The majority of respondents in this week's Pensions Buzz agree with Neil Woodford's investment firm that de-risking has worsened scheme deficits.
This week's survey had 121 respondents and took place from Monday 5 September until Tuesday 6 September.
There are clear majorities in several questions. For instance 56% agree with Woodford Investment Management (IM) that defined benefit (DB) deficits have been made worse by de-risking.
Meanwhile, the pensions advice allowance would lead to a small take up in the number of people seeking financial advice according to 70%.
More than half of respondents (56%) agreed with Neil Woodford's investment management firm, which recently said defined benefit (DB) scheme deficits have been made worse by de-risking.
One respondent said: "Once a scheme is de-risked it means its liabilities are fixed and the opportunity for the fund to grow out of its predicament is gone."
However many gave a range of views as to why this is the case with accounting rules, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and short-termism cited as other factors.
One respondent observed trustees have veered too much towards protecting assets. "This problem may well be a result of weakened employer covenants, where trustees know there won't be a strong balance sheet to cover them if their investment strategy takes a hit," the same person continued.
However 24% disagreed with one saying: "[Woodford] doesn't understand funding and the link between assets de-risked and liabilities. Disappointing."
One in five sat on the fence.
An overwhelming majority of respondents believed it is unlikely (44%) or very unlikely (24%) that trustees will be sued over charges and costs.
Some argued it would be hard to demonstrate trustees had not acted reasonably when agreeing fees while others said no one would want to be a trustee if this occurred.
A commentator said: "The risk of being sued over charges and costs is miniscule compared with the risk of being sued for making unwise investments (e.g. gilts and corporate bonds)."
Provided trustees have acted in line with their fiduciary duties then the chances of a successful law suit would be small, another said.
Conversely 17% thought it would be likely and 4% very likely. "It is already happening in the US, and it is the trustee's responsibility to drive out maximum value. If trustees do not demonstrate that they are actively trying to reduce costs they expose themselves to the risk of challenge," said one.
The pensions advice allowance would lead to a small increase in the number of people seeking financial advice according to 70% of respondents.
Many welcomed the idea as trying something new but were concerned £500 would not ensure good advice or remove people's apathy.
A pundit said: "No doubt some employers and firms will take up this offer of service but the advice will be limited for the proposed budgets and therefore the quality of the advice could be compromised. In which case why bother at all....?"
However one person who was more optimistic said: "For the average pension pot, £500 will still sound expensive, but it is a positive that this can be funded from the pension pot."
Only 7% said the allowance would lead to a very large increase in the take up of advice. "This is a great move by the government. People will be much more inclined to take financial advice if there is no upfront payment."
However 23% thought it would make no difference.
A total of just over two-thirds of respondents (67%) believed it is either likely (55%) or very likely (12%) that more companies will soon issue dividend warnings due to worsening deficits.
Brexit and low interest rates were mentioned by many as the crucial factors.
A commentator said: "If nothing else changes and we remain in a low interest environment then cash calls from trustees will increase and that has to be paid somehow!"
It will lead to shareholders pushing for closure of DB schemes, which is what most companies want to do, another said.
A different pundit said: "It's absolutely right that the company should pay for the true costs of running its business (its benefit packages are part of employee pay) before it issues dividends."
However, 19% replied it was unlikely and 3% said very unlikely. "Unfortunately, most companies will want to keep investors happier than their pension members," said one.
One in ten did not know.
There should be just one accounting standard to measure DB deficits according to 53% of respondents.
Many argued the multitude of measures is too confusing and complicated. "DB schemes should be simple to understand, not so complicated and contrived so that schemes are told they need trustees and administrators and advisers and solicitors," said one.
Far too many pick and choose standards and do accounting somersaults to suit individual companies, another said.
One pundit asked: "The question is "why is this not in place already?"
Conversely 33% disagreed with some saying a one-size-fits-all approach does not normally work in pensions.
Another argued "governments have nearly destroyed DB with ham-fisted over-prescriptive regulation and we really do not want any more".
One commentator praised the current system and said: "We have scheme specific funding and employer covenant reviews. The existing regime is flexible enough and it is too late to be making these kinds of changes."
Some 14% were undecided.
The PP confidence tracker fell ever so slightly this week to 2.70.
Out of the 121 respondents, 34% said it was neither likely nor unlikely that assets would grow in value over the next six months, while 27% said it was likely.
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