JER All Articles

"We should all vote for MPs’ pensions to be reformed” - John Ralfe, Financial Times FT Money, 20/05/2017
“Losing their defined benefit pension scheme would put politicians on a par with constituents”

British Airways loses landmark legal case against pension trustees - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 19/05/2017
“The APS is very unusual in giving trustees power to change scheme rules without BA’s agreement, allowing the trustees to award discretionary increases" JER

The actuary’s magic pencil has had its day - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 17/05/2017
"The days when the “actuaries’ magic pencil” could make pension deficits disappear simply by tweaking assumptions have gone"
See FT website (paywall)


Tata Steel agrees settlement ‘in principle’ for UK pensions - Michael Pooler and Simon Mundy, Financial Times, 16/05/2017
“For the company to continue to sponsor s new scheme is very rare" JER

It's zombie versus lifeboat for British Steel Pension Scheme - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 24/04/2017
"To qualify as a zombie scheme, Tata Steel would have to inject at least £1.5bn cash"
See FT website (paywall)


Royal Mail faces strike threat after pension scheme closure - Michael Pooler , Financial Times, 13/04/2017
“Closing the DB scheme was inevitable. Rather than trying to stop it, the CWU should be negotiating a more generous DC replacement” JER

Millennials struggle to compare the Lifetime Isa with a pension - Claer Barrett, Financial Times FT Money, 07/04/2017
"Lisas have the huge virtue of being very simple v a pension — for every £1,000 you save, the government adds £250” JER

BHS deal shows UK pension regulation needs strengthening - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 20/03/2017
"The deal is OK for the 19,000 BHS scheme members, but no more than OK"
See FT website (paywall)


Is Green Paper a green light to attack pensions? - John Ralfe, Times Comment, 13/03/2017
"there is no crisis in pensions, so no need for crisis measures"
See Times website (paywall)


Don't cash in your final salary pension - John Ralfe, Financial Times FT Money, 11/02/2017
Most people are not so wealthy & their pension is a large part of their overall retirement wealth, so the DB guarantees are very valuable.
See FT website (paywall)


UK public sector pension costs understated by £15bn a year - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 06/02/2017
See FT website (paywall)

"Ease pension issues with virtuous borrowing cycle" - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 21/01/2017
See FT website (paywall)

Thread and zip maker Coats in £255m deal to plug pension deficit - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 16/12/2016
"The parent has no legal obligation for the subsidiary’s pension scheme and there is no obvious breach of rules — but the regulator has been tough"

‘Flaws’ in valuations of pension fund obligations - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 12/12/2016
“In the real world, when insurance companies buy pension liabilities from companies, they use bond-based values” JER

BT has second-worst funded pension scheme in the world - Chris Newlands, Financial Times, 20/11/2016
"However hard BT tries to reinvent itseld for the 21st century, it still has the burden of 20th century pensions to pay for many decades.”

“A thought experiment worth repeating” - Zvi Bodie & John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 09/11/2016
The higher expected return of equities is just the reward for the risk of holding equities, not a “free lunch” or a “loyalty bonus” for long-term investors.
See FT website (paywall)


"No jiggery-pokery with market value" - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 28/10/2016
See FT website (paywall)
Response to Jonathan Ford's FT article


Rolls-Royce bucks pension trend with surplus and better benefits - Peggy Hollinger, Financial Times, 23/10/2016
John Ralfe said to let companies water down promises would be “an unjustified transfer from pensioners to shareholders”.

“Robbing workers of pensions won’t solve company pension problems” - John Ralfe, Daily Telegraph Expert View, 15/10/2016
The WPSC may conclude it is wrong is principle, or cannot be made to work in practice, or would help only a small number of firms.
See Telegraph website


Bernard Matthews rescue plan ‘carefully crafted’ to hit pension scheme - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 10/10/2016
"John Ralfe said it would be misguided for the select committee to target pre-pack mechanisms as part of their pension inquiry"

Honeywell makes plans to close UK defined benefit pension scheme - Chris Newlands, Financial Times, 01/10/2016
“Many larger DB schemes and virtually all small and medium-sized enterprises’ schemes are now closed". JER

Does the SNP’s WASPI option really cost just £7.9bn? - John Ralfe, JER Website, 22/09/2016
The SNP has not managed to pull a Rabbit out of its Hat. The real cost of Option 2 is almost £30bn.

Talking Turkey - Bernard Matthews (scoll down) - Lombard (Jonathan Guthrie), Financial Times, 20/09/2016
"Pensions consultant John Ralfe points out that Rutland Partners could be in line to get a payout from administrators"

“A new Weighing Machine will not solve the UK’s pension problems” - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 19/09/2016
See FT website (paywall)

“Noisy lobbyists are shouting that the pension sky is falling” - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 12/09/2016
'There is no "DB pensions crisis", so no need for "crisis measures"'
See FT website (pay wall)


Easing corporate pension promises could save £350bn, study finds - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 11/09/2016
“Why should pension scheme members take a haircut whilst nothing changes for shareholders?” JER

Pension disappointment: National solutions to a global problem - Dan McCrum & Elaine Moore, Financial Times, 31/08/2016
“People have to work longer, spend less while they’re working and save more”

The best way to build a NEST egg - Andrew Bounds, Financial Times, 30/08/2016
"You know NEST will be around in 15 years if anything goes wrong"

Pensions guarantee with no ifs, buts or maybes - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 16/08/2016
Any company with a subsidiary running its own pension scheme, should be required to guarantee its pensions.
See FT website (paywall)


Brexit and bond yields add to problem of pension schemes - Gavin Jackson, Financial Times, 01/08/2016
“The people who are bellyaching about the impact of QE are the same people who have not de-risked their pension schemes”

Tata seeks a way out of European steel woes - Patrick McGhee, Financial Times, 20/07/2016
“The idea that anybody would willingly take on a difficult business, and one with a big pensions scheme, just doesn’t make any sense.Thyssenkrupp would be bonkers.”

What is Baroness Altmann's legacy as Pensions Minister? - John Ralfe & Paul Lewis, BBC Radio 4 Money Box interview, 16/07/2016
"Ros Altmann's time as Pensions Minister was a bit of a damp squib"

“’Trust me I’m a trustee’ isn’t good enough for Halcrow pensioners” - Edward Evans, Financial Times Letters, 29/06/2016
Response to Chris Martin's letter from the Chair of the Halcrow Pensioners Association
See letter and JER article


Response to JER Halcrow article - Chris Martin, Financial Times Letters, 24/06/2016
John Ralfe’s speculation is based on unsubstantiated assumptions. From the Chair of the Halcrow Pension Scheme Trustees
See JER article


Submission to DWP on BSPS consultation - John Ralfe, Financial Times, 21/06/2016
The government should not agree to the BSPS proposal, supported by Tata Steel.

USS pension scheme will hobble UK universities for a generation - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 20/06/2016
USS’s deficit is largely self-inflicted — it continued to take equity bets for many years, rather than matching its assets and liabilities
See FT website (paywall)


Halcrow calls into question the UK's system of pension regulation - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 20/06/2016
See FT website(paywall)
See response from Chair of Halcrow Pension Scheme Trustees


In extremis all creditors should take a haircut, not just pension scheme members - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 11/06/2016
See FT website (paywall)

Putting a price on Green’s honour - Alistair Osborne, The Times, 10/06/2016
What should Sir Philip do about BHS pensions?

Got a final salary pension? Time to steel yourself - John Ralfe, Financial Times Money, 04/06/2016
Is the Consultation just about getting Tata Steel to retain, not sell, its businesses?
See FT website (paywall)


Rules on pension “rescue plans” are unclear - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 24/05/2016
Any implication that the regulator rejected Sir Philip’s offer capriciously strikes me as misleading.
See FT website (paywall)


Sir Phillip Green and the sale of BHS - Adam Parson presents, BBC 2 Newsnight, 13/05/2016

The Briefing Room - David Aaronovitch presents, BBC Radio 4, 12/05/2016
BHS was once one of the biggest names on the high street, but after falling into administration now it faces an uncertain future. In the first edition of The Briefing Room David Aaronovitch finds out whether it could have survived. Interviews with Jeremy Quin MP, JER, and others

Evidence to WPSC Inquiry into the Pensions Regulator & PPF - John Ralfe, Work and Pensons Select Committee, 04/05/2016
"The PPF safety net creates “moral hazard” for employers & trustees, which the Pensions Act is too weak to deal with"

BHS has lessons for the state of UK pension regulation - John Ralfe, Financial Times Money, 30/04/2016
"BHS does look like a return to the bad old days when companies could walk away from underfunded pension schemes"
See FT website (paywall)


BHS administration - John Ralfe & George McDonald (& Tanya Becket), BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, 25/04/2016
"The BHS pension scheme was always going to come back to bite Sir Philip"

Pension scheme members should have the same options as other creditors - Kerrin Rosenberg, Financial Times Letters, 13/04/2016

Tata Steel is a heavy burden for the Pension Protection Fund - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 11/04/2016
"Any PPF loss,will be a small percentage of the scheme’s liabilities, but due to its sheer size - £15bn - even a small percentage is a huge absolute loss"
See FT website (paywall)
See reply from Kerrin Rosenberg


Today Programme interview on Tata Steel pensions - John Ralfe (& Jo Lynam), BBC Radio 4 Today Programme , 04/04/2016
"It seems inevitable that the £15bn British Steel Pension Scheme with 130,000 members will enter the Pension Protection Fund" JER starts at about 3.30

Surprise but little rancour for Tata at Port Talbot - Michael Pooler & Andrew Bounds, Financial Times, 31/03/2016
“Tata Mumbai should now be crystal clear about what will happen to the 130,000 BSPS members"

Scrap tax relief & boost the basic state pension to benefit the lowest earners - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 21/03/2016

See FT website (paywall)


BT's pension is no Openreach dealbreaker - John Ralfe, FTfm Opinion, 14/03/2016
Sorting out BT’s pensions is just one of many operational and financial issues which must be addressed -but is certainly not a deal breaker.
See FT website (paywall)


Royal Mail considers union’s pitch for ‘new kind’ of pension plan - Michael Pooler & Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 14/03/2016
Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour. https://www.ft.com/content/465fcda4-05bd-11e7-aa5b-6bb07f5c8e12 “Royal Mail would require all of the money to be invested in matching bonds, so there would be no risk of a deficit, but at the same time no potential inflation reward for members.”

Green faces £80m BHS pensions bill - Oliver Shah, Sunday Times, 08/03/2016
Topshop billionaire ordered by regulator to pay up — as department store chain he sold for £1 fights to avoid going bust

Final salary pensions ‘killed off’ by excessive regulation - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 07/02/2016
“It is fanciful to claim that ‘excessive regulation’ has killed off UK defined benefit schemes" JER

Timetable for JER WASPI proposal - John Ralfe, JER Website, 27/01/2016

What the Government should do about WASPI - John Ralfe, Daily Telegraph Opinion, 23/01/2016
"The wranglings over women's state pensions can be avoided, and it needn't cost vast sums"
See Telegraph website


Let doctors, and others, opt out of pension in exchange for higher pay - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 19/01/2016
How to introduce 'freedom & choice' into public sector pensions
See FT website (paywall)


JER response to consultation on changing tax treatment of pensions - John Ralfe, HMT consultation, 29/09/2015
The UK should move to a flat rate tax top-up for pension savings, fixed at a fiscally neutral rate of around 30 per cent.

The UK should move to a flat rate top-up for all pension savings - John Ralfe, Financial Times, 22/08/2015
Flat-rate tax top up is fairer & more efficient than the alternatives
See FT website (paywall)


Eton’s extraordinary new side-bet needs explaining - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 21/08/2015
Its (Old Etonian) adviser says, reassuringly, that it is “not unusual for bodies with big equity portfolios to borrow cheaply to invest more”
See FT website (paywall)


MPs’ official pension liabilities are pure Alice in Wonderland - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 20/07/2015
A proper public debate on MPs’ pay & pensions can happen only if the government is accurate and transparent about pension costs.
See FT website (paywall)


Letter to IPSA - Peter Tompkins & John Ralfe, Letter to IPSA, 26/06/2015

Letter to David Cameron - Peter Tompkins & John Ralfe, Letter to David Cameron, 26/06/2015
Letter explaining how Mr Cameron can ensure MPs do not receive the final salary pension bonus, without needing to persuade IPSA to change its decision.

Reply from the Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator on Trafalgar House - Lesley Titcomb, JER Website, 15/06/2015
See JER original letter

Zombie scheme haunts Pension Protection Fund (Trafalgar House) - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 08/06/2015
"The Pensions Regulator should wind-up Trafalgar House Pensions"
See FT website (paywall)


Letter to The Pensions Regulator on Trafalgar House - John Ralfe, Financial Times, 03/06/2015
Call for TPR to wind-up Trafalgar House
See FTfm article based on the letter
See reply from TPR


Consultation Response to Section 75 Employer Debt in Multi-Employer DB schemes - John Ralfe, Letter to DWP, 22/05/2015

Church is in denial over its pension problems - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 19/05/2015
See FT website (paywall)

Savings alone - Richard Brooks, Private Eye, 15/04/2015
Highlights conflicts of interest of Ros Altmann

Public servants still promised more than the government can afford - John Ralfe, Financial Times Opinion, 08/04/2015
"The coalition government has fudged reforming public sector pensions"
See FT website (paywall)


Local Government UK pension schemes waste millions on high fees - Madison Marraige & Chris Newlands, Financial Times, 31/03/2015
“It is all part of the LGPS being dysfunctional” JER comment

Church of England accused of asset raid to pay for recruitment - Emma Boyde, Financial Times, 18/03/2015
The Church continues to understate its pension liabilities

Mirror shares make splash as Express interest is confirmed - Gideon Spanier, Times, 18/03/2015
“Whenever a business is in play with a pension deficit, the problems become exponentially more difficult” JER

Work on CDC schemes could be put on ice despite demand - Steve Johnson, Financial Times, 16/03/2015
“This is very embarrassing for Steve Webb as it was his flagship policy” JER

Head of BHS pension fund admits deficit is much higher than previously thought - Simon Goodley, The Guardian, 16/03/2015
Chain’s new owner, Retail Acquisitions, will meet pension fund trustees and regulator this week to discuss plans for financing deficit

Sir Philip Green and the BHS £1 sale - Jonathan Guthrie, Financial Times, 13/03/2015
"John Ralfe thinks a pension scheme deficit of over £100m that changes hands with the 171 stores is a key part of the transaction"

Getting government borrowings off-balance sheet - John Ralfe, Financial Times letters, 05/02/2015
"Is the plan for local councils to issue municipal bonds directly to investors just another expensive way for the government to get borrowings off balance sheet?"
See FT


Democratising finance: How passive funds changed investing - Judith Evans and Jonathan Eley, Financial Times Money, 31/01/2015
Analysis of passive investing

“If Defined Benefit pensions didn’t exist, would we invent them?” - John Ralfe, The Daily Telegraph, 12/01/2015
“However unpopular, we must all adjust to working longer and spending less”

Monarch Airlines pension fund reduced to a pauper - Steve Johnson, Financial Times , 30/11/2014
"This could cost the PPF c£170m, making it one of its biggest hits" JER

CDC pensions will work only if strictly regulated - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 17/11/2014
“Trust me I’m an actuary” is not good enough as the basis for a wholly new and untested type of pension
scan


“CDC pensions will work only if strictly regulated” - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 17/11/2014
“Trust me, I’m an actuary” is not good enough for a wholly new & untested type of pension
See FT website (paywall)


“Should you cash-in your DB pension?” - John Ralfe, The Daily Telegraph, 15/11/2014
“There is a whole investment industry itching to get its hands on your company pension”

Letter to Mr Steve Webb on regulating CDC pensions - John Ralfe, Letter, 14/11/2014

I’d rather give my surplus to the Wolf of Wall Street - Max King, Financial Times Letters, 10/10/2014
John Ralfe is dreaming if he thinks anyone theoretically liable for the 55 per cent tax on pension pot surpluses, as I am, was ever going to pay it.

Huge tax loss likely from new rules on pension pots - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 08/10/2014
The coalition government has created a simple way for the richest to avoid paying income tax and to pass on wealth tax free to their grandchildren.
See FT website (paywall)
See response from Mr Max King


Letter to Mr George Osborne - John Ralfe, Letter, 07/10/2014
Urging that the amount which can be given from an unused pension pot should be capped at, say, £50,000.

Submission to House of Commons Committee reviewing the Pensions Bill - John Ralfe, House of Commons Committee, 07/10/2014
Submission to House of Commons Committee reviewing the Pensions Bill

Agenda for CSFI Debate on "CDC" pensions - CSFI, CSFI website, 11/07/2014

BT faces big payments to plug pension deficit - Daniel Thomas & Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 02/07/2014
“Although BT is trying desperately to reinvent itself as a high-tech 21st century company, it will continue to carry a huge “old fashioned” pension scheme for many decades” JER

Deficit of UK regional pensions questioned (LGPS) - Chris Flood, Financial Times FTfm, 23/06/2014
John Ralfe claimed the LGPS’s funding deficit was close to £100bn in 2013, rather than the official £47bn.

Savers need protection over long retirement, Osborne warned - Miles Costello, The Times, 23/06/2014
Article on letter to Mr Steve Webb on Deferred Annuities

Letter to Mr Steve Webb on deferred annuities - John Ralfe, JER Website, 17/06/2014
Requiring people to buy an insurance policy against running out of money in old age makes the difficult decision of how quickly to spend pension savings much easier.

CDC pensions are a Ponzi con trick - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 16/06/2014
The Netherlands, held up as a model for the UK, is moving away from collective pensions
Also see FTfm piece from 2012


Not Ponzis, but pyramids - Buttonwood (Philip Coggan), Economist, 16/06/2014
I don't think John Ralfe is right to call CDC "Ponzi cons" as those are outright frauds, and that is not really the case

A Queen’s Speech contradiction - John Ralfe, Financial Times, 09/06/2014
Without intergenerational risk sharing how can CDC be a better way to build up a pension pot than the best DC pensions we already have?
see FT website (paywall)


Dutch defend Queen’s UK pension plan - Madison Marraige, Financial Times, 09/06/2014
“The Dutch pension system is fantastic, but its society, economy and industry is different to the UK. You cannot simply transplant one aspect." JER

UK academics face 10% pay cut over pension reform - Steve Johnson, Financial Times, 26/05/2014
“The significant annual saving for universities is a 10 per cent pay cut for 130,000 of USS's active members” JER

Alarm bells ring for active fund managers - Chris Flood & Chris Newlands, Financial Times, 12/05/2014
The tide is gradually turning against active management, as pension funds start shifting to passive funds in order to keep costs down

National accounts shake-up causes confusion - Chris Giles, Financial Times, 28/04/2014
International comparisons of national economies were called into question over huge differences in the way countries are introducing new standards for national accounts.

Data shake-up turns UK into nation of savers - Chris Giles, Financial Times, 08/04/2014
From now on ONS figures will count future pension rights as if they were present income.

UK Coal’s insolvency could cost PPF £180m - Steve Johnson, Financial Times, 07/04/2014
“Circumstances have brought things to a head very quickly, but the two complex & costly restructurings were always just papering over the cracks." JER

UK’s biggest coal miner on verge of collapse - Andrew Bounds, Financial Times, 02/04/2014
“UK Coal is a £400m hit for the PPF, its biggest ever loss." JER

No saving please, we’re British - John Plender, Financial Times, 31/03/2014
People will, as the pensions consultant John Ralfe argues, overestimate likely investment returns and underestimate longevity.

