Posted March 13th, 2013
Technically speaking the cash equivalent transfer value (CETV) represents the expected cost of providing the member’s benefits within the scheme.
In divorce settlements, thought needs to be given as to whether the CETV is the most appropriate method of valuing the overall pension benefits. Consideration needs to be given as to whether the CETV accurately reflects the benefits on offer and if certain benefits are not counted within the CETV, what should be done about it.
In the case of money purchase benefits, this is generally straightforward – it is the accumulated contributions made by and on behalf of the member together with investment returns. (There can be exceptions).
But with defined benefits (like final salary), the CETV is a value determined on actuarial principles, which requires assumptions to be made about the future course of events affecting the scheme and the member’s benefits.
So when negotiating settlements it should be noted that it is not that the CETV has been inaccurately valued but that it may not be the most suitable valuation to use for divorce purposes.
Look at the definition again and note that it states “the expected cost of providing the member’s benefits” The CETV may therefore be valuing the member’s benefits but not the spouse’s. (Spouse’s pensions can often be very valuable). Trustees will also provide a CETV based on the normal retirement date of the scheme, even where it is likely that the member will retire early.
Of course, agreeing on a higher valuation does not mean that there are extra funds available as the CETV is the only value the scheme will place on the pension. However, when completing a pension sharing order it is possible to take a higher pension share (based on the higher valuation agreed) to compensate.
So what does this all cost and surely every actuary/pension expert would take all this in to account? Firstly, for no more than a few hundred pounds a second opinion valuation can be obtained. Secondly, unfortunately not and many reports I see only work of CETVs thus potentially undervaluing the pension assets at the most crucial stage!
My approach is to work hand in hand with an actuary to ensure that you get the best result. It should be noted that on several occasions we have managed to increase the valuation considerably (doubled it one case) resulting in a significant pension sharing increase for our client.
So before proceeding any further why not allow me to review the pension CETVs (for free) and see if we can improve the settlement today.
Posted January 13th, 2012
I have recently been asked to assist in a challenging divorce case involving a client who was in serious ill health. Serious ill health is defined as life expectancy of 12 months or less and there are strict rules surrounding the payment of benefits in this situation.
I was asked to provide guidance on a number of scenarios:
- The benefits are drawn now based on normal health.
- The benefits are drawn now based on serious ill health provisions.
- What happens on death.
- What benefits might be paid to children.
- What benefits would be payable if the pensions were subject to 100% pension sharing orders.
Where the planning opportunities arose was in the difference between benefits that been crystallised (i.e. in payment) and uncrystallised (i.e. those that were not).
For uncrystallised benefits it is possible for a tax free lump sum to be taken in lieu of the whole of the pension benefits. But for crystallised benefits this is not
possible and either ill health retirement provisions apply for final salary benefits or impaired life annuities or drawdown for money purchase with the option
for lump sum benefits to be paid upon later death.
It was important to understand each client’s needs and what they were looking to achieve. Then it was a case of balancing the desire for a tax free payment now versus protecting the value of the benefits that had been accrued to date.
If your divorce settlement / pension sharing case is affected by these issues why not get in touch for a free, confidential, no obligation chat on 0800 092 1229 or send an email email@example.com
Posted March 2nd, 2011
This week’s ruling by the European Court of Justice on gender and insurance may have some far reaching consequences in relation to pensions and divorce. See here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12608777
It will be interesting to see how and if this will be implemented but potentially the areas of pensions and divorce it could affect are:
- Equalisation of pension incomes.
- Underlying Cash Equivalent Transfer Value Factors.
- Final Salary & Money Purchase benefits at retirement.
- Tax Free Cash Commutations.
- Duxbury calculations?
If you have any questions on pensions and divorce, please feel free to contact me on 0800 092 1229 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted December 3rd, 2010
Do you know the difference between an internal transfer and an external transfer in relation to pension sharing?
It is important that you do because the consequences of choosing the wrong one can be expensive.
Internal transfer – this is where the pension scheme deals with the pension share by way of an internal transfer of benefits between one party and the other (no benefits transfer away from the original pension scheme).
