Binary thinking in the decimal age of pension scheme management

14th February, 2017

  • As someone who writes blogs and opinions, it would be remiss (and quite rude) of me not to read those of others.  Although, slightly less rude not to agree with them all….

    The industry views at present seem to be very much Yes (1), or No (0).  There is no middle ground, it cannot be decimal. For example:

    Pension schemes should not have valuations based on gilts vs Mark to market using gilts it is the only way

    LDI is a false god vs LDI it all the end of the world is upon us

    Active management is a con vs Active management is a must to maximise returns

    Interest rates will be lower for longer vs Interest rates cannot stay this low


    I read article after article arguing for either side of the fence.  This argument spills into Trustee meetings with informed employers also picking a side, and making for interesting valuation debates.  I do not shy from debate, quite the opposite, my problem is when applied practically it is very hard for the answer to be clear cut and binary.

    I work on 12 separate Trusts, with 12 difference Board structures, with 12 different Employer personalities, 12 different employer covenants, 12 different funding plans, 12 different investment strategies all broadly on 12 different journey plans.  The answers to key questions will be different for all.  It may be 0.00234, or it may be 0.998483 – but it is almost certainly not going to be as clear-cut as 0 or 1.

    When writing in dismissive form against the opinion of others, forgetting the middle ground (that most trustees must lurk) it makes for a confused audience.  That is probably a bit hypocritical, whilst I dismiss the views of both sides of many arguments, but hey ho, it is my blog.

    There is a need for balance, and for understanding and educating the pensions market on how to apply the excellent thinking to the practicalities of the day to day running of the Scheme.


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    • Published byChris Roberts

      Chris is managing director of Dalriada Trustees and a professional trustee who set up our Manchester office in June 2015.  Chris previously worked for two large benefit consultancies and as administration manager for a large in house pension scheme in...

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