In this week's pensions buzz, we asked if you agree with MPs that enhanced powers for The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will only be effective if there is also a cultural change at the watchdog.
Also, we asked who should pay for advice for members seeking defined benefit transfers, and the extent schemes heavily invested in equities should employ equity protection strategies.
Finally, we asked if the General Data Protection Regulations is good news for scheme members, and if the government should provide financial support to quality small master trusts.
Over half (55%) of respondents said cultural change is needed at The Pensions Regulator (TPR), as suggested by MPs, to properly enhance its powers.
Of these, one said: "I believe cultural change is underway, although there are still a significant number of people within the organisation that have been there for many years."
Meanwhile, one argued the regulator needs to be more confident of itself, and another pointed out it needs to be "more assertive".
Exactly one quarter of pundits answered no, with one saying: "MPs don't know what they are talking about and should try talking to those of us who do, who actually do the job - employers and trustees and not just the consultants.
"The only cultural change needed is to move it from Brighton and to one of the other major cities in the UK (Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, and London) where a bigger pool of skilled resources exist for it to recruit from."
Exactly one fifth were unsure if cultural change is needed at TPR.
The majority of respondents (84%) agreed that individuals should pay for advice for defined benefit (DB) transfers.
Of these respondents, many cited that if the individual wants to transfer, they need to take responsibility.
One said: "If they want to consider a transfer they need to be prepared to consider and pay for advice - it is nobody else's responsibility."
One in 10 respondents said sponsors should pay, with one respondent saying: "It is often in sponsor's interest to do so recognising the gap between prudent funding and cash equivalent transfer values.
"We are also seeing trustees do so in some cases for the same reason. Otherwise it is up to the individual but we need to watch for buried charges."
Another said it depends who is driving the initiative. "The real question is around the cost of advice."
Meanwhile, 5% said "someone else". Of these pundits, one said it could be paid out of the member's fund, while another said it should be whoever "initiates the conversation."
Just 1% said trustees should pay for advice for member seeking DB transfers.
Just over half of respondents said a scheme which is heavily invested in equities should adopt equity protection strategies, "to some extent".
Of these pundits, one said any investment strategy should have a plan for contingencies.
However, another said it "depends on the employer covenant and who makes up any shortfall of the market impacts".
One quarter of respondents were unsure, with one commenting: "It depends on all sorts of variables."
One pundit said it depends on the scheme, while another said it depends on the overall asset mix/funding position/employer covenant.
Some 17% said schemes heavily invested in equites should not adopt equity protection strategies at all. One respondent cited: "The answer is move to a less volatile asset class."
Just 7% said schemes heavily invested in equities should adopt equity protection strategies "to a great extent."
One pundit said: "A fund manager should be doing this as a matter of routine. It's particularly significant as a scheme approaches a significant date such as a valuation date."
Exactly half of respondents surveyed said they were "neutral" about GDPR's effect on scheme members.
One respondent said: "GDPR reminds me of the dreaded 'Millennium bug '. In 20 years ' time we'll all be saying 'what was all that fuss about GDPR?'"
GDPR came into force on 25 May, and will have a wide ranging impact on pension funds.
Over a quarter (25%) said it will have a positive impact, with one saying data theft is now rampant and schemes are mostly run by "crusty old men" who otherwise would not respond adequately to this increased risk.
Another said it is a "short term hassle, long term gain."
Under a fifth (18%) said GDPR will have a negative effect on scheme members. "Additional compliance cost for very little benefit," said one respondent.
Another said there will be "No real change in data security but lots of extra governance and communication to members to tell them effectively nothing has really changed."
Just 5% were unsure.
A large majority (84%) of respondents said the government should not financially support sponsors who operate quality small master trusts.
One commented: "Absolutely not! There should be no such interference in what is, essentially, a commercial proposition and there should be no such subsidisation or distortion of the market.
"If they cannot operate with an affordable business model then they shouldn't be in the business in the first place."
Another pundit said if it is not good enough to attract longer term investment, they should fold.
"Keep the government out of things wherever possible."
Meanwhile, one respondent also argued that "this is a commercial world," and added that if the master trust is unsustainable it should withdraw from the market.
Over one in ten (13%) were unsure, with one saying: "The government already supports one large master trust [NEST], why should it support sub-scale ones?"
Another said there is no shortage of competition in this market already.
Just 3% said the government should financially support sponsors who operate quality small master trusts.
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