Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Gold-plated pensions

For directors that, is according to the TUC's annual Pensionswatch survey. They're not super generous just because directors get paid more, there are plenty of pension-boosting little wheezes that ensure that boardroom provision is unmatched anywhere else.

In DB schemes many directors have a better accrual rate (1/40ths or even 1/30ths compare to 1/80ths or 1/60ths for mere mortals), meaning that they can build up pension benefits far more quickly. In DC schemes many get employer contributions three or four times as generous as those available to the rest of us.

And finally, they typically have a Normal Retirement Age of 60 - that's the age they can draw a full pension at.

Here's the TUC press blurb:

UK top bosses can look forward to retiring on £200,000 a year

Directors of the UK's top companies can retire on pensions of over £200,000 a year, according to the TUC PensionsWatch survey published today (Tuesday).

The TUC's sixth annual PensionsWatch survey, which analyses the pension arrangements of 346 directors from 102 of the UK's top companies, shows that top bosses have amassed pension pots that average around £3 million each, providing an annual pension of £201,700 a year - 25 times the average workplace pension that ordinary workers receive (£8,100). Directors with the greatest entitlements at each company have average pension pots of £5.2million and can expect a pension of £333,400 a year.

PensionsWatchreveals that bosses have bucked the trend towards riskier and less generous pensions for ordinary workers, with three quarters of the directors surveyed (76 per cent) on defined benefit (DB) schemes.

The survey found that directors in defined contribution (DC) schemes received an average employer contribution of £91,700. The average employer contribution rate was around 21 per cent, three times the average rate for ordinary workers in this type of scheme (around 6.5 per cent). The top directors with the highest pension payments at each company received an average employer contribution of £149,600.

While many employers across the public and private sectors are increasing the length of time people have to work by raising retirement ages to 65, the majority of directors in the TUC study are still able to retire at 60. Of the 40 companies that provided information about the normal retirement age (NRA) for directors, two thirds (26 companies) still had a NRA of 60.

The PensionsWatch survey also uncovered a lack of transparency in the reporting of directors' pension arrangements. Of the 19 financial sector companies analysed - 18 of which offered DB schemes to at least one director - just four companies disclosed the accrual rate they use to calculate pension benefits.

The TUC is calling for greater clarity and reporting of pay, remuneration and pensions, so that investors have the information they need to scrutinise the awards made to directors. The TUC believes that more information would also make it easier for ordinary employees to see the pension arrangements of their top bosses.

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