A pension credit is created and this will either be dealt with by offering shadow membership (i.e. matched benefits with the existing scheme – final salary for example) or alternative benefits will be offered. Sometimes these can be significantly less valuable than exact shadow membership and so it is worth checking first. Sometimes you have a choice other times you don’t.
The other route is an external transfer – this is where the pension scheme involved deals with pension sharing by way of an external transfer. i.e. they insist that the pension credit be transferred out to a new arrangement of the pension credit holder’s choosing. Therefore, these benefits are automatically different to the existing (final salary) scheme but which scheme should you transfer to?
So it pays to check what is on offer when pension sharing before entering negotiations. If you know that shadow membership is available this can be very valuable. But what if you have to transfer out would you know what to do?
I keep a check on which pension scheme offers what. If you would like to know more about internal and external transfers when pension sharing, please contact me on 0800 092 1220 or send me an email – email@example.com
Posted October 21st, 2010
I am often asked by clients what is the difference between equality of capital and equality of income calculations. And why is it important to ensure that before instructing an actuary each party understands what the calculations might mean for them.
To illustrate this issue I have provided explanations of each calculation below together with a worked example.
Equality of capital
This is the simplest approach to sharing pensions. It often mirrors what has happened elsewhere in deciding how to split the other marital assets. So, lets assume that a 50:50 division of capital is agreed.
Example 1 – Equality of Capital (50:50) Male aged 65 / Female age 60
Male CETV – £200,000
Female CETV – £0
Male CETV – £100,000
Female CETV – £100,000
Male – annuity income – £6,535 per annum*
Female – annuity income – £5,687 per annum*
(Source: The Exchange – October 2010)
*Annuity purchased is on a single life basis, 5 year guarantee with no escalation.
So we have equality of capital but not equality of outcome / income.
Equality of income – same clients
This calculation attempts to rectify the outcome detailed above. It takes into account the client’s ages, health (if relevant) but most importantly the difference in sex! The key point here is that it costs more pension cash equivalent transfer value (cetv) to provide a woman with the same amount of income than it does a man.
Example 2 – Equality of Income
Male CETV – £200,000
Female CETV – £0
Male CETV – £93,050
Female CETV – £106,950
Annuity income now
Male annuity income – £6,080 per annum*
Female annuity income – £6,082 per annum*
(Source: The Exchange – October 2010)
*Annuity purchased is on a single life basis, 5 year guarantee with no escalation.
So by sharing pension 46.53%:53.48% the client’s have equality of income.
This is a very simplistic case but I think it illustrates the issue nicely. Where the pensions involved are final salary or defined benefit, the client is in ill health or there are major differences in their ages (i.e. 10 years plus) then these issues complicate the calculations and it is necessary to get professional actuarial advice.
Should you wish to discuss equality of capital versus equality of income, please contact us here.
Posted October 10th, 2010
I am often asked what the differences are between defined benefit (or final salary) schemes and defined contribution (or money purchase) schemes and why those differences are important in the context of pension sharing and divorce.
Defined benefit / Final salary
As the name suggests the final pension received in retirement is defined in advance, based on an accrual basis (for example, 1/60th or 1/80th), the length of pensionable service and the level of pensionable salary at retirement.
So for someone with 40 years service on a final pensionable salary of £40,000 in an 80ths scheme the pension payable in retirement will be £20,000 per annum.
This pension will increase each year in line with the escalation provided by the scheme (this can vary) and the employer / pension scheme carries the investment and inflation risks.
The benefits provided on pension sharing vary between schemes and these should be reviewed carefully before proceeding as often the risks of providing the benefits change hands!
On an internal pension transfer, sometimes the benefits available to the pension credit member are defined benefits, which is the case with the Public Sector Pension Schemes. These defined benefits are often very valuable to the pension credit member and it would be unusual not to advise that these should be taken.
Alternatively, the pension transfer may be placed in a money purchase arrangement often known as the default option. Here, the risks pass to the pension credit member (see below).