Annuity change could happen tomorrow - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 19/02/2014
The pensions minister could, with the stroke of his pen, immediately improve the annuity market.
See FT website (paywall)


“Dear Archbishop, the Church of England is in pension denial” - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 03/02/2014
“The Church is playing a dangerous game of double-or-quits"
See FT website (paywall)
See reply from Church


BT Group pension shortfall rises to £7.3bn - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 03/02/2014
“Since investment returns over the year have done little to close deficits, companies must continue the hard slog of making cash contributions.” JER

Reply to my letter from Church Pensions Board - Bernadette Kenny, Church of England website, 28/01/2014
"The Church has acted properly over the Clergy Pension Scheme"
See Church website


Why collective DC is a con trick - John Ralfe, MoneyMarketing, 27/01/2014
CDC is a con, persuading individuals that the risk is less than it really is.

An unholy pension hole - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog BBC, 21/01/2014
Comments on JER letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church is not telling "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about its pension scheme.
See JER letter to the Archbishop


Proposal for switchable annuities ‘unworkable’, says industry - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 06/01/2014
“This idea is well meaning, but half-baked,” JER

US public finance: Day of reckoning - Neil Munshi & Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 30/12/2013
Chicago is tackling the worst pension crisis in the US. But methods that got it into its bind are still used across America.

CDC is not a magic wand to make risk disappear - John Ralfe, Financial Times, 13/12/2013
Is Robin Ellison justified in claiming that CDC schemes can provide a pension 40 per cent higher than the equivalent defined contribution pension?
See FT website (paywall)


MPs – more pay, less pension, same perks - John Ralfe, Times letters, 10/12/2013
Is it pension smoke-and-mirrors at IPSA?

GPG shares fall as pensions regulator uncovers underfunded schemes - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 16/11/2013
“This is the first time the Pensions Regulator has stepped in before a company has failed,” JER

Assets, liabilities & old age tensions - John Ralfe, Times Higher Education Supplement, 14/11/2013
"Without a huge leap in bond yields or equity prices before the March 2014 actuarial valuation, member and university contributions will have to go up significantly".

Scare stories about USS liabilities are overblown - Ros Altmann, Financial Times FTfm, 11/11/2013
"A fund the size of USS cannot fully de-risk, but scare stories of student fee hikes & hidden deficits are well wide of the mark".

Mad Hatter’s pension plan - Mike Page, Financial Times Letters, 08/11/2013
"It is not John Ralfe, but Professor Dennis Leech & Con Keating who have joined Alice in Wonderland".
See FT website (paywall)


Fantasy world of pension deficits - Prof Dennis Leech & Con Keating, Financial Times, 04/11/2013
Bizarre attack on JER's analysis of USS's financial health
See FT website (paywall)
See FT letter in response from Mike Page


’Actuaries’ magic pencil’ hides UK university pension deficit - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 28/10/2013
“To make good A £10.5bn deficit, universities would have to pay £600m a year, increased in line with inflation, for 20 years”
See FT website (paywall)
plus response 1 , response 2 & response 3


University pensions black hole 'even worse than thought' - Andy Verity, BBC News, 25/10/2013
"There is a whole degree of denial. USS is in denial about its real financial situation. Universities are in denial." JER

Newsnight piece on USS - Newsnight, BBC 2 Newsnight, 24/10/2013
Newsnight on JER's analysis of USS

Risk still attached to holding equities - Zvi Bodie & John Ralfe, Financial Times Letter (US), 16/09/2013
Many City and Wall Street practitioners make a handsome living pushing this misconception.
See FT website (paywall)


Risk still attached to holding equities pdf - Zvi Bodie & John Ralfe, Financial Times, 16/09/2013
Equities do have a higher expected return than inflation-protected bonds, but this is simply a reward for the risk of holding equities, not a “free lunch” or a “loyalty bonus” for long-term investors.
See FT website


Equities have value around which they rotate - Andrew Smithers, Financial Times Letters, 12/09/2013
"improved returns can be achieved only by switching out of equities when the market is seriously overvalued"
See JER letter


Equities v gilts? It’s no contest - Mark Evans, Financial Times Letters, 06/09/2013
John Ralfe extols the virtues of index-linked gilts without mentioning some of the potential downside.
See JER letter


Call me Mr Lucky - Robin Gowers, Financial Times Letters, 06/09/2013
John Ralfe is wrong about outguessing the market being a 50/50 chance.
See JER letter


Equities’ value is an irrelevance - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 04/09/2013
Inflation-linked bonds are crucial for all pension savers, especially those with little other capital.
See FT website (paywall)


Coal producer rejected mines bid in favour of restructuring - Andrew Bounds, Financial Times, 07/08/2013
“Given the high risk of the company defaulting, in truth, the market value of the £60m loan notes is negligible” JER

UK Coal - Richard Brooks, Private Eye, 07/08/2013
Miner hiccup

Kodak pension deal marred by confusion - Madison Marraige, Financial Times FTfm, 29/07/2013
“It is not clear how many of the KPP members currently voting will fully understand this issue to allow them to make a properly informed decision." JER

Charities rattle tin for their pensions - Ben Marlow, Sunday Times, 28/07/2013
“The many people who make charitable donations each year do so to further the core work of the charities, not to plug pension deficits" JER

Bonds to benefit from ageing population - Michael Stothard, Financial Times, 26/07/2013
“Whatever the noise in bond prices from quantitative easing, underlying structural changes in pensions will support fixed income.” JER

Innovative approach of UK Coal’s board preserved value - Jonson Cox, Financial Times Letters, 23/07/2013
Businesses with unwieldy pension deficits present unique challenges and require an innovative approach.
See FT website (paywall)
See JER article


Coal Comfort? - Julian O 'Halloran and Nicola Dowling, BBC Radio 4 File on 4, 23/07/2013
What does the future hold for the industry, the miners and local communities. And at what cost to the taxpayer?

Backlash risk from opencast mining - Steve Leary, Financial Times Letters, 22/07/2013
Is the PPF prepared for the furious backlash it would face if it was seen to be behind turning our green and pleasant land into opencast mines?
See FT website (paywall)
See JER article


PPF responds to criticism of UK Coal pension deal - Martin Clarke, Financial Times FTfm, 22/07/2013
Any allegation that we accepted a bad deal for levy payers as a result of political pressure may make an interesting conspiracy theory.
See FT website (paywall)
See JER article


UK Coal pension members poised to be better off as PPF takes over - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 20/07/2013
“The PPF’s commutation factors are much more generous than the average company scheme and this generosity increases the levy charged to companies to fund the PPF,” JER

PPF digs deep in UK Coal deal - John Ralfe, FTfm, 15/07/2013
What political pressure did the PPF face to “save 2,000 jobs” by keeping mines open?
see FT website (paywall)
See PPF response and Coalfield Resources (UK Coal) response


MPs prefer to reject pay rise and keep generous pensions - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 13/07/2013
How much is an MP’s total pay and pension worth today and under Ipsa’s recommendations?
See FT website (paywall)


Coal mines seek pension rescue deal - BBC News, BBC website, 01/07/2013
On the Today Programme, John Ralfe, a pensions consultant, described the expected deal with UK Coal as "unprecedented".

PPF to take on UK Coal pensions - Andrew Bounds, Financial Times, 29/06/2013
Mr Ralfe said he believed it to be the biggest pensions rescue the PPF has taken on since it was created a decade ago.“The PPF needs this like it needs a hole in the head.”

Private pensions industry faces radical restructuring - Jim Pickard, Sarah Neville & Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 18/06/2013
"John Ralfe said Mr Webb was looking for a “magic money tree” which did not exist".
See CDC could lead to Ponzi schemes FTfm April 2012


Royal Mail runs risk of fresh pension deficit - Steve Johnson, Financial Times FTfm, 27/05/2013
Royal Mail has been criticised for running the risk of building up a fresh pension deficit after its previous black hole was “magicked away” by the government.

Tata writedown sparks talk of UK sell-off - Mark Wembridge, Financial Times, 15/05/2013
British Steel’s pension fund, as a former nationalised industry, is one of the largest UK schemes with about 150,000 members and roughly £13bn of assets.

Pensions watchdog under fire over £419m Kodak settlement - Jamie Dunkley, The Independent, 06/05/2013
"We take a transparent approach and, at the outcome of a number of key cases, we have published reports setting out our decision-making." The Pensions Regulator

Kodak pension deal brings regulator into question - John Ralfe, FTfm, 06/05/2013
Has the Pensions Regulator given up on regulating pensions?
See FT website (paywall)
See response from Chairman of Kodak Pension Plan May 13th 2013


UK's largest coal producer 'seeks voluntary liquidation' - Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian, 02/05/2013
"Last year's convoluted restructuring, approved by the Pensions Regulator, only managed to paper over the cracks."

Bankrupt Kodak to shift film arm to UK pensioners - Louise Lucas, Financial Times, 30/04/2013
Eastman Kodak is to offload its outdated camera film business and other assets to British pensioners in return for erasing an estimated $2.8bn of claims

Threat to pensions of 60,000 Premier Foods workers - Simon Bowers, The Guardian, 25/04/2013
"It is difficult to see how a company with a market value of under £200m can properly support pension schemes with around £4.4bn of liabilities." John Ralfe

Public sector pension liabilities don’t merit even a footnote - John Ralfe, Financial Times, 23/04/2013
Public sector pensions – as contractual and legally binding obligations of the UK government – are debt, just like gilts, and should be properly included in the official public finance statistics.
See FT website (paywall)


Search for quality bonds hits pensions - Norma Cohen , Financial Times, 15/04/2013
John Ralfe says that companies complaining about the effects of accounting rules really only have themselves to blame.

UK pension deficits set to rise by £100bn - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 15/04/2013
“Too many companies continue to take massive bets in their pension funds which they would not dream of taking in their treasury department,” said John Ralfe, who has long warned of the dangers of mismatching assets and liabilities.

Coats shortfall threatens loss for PPF - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 13/04/2013
“As a small company supporting a very large pension scheme, Coats should be near the top of the Pension Regulator’s worry list,” Mr Ralfe said. “If it were to go bust the PPF would stand to lose about £600m, before any recoveries from selling company assets, one of the PPF’s largest ever hits.”

Watchdog probes Coats pension funding - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 12/04/2013
The Pensions Regulator has taken the unusual step of launching an investigation into whether more support needs to be offered to the underfunded pension scheme of Coats

Unconventional asset classes widen their appeal - Jane Croft, Financial Times, 19/03/2013
"We have seen a desperate hunt for the "next new big thing" to plug pension deficits"

UK pension lobbyists have got it wrong - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 11/03/2013
Pension contributions do not disappear down a rathole, never to be seen again
See FT website (paywall)
See JER FTfm article December 2012 "smoothing won't solve our pension problems"


All in this together (John Lewis) - Lombard (Alison Smith), Financial Times (Scroll down), 08/03/2013
The two areas where staff most benefit from John Lewis 's warm embrace are bonuses and pensions.

All aboard the audit merry-go-round - Chris Newlands, Financial Times FTfm, 04/03/2013
Two weeks ago a group of 30 European institutional investors and investor associations released a position paper outlining the “weaknesses” they observed in the audit sector.

Last rites for Old King Coal - Karl West, Sunday Times, 03/03/2013
UK Coal's pension deficit should give Ministers the jitters

RBS moves closer to privatisation - Patrick Jenkins, Financial Times, 01/03/2013
The underlying pension liabilities are almost 150 per cent of RBS’s market capitalisation of £21bn, so the scheme is very large in relation to the company.

Debate heats up over Public Pension Fund Discount Rates - Frances Denmark, Institutional Investor, 04/02/2013
Record-low interest rates stir controversy and expose a major diffeence between US and Europe

Charities struggle with pension fund deficits - Ruth Sullivan, Financial Times FTfm, 28/01/2013
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Charities tend to get forgotten about when it comes to pension funds and their problems,”

Barnardo’s to close pension scheme - Ruth Sullivan, Financial Times FTfm, 21/01/2013
“Closing the scheme to existing members is too little too late".

Too much rides on central banks steering stable course - John Plender, Financial Times, 16/01/2013
Unconventional measures turned 2012 into a dash for trash

Labour eyes pension grab to fund jobs - George Parker & Kiran Stacey, Financial Times, 04/01/2013
Britain’s top earners would face a £1bn tax grab on their pensions contributions to fund a compulsory job scheme for the long-term unemployed, under plans to be set out by Labour on Friday.

Bad Month: Pensions Policy Institute - Pensions Insight, Pensions Insight, 03/01/2013
The think-tank came under fire for its analysis of public sector pension costs

Smoothing won't solve our pension problems - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 10/12/2012
Smoothing pension assets and liabilities disguises deficits, but does not make them disappear.
See FT website (paywall)
See FT article "Pension proposal raises eyebrows"


Middle earners also suffer in pensions raid on wealthy - Patrick Hosking, The Times, 06/12/2012
Discussion of changes to tax relief on pension contributions

Executives caught by lower pensions net - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 05/12/2012
“A 55-year old consultant on the salary of £150,000, with 30 years in the NHS scheme could be hit.”

Report queries clergy pensions - Church Times, Church Times, 03/12/2012
A spokesman for the Archbishops' Council has defended the state of the Clergy Pension Scheme, after JER said that its deficit would put a burden on congregations.
See FTfm article


Letter to PPI from 29 economists & pension experts - John Ralfe + 28 others, JER Website, 30/11/2012
"As economists and pension experts from the UK, US, The Netherlands and Australia, we are writing to you about the recent PPI Report on public sector pensions".
See FTfm article


Church faces huge pension deficit - Chris Flood, Financial Times FTfm, 26/11/2012
"How the Church deals with its pension deficit is about more than money. It is about the Church’s management competence and integrity"
See response in Church Times


Some pension estimates for the BBC’s new director-general - Jim Pickard, Financial Times Westminster blog, 26/11/2012

Pensions plan risks hitting less wealthy - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 21/11/2012
The real story is that the losers would be senior people in the DB public sector, for example headteachers and doctors.

Submission on Public Service Pensions Bill - John Ralfe, Public Bill Committee Website, 21/11/2012
In making changes to public sector pensions it is crucial that the real annual economic costs of the pension promises are used. I believe that the official annual costs, calculated by the Government Actuary’s Department, and quoted by the government, are materially understated.

Bonds switch signals end of cult of equity - David Oakley, Financial Times, 20/11/2012
It is a once in a generation moment. For the first time in more than 50 years UK pension funds are holding more bonds than equities.

Options shrink for tax rise on rich - George Parker, Vanessa Houlder & Ed Hammond, Financial Times, 20/11/2012
John Ralfe has warned that cutting the threshold to £40,000 might catch higher-paid hospital consultants, GPs, headteachers and senior civil servants, not just the super-rich.

“Reforms to greatly reduce value of public pensions” - Niki Cleal, Financial Times FTfm, 19/11/2012
The PPI agrees with the government’s approach and has used the same discount rate in the research that the government uses to set employer contributions - CPI + 3 %.
See FT website (paywall)
See JER FTfm article "Understated costs a poor legacy"


How George Entwistle missed out on a much more generous pension - Jim Pickard, Financial Times Westminster blog, 19/11/2012
At the time of the corporation’s last report and accounts Mr Entwistle was eligible for a pension of £59,000 when he reaches retirement age at 60.

Another coalition conjuring trick - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 17/11/2012
Rather than taxpayers taking on a £9bn deficit, we appear to be making a £28.5bn windfall – a conjuring trick on a breathtaking scale!
See Robert Peston's blog "Royal Mail and HMG's creative accounting" May 2009


Letter 2 to the PPI on its report on public sector pensions - John Ralfe, JER Website, 16/11/2012
Response to the PPI's letter
See PPI's letter to JER November 7th 2012
See PPI's response to Treasury Consultation on public sector pension discount rate Macrh 2011
See JER letter 1 to PPI November 5th 2012


Understated pensions costs a poor legacy - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 12/11/2012
The real cost of public sector pensions has not been properly addressed by the coalition government (pdf)
See FT website (paywall)
See PPI response in FTfm "Reforms to greatly reduce value of public pensions”


Black days for Old King Coal - Karl West, Sunday Times , 11/11/2012
Weighed down by pension liabilities, the last big miner wants to turn its back on the pits, reports

Holy pension hole (Church of England) - Robert Peston, Peston blog, 08/11/2012
A research note by the pensions consultant John Ralfe calculates the hole in the Church's pension scheme at the end of October as approximately £500m.

PPI response to JER's letter - Niki Cleal, JER Website, 07/11/2012
PPI is not prepared to revise its Report, despite JER's criticisms

PPI response to JER's letter 2 - PPI, JER Website, 07/11/2012
Copy of PPI's response to the Treasury's consultation on public sector pension discount rate March 2011

How will the new Archbishop deal with the Church's pension problem? - John Ralfe, JER Website, 06/11/2012
The new Archbishop must face up to the Church’s pension problems, not sweep them under the carpet, which, sadly, has happened for many years. How the Church deals with its pension deficit is not just about money, but about its management competence and integrity.

Letter to the PPI on its report on public sector pensions - John Ralfe, JER Website, 05/11/2012
The Pensions Policy Institute's Report is seriously flawed and understates the cost of ther new public sector pension terms and understates the gap with private sector pensions.

Comet's long tail - Lombard (Jonathan Guthrie), Financial Times (Scroll down), 02/11/2012
The Comet scheme had liabilities on April 30 of some €400m compared with just €52m for French pensions. The total of €450m is €106m more than Darty’s current market capitalisation.

A solution to pensions apartheid - Steve Johnson, Financial Times FTfm, 29/10/2012
UK pensions minister Steve Webb was last week out and about attempting to drum up interest in a putative third way for the nation’s pension system.

Trades of Gray (USS) - Private Eye, Private Eye, 18/10/2012
As pensions expert John Ralfe explained, "the fund;s trustees took a huge bet and it hasn't paid off".

Gilts vs assets: QE affects investment choices - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 21/09/2012
An analysis by John Ralfe found that the FTSE 100, would still be lagging below 4,000 today instead of having risen nearly 50 per cent from its lows in early March 2009 were it not for the Bank’s asset purchase programme.

USS pension deficit triples - Robert Cookson, Financial Times FTfm, 17/09/2012
In choosing to hold such a high proportion of risky assets, the USS is “absolutely out on a limb”, said John Ralfe The scheme has “taken a huge bet and it hasn’t paid off”.
See JER RBC Capital Market Note "Spotlight on USS" May 2006
See JER FTfm article "Robbing Peter to pay Paul’s pension" January 2011


QE damage claim rebuffed - Richard Cookson, Financial Times FTfm, 03/09/2012
The UK pension industry’s claim that it has been badly damaged by the Bank of England’s QE has been challenged by John Ralfe, the independent pensions consultant.

Sorting fact from fiction on Bank’s QE - Jonathan Davis, Financial Times FTfm, 03/09/2012
Like John Ralfe, the pensions consultant well known to these pages, I was sufficiently struck by the Bank of England’s claims about the impact of QE to take a deeper look at their calculations, and in particular at their estimates of how the first two rounds of QE have affected the performance of the stock market.

