The government is right to stop the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) from making politically motivated investment decisions according to PP research.
More than half of 143 Pensions Buzz's respondents said political decisions and investment choices did not make for happy bedfellows.
Elsewhere the industry said the lifetime allowance should be scrapped while respondents were divided on whether negative interest rates would hasten the decline of defined benefit (DB) schemes.
The LGPS should not be allowed to be part of politically motivated divestment campaigns according to 56% of respondents.
Politics was bad for pragmatic investment decisions and taxpayers would have to foot the bill for any divestment campaigns, it was argued.
A pundit said: "Ultimately the government underwrites public sector pensions and therefore should have input. Ideally an ‘all-party' safety net should be involved."
Too many LGPS funds seemed to have a crusading axe to grind rather than thinking about their members, another said.
However 26% disagreed with one commentator saying "this is an intensely political move aimed at a problem that does not exist" as "divestment is very rare these days".
A different respondent called the move "undemocratic" as it went against localism, local decision making and would result in many court cases.
A sizable portion, 18%, was undecided. A person asked: "What is a politically motivated divestment campaign? - Not aware of any LGPS funds that will know the answer either!"
Respondents were almost equally split on whether their defined benefit (DB) scheme was cash flow negative with slightly more, 34%, replying their scheme was.
Being cash flow negative was inevitable as time went by and schemes became more mature. "This was always the plan and is a normal part of a maturing DB scheme," said a respondent whose first cash flow negative scheme was in 1996. "It's just part of the lifecycle of a scheme that assets are disinvested at a point of cash flow negative with the theory that the last disinvestment was meant to pay the last monthly pension of the final pensioner who then dies in that month," the same person continued.
Just under a third said their schemes were not cash flow negative but a couple of commentators did not rule the possibility out.
One said "they were very close" to that point while another replied their scheme would face this problem within a decade.
Up to 34% did not work for DB schemes or did not have an answer.
A majority of respondents (52%) follow a combination of investment strategies to give their DB schemes a cash surplus.
Those surveyed could choose from a range of options: doing nothing; doing more liability driven investing (LDI); seeking further diversification; putting more emphasis on generating income; switching to less volatile assets or choosing a mixture of these.
A pundit said they were not doing more of anything and added: "Our investment already is liability driven, we have a diversified, minimum risk (for the necessary return) portfolio and we like assets with contractual returns."
A quarter said their favoured single strategy was doing more LDI while 13% replied generating more income was their preferred policy. "Still investing for total return, but we are developing a preference for a strong income underpin," replied a commentator.
Just over one in 20 said they were doing nothing while 4% sought further diversification of assets.
No one was switching to riskier assets.
A third thought the introduction of negative interest rates by a number of central banks was increasing the decline of DB schemes.
The yield on investments was being reduced and the distortion of bond markets was leading to unacceptable valuations/liabilities.
A respondent said: "It is just a sign of the massive debts in society and the failure of current monetary policy to kick the can far enough down the road."
Another said it was just another "twist of the knife".
There was a moderately smaller segment, 27%, who replied it made no difference to DB schemes, as government interference was the principle reason for their decline. "How does a European bank charging clients to lodge money overnight have any effect on UK pension schemes?" a pundit asked.
The same proportion admitted they were unsure while 13% disagreed that negative rates were making life harder for DB schemes. "This is just a mosquito bite compared to the shark bites delivered by the government (especially Gordon Brown's) and the bear bites delivered by the markets," said a commentator.
Over six in ten replied the lifetime allowance should be abolished.
It was administrative nightmare and also unfair according to some.
A respondent said: "An easy act of simplification! (Of course, it will never happen because Osborne's trying to prove he's laddish enough to be the next Tory leader)."
As the government was limiting the tax advantage of saving for a pension there was no reason for a lifetime allowance, another observed.
A different pundit said: "Punitive retrospective legislation does nothing to inspire confidence in the long-term viability of pensions - or in government."
Roughly a third disagreed and said the lifetime allowance was still valid. "Actually depends on what tax objectives are. If we want to limit lifetime savings then it is sensible." said a sympathiser.
Another supporter argued the 1989 regime seemed about right where £60,000 per annum was a very good salary, and £40,000 per year as a maximum pension should be more than adequate in retirement.
Only 6% sat on the fence.
To see the results in full click here.
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