Forum for former BBC staff
>> Pensions >> The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)

Message started by ianpollock on Oct 6th, 2015, 8:37pm

Title: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by ianpollock on Oct 6th, 2015, 8:37pm

I received a letter from the BBC (not the pension scheme) on Saturday, introducing its forthcoming plan to offer many pensioners the "opportunity" to forgo future inflation-linked pension increases (in part or in whole) in exchange for a higher level of pension right now. No details were spelled out, but apparently it is going to be aimed at nearly 17,000 pensioners who had earned pension pre-1997 - in other words, mainly former staff who were members of the Old Benefits section of the BBC scheme. If you received such a letter, what do you think?

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by The Badger on Oct 6th, 2015, 9:12pm

I would presume this is a clever (?) attempt by the BBC to reduce the pension deficit. Clearly the actuarial cost of an index linked pension is somewhat more than a flat rate one. If you can "persuade" pensioners to swap at a cost that is less than the difference for the BBC's liability then - BINGO - deficit is reduced. I could have a very interesting meeting with those financial advisers I reckon !

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by double-vision on Oct 7th, 2015, 7:57am

One wonders whether the "lump sum" one off pension increase that will be offered to a pensioner will be different for differing age groups, their sex, depend on where he or she lives ie how long they may be expected to live and how much actual pension they are receiving at the present. How will the financial advisor predict what the RPI may even "do" over the coming years. All very much up in the air at the moment.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by The Badger on Oct 7th, 2015, 8:55am

One needs to remember that the financial advisers are being paid by the BBC. Clearly this is an "insurance policy" by the BBC to avoid accusations of mis-selling or similar further down the line should something happen in the future (like 15% p/a inflation) and pensioners start screaming about their relatively worthless "increased flat pension" !

In the realms of the law it used to be forbidden for one side to provide the lawyer for the other side. No such sensible arrangement applies to the area of so called financial advise. How about starting off with the pensioners affected by this insisting that the BBC pays for their own choice of independent financial adviser and not be bound to take the one the BBC has chosen. It would also be rather more satisfactory from the point of view of confidentiality of ones full person financial and other circumstances. Do pensioners really want to disclose all that information to some firm working under contract for the BBC who clearly have a vested interest in the outcome going in one particular direction ?

In conclusion - Independent Financial Advisers chosen by the pensioners but paid for by the BBC, NOT the BBC's chosen adviser.

Edited for spelling error.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by The Badger on Oct 7th, 2015, 9:15am

Just had a quick look round on google , got this from Hargreaves Lansdown:

100K Pension pot buys, 70y old:

SingleLife,5y gtee, flat annuity= £6639 p/a
SingleLife,5y gtee, RPI annuity = £4043 p/a

So by my reckoning the BBC would have to offer in this example just over a 64% increase to have the deficit unchanged. If they offer you less than a 64% increase they will be "in the money".

Of course I am not a financial adviser or actuary so I stand to be corrected on this ! But as a ball-park I doubt I am very far out. Might just give my old financial adviser a call and have a quick chat - will report back later.  

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by The Badger on Oct 7th, 2015, 1:27pm

My friendly IFA had quite a bit to say about this, first interesting comment (I think his brother is an Estate agent);

"There are 4 things that determine the calculation of the value of an index linked pension; Inflation, Inflation, Inflation and Inflation".

Obviously it is a bit more complicated than that but this gets the message across and leaves you, me, the BBC and Chase de Vere stabbing pins into a chart to determine what said inflation will be for every year of the rest of the pensioner's life.

Uh uh. I know what you're thinking. Did inflation average 6% or 5% over the last 20 years ? Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But you've gotta ask yourself one question "Do I feel lucky ?" Well do ya, pensioner ?

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by The Badger on Oct 7th, 2015, 2:00pm

Here is an interesting news article about PIEs from 2011. It's from a reputable and well known organisation and explains how they are generally considered a bad option for most pensioners, note also the comment about IFA advice on PIEs being an unregulated area.

