Next UK rate rise will be in 2018, says industry

Michael Klimes
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Most expect the BoE to raise rates again in 2018
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Most expect the BoE to raise rates again in 2018

Respondents believe another rate rise is question of when, not if.

This week 95 respondents took part in Pensions Buzz and answered questions about when they think the next interest rate rise will be and whether the UK needs a Later Life Commission to craft policies on how retirement and social care will be funded. 

To see the results click here.  

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An overwhelming majority (84%) said the Bank of England (BoE) will raise the base rate at some point next year.

It comes after the central bank raised the interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.50% earlier this month, and expects to introduce another two rises in the next three years.

The remaining segment  of respondents was evenly distributed, with 2% saying rates will rise this year, 3% said they will increase in 2019, 2% believed they will go up in 2020, 3% said later than that, while 6% did not know.  

One commentator explained the hike is dependent on a number of factors.

"If retail sales peak over the Christmas and New Year period, it may come sooner rather than later," he said.

In early 2018, rates will go up by another 0.25% which will take the steam out of inflation but also increase the number of repossessions, another argued.

A different respondent said: "The lack of wage inflation means that the bank must tread carefully with the economy still in a fragile state."

Among those who chose ‘later', one said: "Get used to being in a low interest-rate environment."

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Investment consultants should take the lead on driving up disclosure of investment costs and charges, according to 75%.

It was argued that since they manage the interaction with fund managers on behalf of trustees in many cases, it is natural they should lead on this.

However, others said it was the job of additional stakeholders to support consultants in this work.

"Not solely, but they should because it is in the interests of their customers, and they could because they can bring the combined weight of customers to bear," said one.

Another added: "They have a vital role for transparency of total costs and charges."

However, 14% disagreed, and one respondent even said "there is no need to drive up disclosure of investment costs and charges".

Another added: "Many individuals invest without reference to investment consultants. The industry should lead the way for its customers."

One in nine was undecided.

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There needs to be an international regulatory approach to cost and charge disclosure, 47% said.

International co-operation to ensure markets work efficiently and are transparent is vital, it was argued.  

A pundit said: "Good question. That would make sense as investment is a global business."

Even after Brexit, investors will need protection and recourse irrespective of where the company is located, another commented.

Yet some support for an international regulatory approach to cost and charge disclosure was qualified.

One respondent said it is a long-term aim and another thought it is unlikely to happen soon.

Conversely, 37% suggested the approach does not need to be international with many concerned about complexity.

"Any such approach would come with overly complex requirements - regulators can't avoid overdoing their tinkering," said one.

Another asked: "Trying to get everyone to agree? And just try to get Brussels to agree to anything intelligent these days."

One in six was ambivalent about an international approach. "Beware what you ask for! Regulatory solutions tend to tick boxes and can be an expensive way to further reduce value," said one.

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The benefits of defined contribution (DC) pension scheme pooling are being oversold according to 45% of respondents.

Just because a pension fund is small, does not mean it is badly run or members have worse experiences relative to those in larger schemes.

"It's the administration inefficiencies that push costs up for small schemes, not the investment charges," said one.

Another added: "One size does not fit all. Having a much bigger pot does not stop it from collapsing. If that should happen then it will take a lot more members with it!"

A different commentator noted a consequence of DC pooling "will be much pain and poverty for all too many".

Nonetheless, 26% believed the benefits of pooling are not being overhyped. "Well-run master trusts can be much more efficient than trust-based DC schemes," said one.

Collective defined contribution has a real future and needs to be retrieved from the political long grass, another said.

Almost 30% were undecided.

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There should be an independent ‘later life commission' to develop a national strategy for financing retirement and social care, according to 56%.

Currently politics is too polarised and there are too many silos across government departments for successful solutions to be developed.  

"I don't like [the idea of] yet another quango, but this is an issue of enough national importance to make it sensible," said one.

Another said: "A large majority of retirees would benefit from being spoon-fed on the management for their retirement assets not least to avoid very high fees in most cases."

Just over a quarter (26%) rejected the idea, and one asked: "Another pointless and expensive quango staffed by professional do-gooders? No thanks!"

Coupling retirement and social care suggests a policy of funding social care from retirement funds, another remarked.

Among the 1% who chose ‘other' one said: "There should be a commission. But it can never be independent of all the interested parties. And it can only ever be expected to be advisory. Even ‘develop' is going too far."

One in six said they did not know.

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