact of the additiona tax charge Neither approach is idea and both have significant compications and anomaies so it remains to be seen how the measure wi actuay be introduced. If the imit is reduced what is certain is that it wi affect a significant number of peope. When the origina SFT of 5 miion was introduced, just 110 PFT certificates were issued to individuas who had pension fund vaues over this imit. When the SFT was reduced to 2.3 miion there were 1,200 appications for a PFT. A ower imit wi obviousy mean a significant number of further PFT appications (assuming, as before, the provision of protection to benefits above the reduced SFT) so there wi be a ot of potentia administrative issues in deaing with these. Utimatey the proposa wi potentiay affect a those earning over 100,000 per annum who are funding or wish to fund for a pension. Managing the SFT imit Due to the high tax charge on benefits over the SFT it is important to manage the position carefuy to minimise the impact of the additiona tax charge: If the vaue of an individua s pension benefits is at or cose to the SFT it does not make sense to make any further contributions or accrue additiona benefits. A more conservative investment approach might be considered as the reward for any outperformance from riskier assets wi be reduced by the tax charge. If you are in a defined benefit scheme, consider adjusting the pension benefit to incude or increase the spouse s pension or pension increases, or opt for eary retirement if this is possibe. If you are in a defined contribution scheme, consider eary retirement or maybe restructuring to a defined benefit arrangement, athough this is not without its own compications. Consider avaiing of the option being introduced in the Finance Bi 2013 to withdraw up to 30% of AVCs as it has been stated that this wi not be treated as a benefit payment for SFT purposes. Funding above the imit Regardess of whether or not the existing SFT is reduced it is cear that higher earners wi be restricted in the future in funding for pensions under approved arrangements. This means that new approaches wi have to be considered. These may incude: Funded unapproved schemes with empoyer and/or empoyee contributions. Whie these woud not have the tax advantages of approved schemes, they woud have more investment and withdrawa fexibiity and benefit from economies of scae associated with group arrangements. Unfunded unapproved schemes where the company makes a benefit promise but does not fund in advance for the promise. These woud have to be recognised in company accounts and the tax treatment wi need to be very carefuy considered. Use of approved profit sharing schemes which invest in shares of the company. To find out more contact Frank Downey or emai to 9

10 Market trends and risks Vincent McCarthy examines the investment outook for the economy and markets. Vincent McCarthy As we estabish our outook for the goba economy and financia markets, one coud argue that we woud be better served by using astroogica predictions than the vast majority of economic forecasts and expert cas of where the major market indices wi cose in 12 months. However, I do beieve it is reasonabe to identify key financia market trends that wi drive investor fund fows and hence returns. Likewise, it is equay reasonabe to identify the key risks that coud derai the current market optimism. So what are some of the reasonabe trends and risks we shoud be aware of? Goba Economy Economic Expansion in China Economic growth in the deveoped word remains anaemic. However, the Chinese economy is once again expanding at a faster pace, which shoud aso hep boost economic growth in the region. As a eading indicator of economic activity, the Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) surveys have been signaing a return to faster GDP growth for some time now. Aso, unike the debt-ridden Western economies, China has much greater financia resources to stimuate domestic demand if the goba economy weakens. Emerging market equities can be notoriousy voatie, but against a backdrop of economic weakness in the deveoped word I expect more investors to buy into the China story. In addition, China s securities reguator has taked about iberaising their capita markets further which woud make it easier for foreigners to own a greater share of equities and bonds from mainand China. Monetary Poicy More Unorthodox Measures Since the goba financia crisis began we have witnessed an unprecedented rise in the infuence of the word s major centra banks. I beieve we coud see them pursue even more unorthodox measures such as GDP targeting and even monetary financing, with the prospect of centra bank independence being compromised by poiticians. The Japanese government is in the process of instaing their puppet as Governor of the Bank of Japan. I expect far more aggressive monetary easing which wi drive the Yen ower and Japanese equities higher, as investors bet that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wi be the man to ift Japan from a two-decade defationary spira. However, with the infow of specuative money into Japan there wi be a few corrections aong the way. The current Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, wi take charge at the Bank of Engand on Juy 1st. He may start out by increasing the size of the Bank s asset purchase program but we coud see him take the radica step from infation targeting to GDP targeting. If viewed as credibe, this woud ikey push Stering ower, bond yieds ower and UK equities higher. Monetary Poicy Risks Infation and the Great Unwind Jens Weidmann, President of the German Bundesbank, seems to be the ony centra banker sounding the aarm bes about the direction of monetary poicy and the risk of infation. Centra