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Hello, I’m Paul. One sunny August day last year, I got a telephone call from the Finance Director at one of my clients, and he called me because, it’s fair to say, he was tearing his hair out. He said to me “Paul, I have got in front of me, a piece of paper that says I have got a deficit in my pension scheme of £50m that I need to find.” And what really annoyed him was that this deficit was even bigger than the deficit last time, despite the fact he had been putting a load of money into the scheme. He said to me, this is a problem that has arisen over the last twenty years, but it’s one I have got to sort out so I can plan for the next twenty years for the future of this business.
So we went away and we looked at the options and we came back with an idea. The idea was truly win-win. Good for members of the pension scheme, good for the company. So what was the idea? Well, the idea was this…Imagine you are a pensioner in the pension scheme and you are getting £10,000 pension a year and it will be going up in line with inflation each year. Now what if I said to you, “instead of that £10,000 a year, have say, £15,000 a year, but this pension will be fixed, it won’t go up in line with inflation”. Now this is an option that’s a financial option, but it is also a lifestyle option. For many people, they will value having a higher pension in the early active years of their retirement, but it won’t be for everyone. For other people, they will really cherish the inflation protection they have. So we said, “ok, let’s do this, let’s make this option to people, but the first thing we are going to have to do, is make absolutely sure that people understand, clearly the option they are being given - the pros and cons”. So we set about producing a gold standard of communication materials and one thing we insisted on, for example, was that everybody before they could take this option would have to speak to an independent financial expert on the telephone to confirm they understood the option that they were taking and what they wanted to do.
So we did all that, fast forward, where are we today? Well here we are, months later, of the 5,000 people in this pension scheme that received this offer, 2,000 of them decided, “yes this is a good thing that I would like to take”. So what have we got? We have got 2,000 very happy pensioners that have got a better deal for them, we have got a very happy company because the deficit in the pension scheme has gone down by £20m as a result, we have got happy Trustees with a lower deficit too, and I have got a very, very happy client.
I am really really pleased with the way this all went. Now, is it replicable? Could it be done again? Absolutely it could, but we really believe you must do it in the right way. If you want to know more, please get in touch.
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