QE operations a boon for FTSE 100 - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 30/08/2012
Although it is not the primary intention of QE to boost share prices, QE represents an unprecedented support operation for the stock market and on a massive scale.

Where would the FTSE100 be without QE? - John Ralfe, JER website, 30/08/2012
Without QE, the FTSE100 would, according to the Bank, have been a measly 3,940 at May 31st 2012, only 8 per cent higher than the near lows of 3,646 at March 4th 2009 when QE was announced

OBR projections tell different story on public pensions - Neil Walsh, Financial Times, 17/08/2012
John Ralfe (Letters, August 14) would do well to read the Office for Budget Responsibility’s latest fiscal sustainability report, published last month.
See FT website (paywall)
JER comment. The OBR makes the same "category mistake" as HMT, treating public sector pension payments as a "flow", like old age pensions, rather than repaying a "stock" of liabilities, like gilts. It doesn't look at the annual cost of new pension promises when they are given, but rather the percentage of GDP when the pensions are paid.


Public sector pensions make mockery of Whirehall savings - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 14/08/2012
Sadly, the coalition government continues to understate the real annual cost to taxpayers of new public sector pension promises; it also refuses to recognise that the accumulated £1tn public sector pension liabilities are debt, and to include this anywhere in official government accounts.
See FT website (paywall)


Live long and prosper - Lombard (Norma Cohen), Financial Times (scroll down), 03/08/2012
Mr Ralfe is not pouring cold water on auto-enrolment, which he thinks a good idea. But today’s workers must work longer and retire later, and there is little point in trying to fudge this hard truth.

Pensions no longer need large equity holdings - John Ralfe, FTfm, 02/07/2012
The real reason for the death of the cult of the equity is more fundamental than just equity underperformance (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


BT dealt fresh pension deficit blow - Norma Cohen & Daniel Thomas, Financial Times, 25/06/2012
BT has been rebuffed for the third time, this time by the Competition Commission, in its efforts to compel its competitors to share in the costs of pension deficit contributions

Pensions row set to dominate at BMA doctors' conference - Nick Trigge, BBC News, 25/06/2012
Doctors are set to discuss what to do next in their dispute over pensions as they gather for their four-day annual conference.

BMA: 'Inherent unfairness' in doctor pensions - John Humprys interview, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, 21/06/2012
John Ralfe says doctors are not getting a raw deal. He told the Today programme that hospital consultants will be worse off under the new pension scheme, but only because the "current pension is so very generous".

Cost of tackling pensions crisis will only be more painful if we keep ignoring it - James Moore, The Independent, 13/06/2012
We've become so used to hearing about a pensions timebomb that it's really very easy to respond with a shrug of the shoulders.

UK pensions still ignore equity risk - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 28/05/2012
Asked what progress has been made since 2005 in the design of DC savings vehicles, Mr Ralfe says not much.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Is the Pensions Commission Report flawed?" January 2005
See FTfm article "Ralfe challenges Turner report" by Pauline Skypala January 2005


Why have some people stopped saving for their pensions? - John Ralfe, Radio 5 live Wake Up To Money, 21/05/2012
A report by Scottish Widows suggests the number of people who are not saving anything for their retirement is growing. Pensions expert John Ralfe says the picture could be even worse

Anglicans embrace Mammon to beat pension crisis - Oliver Shah, Sunday Times, 20/05/2012
The church needs cash after a poor run of investments left a big deficit in the funds for retired clergy (PDF NO photos)
See JER FTfm article "The Church's reckless investment gamble" February 2010


“Hospital doctors need to do their sums before revolting over pension changes - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 18/05/2012
Sir, Christoph Lees’ letter on your report that the BMA is balloting for industrial action on pensions, suggests a misunderstanding of the impact on long-serving hospital doctors of the increase in retirement age from 60 to 67. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See Channnel 4 FactCheck January 2012


Stuck in the middle - Buttonwood, The Economist, 04/05/2012
How low real interest rates hurt pension funds

Lufthansa pushes British pensioners out of the plane - Karl West, Sunday Times, 29/04/2012
The German airline is sitting on £22 billion in assets. How could it walk away from BMI’s £180m deficit?

Pensions regulator extends shortfall deadline - Phillip Inman, Guardian, 27/04/2012
Around 300 firms will be given more time to replenish the shortfalls caused by low interest rates and volatile stock markets

CDC could lead to Ponzi schemes - John Ralfe, FTfm, 16/04/2012
A collective pension can transfer investment risk from one member to another or from one generation to another, but it cannot make it disappear. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


Pensions dressed in Emperor’s new clothes - Matthew Vincent, Financial Times, 12/04/2012
Steve Webb in an interview, coined a seemingly new phrase for a new type of pension: “defined ambition”.

Newspaper puts creditors before pensions - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 26/03/2012
Trinity Mirror is trying to drive a coach-and-horses through a fundamental regulatory principle (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


Royal Mail’s pension fund and the 2012-13 gilt funding remit - Mark Capleton, Bank of America Merril Lynch, 19/03/2012
Royal Mail pension scheme set to be moved to the state

Trinity Mirror cuts pension contributions to pay US creditors - Phillip Inman & Mark Sweney , Guardian, 16/03/2012
Daily Mirror publisher expected to come under scrutiny after declaring £55m rise in scheme's funding deficit.
See JER FTfm article "Newspaper puts creditors before pensions" March 2012


Who will notice pension tax-break cut? - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 12/03/2012
Would anyone put money into a pension scheme if they were not compelled to or encouraged to via tax incentives?

Pension tax breaks on Osborne’s radar - George Parker, Kiran Stacey & Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 09/03/2012
George Osborne is looking to raise taxes on the pension contributions of the highest earners in this month’s Budget.

“Money-raising plan looks like PFI all over again” - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 08/03/2012
You report that the Treasury plans to raise £20bn from UK pension schemes to invest in infrastructure projects. Although the full details are still sketchy, this looks suspiciously like the discredited private finance initiative. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


Transfer requests - Paul Farrow, Money Marketing, 08/03/2012
Are ETVs heading the industry towards another scandal?

Taking a flyer - Lombard (Jonathan Guthrie), Financial Times (scroll down page), 01/03/2012
IAG has exploited wiggle room within the IAS19 accounting standard to come up with a positive figure by leaving a big chunk of liabilities unrecognised

Are police pensions unaffordable? - Patrick Worrall & Cathy Newman, Channel 4 News FactCheck, 01/03/2012
The right-of-centre think-tank Policy Exchange weighed in to the ongoing row over public sector pensions this week. This time it was the police pension scheme that came under scrutiny.

Buffett is right – stocks will trump bonds - Steven Rattner, Financial Times A-List blog, 29/02/2012
See response from Zvi Bodie & John Ralfe "Ford is right to match its pensions assets & liabilities"

Ford is right to match its pensions assets and liabilities - Zvi Bodie & John Ralfe, Financial Times A-list blog, 29/02/2012
Steven Rattner takes Ford Motors to task for its plan to move 80 per cent of its pension fund into bonds

Govt’s pension tax could hit public sector workers - Kiran Stacey, Financial Times Westminster blog, 15/02/2012
I wrote about the possibility of lowering the cap for how much workers can put into their pension pots & still get tax relief.

Maude got his pension sums wrong, says IFS - Phillip Inman, Guardian blog, 31/01/2012
The paymaster-general went to war with the unions to defend reforms that will generate little or no gain for the exchequer.
The IFS repeats JER;s analysis from January. See Robert Peston's blog


Who really stands to lose out under NHS pension changes? - Patrick Worrall & Cathy Newman, Channel 4 News Factcheck, 24/01/2012
Includes clip with JER
See JER FT letter “Hospital doctors need to do their sums before revolting over pension changes" May 2012


You don't know what you got until you lose it - Buttonwood, The Economist, 11/01/2012
John Ralfe made a good point in Monday's FT about the closure of Shell's final salary pension scheme to new members.

Thoughts on the end (or not) of the DB era - John Ralfe, FTfm PDF, 09/01/2012
"If DB pensions didn’t exist, would we invent them?" (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


Has the Government given up on pensions? - Jim Moore, Independent, 06/01/2012
John Ralfe tweaked the Government’s nose on the effect of its planned reforms to public sector pensions.

Shell closes last FTSE 100 final salary pension scheme - Jamie Dunkley, Daily Telegraph, 06/01/2012
Royal Dutch Shell signalled the end of an era for the UK pensions industry by announcing plans to close its final-salary scheme to new members, making it the last FTSE 100 company to do so.
See JER FTfm article "Thoughts on the end (or not) of the DB era" January 2012


'Striking' revelations on pension reform - Justin Webb interviews Robert Peston, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 05/01/2012
Independent research by John Ralfe suggests the increase in retirement age from 60 to 67 for public sector workers might not save much because the benefits eventually available are more valuable than they are now.
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Pension age increase sees ’no saving’ - BBC News, BBC website, 05/01/2012
The government will make no savings by raising the public sector pension age to 67, a pensions consultant has said.

Robert Peston's peculiar pensions story - Nigel Stanley, Touchstone blog (TUC), 05/01/2012
It may be a quiet news day today, but that does not explain Robert Peston’s curious report, first on the Today programme and now on his blog, on public sector pensions. This claims – based on the work of John Ralfe:

Today's bad science on pensions - Jon Rogers, Jon Rogers blog (Unison), 05/01/2012
It is difficult to get to grips with the report on the Today Programme that increases in the pension age in the three "pay as you go" public service pension schemes will not produce long term savings since the BBC don't go far into the detail of the assumptions on which this claim is based. This is not helped by the fact that Mr Ralfe's website provides no further details (at least not yet).

Civil service pensions ’still gold plated’ - Robert Peston, Peston Blog, 04/01/2012
Analysis by John Ralfe shows the improvements in the benefits given to public sector workers at the higher retirement age offset the reduction in costs the higher retirement age

Threat of more pension strikes recedes - Brian Groom, Financial Times, 21/12/2011
It looks like the beginning of the end of the dispute over public sector pensions.
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Hooked on the final salary pension - Jo Faragher, Financial Times, 18/11/2011
There was a time when the final salary pension was as familiar a part of retirement as the carriage clock.

Boots’ bonds architect on the merits of switching - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 07/11/2011
Ten years ago, the news broke that the £2.3bn ($3.7bn) Boots pension scheme had switched all of its assets into bonds. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See FT article "The drugstore maverick" by Tony Tassell March 2003


Ministers urge Unison to rethink strike - Brian Groom, Elizabeth Rigby and Jim Pickard, Financial Times, 04/11/2011
Ministers and employers pleaded with Britain’s largest public sector union to “think again” after a vote for strikes over pension changes.

The revised offer on public sector pensions in a nutshell - Jim Pickard, Financial Times Westminster blog, 02/11/2011

Pension Protection Fund faces Polestar test - Simon Mundy, Financial Times, 29/10/2011
The Pension Protection Fund will be saddled with one of its biggest liabilities in its seven-year history, as the scheme at Polestar, the printing company, seeks to wind itself up.
See JER's FTfm article "Regulating the Pensions Regulator" May 2011


Pensions regulator to raise risk barrier - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 21/10/2011
Struggling companies with underfunded pension schemes are likely to be barred from higher-yielding but riskier investments.

Boots pursues pension changes despite regulator’s misgivings - Richard Northedge, Independent on Sunday, 16/10/2011
Company’s offer to workers risks mis-selling claims

Call to reverse pensions reforms - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 08/09/2011
Recent reforms of pensions accounting should be largely reversed because the current rules are discouraging companies from offering good pensions, according to a study to be released on Wednesday.
See FT article with the NAPF advocating tougher accounting November 2004. and NAPF policy paper
Why has the NAPF changed its tune?


Royal Mail pension exposure questioned - Pauline Skypala & Sara Silver, FTfm, 29/08/2011
The equity exposure of the £27.7bn ($45.3bn) Royal Mail Pension Plan is significantly higher than it appears from the group’s report and accounts.

Banks shift assets to cut pension deficits - Patrick Jenkins, Financial Times, 22/08/2011
Some of Britain’s biggest banks have begun quietly ridding themselves of billions of pounds of assets they have found difficult to sell, moving them into staff pension funds.

Accounting change to show extra public debt - Adam Jones & Chris Giles, Financial Times, 11/07/2011
Hundreds of billions of pounds of additional debt will appear on the government’s books on Wednesday when the Treasury publishes accounts drawn up on the same basis as those of companies.

Bridging the Growing Pensions Gap - John Ralfe, Index Universe website, 06/07/2011
Some investment experts have argued that a collective defined contribution (CDC) pension can bridge the gap between the old and the new schemes

Are public sector pensions unfair? - Mary Bousted & John Ralfe, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, 02/07/2011
Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers & John Ralfe, discuss public sector pensions.

Has NUT union misled members over pension reforms? - Jim Pickard, Financial Times Westminster blog, 30/06/2011
John Ralfe, an independent pensions expert, is convinced that the National Union of Teachers has misled members in a fact sheet it gave them ahead of today’s strike.

Setting an example to sullen Whitehall - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 29/06/2011
Whitehall is said to be in “sullen” mood on the eve of strikes over coalition plans to scale back public sector pensions.

Focus DIY chain collapse sparks fury over role of private equity - Zoe Wood & Ian Griffiths, Guardian, 29/05/2011
Buyout specialists attacked over deals that reaped them £1bn and left retailer struggling.

Regulating the Pensions Regulator (Polestar) - John Ralfe, Financial Times FTfm, 23/05/2011
“The Regulator can become transparent and accountable only if the law is changed” (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See Telegraph article "Polestar pension deal clears decks for owners" December 2006


‘Halfway house’ pensions to share risk - Josephine Cumbo, Financial Times, 21/05/2011
A new type of workplace pension scheme could see even more UK workers shifted into “risk-sharing” arrangements.
See JER FTfm article "CDC could lead to Ponzi schemes" April 2012


Golden lessons - Sue Cameron, Financial Times (Scroll down), 11/05/2011
Fat cattery is increasing, especially in public sector pensions.

Is the Treasury understating pension liabilities? - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 03/05/2011
Belatedly, I've got round to looking at the Treasury's recent decision to change how it calculates the necessary contributions that have to be made to cover the future costs of unfunded public service pensions.
See Letter to George Osborne from JER & 22 other pension experts


Bean counters ignored over discount rates - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 02/05/2011
Here is an advance warning: this column is about discount rates, specifically the appropriate discount rate for UK unfunded public sector pension schemes.
See Letter sent to George Osborne from JER & 22 other pension experts


Teachers' pensions 'a real betrayal' - Russell Hobby & John Ralfe, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, 30/04/2011
John Ralfe & Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, debate if current public sector pensions are sustainable.

What killed final salary pension schemes? - Paul Lewis, BBC Radio 4 Money Box Special, 30/04/2011
Final salary pension schemes are dead. That’s the general consensus of a dozen people we’ve spoken to in the last couple of weeks, and today we’re exploring that idea in a special Money Box for this Bank Holiday weekend. (PDF transcript)
Listen to programme on BBC iPlayer


Rethink urged on future pension bill - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 27/04/2011
The cost of public sector pension promises is to be calculated using a method that significantly understates the cost, according to a group of pendion experts
See Letter sent to George Osborne from JER & 22 other pension experts


Letter sent to UK Chancellor George Osborne - John Ralfe and 22 others, Letter, 26/04/2011
Letter to George Osborne asking him to re-consider his decision on the discount rate for public sector pensions

Pick a number, any number - Philip Coggan, The Economist, 08/04/2011
How should a pensions promise be valued?

Economist Special Report on pensions - Philip Coggan, Economist, 08/04/2011

Universal benefits and free national wealth service... is it 1948 again? - Matthew Vincent, Financial Times, 08/04/2011
There two policies launched this week that could bring about as much social change as the reforms of the late 1940s.

Risks in public sector pensions - David Blake, Financial Times Letters, 21/03/2011
Public sector pensions are equivalent to index-linked longevity bonds.

Unaffected by rule changes - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters , 16/03/2011
Sir, Dan DeKeizer argues that the government should issue gilts linked to the cpi, not just the rpi, in light of recent regulatory changes linking some pension increases to CPI.

The correct public sector pension discount rate - John Ralfe, FTfm, 14/03/2011
Public sector pensions are not discretionary government spending, like health or education, but deferred pay earned under a legally binding contract of employment, equivalent to giving ILGs to be redeemed at retirement. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See Letter sent to George Osborne from JER & 22 other pension experts


Time to get real about pensions - Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail, 11/03/2011
Encouraging people to work for longer is good for individuals and for the economy. Besides, in the public or the private sector, there is no alternative.

Public-sector pensions lose platinum coat - Robert Peston, Peston blog, 10/03/2011
Public-sector workers would be left with a pension scheme worth around 15% of typical salaries. Which would still make many in the private sector feel just a bit envious.

Lessons from the index-linked bonds battle - John Plender, FTfm, 14/02/2011
This month the latest outbreak of investment-related shooting has been on the subject of index-linked bonds.

Public sector pension benefits face one-third cut - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 14/02/2011
Some 5m current and former public sector workers could see their retirement benefits cut by one-third following changes to the way pensions take account of inflation, an official assessment shows.

RPI to CPI costs pension savers £83bn - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 12/02/2011
DWP impact assessment of the costs for members of DB pension schemes of the decision that many schemes should up-rate their benefits in line with CPI, not RPI, inflation.

Inflation-linked bonds still best option for pension savers - Zvi Bodie, Charles Cowling, John Ralfe, Cliff Speed & Ian Sykes, FT Letters, 07/02/2011
Response to Jeremy Siegel that pension savers should hold equities. PDF
See FT website (paywall)


Robbing Peter to pay Paul’s pension - John Ralfe, FTfm, 24/01/2011
If USS operates as "cash-in, cash-out" it is a massive pyramid selling scheme, relying on contributions for new pension promises to pay current pensions (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)

See John Plender's FT article on USS May 2006


USS to adopt CPI inflation measure - Steve Johnson, Financial Times, 24/01/2011
The Universities Superannuation Scheme, the UK’s second largest private sector scheme, is to follow the lead of the BT plan, the UK’s largest, in adopting a lower measure of inflation.

Local government pension schemes urged to take Yale route - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 20/12/2010
John Ralfe set the cat among the pigeons by working out the deficit on England’s Local Government Pension Scheme on an FRS17 basis.
See Robert Peston blog December 2010


Eric Bloodaxe - Sue Cameron, Financial Times (Scroll down), 15/12/2010
My local council, Westminster, has nine people with pension pots of about £1m or more. Imagine how many there must be nationwide.

Local government pension deficit - BBC, BBC News, 15/12/2010
The deficit in the Local Government Pension Scheme in England has more than doubled in the past three years to £100bn.

£100bn hole in local government pensions - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 15/12/2010
Mr Ralfe says that the LGPS will show a much smaller official actuarial deficit, because it will not be using the FRS17 valuation method imposed on the private sector.

PM to be Godless in Downing Street - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 15/12/2010
Looks like David Cameron has lost his battle to keep GOD by his side for another couple of years.

Public sector 'in denial' of pension trouble - Bob Summers & John Ralfe, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, 15/12/2010
Research by John Ralfe suggests the deficit in the Local Government Pension Scheme in England has more than doubled in the last three years. He debates with Bob Summers, of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance.
See Robert Peston blog December 2010


GMB Rebuts Pensions Deficit - GMB, GMB Website, 15/12/2010
THERE IS NOT A £100BN DEFICIT IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT PENSION SCHEME AND THERE IS NO CRISIS, SAID GMB IN RESPONSE TO CLAIMS BY A FINANCIAL CONSULTANT TODAY.

