Occupational Pensions

House of Lords written question – answered on 8th December 2014.

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Photo of Lord Mendelsohn Lord Mendelsohn Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to review the basis on which projections of potential returns are used by the investment management industry in communications with pension holders.

Photo of Lord Freud Lord Freud The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Since 6 April 2003, certain money purchase pension arrangements have been required to provide members with Statutory Money Purchase Illustrations (SMPIs). Legislation requires that statutory illustrations are produced in accordance with guidance prepared by a prescribed body approved by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and by the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is the prescribed body and has been since 6 April 2007. The FRC fulfils its obligations through the publication of Actuarial Standard Technical Memorandum AS TM1: Statutory Money Purchase Illustrations (AS TM1). It reviews AS TM1 regularly and the last completed review was carried out in 2013 following the introduction of the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/2734) which came into force on 6 April 2014. The AS TM1 specifies that the investment return should take into account the current and anticipated future investment strategy of the member’s funds over the period to retirement and be consistent from year to year, with the rationale documented and made available to members on request.

In addition, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules require a projection at point of sale for contract based pensions. The investment return must reflect the investment potential of the (expected) underlying assets, subject to an overall cap of 5%pa. Flanking projections must be provided using returns which vary by +/- 3%. The FCA has a public commitment to review the basis every 4 years and the next review is due in 2015. The FCA do not require further projections during the lifetime of the contract as pension scheme members will receive statutory statements prepared under DWP legislation. However, where a provider chooses to provide additional projections, they must follow the same basis as point of sale projections.

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