We are pleased to announce the results of our Post COVID-19 Pensions survey. The review, carried out in association with the Irish Institute of Pensions Management (IIPM), sought input from over 100 pension industry professionals who participated in a webinar on “Post COVID-19 Pensions: What to Expect”.
The survey findings show an industry looking for guidance at a regulatory level, with 54% stating that they are only partially satisfied by the pensions related guidance provided by the regulatory authorities during the pandemic, and 39% stating that they are not satisfied at all with the level of guidance.
"The Pensions Authority currently have their hands tied by legislation, and must act in compliance with the provisions of the Pensions Act. But they have recognised that we are living through extraordinary times, and have stated that they will take the current circumstances into account when assessing compliance with legislative provisions", commented Stephen Gillick, Head of our Pensions team. “15% of those surveyed also stated that employer pension contributions to their pension scheme have been reduced or suspended since the start of the pandemic, but it’s important to remember that an employer’s obligations in this regard are governed by employee contracts, applicable legislation and the rules of the pension scheme itself. This relatively low percentage may in itself be reflective of the low pensions coverage & contribution rates in those sectors of the economy that have been severely hit by the crisis, especially the hospitality sector.”
There is also scepticism that the planned auto-enrolment scheme will be rolled out in 2022, with 66% believing it will be delayed by a number of years and 20% believing that the scheme will be mothballed completely. “The global uncertainty brought about by the pandemic will continue to have a seismic effect on the provision of pensions in Ireland. The existing plan for auto-enrolment was certainly a step in the right direction in terms of increasing the number of people saving for retirement, but it may not survive the ongoing economic fall-out from the COVID-19 crisis”, added Mr Gillick.
Review investment strategy
The survey also found that 71% of those surveyed have yet to adjust their pension’s investment strategy since the start of the pandemic. However, those involved in convening trustee meetings have embraced the use of technology with 76% having no difficulties with convening meetings and only 18% having technology issues. “We are pleased that those working in the industry are getting on with the day-to-day aspects of managing pension schemes in such difficult circumstances”, said Elma Fox, President, IIPM. “Staying in touch with sponsors and service providers is key to ensuring that if issues occur they can be managed.”
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