And also have a look at this;

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by ianpollock on Oct 7th, 2015, 2:22pm

My reading of the BBC's letter suggests that the offer would involve not the payment of a lump sum to us, but a permanent uplift in our monthly pensions. Obviously we await details. I had a look at the inflation statistics on the ONS website. They show that from 1991 to 2014 inclusive, the average annual RPI inflation rate was exactly 3%. But that annual inflation rate rose above 5% in 21 different months, mainly back in 1991 and around 2011. The ONS's separate calculation of the RPI for two-person pensioner households shows that inflation, for them, was above 5% in 14 different quarters, or 42 months in total; in other words for 15% of that timespan (1991 to 2014 inclusive). It seems that if recent economic history is anything to go by, the chances of inflation rising above 5% at some point in the next 24 years are quite good.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by The Badger on Oct 7th, 2015, 2:40pm

As current annuity rates show a higher starting annual pension with a 3% p/a escalation compared to an RPI linked pension (for the same pot) we can conclude that the annuity providers are expecting RPI inflation to average over 3% long term. However one thing to remember is that whatever the RPI  your index linked pension is guaranteed to keep up whereas a flat rate , but higher, pension will only be a better deal in certain specific, and unpredictable, circumstances. I think that is what people call "gambling" (What do IFAs call it ?).  

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by chris west on Oct 7th, 2015, 3:08pm

Maths not my strong point, but my pension appears to have gone up some 57 per cent since I retired in 1999. That's a helluva benefit to give up.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by ianpollock on Oct 7th, 2015, 3:53pm

That's a fantastically good point. If you give up inflation proofing entirely, you not only forgo each year's individual rise, but also the compounding effect of each year's successive rises. For instance, pension increases each year of 4% for 17 years would double the value of your starting pension. £10,000 would rise to just under £20,000. An alternative way to look at it is this: if your income were frozen at £10,000, but inflation rose at 4% every year for 17 years, the real value of your (frozen) pension would be halved. Meanwhile 3% inflation every year would halve your frozen pension's real value after 23 years.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by Administrator on Oct 7th, 2015, 4:07pm

This site includes a recent review of the fund. (30th September 2015)

"The £12.9bn (€17.6bn) BBC Pension Scheme returned 20.1% over the year to April, backed by its exposure to long-dated UK bonds and global equities.

The pension fund for employees of the UK’s public broadcaster, however, said the long-dated bonds, while adding to performance, also hampered the scheme’s ability to meet its 2026 funding target."

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by Knocking On on Oct 7th, 2015, 5:32pm

I suppose a large part of the personal decision making process will rely on the age of the pensioner. The younger they are the more chance of the fixed pension being eroded by inflation over time.

In this age of low inflation it could seem however a "no brainer" to turn down an immediate increase (in the short term). However even the BoE have said that the economy requires an element of inflation.

On the face of it and with no figures mentioned at this early stage I think as has already been said, history shows that inflation is a fact of life, so I think if I were offered it (no letter yet) I would have to say "I'm out" particularly as the my pension is tied to RPI.  

I wonder what the requirements are to be considered for PIE?

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by The Badger on Oct 7th, 2015, 8:27pm


This seems to indicate that the offer is to be made to 16,900 existing pensioners (Old Benefits Scheme only ?) but there is a comment later about those over 80 might be offered it so it is a little unclear. I would guess therefore that initially those over 80 might be excluded, perhaps because the increase to be offered would look quite small in % terms owing to the expected term to death (lovely phrase !) being quite small hence the potential gain to the BBC being similarly tiny.

Many other companies have gone down the PIE route, you can search around the www for some background info. Here is one from BT with a case study;

Note in that case the increase offered was less than 20% although complicated by a partially indexed bit.

Here is a KPMG document aimed at companies. Note the term "Balanced Deal Percentage".

Here is a link to what the Pension Regulator has to say.

I draw your attention to this section;

"Risks associated with incentive exercises

Where a member accepts an IE offer, an employer’s pension liability or risk is likely to be reduced. Conversely, for members the risk that they will suffer a loss in the long run will usually increase if they accept an offer. Losses could be due to factors specific to the individual (eg life expectancy or investment choices) or the overall economic and market environment in future. An IE offer is often set at below ‘cost-neutral’ terms in order to reduce an employer’s pension liabilities, and in this situation there is a heightened risk that members will be worse off.

A minority (and, very possibly, a small minority) of members may have personal circumstances which result in them being in a better position through accepting an IE offer

IE offers can create risks for trustees and employers as well. These include legal and reputational risks materialising many years after the IE has taken place.

IEs can be costly. There is the cost of the incentive itself. Also there is a cost to obtaining advice (legal, financial, and actuarial). Designing IEs to meet appropriate standards (including those in the Industry code), can present significant challenges which come with a cost implication."

Oh dear, it is all getting very heavy and technical isn't it . Finding it hard to take all this in ? Would a pretty coloured diagram help ? Here you go !

