UK - New international accounting rules will be fundamentally the same as FRS17, delegates at the recent NAPF autumn conference were warned.
International Accounting Standards Board member Geoffrey Whittington said the new rules – which will be available for early adoption in 2005 and compulsory from 2006 – will remove the “smoothing” element of the current IAS19.
Whittington said FRS17 critics needed to face the “bold fact” that the standard provided a better representation of the true state of a scheme and that it would be “flatly wrong” to include any smoothing mechanism.
He added that the IASB was currently looking at asset ceilings which would limit how much of an asset could be accounted for in a defined benefit scheme’s surplus.
Whittington’s remarks echo earlier industry warnings on the inevitability of FRS17 made by Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow principal Martin Lowes.
He said that there was “absolutely no chance” of IAS19 looking like anything other than FRS17.
But in response to Whittington’s comments, Lowes commented: “It’s the right standard, but at the wrong time.
“It’s wrong to have immediate recognition of pension gains and losses when you have not got immediate recognition of other financial instruments, which we have not yet.
“They should have it for everything, not just pensions. If pensions had gone at the same time as the other areas, companies would have seen the risks associated with pensions in the context of the financial risks they are running across the company as a whole, and pensions would not have seen so scary.”
The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has announced it will shrink its board by more than one-third as part of a governance overhaul to make it "agile and more appropriate".
Smaller FTSE 350 defined benefit (DB) schemes were nearly 15 percentage points less well-funded than larger schemes in 2017, according to a Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) analysis.
The advent of collective pension systems could help the UK avoid demographic challenges which will make it "impossible" for society to help savers in retirement, experts say.