Open letter petitions Frank Field for transparency inquiry

An open letter from more than a hundred stakeholders from across the pensions industry has called on Work and Pensions Select Committee chair Frank Field MP to open an inquiry into charges levied on pension fund investors.

Andy AgathangelouCo-ordinated by Transparency Task Force founder Andy Agathangelou, the letter, which is printed in full below, calls on the committee to carry out an independent enquiry into charges, building on and pulling together the work already underway at the FCA, DWP and The Pensions Regulator.

Signatories include academics, members of trade bodies, representatives of pension schemes, union officials, providers and pension consultants. The list of signatories, below, includes 99 UK-based pension professionals as well as figures from abroad including the US, Israel and Australia.

Agathangelou says: “It is perfectly clear from recent debates in the Commons that all sides of the House are keen for greater transparency in pensions, because that will drive better outcomes for the UK’s pensions-savers. The Financial Conduct Authority’s Asset Management Market Study has done a superb job in shining a light on the many problems within the Asset Management, but that’s just one link in the ‘value’ chain. For example, there are costs in areas such as administration, platforms, distribution, invoicing, communication and so on that also need properly accounting for.

“What is needed is an inquiry that takes a holistic view on all costs adversely impacting pension schemes. In fairness to asset managers it’s not just their sector that needs sorting and the inquiry would broaden the debate accordingly. The timing is perfect, because the market study concludes in the summer, by which time the Work and Pensions Committee may have already given the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator a steer on what else they might want to look into. The inquiry would be “a tide to rise all boats” and it seems to me that Parliament, the regulators and all right-minded market participants see the need. My fingers are crossed that Frank Field MP and his committee see it that way too; I hope so, as they are best-placed to carry out this truly vital work.”

The Rt. Hon Frank Field MP
Chair, Work and Pensions Committee
House of Commons
London SW1 OAA

Dear Mr. Field,

We are writing to you as a group of independent individuals and organisations, motivated and united by the desire to help protect the interests of the UK’s saving public, through the better provision of transparent, consistent and straightforward disclosure of all the costs and charges they pay.

The issues raised in this letter affect Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution pension schemes and cannot be dealt with fully under the scope of your existing Defined Benefit pensions inquiry.

It is vital that we have transparent, consistent and straightforward costs disclosure because opacity and obfuscation on pension and investment costs leads to:

#1. Decision-makers, including consumers, being unable to exercise ‘informed choice’ properly: They find the market opaque, complex and confusing: It is difficult to identify value for money

#2. The risk of future litigation: Consumers may argue they are not being treated fairly. Such action would severely damage confidence in the sector and its intermediaries.

#3. Seemingly impotent market forces: In this sector, the ‘invisible hand’ seems unable to work its ‘magic’ to create a healthy, competitive and efficient market.

#4. Poor consumer outcomes: If costs are 2% p.a. and gross market returns 5% p.a., a 20-year-old saving £100 per month until 65 will lose 42.55 % of his/her pension fund to costs.

#5. A marketplace where progressive, innovative and highly cost-effective offerings that do represent good value for money inexplicably struggle to get the market share they should.

#6. The risk that the success of the Government’s pensions policy is jeopardised: Those automatically enrolled might opt out if they are later disappointed by their net of costs returns.

#7. The risk that should the ‘high costs/low returns’ reality continue to prevail, belief in the wisdom of deferred gratification and confidence in long term savings will be undermined.

#8. Investment Governance Committees and Trustee Boards struggle with their duty to manage scheme’s costs properly: ‘You can’t measure, monitor or manage what you cannot see.’

#9. Bad publicity, falling trust and apathy: The public’s confidence in pensions is falling sharply and we want to stop it falling ‘below the point of no return’: This is a serious and systemic risk.

#10. The UK’s savings market, including pensions, not being seen to be well-governed, transparent and trustworthy: That’s a particularly important point in our post-Brexit world.

Furthermore, we believe that savers should not only know what their savings cost; they should also know where and how their money is invested. Greater transparency in investment holdings and the stewardship around those holdings is needed. On the basis that it is hard even for MPs to establish where and how their own Parliamentary Contribution Pension Fund is being invested, it follows that the public as a whole may be similarly challenged.