£100bn local government pension deficit claim is flawed and misleading - Unite Union, Unite Union Website, 15/12/2010
Claims that the deficit in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) in England has leaped to £100bn is ‘mathematically flawed and intellectually misleading’, Unite says

NAPF Comment on the deficit of the Local Government Pension Scheme - NAPF, NAPF Press Release, 15/12/2010
Commenting on the reported £100bn deficit of the Local Government Pension Scheme outlined by John Ralfe’s survey of Local Authorities’ accounts, Joanne Segars, Chief Executive of the NAPF, said:

BA in talks to cut pension shortfall - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 13/12/2010
BA is discussing changes to its pension scheme rules that would slash its pension shortfall, currently £1.9bn), almost in half.

Public pensions need further scrutiny - Tony Jackson, Financial Times, 13/12/2010
Defined benefit pensions in the private sector are an endangered species. Not so in the public sector.

How Boots' Swiss move cost UK £100m a year - Felicity Lawrence, Guardian, 11/12/2010
IInterest payments on the Alliance Boots debt in 2008 were so large they wiped out profit in the UK – and the tax that used to go with it.

Pension measure leads to nonsensical conclusions - John Ralfe, Financial Times letters, 26/11/2010
Reforming public sector pensions requires a robust and common understanding of costs to allowed informed debate and necassary hard decisions to be taken.PDF) See FT website (paywall)

Index link switch puts pensions in limbo - Steve Johnson, FTfm, 15/11/2010
Opinion is sharply divided on the gains from using CPI.

BT’s pension double-huggy - Lombard (Andrew Hill), Financial Times (scroll down page), 05/11/2010
Deficit-encumbered BT seems to be the rare beneficiary of the opposite of a double-whammy – a double-huggy, if you will.

A Taxing Dilemma - Michael Robinson , BBC Radio 4 File on 4, 26/10/2010
"After last week’s focus on spending cuts, we look at the other side of the Government’s balance sheet - tax - and at how some of our biggest companies avoid paying it". (PDF Transcript)
Listen to programme on BBC iPlayer


BT buoyed by ruling on pension scheme - Andrew Parker, Norma Cohen & Jane Croft, Financial Times, 21/10/2010
Mr Justice Mann ruled in favour of BT, that the government insures 98 per cent of the pension scheme’s members against the company’s insolvency.

PPF’s simpler levy plan gains industry backing - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 12/10/2010
The levy structure will be locked in for a three-year period, so long as a scheme’s risk profile does not change.

John Hutton refuses to give a green light to slash and burn - Michael White, Guardian blog, 08/10/2010
Trade unions that attacked pensions report did not do John Hutton justice: we are living longer and he recognises this

Premier Foods investors pile on pressure for asset sales - Richard Wachman, Guardian, 03/10/2010
Shareholders have opened fire on Premier Foods for failing to cut debts of £1.4bn and are calling for a shake-up at the company.

Royal Mail: A hedge fund that delivers letters - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 23/09/2010
The Royal Mail Pension Fund accounts show it had £5bn of exposure to shares via futures, not disclosed in the RM accounts.

Royal Mail 'put £5bn of its pension fund at risk' - Phillip Inman, Financial Times, 23/09/2010
Analyst says secret off-balance sheet stock market bets could have led to massive losses

EMI finances threatened by pension dispute - BBC Website, BBC Website, 27/08/2010
The Pensions Regulator has been asked to decide on the funding of the EMI pension scheme because the trustees and the company cannot agree.

Risk planning for PPF is still difficult - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 26/08/2010
John Ralfe warned that stochastic modelling has proven wholly unreliable for long-term planning for pension schemes.

GM is just a hedge fund in disguise - Tony Jackson, Financial Times, 26/08/2010
Closer inspection of GM's gigantic pension fund suggests that in the long run, the business may be worth nothing at all.
See JER FTfm article "Pension pothole on GM’s road to recovery" July 2009


Catch-22 cuts - Sue Cameron, Financial Times (scroll down page), 11/08/2010
According to Mr Ralfe, the official cost of all public sector pensions is currently £15bn a year – as against the true cost of £30bn.

BT fails in bid to make rivals plug its £9bn pension deficit - Rupert Neate, Daily Telegraph, 24/07/2010
Ofcom has rejected BT's plan to increase prices it charges rivals to use its network to help drag its pension fund out of the red.

RPI into CPI won't go, says John Ralfe - Pauline Skypala, FTfm blog, 10/07/2010
Can employers really change the terms of their pension contract with employees at the behest of government?

Think of pensions as gold bars - David Cule, Financial Times, 01/07/2010
The June 28 articles by John Hutton (“It is time to forge a new consensus on pensions”) and John Ralfe (“Time to talk real public sector pension costs”, FTfm) both highlight a debate that needs to take place. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


Think of pensions as Gold bars - David Cule, Financial Times, 01/07/2010

Time to talk real public sector pension costs - John Ralfe, FTfm, 28/06/2010
The Treasury, under Gordon Brown, fiddled the annual cost of new public sector pension promises to the tune of £120bn to £150bn. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Public sector pension figures 'were fiddled under Brown' - Ruth Sunderland, The Observer, 27/06/2010
John Ralfe, one of the UK's leading pension experts, claims there is £150bn black hole in government accounts
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Pension commission's job: To avert national bankruptcy - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 21/06/2010
If you are one of 11 million members of public-sector pension schemes, then you are a fortunate person.

Crisis in public sector pensions - Gerry Northam, Radio 4 File on 4, 13/06/2010
As MPs and senior officials retire on 'gold-plated' pensions, the media report that public sector pensions are heading for crisis.

Wrinkles in rich list for Whitehall - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 02/06/2010
Should Whitehall pay packages include employer's pension contributions?

A crying shame - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 28/04/2010
Deep dismay among mandarins who have just realised that Gordon Brown plans a hefty new tax on their public sector pensions.

Public sector pensions need sweeping reform, says CBI - Phillip Inman, The Guardian, 06/04/2010
The CBI warned that the cost of public sector pensions would undermine the government's finances without sweeping reforms.

Treasury 'in denial over pensions' - Neil Carberry & John Ralfe, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, 06/04/2010
Head of pensions policy at the CBI Neil Carberry and John Ralfe discuss public sector pension reform.
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Nailing the big lie on pensions - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 17/03/2010
A report that could expose an annual £15bn hole in public sector finances is sitting in Gordon Brown’s in-tray.

File on 4 Pensions crisis - Fran Abrams, BBC Radio 4 File on 4, 14/03/2010
Fran Abrams investigates allegations that some companies are dumping their obligations on the PPF.

Accounting rule threat to DB funds - Steve Johnson, FTfm, 08/03/2010
Changes to accounting standards will increase corporate pension schemes selling equities.

Rivals accuse BT of taking risks and digging £8.8bn pensions hole - Norma Cohen & Andrew Parker, Financial Times, 01/03/2010
BT's pension deficit is almost entirely of its own making because of inadequate contributions and a risky investment strategy.
See Competition Commission Review 2012


Regulator takes aim as recession hits pensions - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 24/02/2010
The Pensions Regulator will appear in Canada, defending its efforts to lay claim to a portion of the assets of the bankrupt Nortel.

BT set for dispute on pension shortfall - Norma Cohen & Andrew Parker, Financial Times, 12/02/2010
BT's share price dropped by 9 per cent, reflecting concern about disagreement between the company and the pensions regulator.

BT £9bn hole: How much could fall on taxpayers? - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 11/02/2010
The hole in BT's pension fund is a jarring £9bn, according to the formal three-yearly valuation.

UK lenders vent fury at Basel plans - Brooke Masters & Patrick Jenkins, Financial Times, 10/02/2010
UK banks are seething about new international regulatory proposals and their treatment of db pensions.

The Church’s reckless investment gamble - John Ralfe, FTfm, 08/02/2010
The Church Commissioners are in denial about the real pension liability (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See Sunday Times article May 2012


Pensions: Led into temptation - Norma Cohen & Sam Jones, Financial Times, 12/01/2010
Article on C of E's pension problems
See JER FTfm article "The Church's reckless investment gamble" February 2010
See Sunday Times article May 2012


BA 'gearing up' to closing pensions - Martin Shankleman & John Ralfe, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, 17/12/2009
Employment correspondent Martin Shankleman outlines the strike talks, and John Ralfe, discusses the airline's pension deficit.

Big battle looms over pensions - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 15/12/2009
British Airways yesterday signalled the start of a protracted battle with the Pensions Regulator over the price tag on its retirement obligations , the outcome of which will be crucial to its tie-up with Spain's Iberia.

BA Says Pension Deficit Is GBP3.7 Billion, Solution Required - Dow Jones, Dow Jones, 14/12/2009
British Airways PLC (BAY.LN) Monday said it has yet to decide how to tackle its pension deficit, which has risen 76% to GBP3.7 billion over the last three years. (photo: British Airways)

BA pension liability may derail Iberia deal - Alistair Osborne, Daily Telegraph, 13/11/2009
British Airways has admitted that the UK pensions regulator is yet to examine, let alone approve, a crucial element of its proposed £4.4bn all-share merger with Spain's Iberia.

Church of England pensions - Shaun Farrell & John Ralfe, BBC Radio 4 Money Box , 12/11/2009
The C of E has been accused of 'reckless' investment policies after putting its whole £500 million fund in shares. We spoke to John Ralfe and Shaun Farrell, Chief Executive of the Church of England Pensions Board.
See JER FTfm article "The Church's reckless investment gamble" February 2010
See Sunday Times article May 2012


Church urged to publish advice that led to £400m stockmarket 'gamble - Phillip Inman, The Observer, 08/11/2009
The Church of England refused last night to publish investment advice covering more than £400m of pension assets, despite demands for information surrounding a £350m shortfall in the retirement scheme for priests.
See JER FTfm article "The Church's reckless investment gamble" February 2010
See Sunday Times article May 2012


Parishioners can be assured that we are not gambling - Dr Jonathan Spencer, Financial Times Letters, 04/11/2009
"There is no such thing as a completely risk-free investment but I can assure parishioners that we are not gambling with their generous donations". (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See JER FTfm article "The Church's reckless investment gamble" February 2010
See Sunday Times article May 2012


Boot filler Blair - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 04/11/2009
Independent pensions expert John Ralfe reminds me that we do know Tony Blair receives a pension of around £90,000 a year from the public purse.

Praying for a market miracle - Pauline Skypala, FTfm blog, 04/11/2009
Which institutions can afford a sufficient time horizon to be able to rely on the expectation that equities will outperform bonds over the longer term?

Vicars' pensions under threat as church is seduced by equity cul - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 03/11/2009
Young Anglican vicars are facing the prospect of a bleaker retirement after the Church of England's pension scheme succumbed to the "cult of equity" and sank 100 per cent of its investments into stocks towards the end of the 1990s bull market.
See JER FTfm article "The Church's reckless investment gamble" February 2010
See Sunday Times article May 2012


Pension shortfalls approach £200bn - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 09/09/2009
Surging equities markets last month were insufficient to offset the effects of falling gilts yields, sending the aggregate shortfall of UK pension schemes up towards £200bn.

Pensions Commissions Report was flawed - John Ralfe, FTfm, 07/09/2009
Ignoring equity risk overstates the income personal pension accounts will generate and is wishful thinking on a grand scale.(PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note on the Turner Commission Report January 2005
See FTfm article "Ralfe challenges Turner report" by Pauline Skypala January 2005


BT: A blacker pension hole - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 30/07/2009
BT seems to me to have been a bit disingenuous this morning in the way it has presented its first quarter results.
See JER FTfm article "Behind BT’s deep, dark pension deficit" May 2009


Pension pothole on GM’s road to recovery - John Ralfe, FTfm, 06/07/2009
Maintaining GM’s pensions is a hidden transfer of $3.5bn a year from the federal government.(PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


BT's pension scheme to hold less in equities - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 30/06/2009
The BT Group Pension Scheme - the UK's largest private sector retirement fund - had only enough money at the end of 2008 to pay about 57 per cent of promised benefits if the company were to become insolvent, and said it intended to pare back sharply its future investments in equities.

All aboard Europe’s caviar express - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 17/06/2009
Lord and Lady Kinnock’s pension pots are worth about £4m, according to John Ralfe, an independent pensions expert.

‘Double whammy’ effect hits BT - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 16/06/2009
BT sponsor of Britain’s largest pension scheme, shocked investors last month by revealing that it would have to increase annual contributions to its pension scheme to £525m for each of the next three years, up from its current rate of £280m.

Britain’s pensions apartheid looks unsustainable - The Economist, The Economist, 11/06/2009
Company final-salary schemes were set on the path to extinction earlier this decade following a wave of closures to new recruits. Now BP, one of a handful of big firms that stood apart from the crowd then, is following suit.

General Motors still has a pension fund problem - John Gapper, Financial Times blog, 08/06/2009
Tony Jackson makes an interesting, and a bit scary, point about New General Motors, the part of the company that is supposed to spring out of Chapter 11 with its liabilities trimmed, ready to take on competitors in the auto industry.

GM shows gravity of pension challenge - Tony Jackson, Financial Times, 08/06/2009
The old GM’s US pension fund, with its near-$100bn (£63bn) of liabilities, is being transferred lock, stock and barrel to the new entity. As a direct result, the new GM could be bankrupt again in a very few years.
See JER FTfm article "Pension pothole on GM’s road to recovery" July 2009


Is this the end for final salary pensions? - Joanne Segars and John Ralfe, BBC Radio 4 Money Box interview, 06/06/2009
As 3 more firms cut their final salary pensions, is it the end for this type of scheme?
See JER FTfm article "Thoughts on the end (or not) of the DB era" January 2012


Barclays to scrap final salary pensions - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 04/06/2009
Barclays yesterday announced plans to close its final salary pension scheme to nearly 18,000 existing members, a contentious move likely to ease the path for other big employers which have been wary of taking such a step.
See JER FTfm article "Thoughts on the end (or not) of the DB era" January 2012


Calls to examine MPs' pensions - John Ralfe, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview, 01/06/2009
The pensions of MPs embroiled in the expenses scandal have come under scrutiny after it emerged that they are 50% more generous than in the rest of the public sector. John Ralfe looks at the overall cost to the taxpayer.
See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008


Why BT’s pension line is out of order - Neil Collins, Reuters blog, 29/05/2009
It is a quarter of a century since the ground-breaking privatisation of BT. Unfortunately, it may not be many more years before a reluctant government is forced to take the company back into state ownership.

CBI complaints won’t wash - Pauline Skypala, FTfm blog, 26/05/2009
UK employers want to play a game of heads I win, tails you lose, with the members of their pension schemes.

Behind BT’s deep, dark pension deficit - John Ralfe, FTfm, 25/05/2009
BT’s fundamental approach since privatisation seems to be "keep betting on equities and hope for the best" (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


Time to rethink the long equity bet - Pauline Skypala, Financial Times, 25/05/2009
The long-held belief that taking the risk of equity investment will be rewarding in the long term, and can be relied on to pay pensions, has been challenged by the experience of the credit crisis.

BA: Loaded down - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 22/05/2009
The most striking number in British Airways results for the past year was the £3bn it spent on fuel, which was 44.5% higher than in the previous year.

The Speaker’s soft landing - Alex Barker, Financial Times Westminster blog, 18/05/2009
A couple of hours to go before the Speaker’s statement. Michael Martin will have an open mike to salvage his reputation and subdue the growing parliamentary insurrection.

Haunted by lack of clear disclosure of material risk - Tony Jackson, Financial Times, 18/05/2009
What is the point of the annual report and accounts? Evidently, it is to show the company’s profitability and the state of its balance sheet.

(BT) Scheme funding increases 88% to £525m for next three years - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 15/05/2009
BT has nearly doubled the amount it will pay into its pension scheme to plug a £4bn projected shortfall.

BT faces doubling of pension fund bill - Norma Cohen and Andrew Parker, Financial Times, 12/05/2009
BT could be forced to double its annual pension contributions to up to £560m a year under a little-known but legally binding agreement it signed with the trustees of its pension scheme in 2006 and which was approved by the Pensions Regulator.

Royal Mail and HMG's creative accounting - Robert Peston, Robert Peston blog, 11/05/2009
Here's today's riddle: which financial black hole could be transformed into a mountain of gold simply by moving the ownership of the black hole from one part of the public sector to another?

Pension rescue to appear as £24bn windfall - Alex Barker and Jim Pickard, Financial Times, 09/05/2009
The rescue plan for the Royal Mail pension scheme is set to appear as a £24bn ($36bn) windfall on the government books, in a bizarre accounting quirk that saves the government from having to raise more debt.

LGPS: Over and out? - Paul Gosling, Local Government Chronicle, 07/05/2009
There is growing disquiet amongst the political classes and the media about public sector pensions.

Political pensions - the real scandal - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 29/04/2009
Never mind MPs’ expenses - the real scandal is their pensions. See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008

Rage against the pensions machine - Adam Shaw, Financial Times, 17/04/2009
I am sitting in front of the inside-out building that is the largest insurer in the world – Lloyd’s of London. Behind me are some of the largest pension and investment companies. Skyscrapers such as these are built to impress.

Home-grown pension advice that is hard to swallow - Lombard (Andrew Hill), Financial Times, 09/04/2009
The congregation is bound to gossip about what the preacher gets up to at home.

MPs' pension scheme has £230m gap - Alex Barker and Jim Pickard, Financial Times, 08/04/2009
The MPs' pension scheme is nursing a £230m shortfall, leaving it with just half the assets required to cover its taxpayer-guaranteed pledges, according to analysis for the Financial Times.
See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008


Switching to gilts is short-sighted - Clr Roy Oldham, FT letters, 31/03/2009
As chair of the Greater Manchester Local Government Pension Fund for more than 20 years, which is among the most successful in local government, I find John Ralfe’s ideas both unacceptable and an intrusion into the free working of local government.

Pension lifeboat in danger of sinking after £2bn Nortel hit - Phillip Inman and Simon Bowers, Guardian, 30/03/2009
The government came under increasing pressure last night to guarantee the pension lifeboat scheme after administrators for collapsed telecoms company Nortel revealed a £1.5bn pension deficit had ballooned since last year to £2bn.

A refusal to pass on the deficit offers scant comfort - John Thurston, Financial Times Letters, 27/03/2009
John Healey’s response seemed to be denial exemplified and makes John Ralfe’s case.

Council tax will not rise to meet public pension deficit - John Healey, Minister for Local Government, FT letters, 25/03/2009
The LGPS remains solvent and well placed to meet its liabilities.

In denial over public pensions - John Ralfe, FTfm, 23/03/2009
Neither local authorities nor central government recognise the size of the LGPS deficit and thus have no plan to address it. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


The ministerial dog that did not bark - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 18/03/2009
Do you think anyone in Whitehall told Paul Myners about that bit in the ministerial code that talks about "the overarching duty on ministers . . . to protect the integrity of public life"?

UK need for pension buy-out still strong - Ruth Sullivan, Financial Times, 02/03/2009
As the gap between pension fund assets and liabilities increases, a growing number of sponsors are looking to reduce their exposure to expensive defined benefit schemes and hand over management to an insurer through a buy-out.

