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Will CDC pension schemes take off?

Will CDC pension schemes take off?

Collective defined contribution schemes have the potential to be "very big" but further legislation changes are needed to enable this, according to guests on the latest edition of the FTAdviser Podcast.

CDC schemes are designed to be a half way house between defined benefit schemes and defined contribution schemes, with workers saving into one collective pot.

The legislation to establish CDC schemes has made it into law and Royal Mail is expected to launch the UK's first such scheme next year.

Speaking on the podcast, Simon Eagle, chairman of Willis Towers Watson's CDC working party, said a survey his company had conducted of DB clients showed 7 per cent would be looking at CDC in the next three years.

He said: "It is early days but the signs are that there will be interest, it will take off, and in the longer term it has got the potential to be very big, I would say.

"But for that to happen it really needs more than the initial regulations allowing large employers to set up their own scheme. It needs master trust or multi-employer schemes so many UK workers can get CDC.

"The government has said they are keen to look at those other designs soon [...] so things are moving reasonably quickly."

Earlier this week the regulators told the Work and Pensions Committee collective defined contribution schemes could become a popular alternative to annuities if their risks can be contained. 

Eagle said there had been particularly strong interest in the industrial and utilities sectors.

Tim Middleton, director of policy and external affairs at the Pension Management Institute, agreed the master trust sector was the "natural home" for CDC schemes.

He said: "The thing about CDC in terms of auto-enrolment is that it provides the perfect auto-enrolment vehicle in terms that it can operate through defaults at all the key stages of scheme membership.

"At the moment with our master trusts we have got a very good approach to defaulting people into the scheme in the first place, we have a very good accumulation stage which operates by default, but where the problems arise is where people have to decumulate and decide what they have to do with their accumulated benefits.

"With CDC there isn't decumulation as such in that the benefit is paid in the form of a scheme pension so members don't actually have to make any kind of decision. By default they have got a scheme pension which becomes payable at normal retirement age so CDC would work extremely well in the master trust sector."

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damian.fantato@ft.com