In general terms, we believe that:

  • This is an important and widespread public interest issue; it has parallels with the known shortcomings that are affecting the energy sector’s opaque and complex regime of tariffs.
  • Greater transparency on costs and investment holdings will help create the better-served, better-engaged and better-performing savings market we all want.
  • There is merit in doing all we collectively can to help sustain the success of the Government’s automatic enrolment pensions policy.
  • In a post-Brexit world, we shouldn’t underestimate the value to our economy of the potential for the UK becoming the world-leader in pensions and investing transparency.
  • Your Committee is uniquely placed to lead an open enquiry that we are confident would be run in a constructive, forensic, inclusive, robust and non-partisan way, for the long-term benefit of all.
  • There is excellent regulatory activity underway by DWP, FCA and TPR; your enquiry would support that work by ‘pulling it all together’, creating an even more cohesive approach.

To conclude: For reasons of social justice, market efficiency, good governance, national reputation and to help protect the ongoing success of the Government’s pensions policy, we would like your Committee to open an inquiry into the matters set out in this open ‘letter’.

I believe the Financial Times are publishing an article regarding this request online today and in their newspaper tomorrow.

If requested I would be happy to liaise with yourself and/or your Committee Clerk regarding this matter.

For administrative purposes (as it would not be practical to liaise with all the co-signatories) please reply to andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

We look forward to hearing from you

Yours sincerely

First Name Last Name Position Organisation Website
Nick

Boyes

 

Managing Director Able Governance Ltd

www.able-governance.co.uk

 

David Rich CEO Accurate Data Services Ltd

www.accuratedata.co.uk

 

Phil Ninness Business Development Manager Accurate Data Services Ltd

www.accuratedata.co.uk

 

Tracey Sharman Head of Operations Accurate Data Services Ltd

www.accuratedata.co.uk

 

Aidan Dennis Managing Director Amaces

www.amaces.com

 

Ian Neale Director Aries Insight

www.ariesinsight.co.uk

 

Janice

               

Turner Co-Chair

Association of Member-Nominated

Trustees

www.amnt.org

 

David

               

Weeks Co-Chair

Association of Member-Nominated

Trustees

www.amnt.org

 

John Paradise Committee Member Association of Member-Nominated Trustees

www.amnt.org

 

Bob Scott Chairman Association of Consulting Actuaries

www.aca.org.uk

 

 

JB Beckett UK Representative, Author Association of Professional Fund Investors

http://profundinvestors.com

 

Mark Miller Vice President, Employee Benefit Consultant Barclays Corporate & Employer Solutions

www.barclays.com

 

Stuart Barker Director Barker Coaching & Consulting   
Pete Eggleston Founder Director BestX

www.bestx.co.uk

 

 

Jo Thresher Director Better With Money

www.BetterWithMoney.com

 

Valborg Lie Director Borg Consulting

www.borg-consulting.org

 

Philip Meadowcroft Chairman of Trustees Brandmasters Ltd Executive Pension Scheme  
Steve Lugg Project Manager, Finance & Procurement Consultancy Buckinghamshire County Council

www.buckscc.gov.uk

 

Sunil Chadda Managing Director Cairn Consulting Ltd  
Professor Andrew Clare Chair in Asset Management Cass Business School http://www.cass.city.ac.uk/ 
Professor David Blake Director, Pensions Institute Cass Business School

https://www.cass.city.ac.uk

 

Professor Steve Haberman Professor of Actuarial Science, Faculty of Actuarial Science and Insurance Cass Business School

https://www.cass.city.ac.uk

 

Maurice Frankel Director Campaign for Freedom of Information

www.cfoi.org.uk

 

 

Tony Filbin Chairman Capital Cranfield Holdings Ltd

www.capitalcranfield.co.uk

 

 

Edward Bushnell Compliance Director Cavendish Medical

www.cavendishmedical.com

 

Graham Cook Board Member CFA Society of the UK

www.cfauk.org

 

