Nearly two-thirds of this week’s 133 Pensions Buzz respondents believe the introduction of simpler and standardised annual benefit statements will help more members engage with their pension.
They also answered questions on the role of ESG factors in investments, the lifetime allowance, and auto-enrolment.
Three in five respondents agreed that simpler annual benefit statements would help to engage members with their pensions better.
It comes after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) closed its consultation on the subject. One respondent said: "Two sides of A4, plain language, no jargon. Then it might (just) avoid being binned."
"Any simplification of pensions documentation will only serve to increase engagement," another argued. "Over the same period that humans have gone from not having technology to living through a smartphone, the understanding of pensions has not increased at the same rate."
A further respondent, however, warned: "But no-one should pretend that ‘engagement' is all that is needed. Individuals must be given the means to save into their pension - and employers should play an important role here."
Just under a quarter (23%) disagreed, with one stating this was "highly doubtful". Another described it as a "nice idea" but added: "No matter how simple or attractive a pensions document is, it's still a pensions document, and most people are going to put it ‘away for later'."
The government should not make contributing into an auto-enrolment (AE) scheme compulsory, nor remove tax relief, three quarters of this week's 133 respondents said.
Even where this may focus incentives on contributions beyond the minimum, participants were disparaging, with one arguing it was a "silly idea politically and unworkable". They noted such an approach would be more complex and could benefit higher earners more.
Many particularly disagreed with removing tax relief while supporting mandatory savings. One argued: "I agree there should be no opt out, but tax relief should be simplified and standardised so it works in the same manner, no matter the type of pension scheme."
"For the lowest earners, this would likely make them quite bitter about having to contribute at all," another said. "Potentially, changes could be phased in over a number of years but I would be worried about disenfranchising a whole group of savers who can't afford to save any more."
Just 11% agreed with the suggestion, with one noting: "Compulsion all the way!"
It is time for the government to get rid of the lifetime allowance (LTA), 70% of respondents said.
One commentator said the policy had become "redundant" while others called for a "more flexible approach".
"I can see it becoming like inheritance tax," one observed. "Originally intended only to catch the very rich but inflation gradually means that anyone in the south of England with even a modest property can be caught. The LTA is a tax on prudence."
Another argued: "It is proven to incentivise behaviour that reduces the overall tax take by employees - not only doctors are working less and reducing taxable pay."
But several also said this should only be implemented for defined contribution (DC) scheme members.
"It's absurd that individuals are currently penalised for making prudent provision for their retirement and good investment decisions," said one such respondent. "They are necessarily incentivised by the LTA, therefore, to take less risk in their pension plans and more risk elsewhere."
A quarter, however, disagreed, with one stating it should simply be "reappraised".
The largest number of respondents (38%) said their schemes were not planning to make any ESG-related changes to their investment portfolios this year.
Several said they had already made such changes. For example, one respondent said: "We have already integrated ESG factors into the investment decision-making process."
Another added: "We are likely to put pressure on fund managers to take ESG more seriously but unlikely to change the portfolio before they have had time for their practices to evolve."
Just under three in ten (28%) said they were planning changes. One participant said these would be, however, "very minor due to a preponderance of passive pooled investments".
One of the 34% who were unsure said ESG was "an outdated term" relating to when this approach was outside of the mainstream. "Now those considerations should be at the heart of all investment decisions. Not considering them would be irresponsible."
Financial considerations are the most important factor for 47% of respondents when considering ESG-related issues.
Several said this was their fiduciary duty under the law. "That is consistent with a strong ESG approach if you are looking at the longer term, which you should be!" argued one.
Another added: "Favourable ESG factors should in any event produce better returns in the long run."
"Legislation focuses attention on financially material considerations such as ESG," said a further respondent. "ESG is not an end itself; only if it is financially material."
But just over a third (36%) of participants disagreed, with some pointing to overall returns and member views.
"ESG factors should be considered by all schemes, but not to the extent of being detrimental to members' fund growth," said one.
Another candid respondent said: "Being honest, the most important factor is compliance with legislation."
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