Pensions are too complicated a topic for political parties to discuss in any detail on the general election campaign trail, a majority of this week’s 110 Pensions Buzz respondents said.
They also answered questions on Pension Protection Fund and Financial Assistance Scheme compensation, the bulk annuity market, and tax-free lump sums.
Pensions are too complicated to discuss during the general election, a whopping 72% of this week's 110 Pensions Buzz respondents said.
Prospective parliamentary candidates do not understand pensions themselves, many noted, and, where they did, the necessary detail would be lost amid the rhetoric.
"Sadly the subject is very complicated," one said. "To discuss the annual allowance and lifetime allowance will just leave the public cold. Closing a defined benefit fund, of course, is newsworthy. Unless it gives the voter more money in their pocket, forget it!"
Another respondent said: "I very much doubt that more than a very small number of candidates have any idea about the details of pensions, which is what people would like to know. Headline-grabbing statements are basically meaningless."
A further participant said there was a danger of "silly soundbite gimmicks".
However, a quarter felt they were not too complicated to feature, with one stating: "Pension scheme members and voters are the same people. Pensions need to be understandable to members, so they need to be understandable to voters."
An overwhelming majority (86%) agreed that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should be forced to respond to any complaints lodged against it.
"Nobody is above the law," one respondent reminded readers. "We are all accountable for our actions!"
Another commentator said this should approach should apply to all regulators, while a third person observed: "The FCA expects transparency, openness, and honesty from others so it must practice what it preaches and respond to complaints in the same manner."
A further respondent made a similar argument: "Transparency at every level. Regulators have in the past been woefully inadequate and yet have not been held to account - this has to change."
"The FCA's performance has been far from stellar and it should answer for its mistakes/complaints like any other organisation," another said.
Just 8% felt this was not the right approach, with one noting: "But an independent body should investigate and comment."
Two thirds of respondents were unsure whether there would be an increasing number of bulk annuity deals where longevity swaps are converted into buy-ins over the next 12 months.
It follows the Scottish Hydro Electric Pension Scheme using its longevity reinsurance contract to secure a £750m buy-in with Pension Insurance Corporation.
Just 22% felt that more schemes would employ a similar approach, especially as the market continues to swell, even if few schemes have such contracts.
"Where it suits the insurer," one respondent noted, "but it will only be a limited increase."
Another added: "The market is now ahead of the game and will look to win greater business into next year."
But 13% had the opposite opinion, with one noting: "Buy-ins are not super popular in pension risk transfer, and pension funds are questioning the role they should play in their portfolio."
The 25% tax-free lump sum members are able to take out of their pension at retirement should not be limited to a pounds-based threshold, 71% of this week's respondents said.
The significant majority found the idea unpalatable, with several noting this would go against the spirit of Freedom and Choice, and others stating this could affect individuals' retirement planning.
One respondent said this would be an "extra complication", adding: "We need to avoid further instability that undermines residual confidence in saving."
A second reader said: "Some members have been building up their fund for retirement for many years, based on planning to take a pension commencement lump sum. If they had expected a limit, they might have acted differently. It would be unfair to change the tax rules now."
Just one in eight respondents said there should be a limit, although their responses ranged from £0 to around £250,000.
One caveated their reply, noting: "This would have to be introduced with a good lead-in time as you are essentially breaking confidence with the saver who thought that 25% was the deal."
Respondents were equally split on whether the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) should provide uplifts in line with inflation for rights accrued before 1997, with 36% on either side of the fence.
Of those who agreed, one said: "The current position seems arbitrary and has a major impact on longstanding employees in failed companies."
Another said the upcoming ruling in the Bauer case could mean the current approach becomes unsustainable, particularly for FAS and early PPF scheme members where most benefits, if not all, were accrued before 1997.
A further person said it was "disgraceful" that rights had not been "protected properly in legislation".
On the other hand, one noted: "A lifeboat fund is not intended to be a first-class luxury yacht."
"In many cases, this would lead to windfall gains paid for by schemes whose members might not receive these increases," another said.
A final respondent said: "They do not exist to provide benefit improvements paid for by other schemes. Many schemes had no increases until they were compulsory."
Professional Pensions is holding its ESG Focus on 3 December.
People who have left risks unmanaged will be rewarded under the government’s proposals to reform the Retail Prices Index (RPI) while those in well-risk-managed schemes could lose out, says Barnett Waddingham.
XPS Pensions has published interim results for the half year ending 30 September, posting total revenue of £56.3m and pre-tax profits of £4.4m.
Professional Pensions is holding a live Q+A with UK Pensions Awards judges tomorrow morning to help you prepare your submissions.