Is Fred’s pot actually £25m? - Jim Pickard, Financial Times Westminster blog, 26/02/2009
The FSA’s handy pension calculator shows his total pension pot is closer to £25m. Yes, there’s even more cash for Alistair Darling to claw back.

Taxpayers’ real help now for Gordon - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 25/02/2009
Is Gordon Brown running a system of outdoor relief for redundant bankers?

Trustee sounds alarm on Royal Mail pensions - Jim Pickard, Financial Times, 25/02/2009
The 450,000 members of Royal Mail’s pension plan face “devastating consequences”, including the slashing of benefits, if the business is not part-privatised, the head of the fund’s trustees has warned.

Pension calculations have ignored equity risk - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 10/02/2009
Personal pension accounts will fail because the Pensions Commission's underlying analysis is fundamentally flawed and misrepresents the economics of holding equities. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note on the Turner Commission Report January 2005
See FTfm article "Ralfe challenges Turner report" by Pauline Skypala January 2005


For a quick profit, try picking a pensioner's pocket - Tony Jackson, Financial Times, 09/02/2009
The running sore of corporate pensions has flared up again. As recently as last June, according to official calculations, UK schemes overall were in modest surplus. They now show a record deficit of £195bn ($288bn) - worse than in the depths of the 2003 bear market.

Stay Posted On The Royal Mail Modernisation - Jim Pickard, Financial Times Westminster blog, 07/02/2009
I mention this before drawing your attention to a small and obscure clause in the Hooper report on the modernisation of the Royal Mail.

Royal Mail workers: workers’ pensions may be under threat either - Jim Pickard, Financial Times Westminster blog, 03/02/2009
John Ralfe, the pensions guru, believes that workers’ cast iron pensions could be doomed either way. “As soon as the government addresses the pensions issue - with or without privatisation – they have to effectively involve state aid,”

Nortel outlay to reveal cracks in PPF - John Ralfe, FTfm, 26/01/2009
Because the PPF was not set up to charge an economic rate, it was always going to be under pressure

Treasury Select Committee - First Report Administration and expenditure of the Chancellor's departments, 2007-08 - Treasury Select Committee, Treasury Select Committee, 14/01/2009
150. There are those, such as pensions consultant John Ralfe, who contest the method of valuation used by GAD.[181] [for the Coal Board Pension Schemes] They argue that if alternative valuation methods are employed the scheme appears to be in deficit and thus represents a liability for the British Taxpayer.
See JER FTfm article "Public sector pensions - at what future cost?" July 2008


Asset gap puts fate of retirees in doubt - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 06/01/2009
Hundreds of current and former Ireland-based employees of Waterford Wedgwood could lose all or part of their pension as a result of the company's collapse because the scheme currently does not have enough assets in it to pay all promised benefits.

Alarm bells ringing over security of covenants - Ruth Sullivan, Financial Times, 15/12/2008
Covenant risk is a growing concern for pension funds as their asset values plunge in falling equity markets, leaving employers to face rising deficits.

Pension Protection Fund - Presented by Paul Lewis, BBC Radio 4 Moneybox, 13/12/2008
Discussion on the PPF with Partha Dasgupta and John Ralfe

PPF calm in face of growing asset shortfall - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 10/12/2008
As the Pension Protection Fund unveiled the biggest-ever gap between the retirement benefits it insures and the cash available to pay them, it recalled a time more than five years ago before the safety net was created.

Public sector set for wealthier retirement - Sharlene Goff, Financial Times, 05/12/2008
But while those about to draw benefits from a private scheme face the dilemma of taking an income far below their expectations or postponing their retirement, members of public sector schemes are sitting pretty.
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Liabilities and a questionable convention - Harvey Cole, Financial Times Letters, 04/12/2008
John Ralfe’s arithmetic (Letters, December 2) is, as always, impeccable. But the convention of discounting public sector liabilities by reference to the yield of long-term gilts is open to question.

Investment risk has been switched to the employee - Prof Alasdair Smith, Financial Times Letters, 03/12/2008
John Ralfe writes that the public sector should emulate the private sector in moving from defined benefit to defined contribution pensions.

Public sector pensions debate requires clarity on costs - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 02/12/2008
Getting clarity on public sector pension costs is technically easy, but politically difficult. (PDF) See FT website (paywall)
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Collapse promises huge headache for PPF - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 28/11/2008
The Pension Protection Fund faces one of the largest claims on its already-stretched fund with the collapse of Woolworths. It is bracing for a string of other, possibly bigger, claims, as the recession bites harder.

High corporate bond yields flatter pension fund liabilities - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 14/11/2008
John Ralfe, an independent pensions consultant, said not only is the discount rate abnormally high, but BT does not appear to have brought its longevity assumptions into line with UK trends.

Snouts and trotters in the trough - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 12/11/2008
The cheating classes just don't get it.

Clare and present danger - Buttonwood, The Economist, 06/11/2008
There is a flaw in the belief, widely held in the 1990s, that all one has to do is buy and hold equities to ensure a handsome return in the long run.

Dial C for clarification - Lombard (Andrew Hill), Financial Times, 04/11/2008
Nearly 25 years after the Telecommunications Act prepared the way for privatisation of BT, the government and the company are still discussing how a Crown Guarantee underpins the telecoms group's pension scheme.

BT looks at raising retirement age as part of pension overhaul - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 03/11/2008

Clare is taking calculated risk - Norman Cumming, Financial Times Letters, 03/11/2008
Clare is taking a risk, but a calculated risk, to which the governing body gave much thought.

BT Group pensions: How much are taxpayers on the hook? - John Ralfe, JER Website, 03/11/2008
How much are taxpayers guaranteeing, if the Crown guarantee covers 75% of liabilities?

Is it time to give up on equities? - James Daley, The Independent, 01/11/2008
James Daley asks if the stock market is ever the right option for private investors

Did Clare fellows ask the cost of insuring deal? - John Ralfe & Prof Alasdair Smith, Financial Times Letters, 30/10/2008
The expected long-term outperformance of equities is not a reward for patience or a "loyalty bonus", but no more or less than a reward for risk.

New PPF rules needed to protect taxpayers - John Ralfe, FTfm, 27/10/2008
If we do not grasp the pension nettle now we will store up bigger problems for the future with an eventual taxpayer bail-out. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


Underfunded public sector schemes cause concern in UK - Steve Johnson, Financial Times, 06/10/2008
The problems besetting private pension systems are well known, but in many ways it is public sector pensions where the problems are most intractable.
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


MPs’ fund benefits from falling prices - Alex Barker and Jim Pickard, Financial Times, 01/10/2008
Ministers and MPs, including those denouncing City “spivs” and “destructive” short selling, have invested in hedge funds that cash in on falling shares via the parliamentary pension scheme.
See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008


CSFI Roundtable on public sector pensions - John Ralfe, CSFI Roundtable , 09/09/2008
Speeech delivered at the CSFI Roundtable on public sector pensions
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Pension costs mistated by £15bn - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 08/09/2008
The cost of pension promises to 3.25m public sector workers is about £15bn more each year than government admits, even after recent cuts in benefits for new members and increased contributions for some other workers, according to a new study.
See Nick Timmins FT article "UK backs down over public sector pensions" October 2005


Pension deficits - by any name - Matthew Vincent, Financial Times, 16/08/2008
Pension consultant John Ralfe puts unfunded public sector pension liabilities at above £800bn - a cost that is "grossly understated" by government departments.

Tories urge review into pension fund 'siphoning' (Miners' pension schemes) - Jim Pickard, Financial Times, 04/08/2008
More than £4bn has been "siphoned" out of two miners' pension funds by the government in the past decade, a move that could store future pain for taxpayers.
See JER FTfm article "Public sector pensions - at what future cost?" July 2008


Treasury's basic mistake about public pensions - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 21/07/2008
The Treasury doggedly refuses to recognise that public sector pensions are government debt, the same as issuing index-linked gilts to public sector workers. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See JER CSFI speech September 2008


Whitehall cover-up on pension payoff - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 16/07/2008
So, Paul Gray, the top official who carried the can when Revenue and Customs lost discs containing half the nation’s bank details, appears to have hit the jackpot.

Public sector pensions - at what future cost? - John Ralfe, FTfm, 14/07/2008
The huge payments to government and members from the Coal Board pension schemes are being made from fictitious surpluses.(PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


Spotlight on British Coal Pension Schemes - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 54, 11/07/2008
When British Coal was privatised in 1994 the Government guaranteed payment of pension entitlements, plus inflation-linked increases and receives 50% of surpluses calculated at Actuarial Valuations.

PPF’s flaws due to quick-fix birth - John Ralfe, FTfm, 09/06/2008
If there is a bail-out by taxpayers we should not blame the PPF’s board, who have been genuinely robust and pragmatic. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)


To the manor elected - The Economist, The Economist, 30/05/2008
MPs’ plush pensions could be the next controversy See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008

Nice little earners for Mr Speaker - Sue Cameron, Financial Times, 28/05/2008
No credit crunch worries Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, who, I am told, is sitting on two enormous nest eggs – courtesy of the ever-generous taxpayer.

Royal Mail’s need for cash back on agenda - John Willman, Financial Times, 16/05/2008
Royal Mail’s urgent need for new investment is firmly on the agenda following the regulator’s demand on Thursday that the postal operator should be freed to raise capital from the private sector.

Death knell sounds for pensions model - Steve Johnson, Financial Times, 21/04/2008
Last week was a joyous one for the army of insurance companies lining up to seize control of unwanted defined benefit pension schemes clogging up the balance sheets of the UK’s corporate sector.

SSRB is not concerned with cost of MPs’ pensions - Sir John Baker, Financial Times Letters, 11/04/2008
Response to JER letter on MPs’ pensions

Should we halve MPs’ pensions? - Alex Barker, Financial Times Westminster blog, 09/04/2008
This will not please our elected representatives. John Ralfe, the former head of corporate finance at Boots and an indefatigable apostle for the cause of trimming MPs’ “outrageous” pensions, has just launched his latest assault. See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008

Cost of MPs’ pensions to taxpayers grossly understated - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 07/04/2008
The real cost of MPs’ annual pensions to taxpayers is 50% of salary not 18%, the official figure. (PDF)
See FT website (paywall)
See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008


US pension body’s shift over equities adds insult to injury - Zvi Bodie & John Ralfe, Financial Times Letter (US), 26/02/2008
Holding more equities looks like the PBGC trying to bet its way out of a loss. (PDF) See FT website (paywall)

US pensions safety net takes risky path - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 25/02/2008
Organisations like the PBGC surely have a duty to put risk management first and foremost.

The Pensions Regulator’s new approach to Longevity Assumptions - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 49, 19/02/2008
The Pensions Regulator has published a statement setting out its new approach to analysing the longevity assumptions used by pension schemes for their formal Valuations and Recovery Plans.

Clearer view of pension costs in the offing - John Ralfe, FTfm, 18/02/2008
Given the scale of pensions, BT is the UK’s largest pension scheme that just happens to own a telecoms business
See FT website (paywall)


Companies face the real costs of pensions - Norma Cohen and Jennifer Hughes, Financial Times, 18/02/2008
Nearly two decades ago, when BT Group badly needed to restructure its workforce, the UK’s privatised telecommunications carrier offered generous early retirement benefits to encourage staff to go voluntarily

Warning on pensioners' longevity - BBC Website, BBC Website, 18/02/2008
The Pensions Regulator has told pension scheme trustees that they should use more realistic assumptions about how long their members are likely to live.

BT pension hole would worsen under ASB - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 07/02/2008
BT Group could see its pension deficit balloon to £4.6bn from £400m if it were required to report its retirement liabilities and assets under new rules proposed last week by the Accounting Standards Board.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "BT Group & The New Accounting Proposals" February 2008


Pensions "can wipe out BT profits" - Phillip Inman, The Guardian, 07/02/2008
BT would be one of the worst affected by the rule changes because it supports the largest private sector guaranteed retirement fund.

BT warned retirement liabilities could hit £46bn - David Litterick, Daily Telegraph, 07/02/2008
BT's pension liabilities could balloon to nearly £46bn and its current surplus turn into a deficit to £7.6bn

BT Group & The New Accounting Proposals - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 48, 07/02/2008
The UK ASB and the major European accounting bodies have issued a Discussion Paper on pensions. The major proposals to discount at “a risk-free rate” and to include actual, not expected, asset returns in the P & L, are likely to become compulsory, but timing is unclear

Market falls wipe £15bn off pensions - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 26/01/2008
Falling stock markets and interest rates have wiped £15bn off the value of UK company pension schemes so far this year, calling into question their investment strategies and reviving concerns about underfunding.

MPs’ pensions fail transparency test - John Ralfe, FTfm, 21/01/2008
How has the Senior Salaries Review Body got the cost of MPs’ pensions so wrong?
See FT website (paywall)


What is the real cost of MPs' pensions? - Lisa Buckingham, Mail on Sunday, 20/01/2008
Clearly, our elected representatives find numbers something of a challenge.
See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008


Time to vote out MPs' pension deal - Ruth Sunderland, The Observer, 20/01/2008
Here are some words I don't get to write often enough: Gordon Brown has done the right thing on pensions.
See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008


Annual cost of MPs' pensions triples - Chris Hope, Daily Telegraph, 09/01/2008
It is very convenient for MPs that the cost of their pensions is understated.

Taxpayers to foot £16m bill for MPs’ pensions - Alex Barker, Financial Times, 08/01/2008
The cost to the taxpayer of MPs’ pensions is more than double the official estimate, which could undermine backbenchers’ demands for a big pay rise. See JER FTfm article "MPs’ pensions fail transparency test" January 2008

Paternoster acquires Emap's two main pensions schemes - Norma Cohen and Ben Fenton, Financial Times, 14/11/2007
In a deal claimed as the first of its kind, Paternoster, the bulk-annuities group, has completed the acquisition of the two main Emap pension schemes.

Postal deal signed but will it deliver? - John Ralfe, FTfm, 12/11/2007
Is the deal agreed with enough to solve Royal Mail's pension problems?
See FT website (paywall)


Consultant warns on deficit proposals - John Willman, Financial Times, 06/11/2007
Royal Mail’s plans to tackle its £5bn pension deficit will plug barely half the gap and rely on the scheme’s share portfolio to eliminate the rest, according to a new analysis.
See JER FTfm article "Postal deal signed but will it deliver?" November 2007


Appealing to the pensions referee - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 02/07/2007
The highly leveraged bids for two of Britain’s biggest high street names – J Sainsbury and Alliance Boots – has thrust the Pensions Regulator into the spotlight and left some asking whether it needs more power to safeguard the pension schemes of companies targeted by private equity.

Testing the UK Pensions Regulator - John Ralfe, FTfm, 25/06/2007
What does the Alliance Boots deal tell us about the powers of the Pensions Regulator?
See FT website (paywall)


Why Do Firms Offer Risky Defined Benefit Pension Plans? - David A. Love, Paul A. Smith & David Wilcox, Federal Reserve Board, Washington, 13/06/2007
Even risky pension sponsors could offer essentially riskless pension promises by contributing a sufficient level of resources to their pension trust funds and by investing those resources in fixed-income securities designed to deliver their payoffs just as pension obligations are coming due.
See Federal Reserve website


The pension prescription Boots doesn't need to fill - Zoe Wood, The Observer, 03/06/2007
The high-street chemist's staff are demanding a £1bn package to secure their retirement now that the company is going private - but it's not clear that any deal will be imposed on the new owners.
See JER FTfm article "Testing the UK Pensions Regulator" June 2007


Private equity industry loses the plot over timing - Tony Jackson, Financial Times, 21/05/2007
Every time you think private equity has scaled the peaks of death-defying risk, a new Everest comes into view.

Alliance Boots' trustees in strong position with KKR - John Ralfe, FTfm, 30/04/2007
KKR do not want to be seen as barbarians at the gate and must win the goodwill of employees, pension scheme members and the wider public.
See FT website (paywall)
See JER FTfm article "Testing the UK Pensions Regulator" June 2007


What about pensions in the Alliance Boots’ private equity takeover? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 42, 25/04/2007
The Independent Directors of Alliance Boots have recommended the acquisition of the Company for £11.1bn from a consortium led by KKR and Mr Stefano Pessina, the Deputy Chairman and largest shareholder, seeing off a rival private equity approach.
See JER FTfm article "Testing the UK Pensions Regulator" June 2007


The pensions prophets 10 years on - Barry Riley, FTfm, 23/04/2007
The so-called "EMS" paper presented to the Institute of Actuaries in London 10 years ago, on April 28 1997, blew the gaffe on a whole era of actuarial practice in relation to corporate pension funds in the UK. A decade later it can clearly be seen as truly revolutionary.
See Exley, Mehta and Smith's paper "The Financial Theory of Defined Benefit Pension Schemes" April 1997


Longevity: Old age, the threat no one thought to predict - Steve Johnson, FTfm, 21/04/2007
But these developments have simply shone more light on the one risk that, as yet, cannot be hedged out: that of rising longevity.

J Sainsbury takeover discussions - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 41, 27/03/2007
The Takeover Panel has given a private equity consortium a deadline of April 13th to make a formal bid for J Sainsbury. With a likely price of £10bn, this would be the largest private equity deal in Europe, if successful.

A step towards a market in longevity - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 19/03/2007
The one risk they just have to live with is paying out to pensioners for longer than expected if their longevity assumptions turn out to be too low.

Boots in play Bitter pill - The Economist, The Economist, 15/03/2007
Five weeks after news broke of a bid for J. Sainsbury KKR, announced a £9.7 billion offer for Alliance Boots, Britain's largest chain of chemists.
See JER FTfm article "Testing the UK Pensions Regulator" June 2007


Wake up this morning to a longer life? - Andrew Clare, Financial Times Letters, 28/02/2007
So if actuaries cannot keep up with longevity trends, what can they do?

No suggestion that actuaries were at fault - Stewart Ritchie & Nick Dumbreck, Financial Times Letters, 27/02/2007
Letter from the two most senior UK actuaries.

Rising shares shrink Footsie pension deficits - Matthew Richards, Financial Times, 24/02/2007
Rising share prices and bond yields have cut pensions deficits at the UK's biggest companies to their lowest level since new accounting standards were introduced in 2002.

No loose change down the back of the sofa for pensions - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 23/02/2007
How to compensate those who have lost their pensions
See FT website (paywall)


Hutton hints at pensions aid rethink - Ben Hall, Financial Times, 23/02/2007
Tens of thousands of people who lost pension benefits when their employers went bust yesterday received a strong hint that they could be in line for more generous compensation after the government promised to re-examine its existing aid scheme for victims.

To heal a political sore (FAS) - The Economist, The Economist, 22/02/2007
But as John Ralfe, a pensions specialist, points out, the bill could fall substantially if the government offered partial compensation along the same lines as the PPF. Such a compromise would heal a long-running political sore.

PPF is in better shape than many pension schemes - Lawrence Churchill & Partha Dasgupta, Financial Times Letters, 25/01/2007
John Ralfe fails to acknowledge a number of important points about the PPF.