banks and governments are ikey to toerate sighty higher infation to escape the current debt eves that are constricting economic growth. However, they do risk creating excessive infation to the detriment of fixed income investments. Investors shoud consider an aocation to rea assets to protect against this risk. There is aso the question of how and when centra banks wi exit their asset purchase programs and unwind their massive baance sheets. For exampe, the US Federa Reserve s bond hodings are now in excess of $3 triion, the majority of which was accumuated since the goba financia crisis began. At present centra banks are wiing to ro the dice on the ong term side effects, as they attempt to fix the economy in the short term. But if they ose their credibiity we coud see significant market disocation as risk is re-priced. But this is ikey to be some time off. 10

11 Investors are best advised to re-examine their risk and return objectives and to set reaistic ong term goas Currency Wars Competitive Devauation No country wants a strong currency in the current ow growth environment as it impacts negativey on exports. An escaation of the currency wars - where countries act uniateray to weaken their currency is more than a strong possibiity. Of course the Japanese have aready made their intentions cear and we coud see them introduce a currency foor if the recent Yen weakness fais to hod. I do expect more countries to be drawn into the ream of currency devauation which wi add to market voatiity. Financia Markets Reaching for Yied Whie the efficacy of centra bank poicy on the rea economy is a much debated topic, financia markets have responded with an amost pavovian response, each round of monetary stimuus pushing asset prices higher. However, investors now face a more chaenging environment as the yieds on traditiona risk-free assets used to baance portfoios or meet the needs of investors with a ower risk toerance are at record ows. Cash returns are now effectivey zero and rea yieds (nomina yied minus infation) on top-tier government bonds are negative. Investors wi have to take extra risk to get a higher return and hence are in danger of being caught in one of the most we-known investment traps - reaching for yied. Investors become so disiusioned by ow yieds they seek higher performing assets with itte regard for risk. The record cash infows into junk bonds have shown that investors are taking on more credit risk by investing in securities with ower credit ratings in the search for yied. This theme of reaching for yied wi ikey continue as investors pace return ahead of risk amidst the current bout of ebuience in financia markets. However, I beieve this behaviour is merey setting the stage for further instabiity as investors wi be driven even more by short term fuctuations. As a resut, financia markets wi be extra sensitive on the downside to any faiure by centra banks, governments or corporates to meet rising expectations. Geopoitica Risks At a geopoitica eve, the events in the Midde East aways have the possibiity of infuencing markets due to the reiance of the goba economy on oi from the region. An escaation of the confict in Syria, particuary the use of chemica weapons, coud force the hand of the US government. The situation in Israe aways has the potentia to erupt, whie territoria disputes in the South China Sea wi be keeny watched. Summary The biggest risks that we face are the ones that we are not even aware of. The risks of weaker goba economic growth, ratings downgrades, a banking crisis in Asia, or even a country breaking away from the Eurozone are exampes of those that are known. Of course, these risks may not be priced into financia markets but they are known. On the other hand the unknown unknowns are the risks we don t know we don t know. The ong term impications of massive imbaances in fisca and monetary poicy most ikey come under this category. The reaity is that financia markets wi continue to be heaviy infuenced by the same poicymakers that faied to rein in the irrationa exuberance that ed to the goba financia crisis. Focusing too much on the short term can be a debiitating exercise. Investors with a onger term horizon who are wiing to take on extra risk shoud consider an aocation to a broad range of asset casses incuding equities, bonds, property, commodities and other aternatives. However, to avoid disappointment significant due diigence is required before compying with the word s centra banks and moving up the risk curve. The worst thing to do is to chase potentia higher returning assets without understanding the extra risk invoved. With centra banks distorting markets, investors are best advised to re-examine their risk and return objectives and to set reaistic ong term goas. A courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it s impossibe), but cacuating risk and acting decisivey Niccoò Machiavei, The Prince To find out more about Invesco s investment advisory services contact Vincent McCarthy on or by emai to 11

