Pensions

Andrew Hill

I understand why Shell UK plans to close its final salary pension scheme to new recruits, but I hate the justification. The company told the FT that the decision “reflects market trends in the UK”. That’s precisely the sort of reasoning that you hear from companies and their bosses when they wish to award their chief executive a hefty pay increase. 

Tony Tassell

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe series, the character Zaphod Beeblebrox wore a nifty pair of “Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses”, which had been specially designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble they turned totally black, preventing the wearer from seeing anything that might alarm.

The UK pension industry now seems to want to adopt the accounting equivalent. The National Association of Pension Funds has called for an overhaul of accounting rules that govern the disclosure of company retirement liabilities, arguing that these are intellectually flawed and partly to blame for the widespread closure of schemes.

The move is hugely significant, not only for the UK but around the globe. The UK led the big revolution in pension fund accounting over the past 10 years to value assets and liabilities of a scheme at a snapshot of current market values.