Strains of protecting pensions increases - John Ralfe, FTfm, 22/01/2007
The levy charged by the PPF to DB schemes has risen sharply and is likely to continue rising
See FT website (paywall)


Increase in pension protection levy may force schemes to close - Philip Inman, The Guardian, 16/01/2007
Employers face a fourfold increase in PPF contributions

Are cracks starting to show in the PPF? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 39, 16/01/2007
The Pension Protection Fund has announced that the levy on defined benefit pension schemes is budgeted to raise £675m in 2007/8

Employers face threat of pension levy rise - Norma Cohen and Ben Hall, Financial Times, 11/01/2007
Employers face a sharp rise in levies to the pensions lifeboat if the government loses a European court ruling later this month.

BT outlines pension funding plans - Andrew Parker, Financial Times, 18/12/2006
BT is today expected to publish the long-awaited findings of its triennial pension review, which will set out plans for the funding of its retirement scheme.

National pension scheme is 'wishful thinking on a grand scale' - Phillip Inman and Will Woodward, Guardian, 13/12/2006
The government will today reveal its blueprint for a national pension savings scheme to raise the retirement incomes of up to 10 million low-paid workers. See JER RBC Capital Markets Note on the Turner Commission Report January 2005
See FTfm article "Ralfe challenges Turner report" by Pauline Skypala January 2005


Is the National Pensions Saving Scheme just wishful thinking? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 38, 12/12/2006
The Pensions White Paper takes account of the expected returns from holding equities, but ignores the risk.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note on the Turner Commission Report January 2005
See FTfm article "Ralfe challenges Turner report" by Pauline Skypala January 2005


Role for branded providers in pension plan - Ben Hall and Nicholas Timmins, Financial Times, 12/12/2006
Branded providers of pension products are to be given a role in the planned new system of personal pension savings after all, the government will announce today as it publishes its white paper on a new national scheme.

Polestar pension deal clears decks for owners - Mark Kleinman, Daily Telegraph, 08/12/2006
Polestar, the magazine printer once owned by disgraced tycoon Robert Maxwell, has off-loaded a £150m pension fund deficit. The financial engineering - part of a wider restructuring of the troubled group - is likely to spark a debate about businesses' obligations to their pensioners and the leverage used by private-equity owners.
See JER FTfm article "Regulating the Pensions Regulator" May 2011


Headache or opportunity? - Norma Cohen, FTfm, 29/11/2006
A group of corporate finance directors addressing a recent conference on pensions made a collective, refreshingly frank but startling admission; until accounting rules took effect five years ago they had no idea their retirement schemes needed attention.

More foresight is needed on longevity - John Ralfe, FTfm, 27/11/2006
The scale of longevity risk for BT and other large pension schemes such as BA is breathtaking
See FT website (paywall)


Pauline Skypala: No consensus yet on pension strategy - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 13/11/2006
Surveys show UK pension funds expect to increase their weightings in bonds and alternative assets at the expense of quoted equities. But whether they will allocate a meaningful amount or fiddle about with 4-5 per cent of their assets is open to question.

Pension alarms ringing over foreign-based parent companies - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 11/11/2006
Alarm bells are ringing over the difficulties in pursuing pensions claims against foreign parents of UK-based companies, after the bankruptcy of the Bermuda-based Sea Containers conglomerate.

Longer lives pose £3bn threat to BT pension fund - Patrick Hosking, The Times, 08/11/2006
BT Group may have to inject more into its pension fund after one independent expert suggested soaring life expectancy may add £3 billion to its liabilities.
See JER FTfm article "More foresight is needed on longevity" December 2006


BT caught up in row over using the wrong numbers - Russell Hotten, The Daily Telegraph, 08/11/2006
While shareholders have focused on investment risk, they have ignored the way companies assess longevity risk.
See JER FTfm article "More foresight is needed on longevity" December 2006


BT pension fund - Philip Inman, The Guardian, 08/11/2006
Life expectancy has become a key issue for pension funds, which under existing accounting rules can rely on their own measure.
See JER FTfm article "More foresight is needed on longevity" December 2006


BT pension deficit - Michael Harrison, The Independent, 08/11/2006
The assumptions of life expectancy used by Royal Mail were the same as the benchmark recommended by the PPF.
See JER FTfm article "More foresight is needed on longevity" December 2006


Consultant warns on longevity risk to BT pensions - Tom Burroughes, Reuters, 08/11/2006
Even small changes in longevity assumptions can dramatically affect liability costs.
See JER FTfm article "More foresight is needed on longevity" December 2006


BT Group - How important is longevity risk? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 37, 08/11/2006
BT Group is one of the FTSE100 companies providing its longevity assumptions for the first time this year.
See JER FTfm article "More foresight is needed on longevity" December 2006


Inheritors of pension schemes ponder their options - Tony Jackson, Financial Times, 23/10/2006
As they are finally closed to new and existing members, they will be passed to an insurance company or the like.

Trustees in talks to safeguard Corus pensions - Patrick Hosking, The Times, 21/10/2006
The pension funds of 170,000 past and present Corus workers are negotiating to prevent retirement benefits being put in jeopardy by the Tata deal. See JER RBC note "Tata Steel’s recommended offer for Corus" October 2006

How Corus bid put pension trustees on the spot - Lombard (Andew Hill), Financial Times, 21/10/2006
This was the toughest bit of Tata's deal Slightly more than 47,000 people work for Corus, but that number is dwarfed by those who depend on the British Steel Pension Scheme, one of the UK's 10 largest.
See JER RBC note "Tata Steel’s recommended offer for Corus" October 2006


Tata Steel’s recommended offer for Corus - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note, 20/10/2006
Tata Steel Ltd, part of the Indian-based conglomerate, has made a £4.3bn recommended offer for the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus Group, which would create the world’s fifth largest steel group.

Pension watchdog to test Labour fund - Tom Burroughes, Reuters, 25/09/2006
Labour, which has put pension reform high on its agenda, has a significant pension fund deficit and will be among the first funds to be tested by regulators.
See JER RBC note "Will the Labour Party pension scheme be the first test case for the Pensions Regulator?" September 2006


Retirement scheme is Labour's biggest creditor - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 25/09/2006
The Labour party's pension scheme has emerged as its biggest single creditor amid mounting fiscal woes, raising questions about whether it is able to meet regulatory guidelines on funding its retirement benefits.
See JER RBC note "Will the Labour Party pension scheme be the first test case for the Pensions Regulator?" September 2006


Labour's finances - John Plender, Financial Times, 25/09/2006
According to pensions consultant John Ralfe, in a note for RBC Capital Markets, the Labour party pension scheme could become a test case for The Pensions Regulator in the light of its new guidelines on funding deficits.
See JER RBC note "Will the Labour Party pension scheme be the first test case for the Pensions Regulator?" September 2006


Will the Labour Party pension scheme be the first test case for the Pensions Regulator? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 35, 25/09/2006
The Labour Party Superannuation Society, for the Party’s 300 employees, is finalising its December 2005 valuation and is therefore one of the first pension schemes subject to the Regulator's new guidelines.

Testing times for those fearing ineligibility - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 07/08/2006
The 31,000 members of the £1.2bn ($2.25bn, €1.76bn) Kvaerner pension fund have had an anxious few weeks as doubts have been raised in the press about the security of their benefits following a deal on the fund's future.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


Kvaerner pension deal under threat from bondholders - David Prosser, The Independent, 05/08/2006
Members of the Kvaerner pension scheme reacted with horror as it emerged that a deal to save their pensions has still not been finalised, almost four months after it was first announced.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


Bondholders pose threat to Kvaerner deal on fund - Russell Hotten, Daily Telegraph, 04/08/2006
A controversial agreement to save the Kvaerner pension fund is not the done deal that many people thought and could yet run into serious problems.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


TH Global pension deal faces bond threat - expert - Tom Burroughes, Reuters, 03/08/2006
A deal by TH Global to sever its links with its 32,000-member pension fund could be derailed if bond-holders refuse to take a loss on their debt and force the business into insolvency
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


Pension funds play for high stakes - Barry Riley, FTfm, 17/07/2006
Should pension scheme members accept reduced, but secure, benefits or go along with the attempts to chase a rainbow?
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


Pension funds play for high stakes - Barry Riley, FTfm, 17/07/2006
“Funds such as Kvaerner are tempted to go for high return investments, even though there are doubts about alternative asset sectors”

Turner & Newall and the PPF - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 33, 12/07/2006
T&N’s Administrators have given Notice to enter into a form of insolvency proceedingsm which (finally) triggers T&N Pension Scheme entering the PPF assessment period.

Kvaerner Pension Fund - Bob Howard, BBC Radio 4 Money Box broacast, 08/07/2006
"It looks as though the Pensions Regulator has let Kvaerner plc off the hook".
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


Pension watchdog’s secrecy challenged - Tom Burroughes, Reuters, 06/07/2006
The UK Pension Regulator must open up to public scrutiny.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


Pension guru considers Kvaerner Fund’s prop-up deal too risky - Russell Hotten, Daily Telegraph, 06/07/2006
The Kvaerner Pension Fund will have around 27pc of its assets in hedge funds and private equity, a far higher proportion than most other schemes.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


Kvaerner pension deal criticised - James Daley, The Independent, 06/07/2006
"The PPF should not have to underwrite risky investment bets by a scheme with no proper sponsor."
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


Pensions regulator defends silence over deal - Phillip Inman, Guardian, 06/07/2006
The pensions regulator has refused to reveal details of a ground-breaking deal to safeguard the retirement incomes of 31,000 former shipping and engineering workers because staff faced two years in jail if confidential information leaked out.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House) - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 32, 06/07/2006
TH Global plc (formerly Kvaerner plc) and its pension scheme have announced a deal, which has received clearance from the Pensions Regulator, under which, TH Global’s obligations as sponsoring employer cease.

"Employers need incentive to offer risk-sharing pensions" - Adrian Waddingham, Financial Times Letters, 22/06/2006
Your editorial ("The need to protect past pension promises", June 13) and letters (John Ralfe, June 19, and Simon Fraser, June 20) warn against amending company pensions retrospectively.

“NAPF is, unfortunately, lobbying for powers that companies aready have” - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 19/06/2006
Comment on NAPF's lobbying to allow changes to past pension benefits
See FT website (paywall)


BAE Systems takes a gamble that others may use as the way forward - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 15/06/2006
When BAE Systems unrolled a comprehensive programme to attack its £3.1bn actuarial deficit this week, it demonstrated at a stroke that even the largest pension deficits can be tackled - over time.

Industry unites to warn on spiralling cost of company pensions - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 10/06/2006
By the time the chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds stood up to address the troops on the second day of the trade association's annual conference yesterday, the mood was already clear.

What USS advisers should have been telling the trustees - Ron Johnston and Andrew Smithers, Financial Times Letters, 02/06/2006
John Plender's article "Failing grade?" (May 30) quotes John Ralfe as saying, quite correctly, that taking credit in advance for the outperformance of equities, while ignoring the risk, is a flawed though widely used methodology.

Universities are not in an a - Edwin Topper, Financial Times Letters, 01/06/2006
John Plender's article on the deficit in USS makes a number of inaccurate statements and reaches conclusions that cannot go unchallenged.
See JER RBC Capital Market Note "Spotlight on USS" May 2006
See JER FTfm article "Robbing Peter to pay Paul’s pension"


Big pension fund too equity-heavy - Tom Burroughes, Reuters, 30/05/2006
USS, the country's second-biggest pension plan, has a major deficit and is more exposed to stocks than many rival funds, a leading consultant said.
See JER RBC Capital Market Note "Spotlight on USS" May 2006
See JER FTfm article "Robbing Peter to pay Paul’s pension"


Failing grade? - John Plender, Financial Times, 30/05/2006
Facing a £6.6bn black hole in its superannuation scheme, academe is in a financial fog about the real cost of providing for lecturers’ old age
See JER RBC Capital Market Note "Spotlight on USS" May 2006
See JER FTfm article "Robbing Peter to pay Paul’s pension"


Failing grade? How a pension fund punt could undermine UK universities - John Plender, Financial Times, 30/05/2006
“Facing a £6.6bn black hole in its superannuation scheme, academe is in a financial fog about the real cost of providing for lecturers’ old age”

Spotlight on USS - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 31, 29/05/2006
USS for academics and senior staff within the “old universities”, is the UK’s second largest pension scheme, after BT, with assets of almost £22bn and 215,000 Members. It has just published its March 2005 Actuarial Valuation, setting out its funding position and annual contribution rate.

The timebomb ticking in your own workforce - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 19/05/2006
Every story about a company struggling for survival must include a look at its pension fund. In many cases companies are discovering that their own promises made long ago to their own workers are now threatening the existence of the company.

Raising trustee standards long overdue - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 01/05/2006
With the ink barely dry on the UK Pension Regulator's Medium Term Strategy plan, the knives are out.

A dangerous pensions precedent - Liam Halligan, Sunday Telegraph, 30/04/2006
The Pensions Regulator was one year old last Friday. The Government's fledgling pension watchdog marked the occasion by announcing up to 300 final salary schemes are at risk of collapse.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Pensions Regulator & Kvaerner (Trafalgar House)" July 2006


BT faces concerns over scheme’s deficit - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 24/04/2006
BT's pension scheme has been running a deficit since at least 1997 and has remained in deficit since then, even through the peak years of the stock market boom.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on BT Group" April 2006


’BT pension guarantee £12bn’ - Christine Seib, The Times, 24/04/2006
The pensions guarantee at the centre of a wrangle between BT, the telecoms giant, and the Government is worth as much as £12 billion, according to new research.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on BT Group" April 2006


BT to clear air over deficit chaos - Russell Hotten, The Daily Telegraph, 24/04/2006
News that more than half of BT's deficit may have a Crown guarantee has surprised many shareholders and pensions experts.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on BT Group" April 2006


’Government liable for £3bn of BT pension gap’ - Saeed Shah, The Independent, 24/04/2006
A spokesman for BT said: "It's no secret that BT has a Crown guarantee for part of the pensions liabilities of its defined benefit scheme"
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on BT Group" April 2006


BT may face hefty bill from pension regulator - Philip Inman, The Guardian, 24/04/2006
BT could be forced to pay a hefty bill to the pensions regulator despite a "crown guarantee" dating back to privatisation.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on BT Group" April 2006


BT pensions - Tom Burroughes, Reuters, 24/04/2006
The cost of buying annuities for BT pension members -- known as the buyout cost -- is around 46 billion pounds
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on BT Group" April 2006


Spotlight on BT Group - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 29, 24/04/2006
BT Group has confirmed that the Government guaranteed the pension rights of members of the BT Pension Scheme, when the Company was privatised in 1984, although the full extent of the guarantee remains unclear.

Unions warn BBC on pensions shake-up - Ben Hall, Financial Times, 22/04/2006
The BBC has unveiled plans to close its final salary pension scheme to new members and raise the normal pension age from 60 to 65, prompting warnings of industrial action from the broadcasting unions.

Sticky mess doesn't promise jam tomorrow - Philip Coggan, Financial Times, 18/03/2006
Final salary pension schemes are gradually dying. The first step was to close existing schemes to new members. The second step is to push employees into increasing contributions or face a downgrade in benefits.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "J Sainsbury’s staged pension retreat?" March 2006


Sainsbury’s pension shock - Lisa Buckingham, Mail on Sunday, 12/03/2006
Sainsbury's staff could see their expected pensions slashed by more than half if they opt for a "cash balance" scheme, according to independent experts. See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "J Sainsbury’s staged pension retreat?" March 2006

J Sainsbury’s staged pension retreat? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum 26, 10/03/2006
J Sainsbury plc has announced a £2bn debt refinancing secured on a pool of supermarkets - £1.7bn will be used to buy back unsecured bonds and £350m will be injected into Sainsbury’s £3.9bn pension schemes.

Sainsbury accused as union seeks talks on pension change - Christine Seib, The Times, 08/03/2006
John Ralfe, the pensions consultant, said that Sainsbury's was "passing the scheme off as something it clearly isn't".
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "J Sainsbury’s staged pension retreat?" March 2006


Sainsbury brings risk with balance scheme - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 08/03/2006
Sainsbury's employees unwilling to make a significant increase in contributions to the defined benefit pension scheme will be placed in a riskier "cash balance" scheme
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "J Sainsbury’s staged pension retreat?" March 2006


Sainsbury's scheme - Lombard (Alison Smith), Financial Times, 08/03/2006
If most of Sainsbury's members decide not to increase contributions, then the move will go a long way towards closing the current defined benefit schemes.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "J Sainsbury’s staged pension retreat?" March 2006


Benefit, or otherwise, of funded pension system - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 16/02/2006
Is a funded system better than straightforward PAYG, with the working generation taxed to pay for the pensions of the retired generation?
See FT website (paywall)
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note on the Turner Commission Report January 2005
See FTfm article "Ralfe challenges Turner report" by Pauline Skypala January 2005


Actuaries and the pensions crunch : when the spinning stops - The Economist, The Economist, 26/01/2006
One landmark was the decision in 2000-01 by Boots, a retailer, to switch all of its £2.3 billion of assets into a portfolio of long-dated cashflow-matching bonds and to make a linked share buyback that benefited shareholders.

Holes spotted in the pension safety net - John Ralfe, FTfm, 23/01/2006
If the Pension Protection Fund does not make an economic charge for the risk it is running, sooner or later it will fail

Investors harbour growing misgivings over gilts bubble - Joanna Chung & Stephen Fidler , Financial Times, 21/01/2006
To get a sense of how unusual this week's events in Britain's government bond market are, it is worth taking a look at War Loan.

BA's high-flying benefits brought down to earth - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 13/01/2006
In league tables of the nation's most troubled pension schemes, that of British Airways bears the dubious distinction of coming at, or near, the top.

Rentokil's action leaves employers pondering pensions minefield - Norma Cohen and Salamander Davoudi, Financial Times, 20/12/2005
With company pension schemes running deficits as high as £80bn by some estimates in recent years, it is no wonder companies are desperately seeking ways to cut costs.

Pensions lifeboat could sink weak firms - Patience Wheatcroft, The Times, 17/12/2005
John Ralfe argues that just taking the 30 schemes already in assessment and Turner & Newall, the PPF's losses are already somewhere between £600 million and £700 million.

The builder's quote that just got a lot larger - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 17/12/2005
The edifice is the Pensions Protection Fund, designed to compensate pension scheme members at companies that go belly up with insufficient funds to meet the promises to their workers.

A muddle in the middle - Philip Coggan, Financial Times, 03/12/2005
State pension schemes face some very basic dilemmas, which are universal. Set the pension payment too low and the result is widespread poverty. Set it too high and the cost is too great.

UK discovers the pluses and minuses of transparency - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 21/11/2005
As the US moves gingerly towards introducing greater transparency – some would say reality – in pension accounting, a glance across the Atlantic gives a clear idea of the pitfalls and benefits that may be in store.

Pension deficit could clip BA's wings - Patience Wheatcroft, The Times, 05/11/2005
Mr Ralfe suggests that BA will be paying the largest levy of any company into the new Pension Protection Fund next year.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on British Airways" November 2005


BA boss vows to tackle £1.4billion pension hole - Alistair Osborne, Daily Telegraph, 05/11/2005
"Although BA's pension contributions have doubled from 2003 to 2005, they were not sufficient to make any dent in the underlying deficit. Like it or not, only a big increase in company contributions will shift the underlying deficit."
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on British Airways" November 2005


BA's baggage - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times (scroll down page), 05/11/2005
They are the trustees of Britain’s defined benefit corporate pension schemes, most of which have large deficits of assets relative to their pensions promises.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on British Airways" November 2005


BA seen under new pressure to fill pension gap - Tom Burroughes, Reuters, 03/11/2005
BA is likely to face mounting pressure from a new regulator to plug a yawning pension fund deficit.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Spotlight on British Airways" November 2005


Spotlight on British Airways - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 21, 03/11/2005
BA is at the top of the UK “pension watch list” - March 2005 FRS17 liabilities of £12.6bn and a £2bn pre-tax deficit, versus a market cap of £3.5bn and a senior unsecured credit rating of BB-.