12 Restructuring defined benefit schemes - the trustees roe With many empoyers ooking to restructure defined benefit schemes Cathy Roe and Bríd McDonne examine the trustees important roe in this process. As yet another Pensions Board deadine for the submission of funding proposas ooms, some empoyers are ooking to restructure their defined benefit schemes in order to reduce the pension scheme iabiity and risk. Restructuring requires the buy-in of the trustees as most trust deeds cannot be amended without the trustees consent. Trustees shoud be aware that the issues invoved in deciding whether or not to agree to amend the scheme are compex and they shoud consider seeking expert pensions and ega advice before making their decision. Trustees are bound to act in the best interests of members and on the face of it amendments which reduce or restrict members benefits woud not seem to be in the members best interests. However, in the current economic cimate there may be compeing reasons why restructuring is required in order to safeguard the continuation of the scheme. Trustees wi be ooking to the empoyer to ceary expain why the current benefit structure has become unaffordabe or unsustainabe for the business and to outine the empoyer s pans to ensure that further reductions in benefits wi not be required in the future. Cathy Roe Does the trust deed aow the amendment to be made? A fundamenta question that trustees shoud ask is whether or not the amendments to scheme benefits that the empoyer is proposing can actuay be made. Many defined benefit schemes have been in existence over a ong period spanning up to thirty or forty years. The amendment power may have been written in anguage that had a particuar meaning at the time the scheme was estabished but which now has to be interpreted in the ight of more recent court decisions. Trustees shoud consut with their ega advisers for assurance that they have the power to make the benefit changes that are proposed. Bríd McDonne What kind of considerations shoud the trustees take into account? In deciding whether or not to agree to amend the scheme the trustees are exercising a discretionary power. It is setted aw that trustees exercising a discretionary power must take account ony of reevant factors and disregard irreevant factors and their decision shoud be one that a reasonabe body of trustees coud arrive at. Trustees wi be guided by their ega advisers in identifying the reevant factors that they shoud take into consideration. These are ikey to incude some of the foowing: 12

13 Trustees wi be ooking to the empoyer to ceary expain why the current benefit structure has become unaffordabe or unsustainabe for the business and to outine the empoyer s pans to ensure that further reductions in benefits wi not be required in the future Affordabiity of the scheme Has the empoyer demonstrated to the satisfaction of the trustees that the scheme is, or wi shorty become, unaffordabe? Did the empoyer consider any aternatives to the changes being proposed? Sustainabiity of the scheme Do the proposed changes improve the sustainabiity of the scheme so that it can survive into the future? If it achieves this, this woud be a positive deveopment for members. The trustees bargaining power under the trust deed The trustees wi need to understand their bargaining power under the trust deed. If the trust deed aows the empoyer to wind up the scheme without giving the trustees any notice of its intention to do so, this eaves the trustees in a reativey weak position. Aternativey, if the empoyer must give notice to the trustees before it can wind up the scheme and if the trustees have the power to demand further contributions from the empoyer during this notice period, then the trustees wi be in a stronger position. Whie the trustees roe is not to negotiate benefits, they may, however, ook to obtain certain commitments from the empoyer when agreeing to amend the scheme, for exampe trustees may ask the empoyer to agree to a shorter period for a funding proposa. Whie the empoyer may resist any request by the trustees on economic grounds the trustees may fee that it is important that they have sought measures that woud provide greater security for the scheme members. Communications with members The trustees may wish to seek confirmation that the empoyer has sought appropriate advice to ensure that the proposed amendments do not breach members contracts of empoyment. Whie empoyees contracts of empoyment are more a concern for the empoyer, trustees woud not want to agree to a change in benefits that is in breach of a contractua commitment by the empoyer. Trustees are aso ikey to be concerned about the reactions of the scheme members to the amendments. It wi be important to the trustees to ensure that the empoyer has a pan in pace for communicating the amendments to a members. If, for exampe, the proposa is to freeze the accrua of pension, the trustees wi wish to see that active members are given detaied exampes of how the change wi affect their pension benefits. In concusion, whie trustees faced with proposas to reduce or restrict benefits may aready be conscious of the important roe that they pay in the process, they may not be fuy aware of the compexity of the issues that they face. Appropriate professiona advice wi guide the trustees in making their decision about whether or not to agree to amend the scheme. For further advice on issues facing trustees pease contact Cathy Roe, BCL, Barrister at or Bríd McDonne, B.Soc. Sc., Soicitor, Dip Finance at or at

14 The auto-enroment soution Brian Sexton ooks forward to what now seems to be the inevitabe introduction of auto-enroment pensions to Ireand. Brian Sexton It shoud come as no surprise that the avaiabe evidence points to a decine in the aready disturbingy ow eve of private pension coverage in Ireand. Coverage had reached a peak in 2008 at 54% of empoyees but had faen to 51% by the ast quarter of 2009 according to the Quartery Nationa Househod Survey. This was the ast time the question was asked nationay. Even more worryingy, just 41% of empoyees said they expected an occupationa or persona pension woud be their main source of income when they retired down from 50% in It is ikey that the numbers covered have faen even further since 2009 and this view is borne out by the Pensions Board annua report for 2011 which showed that membership of occupationa pension schemes had faen by amost 5% (38,000) from 809,000 to 771,000 in just one year. If this trend continues, the country is