Pensions  

Q&A: Rowanmoor’s Ian Hammond

When I started in the industry, the biggest thing in pensions was defined benefit schemes. There were a lot of money schemes around that were being demolished for value. They were not inflation proofed.

Over the past decade, it has completely switched around with improving longevity and lower interest rates. Everything was a group pension arrangement and there were not many personal pensions in the marketplace.

The rise of DB schemes in the 1960s and fall over the past 15 years have been the biggest changes I have seen. Now there are a lot of personal pensions, Ssas and Sipp schemes.

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A-Day - Gordon Brown’s baby - was to simplify pensions. It was absolute rubbish, it complicated pensions.

It was going to save the industry a lot of money, wipe away eight or nine regimes and introduce one standard regime. It was a bit of a con because politicians couldn’t keep their fingers out of it.

Today the pensions regime is more complex than it was 10 years ago. In a year’s time [the pensions industry] will change significantly when people are able to pull out as much or as little money as they want.

Theoretically it should be simple. The advisory side of it will become more complex.

We need less legislation. Creating new laws is silly - let’s create less. I would abolish the lifetime allowance.

Sipp consolidation is not going to happen to the extent it is talked about. The only consolidation we have seen so far is from large organisations - what you haven’t seen is from smaller groups.

Until we know what the capital adequacy requirements are going to be, it is difficult to see a forced consolidation in the marketplace.

The FSA’s proposals 18 months ago specifically said some ideas that would put around 18 to 20 Sipp operators out of business. The FCA is all about promoting marketplace competition.

Kicking out 18 to 20 firms is not promoting competition. They will have to come out with a different approach.

We have around 3,500 Ssas schemes and we rarely get a Ucis in them. I think it might be a bit of a myth they are used for that purpose so I don’t see it as an issue.

After nearly 50 years in the pensions industry, it never stops fascinating me. It frustrates me though.

Helping people sort out their problems and, as a company satisfying clients and providing a quality of service, does give you a buzz.

From time to time I have thought I should have set up my own business - many years before I was given the opportunity to do a MBO (management buyout) as part of the James Hay business. Whether I would have succeeded or not is another matter.

It wasn’t until I was 17 that I heard what an actuary was. I wanted to be an architect but wasn’t very good at drawing.