Quarterly Report for Q4 2023

Report 12 Feb 2024 By Alan Collins

I am a bit of political nerd. Not sure where it came from. I didn’t study politics. I have never joined a political party. And the closest I’ve come to a peace negotiation is managing to get my 9- and 7-year-olds to share the one pair of roller-skates (that Santa inexplicably got them). Yet I find myself on my commute listening to political podcasts, watching Question Time instead of a trending show, or reviewing polling data for elections in the UK and US that are months away.

Why is he going on about politics?”, you may be asking. While the marketing team at Spence are nervously asking, “He isn’t going to make a political statement, is he?”. I mention it because the UK Labour Party has been warning all of its prospective MPs, councillors and activists against the dangers of complacency in this election year, given their current commanding lead in the polls. Salutary lessons are being told of past elections where parties held handsome leads for months, yet by the time votes were cast, those hefty leads had become skeletal, or indeed, had been turned into losses.

The danger of complacency is the fundamental message, that translates across to all walks of life, including pensions (getting to the point!). No matter how secure we may feel in our funding position, we must plan for the outlier events.  No matter how confident we might be in our governance structures, we must consistently stick to and review our processes. No matter how strong our past investment performance, we must closely monitor the markets and be ready to react to market conditions.

This Quarterly Report is here to help protect against that complacency. To urge preparedness. To extol the virtues of being informed. While your scheme’s confidence ratings may be high, or your assets may have a strong lead over your liabilities, there is always space for betterment.

To that end, our focus in this quarter turns to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement, which contained a raft of pensions changes, amongst the tax reductions to seduce some voters. We also look at the first Superfund deal in detail and PASA’s latest guidance for the pensions dashboard. Alongside our traditional ever-present articles providing investment market, actuarial and DC updates, we discuss the new Finance Bill, guidance on cyber risks and the PPF’s consultation on levy rules for 2024. Then closing the report, we have our ‘Coming Up Next’ article, which looks ahead to key dates in 2024 (that we shouldn’t get complacent about!).

As always, from everyone at Spence, we hope you enjoy reading the report.

Alan Collins

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