heading for a deepening pensions crisis with huge numbers of peope being soey dependent on the state pension for their income in retirement. The ast serious attempt to tacke the ow rate of pension coverage in Ireand resuted in the introduction of PRSAs. This we meaning initiative must now be regarded as a faiure. The soution now being ooked at by the government is auto-enroment. This soution was outined by the Minister for Socia Protection, Joan Burton, when she set out her pans for a new universa pension scheme for private sector empoyees. The scheme is to come under the supervision of the Nationa Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and it is envisaged that empoyees wi have to proactivey opt out of any new arrangement. The proposed roe of the NTMA may act as a disincentive to many pension savers who might fear a future raid by the government on their pension savings. The Nationa Pension Reserve Fund has aready been raided to recapitaise the banks and the government aso introduced a Pension Levy on private pension funds in The combination of these factors may cause government to rethink the mode for auto-enroment with the proposed invovement of the NTMA. Minister Burton has indicated her beief that the proposed initiative woud be particuary beneficia for peope on ow to midde incomes or those moving in and out of different jobs who had very itte opportunity to save for a traditiona occupationa pension with their empoyer. An auto-enroment scheme of the type envisaged by the Minister woud see members paying a fixed amount reative to their income with the government making a contribution, most ikey in the form of a tax reieved component. However, she acknowedged that the measure coud take severa years to put in pace. The current thinking is that autoenroment woud make it mandatory for empoyees of a company without what is deemed to be an adequate empoyer sponsored scheme to enro in the state scheme. A empoyees over the age of 22 woud be automaticay enroed in the scheme which woud have minimum contributions of 4% for the empoyee, 2% for the empoyer and 2% for the state. Empoyees wi have the abiity to opt out but wi be re-enroed automaticay every two years and wi have to continuay opt out if they wish to remain outside the system. There is aso specuation that the government wi offer some form of bonus after five years to reward members for remaining in the scheme. A number of countries have impemented auto-enroment schemes with Austraia, New Zeaand, and now the UK bearing the cosest comparison to the mooted Irish mode. New Zeaand The KiwiSaver was introduced in New Zeaand in 2007 and offers pension pans provided by banks, insurance companies and other authorised providers. Whie more than 50 schemes are in existence the majority of members are with just nine schemes, six of which are defaut schemes to which members are autoenroed if they have not made an active choice of scheme. 14

15 Austraia The Superannuation Guarantee was introduced in Austraia in 1992 and provides for a mandatory empoyer contribution to a private pension pan for their empoyees. This system has certainy met with some success with the number of peope saving for retirement increasing from 40% to 80% in the 20 years since its introduction. The mandatory empoyer contribution is due to increase from 9% to 12%. This wi be phased in between Juy 2013 and Juy United Kingdom The UK scheme was incuded in the 2008 Pensions Act but the ro out ony commenced ast year and wi not be fuy impemented unti mid Whie many have auded its intentions there are some concerns in reation to the ow rates of contribution in the eary years. Minimum contributions at the outset wi be 2% with at east 1% coming from the empoyer. This wi rise to 8% in 2015 with 3% coming from the empoyer and 1% from the state in the form of tax reief. There is an upper income ceiing of 42,000 per annum (approximatey 50,000) on which contributions wi be based. The UK government has estabished NEST (Nationa Empoyment Savings Trust) as a ow cost easy to use pension scheme to act as a defaut option where empoyers do not have an existing scheme in pace and do not wish to estabish one. NEST wi empoy one ow risk investment strategy in its eary years in an effort to ensure that members do not experience osses near the beginning of their pension investment. It is beieved eary osses coud undermine the credibiity of the system. Ireand The government here has commissioned the OECD to conduct a review of pension poicy and it is beieved the report wi be avaiabe in the first haf of this year and that it wi recommend the introduction of auto-enroment. If this is the case empoyers wi ikey have severa years to prepare for its introduction. This ead-in time wi be wecome as there wi be chaenges for empoyers in terms of informing a empoyees who quaify for the scheme that they are to be enroed and putting in pace the necessary arrangements either for their own scheme or to make contributions to the NTMA defaut scheme. There is aso the issue of cost with empoyer contributions ikey to be 4%, athough this may be phased in over time. A the signs are that we are heading for the introduction of some form of autoenroment system As in the UK, there are aso concerns regarding the adequacy of the contribution eves. Contributions of 8% are certainy at the ower end of what woud be deemed adequate, particuary for peope postponing the commencement of their pan. Aside from those concerns, autoenroment does appear to be effective when it comes to increasing pension coverage. The US, Austraia, New Zeaand and Sweden have a seen a significant increase in coverage and their experience suggests that opt-out schemes are more effective than the opt-in aternatives which have been tried in the