On an external transfer, there will be no defined benefits available (unless an annuity is being purchased) and the pension share will be placed in an individual pension arrangement. Again the risks are passed on.
Defined Contribution / Money purchase
In a defined contribution / money purchase arrangement the amount being paid into the pension scheme is defined at say 3% or 5% of salary but the final benefits are not fixed.
Instead, the final pension available is a function of the amount invested in, the investment return and prevailing annuity rates. Therefore, the pension scheme member carries all the risks.
When looking at pension sharing and money purchase schemes it is important to check what internal options are available and to check these against what is available in the pensions market.
There will be no guarantees on the income payable until an annuity is purchased and the associated risks need to be considered in the context of retirement planning goals.
If you require further information on defined benefit or defined contribution schemes, please contact us here. You can find further information on pension sharing here.
Posted July 12th, 2010
As a Resolution Accredited Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) I am often asked to provide a summary of how we can work with clients through the Collaborative Law process. Below is taken from a flyer which is provided to the lawyers at the Greater Manchester POD.
HOW THE IFA WILL WORK WITH YOU AND YOUR SOLICITOR:
IFAs will be accredited by Resolution to work in the collaborative area, having undertaken training on the technical and cultural aspects involved, and passed an examination on the subject.
The IFA acts as a ‘financial neutral’ – rather than representing one party, their role is to assist all parties in highlighting issues and providing information that enables the collaborative process to move quickly and smoothly.
In addition to their specialist technical knowledge, IFAs can outline options to parties and comment on risk factors (eg in terms of pension options) which solicitors are unable to do as they are not authorised to give financial advice.
IFA’s can attend a first meeting with the Solicitors present, so as to display to the parties how they may add value to the process. At your discretion, IFAs can subsequently meet you without your solicitor being present, so as to control total costs.
EXAMPLES OF WHERE THE IFA IS ABLE TO HELP:
• Tax efficiency and mitigation if assets or investments are being sold as part of the agreement (eg ISAs, Capital Gains Tax issues).
• Pension-sharing issues under occupational final salary schemes, for both the scheme member and the ex-spouse.
• Issues surrounding individual pensions, including retirement options.
• The cost of replacing items under an employee benefits package for the ex-spouse (eg life cover, critical illness cover, private medical insurance).
• Mortgage availability and costings in relation to the marital home.
• Assessment of endowment policies and the options going forward.
• General financial education
• Budgeting exercises and lifetime cashflow projections to determine whether the agreed settlement will be sufficient to support the financial requirements of each party over time.
If you require any further assistance, please contact us on 0800 092 1229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted August 20th, 2009
Since 2000, a pension sharing order has been available as an option on divorce. With the ability to achieve a clean break this should be the option of choice for most divorce cases where the pension benefits are significant (and earmarking / offsetting have been discounted).
A lot of focus is rightly given to ensuring that an equitable pension share is achieved and here the use of a suitable actuary is advisable. However, in my opinion, less time is given to the options available once the pension share has been calculated and many clients approach this stage with unnecessary fear and trepidation.
With a pension share there are two options – an internal or external transfer – and either option can have its merits depending upon circumstances.
With an internal transfer the pension does not physically move from the existing scheme but a debit and credit is created to satisfy the pension share. Most importantly, the internal scheme benefits can differ significantly. For example, some final salary schemes offer shadow membership whereby the same defined benefit rights generously apply to the new member whilst others provide poorer value money purchase equivalents.
With an external transfer the fund value of the pension share is physically transferred to a new arrangement in the individual’s name, with the associated issues of understanding the investment and annuity risks involved but having the benefit of control.
Here are a few suggested considerations which will assist in deciding which type of transfer is appropriate.
* How flexible is retirement and who decides when retirement can start.
* How much pension income will be payable at retirement and how secure is it.
* How much risk is involved / could my pension fall in value.
* What are the death benefit arrangements and who will ultimately benefit.
* Can future pension contributions be paid.
* What are the charges involved.
If you would like more information on how we deal with pension sharing, please call us on 01204 663904 or contact us by email on email@example.com