Simples ! all you have to do is work out whether your life expectancy is average, better than average or worse than average. :-/

Edited due to broken link.
Edit2 added KPMG document link
Edit3 added link to government pensions regulator +copy  text
Edit 4 added link to pretty coloured diagram

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by The Badger on Oct 8th, 2015, 11:51pm

Here is the Tender Document which the BBC sent out in June 2015 seeking quotes for the provision of the independent financial advice to members over the PIE exercise (and also a FRO offer for active & deferred members).

The following points are noted by me:

1) Offer is to potential 16,900 pensioners aged under 80. A further 4,900 over 80 will also be written to but have to "opt in" to receive the offer (this is due to government guidelines on "vulnerable" persons).

2) Offer excercise commences 1/11/15 but is split into 2 tranches the second starting 1/12/15 and each tranche runs for 3 months.

I interpret that as effectively the pool of pensioners will probably be split in half and you can expect to receive your offer documents either at the start of  November or December. There will then be 3 months for the individual personal consultation with the financial advisers to take place.

3) BBC Expected interest in offer rate 60-40% of pool. Expected take up 40-20%.

4) BBC estimate of Tender Value for Financial Advice £3M to £7M.
My calculations:
Assuming 50% of total 16,900 and 20% over 80s gives a total of 9,430 financial consultations giving an average cost of £318 (£3M) to £742 (£7M) per pensioner.

It will be interesting to see how close the actual events come to this and I would think it is reasonable to ask the BBC to disclose the figure they are paying to Chase de Vere under the tender. Under the government guidelines for PIE offers it says the reasons for the exercise should be made clear to the members and the financial interests disclosed. The initial letter from the BBC certainly seemed to me to be a complete fail on that to start with ! In fact it tries to present the PIE as a "look what we have got for you" offer and nowhere tells the truth that it is a "we want to reduce the BBC's pension fund liability/deficit". Rather a poor start I fear. Will the offer letter be better in this respect ? Will it comply with the guidelines ? We wait with interest !

The pensions regulator guidelines document is about 32 pages long I think, I will try to highlight some sections for you all a bit later this month. Link coming shortly for those who want to read the whole thing.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by ianpollock on Oct 14th, 2015, 6:33pm

There is now a briefing paper on this topic on the website of the BBC pensioners' association.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by Administrator on Oct 14th, 2015, 8:48pm

BBC Pensioners' Association News is here:-

And their briefing note is here.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by chris west on Nov 9th, 2015, 12:43pm

This is interesting: I had heard nothing about the proposed PIE, so I wrote to the pensions unit. This is their reply:

"As you live overseas, I regret that the PIE option is not available to you.  To take up the offer you would need to receive financial advice and the company that the BBC has chosen is not authorised to give advice outside of the UK."

This seems bizarre and highly discriminatory. Is the BBC saying that financial advice is compulsory, and solely from the advisor of its choosing? From what I've heard about PIE, I don't think it's for me, but it would be good to have the option.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by Carol_M on Nov 22nd, 2015, 12:04pm

I received my letter from the BBC. It is three weeks after the posting date but I am in France. I heard first from the financial advisors and let them know this was the first I heard of it all.  So I am behind with this. I soon will be 55. My first reaction is that no offer is going to be better than the index-linked pension deal. However secondly I am not sure that if - call me paranoid if you like - I wait to take it, there will be anything there at all ?! That is, in the last few years I have seen my retirement age change from 60 to 67 and my NI contributions go up from 30 to 35 years.  I am not sure that there aren't other shocks around the corner. Still, I shall start to read through all the links and appreciate discussing this with others.  :-/

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by Carol_M on Nov 26th, 2015, 2:06pm

I don't know why you were told Chris West that you can't have the offer as you are overseas, but where are you? I am in Europe, clearly. Also the letter I have says
What if you live outside the UK?  
etc etc
So they are offering to some who are not UK residents.
Otherwise, cynically, if like me you are about to be 55, and female then you could be one of the most potentially costly for the BBC on the RPI deal, as women tend to live longer.  But that said, personally I don't think my little pension is worth their investment in paying for financial advice, though personally I am grateful for it.
Please can Ian Pollock explain how you understand that as you wrote:
"My reading of the BBC's letter suggests that the offer would involve not the payment of a lump sum to us, but a permanent uplift in our monthly pensions. Obviously we await details."  Can you explain a bit more about this please?
I am just worried that I only have two months as my letter was late, to make this decision. Carol

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by ianpollock on Nov 26th, 2015, 8:56pm

The BBC's offer involves you surrendering all the inflation proofing that applies to the part of your pension earned before April 1997. In return, you receive a permanent increase to that part of your pension, from next April. So, in the short term you may gain (quite a lot); but over the new couple of decades or so, depending on how long you live and how high inflation is, you may eventually lose.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by chris west on Nov 27th, 2015, 6:36pm

I wrote to the BBC director of finance outlining my concerns about overseas pensioners not being eligible for PIE, and to be fair, I got a rapid reply. As expected, no change in the corporate line: "the BBC and the BBC Pension Scheme decided to exclude overseas pensioners from the option.  This is to protect pensioners from making uninformed decisions without the necessary support, rather than excluding them simply because they live abroad."

