Thursday, 26 March 2009

Platinum-plated, diamond-encrusted pensions

There's been quite a lot of comment in the press lately about public sector pension schemes, which are 'gold-plated' apparently. Your typical local government worker can expect to kick back in style on a mouth-watering £4,000 a year for instance.

Just to balance the commentary a bit, here are some stats from Watson Wyatt about provision for directors of UK public companies -
36 per cent of FTSE350 executives currently receive a cash allowance in lieu of accruing further pension provision in respect of their future service. For chief executives in FTSE100 companies, the median allowance is around 25 per cent of basic salary. While 25 per cent allowances are fairly standard across the FTSE100, there is much more variation in FTSE250 companies. Here, the median allowance for CEOs is a little over 15 per cent of salary, but allowances of anything between 10 per cent and 30 per cent are not uncommon.

13 per cent of senior executives have no benefits explicitly linked to retirement provision and may have negotiated a higher basic salary to implicitly compensate for this.

24 per cent of senior executives do continue to receive pension benefits under a defined contribution arrangement from their present employer.

27 per cent of senior executives are accruing only defined benefit pension benefits. A further 23% have defined benefit pensions in relation to past service only but which continue to be linked to future salary growth.

What they don't mention is that where directors have DB schemes often the accrual rate is better (1/30ths not uncommon) and in DC schemes the contribution rate is also more generous (sometimes 2 or 3 times more). Payments in lieu of pension are a relatively new wheeze, and again not applicable to the average prole. Imagine trying to argue that you should get a 25% rise if you decide not to join your staff pension scheme...

So if £4,000 a year is 'gold-plated' what should directors' pensions be described as? This pensions feudalism (I'm trying to outdo the TPA!) must stop.

1 comment:

Charlie Marks said...

Great post comrade. I'll have to memorise that 4 grand figure to regurgitate when I hear people moaning about public sector pensions.