Financing pensions: Hidden treasure - The Economist, The Economist, 06/10/2005
As the conference season ends, pledges and rhetoric will give way to decisions and action. High on the political agenda is pension reform.

Turner & Newall and the PPF - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 20, 29/09/2005
T&N’s Administrators have announced a major step towards unravelling the complexities of the T&N situation, especially the Pension Scheme, which has 37,000 Members, and a buy-out deficit of £875m.

T&N administrator helps UK creditors - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 28/09/2005
Playing poker with Carl Icahn, the legendary US corporate raider, is not for the faint-hearted, particularly when the game is as complex as the restructuring of Turner & Newall, the vehicle parts company, and its US parent, Federal-Mogul.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Turner & Newall and the PPF" September 2005


T&N pension scheme members step closer to deal - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 28/09/2005
The 40,000 or so members of the T&N pension scheme have come one step closer to retirement security with an agreement in principle that paves the way for their pensions to fall into the new safety net that was created only a few months ago.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Turner & Newall and the PPF" September 2005


Beware any pension fund offering a government guarantee - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 26/09/2005
The Pensions Commission's logic is deeply flawed.
See FT website (paywall)
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Is the Pensions Commission Report flawed?" January 2005
See FTfm article "Ralfe challenges Turner report" by Pauline Skypala January 2005


UK pensions still taking risks with equities - John Ralfe, FTfm, 19/09/2005
If investment in bonds should match at least match pensions in payment, FTSE100 pension schemes are short £74bn

CBI fears costly levy could hasten demise of the final salary pension scheme - Norma Cohen & Ben Hall, Financial Times, 12/08/2005
The CBI has fired the opening salvo in what is likely to become a heated dispute this autumn among business, the government and the industry-funded insurance scheme set up to protect occupational pensions of employees whose companies go bust.

Pension Protection Fund levy - Tom Burroughes, Reuters, 10/08/2005
Britain's PPF must raise enough money from companies now in setting a new levy as it may not have a second chance to get its finances right, a leading pension expert said.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Will the PPF charge enough?" August 2005


Big rise urged in levy for pension safety net - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 10/08/2005
John Ralfe concludes that the much higher sum would be required if the PPF were to charge underfunded schemes a rate of interest in line with charges they would have to pay for bank borrowing.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Will the PPF charge enough?" August 2005


Give us chastity - but not too much or soon - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 10/08/2005
The combined FTSE 100 pensions deficit only fell from £42bn to £37bn in the year to July under the FRS 17 mark-to-market accounting method.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Will the PPF charge enough?" August 2005


Pension deficit could be issue - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 09/08/2005
The pension deficit at Marconi could prove a difficult issue for prospective buyers looking to acquire the telecoms equipment supplier, as new UK pensions laws could require a bidder to negotiate with the trustees as well as with management.

Will the PPF charge enough? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 19, 08/08/2005
The Pension Protection Fund has now published the Consultation Document on its charging structure for 2006/7.

Politics, the flaw in Labour’s pensions lifeline - Lisa Buckingham, Mail on Sunday, 17/07/2005
The Pension Protection Fund was the creation of politicians.

Companies still failing to fill the funding gap - Lucy Warwick Ching, Financial Times, 16/07/2005
The dire state of Britain's pensions system was highlighted this week as new figures revealed that the black hole in company pension schemes is getting deeper in spite of a steady rise in equity markets
See RBC Capital Markets Note "Corporate Pensions: Deficits, contributions & asset allocation" July 2005


Companies fail to dent pension deficits - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 11/07/2005
Britain's largest companies made little or no dent in their pension scheme deficits last year, in spite of a rise in equity markets and increased company contributions.
See RBC Capital Markets Note "Corporate Pensions: Deficits, contributions & asset allocation" July 2005


Bond shortfall - John Plender, Financial Times, 11/07/2005
The latest aggregate pre-tax pension fund deficit for the FTSE 100 remains stubbornly unchanged from last year, on the FRS17 accounting basis, at £60bn or 5 per cent of market capitalisation.
See RBC Capital Markets Note "Corporate Pensions: Deficits, contributions & asset allocation" July 2005


Corporate Pensions: Deficits, contributions & asset allocation - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 18, 11/07/2005
What has happened on corporate pensions over the last year? Much of the action has been on regulation, with the new Pensions Regulator and Pension Protection Fund already seeing some large casualties

Hermes may opt for hedge funds - Henry Tricks, Financial Times, 29/06/2005
Hermes, the BT Group pension fund manager, is thought to be considering putting 10 per cent of the fund's £30bn of assets in "alternative" investments such as hedge funds, as it seeks to plug a gaping pension hole.

- John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 16/06/2005
The National Audit Office, which scrutinises the PPF on behalf of parliament, should be invited to investigate the deal.
See FT website (paywall)


Pension bail-outs: Hazardous - The Economist, The Economist, 16/06/2005
The government's pension insurer is taking equity in a troubled company. Is this a fresh form of nationalisation?

Concern over pensions 'lifeboat' provision - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 10/06/2005
Companies seeking to restructure their debts by placing their underfunded pension schemes into the new government-backed safety net, the Pension Protection Fund, will be asked to give the PPF an equity stake in the newly restructured company.

Funny rating - John Plender, Financial Times, 30/05/2005
Are the credit rating agencies weighing up UK pension deficits correctly?

John Shuttleworth Tribute - John Ralfe, Read at his Memorial, 18/04/2005
John Shuttleworth died age 47

Pension fund trustees face grilling on investments - Norma Cohen & Jonathan Guthrie, Financial Times, 13/04/2005
The trustees of the MG Rover pension scheme are likely to face questions about why they invested the fund's assets in risky equities, when the company's financial position was clearly troubled.

MG Rover pensions - Lombard (Alison Smith), Financial Times, 13/04/2005
Why does the MG Rover pension scheme have - or had at December 2003 - a £67m deficit under the FRS17 accounting standard, since it was fully funded when it was set up in 2001 by the departing BMW?
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "MG Rover pensions Briefing" April 2005


MG Rover pensions Briefing Note - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum 16, 13/04/2005
How bad is the MG Rover pension position? How hard will the deficit hit pension scheme members and the Pension Protection Fund, which opened its doors in the same week the Company entered administration?

Will Turner & Newall sink the PPF? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum 15, 13/04/2005
The PPF opens its doors on April 6th. Its Chairman has suggested it will take on £1.8bn of liabilities and £1.5bn of assets in its first year.

Pensions and bond bulls - John Plender, Financial Times, 11/04/2005
British companies with big pension deficits will not be comforted by the Pension Protection Fund's new guidance for valuing protected pension liabilities.

Industry faces £50m pension bill for (MG Rover) failure - Ben Hall, Financial Times, 09/04/2005
The collapse of MG Rover could land industry with a £50m bill to safeguard the pensions of the company's employees.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "MG Rover pensions Briefing" April 2005


Big company casualties may sink PPF - John Ralfe, FTfm, 04/04/2005
If the PPF does keep its head above water, this will be good luck not good management

Pension lifeboat’s £225m T&N load - Christine Seib, The Times, 18/03/2005
Because the PPF offers less generous inflation-proofing than T&N, Mr Ralfe said that T&N scheme members would lose almost 30 per cent of the pensions they were promised.

Pensioners at T&N will still lose out - Dominic White, The Daily Telegraph, 18/03/2005
A leading pensions expert has estimated that members of the Turner & Newall scheme will lose almost 30pc of their pensions promises even after it receives compensation from the PPF.

Pension funds await decision on launch of 50-year bonds - Sundeep Tucker, Financial Times, 15/03/2005
Pension funds could invest up to £65bn in 50-year government bonds that are widely expected to be announced in the Budget tomorrow, a leading industry lobby group has predicted.

Boots' trustees must demonstrate more transparency - John Ralfe & 56 other members of the Boots pension scheme, Financial Times Letters, 26/02/2005
We remain concerned about the trustees' lack of openness, transparency and accountability in refusing the request by 162 members to make available the independent investment advice.
See FT website (paywall)


Boots trustees do not accept their strategy increases risk - John Watson, Financial Times Letters, 19/02/2005
Your report and comments on the Boots pension scheme and the decision to switch some of the fund from bonds into other asset classes should be placed in context.

Some muted support for the stock market bulls - Tony Tassell, Financial Times (scroll down page), 19/02/2005
It has been a good week for pensioners but far less so for holders of unsecured corporate bonds.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note February 2005


Burden shared - Patience Wheatcroft, The Times, 16/02/2005
Comment on change to pension law
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note February 2005


Legislative Briefing Note - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 14, 15/02/2005
The value of liquidated assets will be spread more thinly and unsecured creditors, including bondholders, will lose out.

Ex-Boots executive challenges pension trustees - Alexander Jolliffe, Financial Times, 12/02/2005
The former head of cor-porate finance at Boots, the high street retailer, has accused the trustees of the £3bn pension scheme of failing to explain its shift in investment towards riskier assets.

Boots loosens laces - Lombard (Jane Fuller), Financial Times (scroll down page), 12/02/2005
Of course, the gamble may not pay off and then Boots will be in a worse position.

Ralfe challenges Turner report - Pauline Skypala, FTfm, 31/01/2005
John Ralfe has called into question the thinking behind Adair Turner's Pensions Commission report, and said the analysis was incomplete at best and flawed at worst.
See RBC Capital Market Note January 2005
See FTfm article by Pauline Skypala May 2012


No Free Lunch - Alistair Blair, Investors Chronicle, 28/01/2005
"The tale of your pension in 4 parts"

In the dark - John Plender, Financial Times, 20/12/2004
While on the subject of transparency, 160 members of the Boots pension fund, including John Ralfe, the former Boots executive who masterminded the fund's 100 per cent switch into bonds, wrote last week to the trustees to express concern.

Actuaries urged to accept greater accountability - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 18/12/2004
The actuarial profession needs a much clearer idea of to whom it is accountable and must take greater account of the wider public interest it serves, according to the interim findings of a government review released on Friday. (Morris Review)

Turner & Newall - John Ralfe & Greg Wood, Today Programme Radio 4, 07/12/2004
Discussion on Turner & Newall Pension Scheme
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "T&N “On the cusp”" November 2004


Turner & Newall - Martin Dickson, Financial Times, 18/11/2004
Since T&N's PPF shortfall is around £500m, will the fund open its doors in 2005 with a deficit of at least this size?
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "T&N “On the cusp”" November 2004


Turner & Newall - Jeremy Warner, The Independent, 18/11/2004
The implications of Government proposals for an industry funded pensions protection fund (PPF) grow more alarming by the day.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "T&N “On the cusp”" November 2004


Turner & Newall - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 18/11/2004
Will a UK government policy shift have a pernicious impact on the complex negotiations between the trustees of the Turner & Newall pension fund and Carl Icahn, the US financier trying to reorganise Federal Mogul, its American parent, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings?
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "T&N “On the cusp”" November 2004


T&N - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 11, 18/11/2004
The T&N Pension Scheme Trustees announced they would not be voting in favour of a US Reorganisation Plan, which could see T&N, and its US parent Federal-Mogul emerge from US Chapter 11.

Leases left hanging in the balance - Jim Pickard, Financial Times, 12/11/2004
In the wider debate about international accounting standards, leases are often forgotten or ignored - and foolishly so.

- John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 29/10/2004
Signing a long-term property lease is a big capital investment that the tenant finances through a series of post-dated cheques to the landlord.

Humpty Dumpty - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 19/10/2004
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty says in Alice Through the Looking Glass, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "J Sainsbury Revisited - the actuarial challenge" October 2004


Sainsbury warned over pension fund - By Kate Burgess, Norma Cohen and Alexander Jolliffe, Financial Times, 18/10/2004
J. Sainsbury has increased the risk in its pension fund in a move that allows it to shrink its deficit and lower its contribution, says a leading pension consultant.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "J Sainsbury Revisited - the actuarial challenge" October 2004


J Sainsbury Revisited - the actuarial challenge - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Note 10, 18/10/2004
Analysis of Sainsbury's recent actuarial valuation

Sainsbury warned over pension fund - Kate Burgess, Norma Cohen and Alexander Jolliffe, Financial Times, 18/10/2004
J Sainsbury the UK's third largest supermarket chain, has increased the risk in its pension fund in a move that allows it to shrink its deficit and lower its contribution, says a leading pension consultant.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "J Sainsbury Revisited - the actuarial challenge" October 2004


Pensions Crisis : File on 4 - Michael Robinson, BBC Radio 4 , 03/08/2004
"Britain's pension crisis is deepening". Includes interview with JER

T&N casts a long shadow on pensions policy - John Ralfe, Financial Times Comment and analysis, 26/07/2004
The government was a reluctant convert to the idea of a pension protection fund. Unless set up properly, it could make things worse.

Pensions: 'gloomy' is too mild a term - Liam Halligan, Sunday Telegraph, 25/07/2004
On Channel 4 News last week, Malcolm Wicks described coverage of Britain's final salary pension schemes as "gloomy"

It's not the economy, stupid. It's pensions. - Lisa Buckingham, Mail on Sunday, 25/07/2004
The past week has thrown up yet more evidence that the pensions crisis has gone well beyond being a problem for a handful of employees.

Shedding light on pensions holes - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 22/07/2004
So while there has been a steady increase in corporate contributions over the past couple of years, companies are running hard to stand still, as Mr Ralfe points out.
FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS ONLY A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Are Company Contributions Big Enough?" July 2004


No easy answers on pensions gap - Patience Wheatcroft, The Times, 22/07/2004
John Ralfe, that assiduous chronicler of the state of the nation's pensions, has been doing his sums again and produced some frightening results.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Are Company Contributions Big Enough?" July 2004


Companies 'failing to plug pension shortfall' - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 22/07/2004
"Surely the days of whistling in the dark, hoping that the financial markets will plug pension deficits are gone?"
FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS ONLY A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Are Company Contributions Big Enough?" July 2004


Are Company Contributions Big Enough? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets open Forum Note 8, 22/07/2004
Are the cheques companies are now writing for their pension schemes big enough to plug deficits?

Pension threat for 40,000 T&N staff - Tessa Thorniley, Daily Telegraph, 10/07/2004
The pensions of 40,000 members of the £1.2 billion scheme of car parts supplier T&N are under threat.

Occupational pensions: Losing altitude - The Economist, The Economist, 29/06/2004
Renewed retirement worries for workers in America and Britain

Boots under fire for ’casual’ move out of bonds - , IPE.com, 21/06/2004
William Mercer "did not advise Boots on the switch away from bonds."

Boots' latest switch raises calls to cut employers powers - Phil Davis, Financial Times, 06/06/2004
Boots was widely criticised following the recent reversal of its 2001 decision to switch its pension fund entirely into long-dated bonds.
FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS ONLY A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE


Risk-taking trustees - John Plender, Financial Times, 31/05/2004
Intriguing to note that the trustees of the Boots pension fund have chosen to take on more risk. FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS ONLY A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE

Boots and bondage - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 28/05/2004
Has Boots' pension fund taken leave of its senses?

Pension U-turn dismays strategist - Antonia Senior, The Times, 28/05/2004
Boots yesterday unveiled an unexpected U-turn on its ground-breaking strategy of investing its entire £2.8 billion pension fund in bonds.

Boots’ strange pension decision - Anthony Hilton, Evening Standard, 28/05/2004
Boots' decision to move part of its its pension fund out of bonds must count as one of the more bizarre financial decisions of recent times.

Boots pension scheme cuts bond allocation - Daniel Brooksbank, IPE.com, 27/05/2004
The £2.8bn pension scheme of retailer Boots is to cut its allocation to bonds.

Ministers warned on pension funding - Alex Jolliffe, Financial Times, 17/05/2004
Plans for a pensions safety net will be "just a comfort blanket" unless ministers force companies to pay enough cash into pension schemes, an expert will warn today.
FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS ONLY A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE


Pension relief is on its way - Anthony Hilton, Evening Standard, 14/05/2004
THE pensions debate is bubbling up nicely.

Bruising pensions debate - John Plender, Financial Times, 10/05/2004
The UK Government's review of progress on compliance with the Myners' report on institutional investment must be a lively affair.
FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS ONLY A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE


Britain must learn from US pensions pain - John Ralfe, The Times, 12/04/2004
John Ralfe warns against papering over the funding cracks in US pensions

Benefits boost for Boots - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 10/04/2004
Boots' comments on its pension position may give the false impression that the Boots pension scheme's move from equities to bonds left a long-term problem that is now being uncovered by the new management.

Pensions Bill debate - Hansard, Financial Times, 01/04/2004
Mr. John Ralfe, famous for his connection with the Boots pension fund, said that the scheme needed £600 million from FTSE 100 companies alone; otherwise, it could go bust. Have the Government any revised estimates of the total cost of the scheme?

In a tangle on pension ’promises’ - Anthony Hilton, Evening Standard, 26/03/2004
JOHN RALFE once remarked that the lessons of Equitable Life as outlined in the Penrose Report were more applicable to defined pension funds than to insurance companies.

The real lessons of the Penrose Report - John Ralfe, Financial Times, 15/03/2004
The conclusions from the Equitable Life affair have serious implications for company pension schemes

Ralfe's sums - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 21/02/2004
Faced with such calculations, the government might just aim for a less rigorous yardstick and pray that no large employer goes belly up.
FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS ONLY A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Can the Pension Protection Fund work?" February 2004


Pension sums don’t add up - Anthony Hilton, Evening Standard, 20/02/2004
If the scheme is affordable to pension funds it will not work, but if it is designed to work, it will not be affordable.
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "Can the Pension Protection Fund work?" February 2004


Can the Pension Protection Fund work? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum, 19/02/2004
Looks at how the PPF should work in practice, particularly the risk-based levy it will charge employers.

GM "profits" from boosting its pension fund - John Ralfe, The Times, 22/01/2004
Borrowing to inject cash into the pension plan has no economic substance; GM is just moving money from its treasury pocket to its pension pocket.
See JER FTfm article "Pension pothole on GM’s road to recovery" July 2009


At last we see a clever Boots - Patience Wheatcroft, The Times, 16/01/2004
Today's numbers from Boots may also be flattered by the results of another cute financial move.

FRS 17 can open up pension truths - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 23/12/2003
Accounting has given the impression that investing in equities reduces the cost of final salary schemes and that a pension fund can have the higher expected return of equities with none of the risk.

Shrinking pensions - Lombard (Martin Dickson), Financial Times, 18/12/2003
John Ralfe, the independent pensions consultant, has just issued a paper that highlights the extraordinary flexibility available to actuaries in valuing pension funds.
FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS ONLY A SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE
See JER RBC Capital Markets Note "The Actuaries' Magic Pencil : BA, BT and Invensys" December 2003


Adding up pension funds - Anthony Hilton, Evening Standard, 16/12/2003
It has often seemed to me that the cheapest way for a company to solve a pension fund deficit is to change the actuary.

