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Isio's 2022 pensions predictions

As we start the new year, we challenged Isio’s leading pensions experts to give their perspectives on the themes they anticipate will impact the industry in 2022.

Iain McLellan, Director at Isio, comments on the ‘firsts’ our industry can expect in 2022:

“The industry is awaiting a number of ‘firsts’ in 2022 and like a baby taking its first steps, they have been long anticipated and watched with bated breath to see if they gain momentum.

“Following TPR’s approval of the first DB superfund, the industry will be watching Clara Pensions for its first transactions and welcoming its first pension scheme members. It will be interesting to see how quickly any new players emerge onto the field.

“Although recent headlines have confirmed slight delays, 2022 should be the year we get clarity on a number of pension changes. Firstly, we wait to hear the final outcome of how trustees and sponsors will have to update their governance approaches to comply with the revised Notifiable Events regime. Whilst the greater focus on pensions as part of corporate activities is clearly good for members, it’s likely to take time for the new requirements to be embedded, with the potential for The Pensions Regulator to flex its new regulatory muscles by finding some poster children to put on the naughty step.

“The Royal Mail Collective Defined Contribution (CDC) scheme is expected to launch by the end of 2022, but will we see others picking up the baton or movements to legislate to allow multi-employer variants?

“And finally, the roll out of GMP equalisation could be compared to watching a snake swallowing a deer. The industry spent 2021 managing to get its jaws around the head and the slow digestion process is now beginning. Whilst the first few schemes have started to complete already, we anticipate the momentum to build during 2022.”

 

Innovative Funding Solutions

 

Ian Cochrane, Director at Isio, said:

“Although it has been significantly delayed, the new funding code is expected to be in place at the end of the year.  This will increase pressure on improving funding levels and setting long-term plans, which sets the stage for schemes to explore more innovation funding solutions. Not only has the Regulator shown support for such solutions in its funding code consultation, the new TPR powers and Notifiable Event requirements will need more thought on how to address potential detriment from transactions. And, with more focus on the timing of tax relief as tax rate change starts to kick in from 1 July 2022, we expect a greater interest in different approaches for schemes of all sizes.”

 

Investment

 

Ajith Balan Nair, Director and Head of Investment Research at Isio, commented:

“Rising inflation continues to be in the spotlight for pension schemes, with UK RPI recently hitting a 30-year high and the IMF warning the Bank of England to increase interest rates in order to dampen demand.

“Higher long-term inflation expectations in the second half of 2021 have already sparked the need for schemes to consider refreshing their hedging strategies and the outlook for 2022 remains very much uncertain as central banks and governments factor in the potential economic impact of the new Omicron variant into their monetary policy decisions. We continue to advise clients to review their hedges annually, or in the event that long-term inflation expectations materially change following hedge design.”

 

Defined Contribution schemes

 

Richard Birkin, Director and Head of Defined Contributions at Isio, commented:

“The focus on improving member outcomes will continue in 2022 with a drive to increase minimum autoenrollment contribution rates and post-retirement options. The Pensions Regulator is clearly open to better solutions with open consultations on Value for Money to review charges and we should expect more exploration of Master Trusts as well as continued consolidation in the provider space.

“Likewise, member engagement and personalisation will be key this year, with simplified benefit statements, a faster roll out of technology with members able to access their schemes as quickly as they would their bank account. We should also expect a greater focus on employee wellbeing, with integrated workplace savings options and broader employee benefits.

“And finally, it’s likely we’ll see a shift in investment strategy with greater innovation, not only fuelled by the changes in market environment, but with a world-wide commitment to a more sustainable approach.”

 

Pensions Administration

 

Samantha Coombes, Director of Pensions Administration at Isio, commented:

“With higher volumes of BAU activity, GMPE and pressure to get pensions dashboard plans in place, 2022 and beyond will be full of ongoing challenges for pension administration teams.

“With national resourcing issues, technology will be key to success. Whether it’s cleansing data, digitising services or driving member self-service, using technology in the right way will enable administration offerings around the country to be in the best possible position to deliver the right outcomes for members.”

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Isio has eight regional hubs, which draw upon nationwide expertise to meet specific client needs. Contact us to see how we can help you in 2022.