Back PQM to stop levelling down – NAPF

THE NAPF called on advisers to get on board with its Pensions Quality Mark (PQM) to reduce the risk of leveling down that the industry is so
fearful of.

Richard Wilson, senior policy adviser at the NAPF, told Corporate Adviser DC Summit delegates that he wanted to turn around the perception that DC is bad.

Wilson said the first 15 schemes had been awarded the kitemark, which is available to schemes with a 10 per cent headline contribution rate, with six per cent from the employer. The PQM Plus option has 15 per cent total contributions, with at least 10 per cent from the employer. The PMQ measures schemes against three sets of criteria – contributions, governance and communications.

Experts said while the PQM was just one step towards raising the value of pensions in the perception of the public, the reality was that
alternatives to pensions were being increasingly considered, particularly in light of the Budget changes for high earners.
Wilson said: “We have got people like the TUC and Which?, the CBI and the DWP on board. But what happens now is this will only become a benchmark if lots of people are using it. We want to get out there and get people on board to stop this leveling down we are all concerned about.”

Jim Bligh, senor policy adviser at the CBI, said in a separate session: “We think the Pensions Quality Mark is a good idea. Its possibly a risk reputation for the NAPF but I can’t see many employers going for it. I can see those who want to prove to their bosses that they have a good scheme, but you have to pay every year to get it, and there are a couple of other obstacles in the way. But in principle it is good, and we do need to recognise the quality of DC pensions, but I don’t think that quality is necessarily linked to contribution levels, which is what the PQM stresses.”

Duncan Singer, director corporate solutions, Aegon Scottish Equitable, said new solutions were needed to combat the changes in employees’ perceptions of pensions that were taking place. He said: “There is some impetus behind corporate wrap and alternatives topensions, and the changes to the taxation of pensions is part of what is driving that. But also the development of technology is one of the ways we can take a great leap forward with this, with things such as online platforms.”