Is your pension safe? What does the bond crash and mini-Budget fallout mean for your retirement fund

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  • The hardest hit are those near retirement age with a hole in their investments
  • Those with traditional last-wage pensions are best protected
  • Many savers have suffered losses in the stock market, but they have time to see a recovery

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Retirement Planning: Those approaching retirement age or in retirement age with a hole in their investments have been hit the hardest by the recent market turmoil.

Most retirement savings are either immune to the market carnage of recent weeks or will be able to ride out the storm over time.

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Those who are most affected are those who are in retirement age or at retirement age with a hole in their investments, although they too can repair the damage by changing their plans or waiting for the current furore to subside.

People in traditional last pay pension schemes, which the Bank of England stepped in to protect in the wake of the government’s catastrophic mini-budget – much of what was now y-included – are in the safest position.

Contributors who invest through modern defined contribution pensions will suffer losses in the stock market of late, but unless they are approaching retirement age — when some or most of their funds are typically moved into bonds — they are unlikely to suffer losses this quarter.

It is too early to say whether the dismissal of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will calm the financial markets, especially those trading British government bonds, although the reversals of many of yesterday’s announcements are early signs that helped.

We will explain in detail the implications for bond investors here and see how it affects people in different types of pension schemes below.

Final salary pension

Gilded and generous final salary pensions provide contributors with a guaranteed income until death and typically continue to pay a reduced amount to spouses if they outlive you.

Much attention has been paid to the Bank of England’s high-profile intervention to bolster last-wage pension schemes during the current market crisis.

This is because they are heavily investing in bonds, especially long maturities, but some have become forced sellers due to exposure to risky hedging strategies known as “commitment-driven investing”.

But ordinary members’ pensions are protected because they do not in themselves carry any investment risk. Even if the worst happens and their scheme fails, their pensions will be bailed out by the Pension Fund.

Despite short-term cash flow problems caused by LDI, many last payroll pension funds will see an improvement in their financial position due to recent developments in the bond markets.

Bond yields or yields have improved as their prices fell in the recent sell-off.

“While the retirement world has been shocked that LDI strategies have struggled to cope with the sudden rapid drop in the price of gold, it is unlikely that there will be any direct impact on the pensioner in a defined benefit scheme, both before and after retirement.” , the message says. Rob Morgan, chief investment analyst at Charles Stanley.

“The company or institution funding the scheme may need their pension manager to adjust their investment strategy, or they may need to invest more money as a short-term measure, but the promise of income to the retiree remains the same.

“For many schemes, rising security yields improve the funding position in the long run, even though it creates a bottleneck for LDI users in the short run.”

Leith Khalaf, head of investment analysis at AJ Bell, says: “Defined benefit pension schemes are at the center of the current crisis, and yet there are several layers of protection that mean individual participants in these schemes are not in the line of fire.

“These schemes are known as ‘gold plated’ for the reason that they are not only generous, but also guaranteed by the pensioner’s employer or former employer.

“So even if a pension scheme doesn’t have enough assets to cover its liabilities, it can ask the employer to invest more money.

“It is also worth noting that the financing of the scheme has improved markedly over the past year because while assets have fallen, liabilities have fallen even more.

“At the latest PPF count, roughly four out of five schemes were in surplus, with the remaining one in five running a deficit of just £14.3bn. Conversely, a year ago more than 40 per cent of the schemes were in deficit, worth £116bn combined.”

Defined Contribution Pensions

Defined contribution pensions take contributions from both the employer and employee and invest them to provide a pot of money at retirement.

If you don’t work in the public sector, they have now basically replaced last pay pensions.

People working under defined contribution schemes must assume all investment risks when creating their pension basket.

The vast majority stick to their employer’s “default” fund, which is invested in stocks – considered riskier but more profitable investments in the long run – rather than bonds for most of their working lives.

But older workers approaching or on the verge of retirement have faced the recent turmoil in government bond markets and have suffered losses as a result.

This is because, at the end of their working life, savers in these schemes often gradually transition to bonds, which have historically been considered the “safer” option, a process known as “lifestyle” or “risk mitigation”.

The idea is to protect savers from drastic drops when they are just about to start using their pensions by buying an annuity that brings a guaranteed return or, more commonly these days, through an investment and use scheme.


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