I'm leaving it there, I don't think PIE is for me anyway. Not sure about me, but my younger wife, who will inherit my pension, must have a good 30 years or more left to enjoy it.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by Martyn on Dec 31st, 2015, 9:35am

Newbie Martyn P here [late of Gp2 Studio Managers BH/MV etc;)]; Anybody tempted by the PIE offer?  The offer of over £5k pa more [less tax!] interests me even though I am in good health and my family [parents grandparents etc] are quite long-lived!!!  But am I being daft?

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by JohnW on Dec 31st, 2015, 3:20pm

Welcome Martyn P (for Parker)!
No harm in being a newbie here - after all we were all one at some point!!

Well PIE is proving to be interesting.
Although the 'regulations' relating to pensions have all been changed by Gideon, there is some method in his madness!
It's all really about getting his tax-take as soon as possible really. After all, if you exceed the amount you can take from your pot without paying tax, (some 30% when I last checked) then he's rubbing his hands with a certain amount of glee! He'll be getting your Income Tax rather earlier than he would have been doing without you taking up the PIE offer.

Undoubtedly, if you're in good health and have a family who've lived long before you, then you'll be looking forward to many years of an increasing pension: and all the while the Chancellor is moving the point below which you pay little/no tax on any 'income' upwards.

If you are tempted, then to me the break point would be related to the point at which you're going to pay the higher rate of Income Tax.

I'm sure that as a long-serving member of Group 2, your pension won't be all that bad (although that's always rather "subjective"!) so if the extra "uplift" you'd get by trading in future raises for more income now, then if that raise would make you liable for 40% tax rather than 30% then I'd postulate that you'd rather keep those annual increases for when you won't be liable for the higher rate.
Nevertheless, should you be desirous of spending 'a serious lump of cash' - and want to do that now! - at least you have the opportunity of getting at more of what you've earned right now. I, on the other hand, didn't have that option when I left Auntie, and had to go down the route of an Annuity with the extra savings I had made from EDP and the like. Gideon has now changed all that so that should I wish I could buy that Annuity sum back (less, of course, what the present provider - Aviva - wishes to charge me for doing so!) and then Gideon will have his percentage of that sum too, since I'd already withdrawn the maximum 1/3rd in cash prior to arranging the annuity (which somehow seems pitifully small compared to my pension!).

At the end of the day, whether it's the right option for you will ultimately depend on how long you live - and unless you've developed a useful facility of seeing into the future whilst in The Tennis Club, no one really knows how long we each have on this earth! The other aspect is just how much of your pension was earned before April 1997 (and I do remember you were around prior to that time! ;)) since it's only that bit which is subject to the PIE uplift. Anything earned after 1997 will still receive an annual increase, so you'll need to know how much of your current pension was earned prior to that point, to see how much the remaining part of your existing amount will increase year-on-year.

I doubt this has really helped since each situation is so different. I'm not taking up my option since strictly I don't absolutely need it to keep the wolf from the door. YMMV (as they say!) - but I hope you can see just a little clearer. By all means talk to the people the Beeb has made available to us, but at the end of the day they are being paid by the Beeb to reduce its future Pension 'liability' whether that is overtly stated or not. [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by Kirkdale1 on Jan 2nd, 2016, 10:28am

Well, as I noted on the other thread about PIE, I was offered a 26% plus uplift and after shilly shallying, for weeks, decided to take up the offer. Duly rang Chase De Vere who's adviser talked me through every aspect of my circumstances and possibilities that MIGHT prevail.
I was very impressed with them. I have paid for independent financial advice before and it was pretty expensive. So thanks Auntie for providing that :-))
The end result was (it's pretty much all a punt) I don't need the money, if I took the uplift I'd only put it in the bank and achieve rubbish rates of return, I'd be putting myself well into the higher tax bracket and by not taking the offer up I can never (hopefully) be worse off than I am now.
So I was brought around 180 degrees and decided NOT to take up the offer. The follow up letter from Chase de Vere recommended that I did not take it up.
So as my better half says "Do we really want to be in the position of all those TV shows, where an expert is brought in, gives his advice, is totally ignored and always proves to be right - while we scream at the idiocy of the fools they're advising" :D

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by V Meldrew on Jan 2nd, 2016, 11:26am

I am tempted to take the offer. Of course this is a personal decision as each recipient has different offers and circumstances.