Alice Garton Senior Lawyer Client Earth

www.clientearth.org

 

Jeremy Coller CIO Coller Capital

www.collercapital.com

 

John

 

Howard 

 

Director 

 

Consumer Insights Ltd  

www.consumer-insights.co.uk 

 

Alan Salamon Managing Director Corpias

www.corpias.co.uk

 

 

David Stripp Principal David Stripp Consulting  
Andrew Penketh Partner, Head of Pension Funds Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP

www.crowecw.co.uk

 

Emma Gleaves Employee Benefits Consultant    
Niall Ferguson Principal Consultant Engaging Reward  
Ben Faulkner Communications Director EQ Investors

www.eqinvestors.co.uk

 

Chris Connelly Lead Business Solutions Architect Equiniti

www.equiniti.com

 

Luis Rivera    Co-Founder & CEO ETFmatic Ltd

www.etfmatic.com

 

Jan Lambert Independent Consultant    
Chris Hewett Head of Advocate Programme Finance Innovation Lab

http://financeinnovationlab.org

 

Robert Young BSc FIA Consulting Actuary Gordon Dadds

www.gordondadds.com

 

 

Nick Keppel-Palmer Head of Strategy Husky Finance www.huskyfinance.com
Fiona McDonagh Senior Scheme Secretary Inside Pensions

www.insidepensions.com

 

SV Rangan Director IFG Worldwide Ltd  

Jane

 

Marshall

 

Partner

 

Jane Marshall Consulting LLP

 

 

www.janemarshallconsulting.com
James Meenan Principal JNM Investment Governance

http://www.jnmresearch.com

 

Mike Hopwood Head of Pensions Kier Business Services

www.kier.co.uk

 

Vidya Nathan Aspiring Investment Consultant    
Mike Barrett Consulting Director The Lang Cat

www.langcatfinancial.com

 

Jeff Houston Head of Pensions Local Government Association

www.local.gov.uk

 

Francisco Gomes Professor of Finance London Business School

www.london.edu

 

Philip Brown Head of Policy LV=

www.lv.com

 

Terence Prideaux Managing Director Morley Hall Ltd  
Tim Walton Manager, Data and Research Strategy Morningstar

www.morningstar.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Barry Mack Client Director Muse Advisory www.museadvisory.com
Alan Browne CEO MyFutureNow

www.myfuturenow.co.uk

 

Malcolm Booth

Chief Executive Officer

 

National Federation of Occupational Pensioners

www.nfop.org.uk

 

 

Alex Noble Director Noble & Associates Ltd

http://www.citynoble.com

 

JB Beckett Consulting Chie Investment Officer and Author New Fund Order Consulting  
Derek Bradley Founder & CEO Panacea Adviser

www.panaceaadviser.com

 

Callum Mayor

Associate

Partner

PEN Partnership LLP

www.penpartnership.com

 

 

Henry Tapper Founder Pension PlayPen

www.pensionplaypen.com

 

Philip Miller Founder Pensions Focus

www.pensionfocus.net

 

Tim Middleton Technical Consultant Pensions Management Institute

www.pensions-pmi.org.uk

 

Daniel Godfrey co-Founder The People’s Trust.

www.thepeoplestrust.co.uk

 

Rohan Sivajoti Director, Postcard Planning

www.postcardplanning.co.uk

 

Jon A Collins Director Professional Pensions and Investments Ltd.

 

 

Andy Scott Principal Punter Southall

www.puntersouthall.com

 

Paul Trickett Chair Railpen Investment

www.rpmi.co.uk

 

Malcolm Small Executive Chairman Retirement Income Alliance Ltd

www.riaonline.co.uk

 

Rob Lake Responsible Investment Advisor Rob Lake Advisors

www.roblakeadvisors.co.uk

 

Nick Greenwood Pension Fund Manager The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

https://www3.rbwm.gov.uk

 

 

Tony Greenham Director of Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce

www.rsa.org.uk

 

 

David Pitt-Watson Leader The RSA’s Tomorrow’s Investor Project

https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/economy-enterprise-manufacturing-folder/pensions

