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Trying not to think about Brexit?

Well, it does all feel a little déjà vu doesn’t it?

While Boris and Brussels are having a ding dong (or not as the case may be), the unfortunate truth is pension trustees do need think about Brexit. The stakes seem to be getting higher and pension scheme secretaries should suggest key points to consider are added to the agenda for the next trustees’ meeting – many of which will fall in the September/October window.

Risk is a live thing

I’ve also suggested adding Brexit wording into the Chair’s message on member newsletters and flagging issues to the Chair or governance committee, as we definitely need to ramp up the risk register. This is actually a great opportunity to test how well your pension scheme’s risk management process is working in practice.

Earlier this year, the Pensions Regulator released some support information on how to prepare your scheme for Brexit and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association launched its pension trustee’s Brexit to do list. They were issued before ‘no deal’ became a more likely outcome, which pension trustees will definitely need to keep in mind when considering the issues raised.

For me, the top three points all pension trustee boards should be considering are:

  1. Investment – is the pension scheme’s investment strategy suitable and can it withstand what might be ahead? Currency and hedging are important, but so too is maintaining sufficient liquidity - are the pension trustees comfortable the scheme will not be caught short?
  2. Sponsor covenant – how could the strength of the employer’s covenant be affected and what could this mean for your pension scheme funding?
  3. Members – it could be easy to forget them while we all think about the wider strategy implications. We could see new pension scams based on ‘beating’ Brexit - trustees need to highlight this danger to members. For defined contribution (DC) pension schemes, members will be faced with uncertainty about the value of their pension pots and they will need reassurance from the trustees that risks are being managed.

There may, of course, also be very specific issues to your pension scheme. Perhaps you have a significant group of pensioners or deferred members living in the EU. Maybe your scheme administration will be affected. Don’t let these issues pass you by as they may come back with a bite.

Although we’re all a bit bored of it, I’m afraid to say we do need to think about Brexit. It’s for our pension scheme members after all.

 

 

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