In my case the offer is worth an extra £5,500 plus an annual RPI increase based on 50% of my existing pension. I am still relatively young (I don't get the State Pension yet). The PIE offer would not take me into the 40% tax bracket. Don't forget you only pay 40% tax on that amount over the threshold, not on the whole amount.

Chase DeVere told me that they would not advise me one way or another as in my case, it was not a clear cut matter. I do have to save for holidays and non essential items, so the extra now would allow me to enjoy life a little more whilst still young enough to do so.

I worked out a spreadsheet based on assumptions of the RPI, and it would be another 12-14 years until I would be at the "cross over" point. In the meantime I could have "enjoyed" around £50,000!

With the present RPI being so low, 2016 pension increases would be in double figures in my case.

I am fortunate to own a house that I could downsize if money gets tight after this cross over point.

I would be eager to hear if anyone else is thinking it is a good idea to accept the PIE offer?

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by Burstner55 on Jan 3rd, 2016, 10:55pm

I think it might be of benefit to everyone to hear of as many “takes” on PIE as possible, especially those who have already had the De Vere conversations and, perhaps, already made up their minds. With that in mind then, I don’t mind saying that I am going for it.  I thought the way my “handler” went through all the points and ensured that I understood them was highly professional. I have no complaints about any part of the way the offer has been put to me.
I am fortunate that my wife also has an indexed (not BBC) pension and although she is younger than me by a good few years we contribute about the same amount each month to the family pot.    We are in relative good health but I face immobility in coming years. The condition I have isn’t in itself life-threatening. We own our house although following a financial setback a couple of years ago we have a small mortgage in her name only.  We have no other dependents and our offspring are self sustained. We would, though, like to rebuild the cash assets we had before our financial misfortune, so as to give us, or the survivor, a decent cushion.
The adviser told me that the two crossover points explained in the booklet will both be reached in my case in my late 80s should I live that long, some 15 years from now.
We talked it over and both agreed that to have more money now, about £350 per month after tax, (we are not near the 40% band) on top of the cash we now enjoy would enable us to continue to lead an active life whilst we are still mobile. We both accept that by the time I am 80 I will have slowed down to a point where our outgoings will also be reduced.
Neither of us believes that inflation is likely to ricochet to the early 1990s levels in our lifetime.
Since I took the levelling option I was already looking forward to having more disposable cash  after my 75th birthday in any case, when the levelling “debt” is paid off (but what a boon it was when I was first put out to grass!).
We both feel that a small gesture in helping to keep the BBC Pension Fund afloat for future benefits is desirable.
It means that when I die my wife will be somewhat better off in the first few years after my death than she would have been staying on the existing pension arrangement and then as she grows older and needs less ready cash but may need care or medical priorities, the savings we hope to enhance will be available, together with the equity in our property.
If there is a “worst case scenario” it is one such as both of us requiring full time care but we feel that sticking with the existing arrangement wouldn’t have helped in those circumstances.
I am confident it is the right decision for us but I agree it can be a tough call for some. I would be happy to discuss this by personal contact for anyone who feels they need more moral support.

Title: Re: The BBC's planned Pension Increase Exchange (PIE)
Post by DMCP on Jan 6th, 2016, 12:42pm

To those who believe this PIE exercise is just a ploy by the BBC to reduce the pension liability:

Like others, I thought the offer was to be a one-off payment rather than a continuing uplift.

So, when I received the original letter back in September, I requested to be removed from the scheme.

Having realised my mistake, I have just asked to be reinstated, but have been told I'm too late.

So, they are not exactly desperate to sign up as many people as possible.

Of course, this was totally my mistake, but that doesn't stop me being upset at possibly missing out on a good deal.

On the other hand, my pension has exactly doubled over the last 20 years and, now 70, I could well get another 20 or more.

So, maybe I've had a lucky escape.

I'll report back in January 2036 and let you know!

Forum for former BBC staff » Powered by YaBB 2.3.1!
YaBB © 2000-2009. All Rights Reserved.