past. That said, an eement of compusion aone is probaby not enough and more needs to be done to get peope to engage with pension panning. One of the issues raised in this area is the compexity of benefit statements. Whie compiance is important and peope shoud be given a the facts most scheme members are unikey to read or understand a 10 page benefit statement and this makes them ess ikey to wish to continue in a scheme. The UK has chosen to foow the Swedish mode of having a one page benefit statement which simpifies a the reevant information. In Sweden this benefit statement is printed on orange paper and comes in an orange enveope and has met with quite remarkabe success with 75% of recipients saying they open it and read the statement. This is something the Irish government shoud take note of in advance of preparing for auto-enroment here. A the signs are that we are heading for the introduction of some form of autoenroment system. The important thing for empoyers is that they have time to prepare for this but equay important for everyone concerned is that they shoud not deay their pension panning by simpy waiting for this to happen. Many empoyees aready have access to pension pans with higher benefit eves than the proposed auto-enroment and if they are not aready participating in these arrangements they shoud act now and join. For further information regarding auto-enroment pensions contact Brian Sexton on or by emai to 15

16 A question of adequacy Brian McGarry points to the need for greater engagement of pension scheme members in reation to the adequacy of their contributions. Most private sector defined benefit schemes are now cosed to new members and increasingy to future accrua of benefits as trustees and empoyers grappe with the chaenges of significant deficits and stringent funding requirements. Many defined benefit schemes have been wound up and most of the remainder are in effect in run-off mode. In terms of pension provision this eaves empoyees with effectivey just one option: a defined contribution (DC) scheme. There had been the option of group or individua PRSAs but changes to taxation rues made in 2010 effectivey mean that PRSAs are no onger an attractive option. Whie there had been a perception by some that DC schemes were somehow inferior they are now the mainstay of future pension provision. Far from being inferior, a we-designed and managed DC scheme offers members more contro and choice than avaiabe under DB schemes without the potentia funding or wind up risks. The DC scheme market is very sophisticated and the scae of individua schemes tends to widen the options for members. Invesco can offer individua DC scheme members a range of investment choices to suit a risk appetites from cash to goba equities a within the same pan. They aso score extremey we on portabiity with transfers being quite easy to effect. DC schemes aso offer certain advantages to empoyers, with costs being ower than the group PRSA aternative which was meant to have suppanted them and additiona tax advantages. Furthermore, an empoyer branded DC scheme is far superior to a generic PRSA from an empoyee perspective. The DC scheme is seen to have been designed by the empoyer with the members needs in mind and tends to be more appreciated by empoyees. However, these benefits and attractions are immateria if contributions are ess than adequate and this is an issue now coming increasingy into focus. Taking into account State pension entitements, this affects empoyees at different income eves in very different ways. For exampe, a ow income empoyee on the minimum wage or sighty above is expected to do quite we, reativey speaking, out of the State pension, abeit at a now ater State pension age of 66, 67 or 68. The fu contributory State pension now stands at just under 12,000 per annum, that s more than two thirds of the 17,500 per annum a person coud expect to earn on the minimum wage. However, for midde income earners on 30,000 per annum the State pension ony offers 40% of their previous income and a person on 60,000 per annum can ook forward to just 20% of their income from the State. A we-designed and managed DC scheme offers members more contro and choice than avaiabe under DB schemes The chaenge is how to bridge this gap. Many peope who have private pensions may find the contribution eves are inadequate to meet their future needs. A person earning 60,000 per annum targeting a pension of 50% of their income excusive of the State pension woud ikey need a pension fund of approximatey 700,000 or more in today s terms. They are extremey unikey to reach that target with tota contributions of ess than 10% of their income. Brian McGarry This points to a requirement for a much greater eve of engagement of members with their pension schemes. DB schemes with their od assumed certainties probaby ed to a certain eve of disengagement and this needs to be reversed. Members need to be educated and informed to think propery about their pension scheme and their contribution eves and what can be done to enhance their income in retirement before it is too ate. Of course, it is not a about simpy increasing contributions. Empoyers can ook to putting the administration of schemes out to tender to get better vaue for money and they can aso ook at what they are getting for their investment management fees. There may aso be a case to change investment strategy and ensure that appropriate investment choices are avaiabe to members. Invesco can hep in terms of exporing these options and working with both empoyers and empoyees to ensure contribution eves and scheme design are adequate for the needs of members. For further information contact Brian McGarry at or by emai to 16

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