 

Dr. Hari Mann Director The RSA’s Tomorrow’s Investor Project

https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/economy-enterprise-manufacturing-folder/pensions

 

Adam French Co-founder & Managing Director Scalable Capital Ltd

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Shazia Afghan Litigation and Contentious Regulatory Lawyer/Institute Fellow Seven Pillars Institute for Global Finance and Ethics

www.sevenpillarsinstitute.org

 

Catherine Howarth Chief Executive ShareAction

www.shareaction.org

 

Lesley

 

James

Lead Adviser & Co-Director

 

Simplified Money

 

www.simplified-money.co.uk

 

 

 

Sarah     Hutchinson         Consultant  S J Hutchinson Ltd    
Andrew Evans Chief Executive Officer Smart Pension

www.autoenrolment.co.uk

 

Gerry Wright Partner Smith & Williamson Investment Management

www.smithandwilliamson.co.uk

 

Dr. Daniela Carosio Senior Partner Sustainable Value Investors

www.sustainablevalueinvestors.com

 

Graham Wrightson Partner Stephenson Harwood LLP

www.shlegal.com

 

 

John Serocold Principal Studio Serocold  
Dan Norman CEO TCF Investment

www.tcfinvestment.com

 

Mark Goyder Founder & Chief Executive Tomorrow’s Company

www.tomorrowscompany.com

 

Andy Agathangelou Founding Chair Transparency Task Force

www.transparencytaskforce.org

 

Nic Round Client Strategist & Wealth Adviser Treowe Wealth Partners

www.treowe.co

 

 

Tim Sharp Policy Officer TUC

www.tuc.org.uk

 

 

Alex Letts Chief Unbanking Officer U

www.uaccount.uk

 

 

Michelle Baddeley Professor in Economics & Finance

UCL Bartlett Faculty of Built Environment

University College London

www.ucl.ac.uk

 

Markus Krebsz Interim CRO Member of UNECE GRM

www.unece.grm

 

Steve Kenzie Executive Director United Nations Global Compact UK

www.unglobalcompact.org

 

Noel Whiteside Professor of Comparative Public Policy University of Warwick

www2.warwick.ac.uk

 

 

Paul Hewitt Senior Business Development Manager Vigeo Eiris www.eiris.org
Michael Cotter Solicitor Advocate & Partner Waterside Legal LLP

www.waterside.legal

 

Geik Drever Strategic Director of Pensions West Midlands Pension Fund

www.wmpfonline.com

 

Stuart Travers Director Winterbourne Trustee Services Limited.

www.winterbourne-trustee.co.uk

 

 

Steve Conley Managing Director Workplace Pensions Direct www.workplacepensionsdirect.co.uk

 

 
First Name Last Name Position Organisation Website Country
Sam Instone CEO AES International

www.aesinternational.com

 

United Arab Emirates (DIFC)

Preston

 

McSwain

 

Managing Partner Fiduciary Wealth Partners

www.FWP.Partners

 

USA
Ronan O’Houlihan Founder Calm Financial Care www.calmfinancialcare.ie Ireland
Stephen Davis Associate Director and Senior Fellow,  Programs on Corporate Governance and Institutional Investors Harvard Law School

https://pcg.law.harvard.edu

 

 

USA
Richard Field Founder Institute for Financial Transparency

http://instituteforfinancialtransparency.com

 

USA
Paul M. Secunda Professor of Law and Director, Labor and Employment Law Program Marquette University Law School www.marquett.edu USA
Phil Stockton FHKSI MCSI Director Private Capital Ltd

http://www.private-capital.com.hk

 

Hong Kong
Dr. Kara Tan Bhala President and Founder Seven Pillars Institute for Global Finance and Ethics

www.sevenpillarsinstitute.org

 

 

 

USA
Oren Kaplan Co-Founder Sharing Alpha

www.sharingalpha.com

 

Israel
Nicholas Morris

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law

 

University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

 

www.unsw.edu.au

 

Australia
Erik Conley Founder ZenInvestor

www.zeninvestor.org

 

USA