GM pension is smoke and mirrors - John Ralfe & Greg Wood, BBC Radio 4 , 15/12/2003
For GM shareholders nothing has changed. The underlying asset value of GM hasn't increased by a single dollar.
See JER FTfm article "Pension pothole on GM’s road to recovery" July 2009


General Motors Conference Call: Not let off the pension hook - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum 5, 15/12/2003
GM's US pension funding has improved not because of asset performance, but because of GM's $18.5bn contribution. Without the contribution the deficit would have increased during 2003.
See JER FTfm article "Pension pothole on GM’s road to recovery" July 2009


GM Briefing Note: Let off the pension hook? - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum note 4, 11/12/2003
GM is holding a conference call on December 12th to update investors on its pension position.
See JER FTfm article "Pension pothole on GM’s road to recovery" July 2009


The Actuaries' Magic Pencil : BA, BT and Invensys - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum, 11/12/2003
This note looks at the recently completed actuarial valuations of Invensys, BT and British Airways, all with serious pension issues.

Corporate pension funds : The case for bonds - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum, 19/11/2003
What are the challenges to conventional wisdom?

There's still a place for equities in pensions - William MacDougall, Financial Times FTfm, 03/11/2003
"Despite short-term risks, shares offer an excellent hedge against inflation, in the long run minimising funding costs and maximising pension fund values."

How Boots led the way from shares to bonds - John Ralfe, The Sunday Times, 02/11/2003
The apparent success of defined-benefit pension schemes has been based on the illusion that the expected long-term outperformance of equities over bonds reduces pension costs.

The world has moved on, so should pension funds - John Ralfe, FTfm, 26/10/2003
Boots reminded everyone of the self-evident truth forgotten in recent years: the job of the pension fund is to pay pensions.

Pensions facing a domino effect - John Ralfe, Daily Mail, 20/10/2003
The Labour Government has increased the likelihood of workers losing their pensions by gradually weakening pension fund regulation.

The hunt for better returns - Janet Kersnar, CFO Europe, 18/10/2003
Interview with John Ralfe on the second anniversary of Boots' pension announcement

The hidden risks of the Treasury's equity exposure - John Ralfe, Financial Times Comment & Analysis, 01/10/2003
The scale of the British government's investment through pension fund assets is staggering- a quarter of the largest 100 pension funds are backed by either central or local government.

Corporate Pensions: The Case of BT Group and General Motors - John Ralfe, RBC Capital Markets Open Forum Notes 1, 18/08/2003
This looks at biggest UK & US pension funds: BT Group in the UK, with £30bn of pension liabilities and General Motors in the US, with pension and healthcare liabilities of $150bn.

Paying the price of pension mistakes - Patience Wheatcroft, The Times, 05/08/2003
BY THE end of 2002, Boots was the only company in the FTSE 100 index not to have a deficit on its pension fund.

Britain's least favourite pension plan - John Ralfe, Financial Times Comment and analysis, 01/08/2003
The recent strike action by BA's employees may have endangered the pensions of some of its 100,000 pension scheme members.

GONE but not forgotten - Martin Waller, The Times, 25/07/2003
Chairman John McGrath grated:"The person you have referred to has obtained an enormous amount of personal publicity, which I'm sure has helped him in his new career."

Pension pain: Who's to blame? - The Economist, The Economist, 03/07/2003
Fund managers invest money for two kinds of customer: the retail business, which serves individuals, and the pension funds and endowments (for bodies such as universities and charities), known as institutional clients.

The Great Controversy - Vancouver conference Papers, The Society of Actuaries (US), 23/06/2003
"The Great Controversy: Current Pension Actuarial Practice in Light of Financial Economics" Symposium Vancouver June 2003

Why Hold Equities in the Pension Fund? - John Ralfe, Cliff Speed and Jon Palin, Society of Actuaries (US), 23/06/2003
The Great Controversy: Current Pension Actuarial Practice in Light of Financial Economics Symposium Vancouver June 2003

Overhaul, from Boots-straps up - Patience Wheatcroft, The Times, 06/06/2003
Selling the pension fund's equities at the top of the market was certainly the cleverest thing that Boots did in the last five years.

Poor pension insurance is worse than none - John Ralfe, Financial Times Comment and analysis, 05/06/2003
What can be done to help pension scheme members who lose their promised pension when their employer goes bust? The obvious unfairness of such cases has prompted calls for Britain to set up a compulsory pension insurance system to protect individual member

"Death of Equity" Ralfe starts own firm - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 03/06/2003
John Ralfe, the former head of corporate finance at Boots the Chemist who signalled the "death of equity" with his now famous conversion of the company's entire £2.4bn scheme to bond investment, has set up a consulting firm specialising in pensions.


Insurance "will not be safety net for pensions" - Norma Cohen, Financial Times Website, 29/05/2003
A voluntary programme under which employers could insure their pension schemes against shortfalls if they are wound up is rife with "moral hazards" & will not make UK pension schemes any safer, says leading pension expert.
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Boots unlikely to move fund back to equities - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 13/05/2003
Boots' pension fund has ruled out speculation that it might move back into equities from its current position of 100 per cent long-dated AAA fixed and inflation-linked bonds.

Faith in trustees - John Watson, Professional Pensions, 01/05/2003
Letter from Chairman of Boots' Trustees

Pensions switch pioneer sets up consultancy - Tony Tassell, Financial Times, 24/03/2003
John Ralfe, who shook up the UK pension industry when he led a switch by Boots' pension fund out of equities into bonds, has set up his own independent consulting company.

The drugstore maverick - Tony Tassell, Financial Times, 24/03/2003
John Ralfe has been called many things. Rogue outsider, an evangelist driven by dangerous ideology and the bκte noire of equities are among the labels critics have sought to pin on him.

A challenge to the equity cult - John Ralfe, Financial Times Money, 01/03/2003
It is just over a year since boring Boots shocked the pensions world by switching all of its £2.3bn pension scheme from equities into long-dated matching bonds - challenging the cult of the equity head-on.

Warning on supervision of pension funds - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 25/02/2003
The overseeing of employee pensions in the UK is so poor that it is likely to be a matter of time before a large company scheme collapses, a pensions conference will hear tomorrow.
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BBC News at 10 - Presented by Jenny Scott, BBC 10 o’clock News, 25/02/2003
Piece on JER comments on pension schemes

Please sir, must I have even less? - John Plender, Financial Times, 18/01/2003
Over the past three years an astonishing $1,730bn has been wiped off the value of pension fund assets across the world.
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Sorry footnote - John Plender, Financial Times, 23/12/2002
John Ralfe, the former head of corporate finance at UK retailer Boots, may have lost his job, but his place as in the history books is secure.

Perils of going against the grain - Barry Riley, Financial Times, 16/12/2002
Defying conventional investment wisdom can be a lonely occupation. John Ralfe abandoned conventional fund manager realtionships.

Pensions supremo walks out at Boots - Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail, 10/12/2002
John Ralfe, the highly respected Boots' pension fund supremo, is leaving the retailer after a dispute with new finance director Howard Dodd.

Ralfe quits Boots - Alistair Graham, Financial News, 09/12/2002
John Ralfe, the Boots head of corporate finance who pioneered the recent shift into fixed-income investments by UK pension funds, has left the company suddenly.
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Author of Boots pension shift departs - Tony Tassell, Financial Times, 07/12/2002
John Ralfe, who shook up the UK pension industry when he switched Boots?s pension fund out of equities into bonds, is to leave the retailer.

Boots' Pensions: One Year On - John Ralfe, The Treasurer, 01/12/2002
John Ralfe of Boots provides an update to their pension funds's revolutionary switch from equities to bonds, announced in November 2001.

Boots revises FRS 17 decision - Alistair Graham, Financial News, 25/11/2002
Boots, the UK retail chemist, has backtracked on plans to adopt early FRS 17, the controversial accounting standard, which the group has publicly championed.
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The loose accounting of leases - Norma Cohen, Financial Times, 22/11/2002
Cable and Wireless, the telecommunications provider, this week announced a restructuring plan and, in the process, unveiled some £2.2bn in lease commitments that almost nobody knew about.
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Boots has the last laugh on its doubters - Lisa Buckingham, Mail on Sunday, 20/10/2002
At the time, it was hailed as a bold but foolhardy move. A year ago, Boots disclosed that it had transferred its £2.3 billion pension fund out of the stock market and into bonds.

What a coup - John Plender, Financial Times, 14/10/2002
There are not many pension funds that can say that the market value of their assets went up last year. So there should not be many pension fund managers who begrudge UK retailer Boots its award last week for running the European pension scheme of the year
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Adding to the pyramid of risk - Barry Riley, Financial News, 12/10/2002
The usual UK pension scheme mix, with 70% equities, is highly volatile. Near-bankrupt British Energy was last week the latest in a long line of UK companies to reveal holes in its pension fund accounts.
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They're playing our song - well, maybe - Adam Jay, The Daily Telegraph, 11/10/2002
These Boots Were Made For Walking played when John Ralfe at Boots collected a gong for pension scheme of the year.

The reward of rejecting the cult of equities - John Ralfe, Pensions & Investments US, 16/09/2002
It's been a year since The Boots Co. shocked the UK financial world by announcing its £2.3bn ($3.5bn) pension fund - one of the UK?s 50 largest- had quietly sold all its equities and moved its assets into long-dated AAA/Aaa sterling bonds.

Restating the matching doctrine - Fennell Betson, Investment & Pensions Europe, 01/07/2002
Last year the £2.3bn ($3.5bn) Boots pension fund rocked the UK pensions world by putting "every last penny" into a long bond portfolio.

No more easy answers on assets - Philip Coggan, Financial Times, 24/06/2002
What is the most appropriate asset for a pension fund to hold? The easy answer is: one that most closely matches its liabilities. But that answer, of course, only begs the question.
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Time to come clean on the big pensions problem - Anthony Hilton, Evening Standard, 02/05/2002
Boots caused turmoil in the pensions world earlier this year when it became known that the retailer's pension scheme was no longer invested in equities.

Pension scheme members' only legal protection is MFR - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 28/02/2002
Sir, You report the government's plans to weaken the MFR for company pension funds as though it were merely a technical change.

"Current accounting papers over the pension cracks" - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 12/02/2002
At last - some sensible and moderate comments on FRS17, the new pension accounting standard! Transparent and consistent accounting, including pensions, is crucial to the international capital markets.

Talking about a (bond) revolution - Silvia Ascarelli, Wall Street Journal Europe, 16/01/2002
Equities get the Boot. The man behind Boots shift says it’s all about properly matching assets and liabilities rather than whether equities outperform bonds over the long-term

"Boots pension move out of equities not about accounting" - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 14/01/2002
Many commentators have suggested that the move by the £2.3bn Boots pension scheme out of equities into 100 per cent matching bonds was driven by FRS 17, the new accounting standard that values pension assets and liabilities on a market basis.

Why did Boots move to bonds? - John Ralfe, Global Pensions, 01/01/2002
The move by the £2.3bn Boots Pension Scheme from 75 per cent equities to 100 per cent bonds was to minimise investment risks by matching pension liabilities and assets.

Why Boots walked - John Ralfe, The Observer, 16/12/2001
Why did the £2.3 billion Boots Pensions Fund move its assets from 75 per cent equities to 100 per cent bonds?

British company pensions: Everyone's headache - The Economist, The Economist, 13/12/2001
Companies wake up to the risks of equity and defined-benefit schemes

Equity cult finds party is ending - Barry Riley, Financial Times, 11/12/2001
John Ralfe, head of corporate finance at Boots, this month bravely lectured several hundred delegates at the National Association of Pension Funds' autumn investment conference on why he was right and they were all wrong.

Boots’ response to MFR Reforms - John Ralfe, Letter to DWP, 10/12/2001

Travelling light - John Ralfe, Pensions World, 01/12/2001
Ditching your equity holdings and marching into the sunlight with a pension fund full of long dated bonds. John Ralfe explains why this could be a step in the right direction.

Letters: Boots pension fund move helped reduce investor risk - John Ralfe, The Times Letters, 29/11/2001
Tony Watson, Chief Investment Officer at Hermes, suggests that Boots will look "extremely silly" if the stock market enjoyed a ten-year bull run.

"Boots pensioners and index-linked bonds" - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 27/11/2001
Mr John Ross took Pauline Skypala to task for ignoring the risk of inflation faced by members of Boots pension scheme, following the ground-breaking move from equities to matching bonds.

Promise becomes a gamble - John Ralfe, Financial Times Money, 24/11/2001
John Ralfe sees a threat to retirement incomes in plans to replace the MFR.

Final sally - Observer column, Financial Times, 23/11/2001
John Ralfe - the whiz-kid corporate financier who masterminded the switch of the Boots pension fund from equities into bonds - spent his formative years at Oxbridge's leftwing bastions, Balliol and King's.

Pensions 2001 Interim statement text - Boots, Boots interim statement, 08/11/2001
The Boots pension scheme has adopted an investment strategy to minimise investment risk.

"Rest easy, Boots pensioners" - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 05/11/2001
Members of the Boots pension scheme need not worry about the credit risk of the £2.3bn sterling bond portfolio securing their pension rights.

Boots changes pension prescription - Pauline Skypala, Financial Times, 03/11/2001
The final salary fund has switched from equities to bonds - a bold and radical move that would not suit all funds or prospective pensioners
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Boots finds a safe pension prescription - Barry Riley, Financial Times, 01/11/2001
Boots Pension Scheme's decision to sell all its equities and concentrate its £2.3bn of assets in bonds has been explained in terms of improved security and the reduction of investment risks.
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Why bonds are right for pension funds - John Ralfe, Risk Magazine, 01/11/2001
Pension funds usually favour equities. Boots, the UK healthcare giant, recently made a strategic move of its £2.3 billion pension fund into long-dated bonds.

Investment Strategy Questions and Answers - John Ralfe, Letter to Boots Pension Scheme members, 01/10/2001
We have tried to answer some of your possible questions on the new Investment Strategy, which explained in the Trustee Review.

"No time to scrap the MFR" - John Ralfe, The Times Letters, 25/09/2001
The Government plans to weaken and then scrap the MFR for company pension funds, believing that it distorts investment behaviour.

Young Guns - John Ralfe, Pensions Week, 19/03/2001
Professor David Blake attacks the use of bond yields to value pension liabilities, both for actuarial purposes and accounting purposes, under the new FRS17.

Boots' Response to DSS/ Treasury Consultation Document - John Ralfe, Letter to Treasury, 31/01/2001
On behalf of The Boots Company and The Boots Pension Scheme we are pleased to provide a response to the DSS/ Treasury consultation document and the interim report of the Myners' review of institutional investment.

MFR proposal is consistent with corporate finance theory - Paul Myners, Financial Times Letters, 23/11/2000
I am not sure why John Ralfe (Letters, November 21) believes that my proposals on the MFR are inconsistent with corporate finance theory.

Pension funding rule proposals would be unworkable - John Ralfe, Financial Times Letters, 21/11/2000
Mr Paul Myners proposes to scrap the MFR and replace it with more member and public scrutiny. These proposals are unsound in theory and unworkable in practice.

Mixed response to new pensions report - Barry Riley, Financial Times, 15/11/2000
Last week Paul Myners delivered an interim statement of conclusions from his review of UK institutional investment.
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FRS17 - John Ralfe and Nigel Cassidy, Radio 4 Today Programme, 01/11/2000
Interview on BBC Radio 4 "The Today Programme" on the new FRS17 accounting standard on pensions

Boots' Response to Myners' Review - John Ralfe (Signed David Thompson), Letter to Treasury, 19/07/2000

New lease liability rules threaten company profits - Tim Danaher , Property Week, 11/02/2000
Companies occupying leasehold property could see their profits slashed under a proposed new accounting standard.

Capitalising property leases: an occupier's view - John Ralfe, IPF lecture, 02/02/2000
Presentation to Investment Property Forum on the 1999 ASB Discussion Paper on Leases

Boots' Response to ASB Discussion Paper on leases - John Ralfe (Signed David Thompson), Letter to ASB, 10/01/2000
We welcome and support the objectives of the ASB in reforming accounting for leases. We believe that SSAP 21 does not reflect the underlying economics of leases and is also inconsistent with other accounting, especially FRS 5.

When I'm 64. Company pensions for corporate treasurers - John Ralfe, The Treasurer, 01/11/1999
Company pensions should not be the preserve of the actuary who has traditionally used a conceptual framework peculiar to pensions, and at odds with the way in which treasurers look at the world.

Boots' response to ASB Discussion Paper on Pensions - John Ralfe (Signed David Thompson), Letter to ASB, 22/10/1998
We believe that the existing accounting for Defined Benefit company pensions represents the largest remaining anomoly in UK financial reporting and is in need of radical reform.

Initial Discussion with ASB on pensions - John Ralfe, Boots, 02/10/1998
Initial Discussion with ASB on pensions, following Discussion Paper.

Reasons to be hedgeless, 1,2,3 - John Ralfe, Risk Magazine, 01/07/1996
My July 1994 article provoked howls of protest from Treasurers and Bankers, who saw a sexy part of their job being challenged.

Betting Your Hedges - John Ralfe, Risk Magazine, 01/07/1994
Corporate treasurers hedge too much ; they hedge things they should not be hedging at all and they hedge too much of those things they should be hedging.

JER RBC CAPITAL MARKETS OPEN FORUM NOTES

Some of the 50 notes written for RBC Capital Markets 2003 to 2008

Pithead
54 Spotlight on British Coal Pension Schemes
July 2008




49
The Pensions Regulator’s new approach to Longevity Assumptions February 2008

48 BT Group & The New Accounting Proposals
February 2008


Boots logo
42 What about pensions in the Alliance Boots’ takeover? April 2007

41 J Sainsbury takeover discussions March 2007

39 Are cracks starting to show in the PPF? January 2007

38 Is the National Pensions Saving Scheme just wishful thinking? December 2006

BT37 BT Group - How important is longevity risk? November 2006

36 Tata Steel’s recommended offer for Corus October 2006

35 Will the Labour Party pension be the first test case for the Pensions Regulator? September 2006

33 Turner & Newall and the PPF July 2006

Trafalgar House32 Trafalgar House & the Pensions Regulator
July 2006


31 Spotlight on USS May 2006

29 BT Group & the Crown Guarantee April 2006

26 Sainsbury’s staged pension retreat? March 2006

BA

21 Spotight on British Airways November 2005


20
Turner & Newall and the PPF
September 2005


19
Will the PPF charge enough?
August 2005


18 Corporate Pensions: Deficits, contributions & asset allocation
July 2005

MG Rover
16 Spotlight on MG Rover
April 2005

15 Will Turner & Newall sink the PPF? March 2005

14 Changes to pension legislation March 2005

Adair Turner

13
Is the Turner Commission Report flawed? January 2005


11 Turner & Newall “On the cusp” November 2004

10 Sainsburys - the actuarial challenge October 2004

8 Are Company Contributions Big Enough? July 2004

6 Can the Pension Protection Fund work? February 2004

gm
5 GM Call: Not let off the pension hook
December 2003

4 GM: Let off the pension hook?
December 2003

actuaries

3 The Actuaries' Magic Pencil : BA, BT and Invensys
December 2003


2 Corporate pension funds : The case for bonds November 2003

1 BT Group and GM pensions: just how bad is it? August 2003







































































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