This new department within deVere United Kingdom, the UK arm of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, will provide whole of the market advice to current and former employees of larger corporations on their workplace pension schemes in order to help them meet their long-term financial objectives.
Responsible for overseeing the development of deVere’s Workplace Solutions is Mitch Hopkinson, deVere United Kingdom’s Head of East Midlands. Commenting on the launch, Mr Hopkinson says: “This new division has been established because there has been a tide shift in traditional retirement planning methods in the UK, which requires a fresh approach.
“The increasing demand for this department’s services is largely due to the unprecedented changes taking place with workplace pensions, driven by the demise of the ‘gold plated’ final salary pensions and the move to more flexible working patterns as well as the long term upward trend in mortality.”
He continues: “We are coming to the marketplace with a team who has a wealth of top-level experience in this field, having worked with major multinationals, including leading automotive and pharmaceutical companies. We have cumulatively advised more than 30,000 individuals on their workplace pension arrangements. Therefore, we might be entering this market as a new unit, but individually our people are already proven experts in the sector.
“In addition, our team is from an independent financial advisory background, and as such we are professionally and instinctively focused on ensuring improved pension outcomes from each member’s perspective.”
Mr Hopkinson notes: “The hot topics that will dominate our Workplace Solutions conversations with current and former employees are regarding existing final salary benefits when given options to alter them, and how best to approach retirement in light of the changing landscape of more flexible retirement options.
“For example, some employers will offer Pension Income Exchange where members decide on exchanging annual increases for a larger initial income. This might sound a good deal, but there are many things to take into account. Once we consider inflation and life expectancy, for example, it might not be the best solution. What is an absolute must though is access for the member to good independent advice – that can be trusted.
“It should be remembered that these options are often designed to reduce liabilities and lower future funding amounts which may mean that the individual – who is a liability of the scheme – could see benefits reduced if they enjoy a long retirement and inflation stays above trend.
“Money Purchase Schemes are now the most common form of funding retirement; this is where the member and employer will pay into a fund that is invested. It should be noted that because these schemes are solely dependent on investment returns there is no obligation on the company to make up the difference should there be poor performance. Therefore all the risk is placed upon the member and is not shared by the company.
“Increasingly it is apparent that workplace advice is required to ensure that staff are educated to understand the ‘savings culture’ and also have access to advice at retirement, or when needed most. This is where Workplace Solutions can help.”
Mitch Hopkinson concludes: “Workplace Solutions is designed with today’s working age population in mind. Naturally, these people will be of different ages; career levels and retirement planning knowledge and they will certainly have diverse requirements.
“Our bespoke solutions reflect all of this in order to meet their ultimate goals. It is almost as if George Osborne had this in mind when he announced the changes to pensions in the latest budget.”