Mr Polson is away this week, having indulged his guitar-playing Mr Hyde persona and most excellently tearing up the PFS Conference. For anyone who got too close, counselling is available.
I’ll come to the pensions in a minute. But in the week we celebrate both the dark and the supernatural (and for some reason, pumpkins), as well as the historic attempt to trigger multiple concurrent by-elections through the judicious application of several barrels of gunpowder, let us first give a passing nod to the tragic farce that is contemporary British politics.
Avert your gaze from the sight of Suella Braverman channelling her best ‘Cruella de Vil meets Enoch Powell’; spare no thought for the former Conservative politician now masquerading as Matt Hancock who has chosen, for reasons known only to himself and God and certainly to the bemusement of the good citizens of West Suffolk, to take himself off to the Australian outback, there to feast on the honourable member of some poor unfortunate kangaroo.
Instead, let us cheer the return of proper politics and possibly even a stable, competent government, including one Laura Trott (no, not the cyclist, I checked) who has taken over as Pensions Minister from Alex Burghart, who took over very briefly from Guy Opperman, who took over even more briefly from…er, Guy Opperman, who is back in the DWP but no longer Minister for Pensions.
Sadly, our cheers must be short-lived, a fiscal event heaves into view and with it once again the damocletian threat of cuts to pension taxation hangs over our heads. If I were in government, I’d definitely be eyeing up that £40 billion or so given away every year to the wealthy and undeserving in various byzantine forms of pension tax relief, and working out how much I could cut, now auto-enrolment has fixed the participation problem.
In fact, so successful has been the auto-enrolment programme we now have too many pensions, if not necessarily too much money in them. So, this week we have Pension Awareness week, including (checks notes) the Grime MC Big Zuu, here to share the love of all things retirement planning. It is almost excruciatingly bad but somehow manages to be quite good and definitely a lot better than Ros Altmann’s Workie (I did like the talking sheepdogs back in the day though).
As if that weren’t enough retirement planning joy, on Pension Dashboards we also took delivery this week of the FCA’s final rules and guidelines for personal and stakeholder pension providers, who now have until 31 August 2023 to connect with the Money and Pensions Service’s digital architecture. This is a modest delay to the original plans for a deadline of June 30 2023 (see, a Regulator that listens to the industry). Notwithstanding the inevitable disruption Dashboard data provision may cause to the more complacent members of the pension manufacturing fraternity, some of whom may have only just got over implementing the Consumer Duty, this is exciting stuff. Pension Dashboards are actually happening. For advisers, this means a lot less time wasted on non value-adding admin, searching for lost pensions and getting valuations; for providers it means having to work a wee bit harder to impress their customers. I’m genuinely interested to see what it’s going to do for all the various pension consolidators that have sprung up in the recent years: will it increase the flow of pension savings around the system, or will visibility of assets make it less important to actually move them? Answers on a postcard please.
OUT OF THERE LINKS
- After a late summer hiatus, the Podcat is getting under way again, later this week we’ll have the incomparable Edi Truell thinking the unthinkable on reform of the NHS pension scheme. Follow here to pick it up when it drops. Coming up in the near future, we’ve also got episodes on CDC, the PLSA and I kid you not, an actual genuine futurologist.
- There’s an interesting tug of war going on between the government and the ‘independent’ regulators the FCA, PRA and the Bank of England. The Financial Services and Markets Bill, currently at Committee stage, is set to include a provision for the government to overrule regulators, forcing them to make, amend or revoke rules, if the government felt it was in the national interest. Set against this, the regulators argue such a ‘call in’ power would undermine the UK’s competitive regulatory environment, you can read more about it here.
- In a break with tradition, because why not; this week’s musical choice isn’t a musical choice at all, it is a film recommendation. If you haven’t already seen The Banshees of Inisherin then may I encourage you to attend to it forthwith. A cleverer man than me would construct some intricate metaphor, relating this wonderful black comedy back to the state of our politics, but there we are. All I can say is it is one of the best films I have seen in a long time; here is a trailer to whet your appetite THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures – YouTube.
Thanks for reading,