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Highlights of the PLSA Investment Conference 2024

How much income do you need in retirement

Written by Retirement Line Updated: 5th March 2024

Paul Maynard, Minister for Pensions, was just one of the many high-profile speakers at this year’s PLSA Investment Conference. Held in Edinburgh from 27-29 February, the conference featured over 30 sessions and debates held on many important industry issues.

The PLSA Investment Conference is one of the biggest events in the UK dedicated to pensions and investment professionals. It is run by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), a trade association representing the interests of workplace pension funds and their members.

The conference began with a welcome from PLSA Chair, Emma Douglas, Director of Workplace Savings and Retirement at Aviva, who set the scene for the next three days.

Sessions included “The Great Consolidation Debate”, which offered different perspectives and experiences of pension consolidation across the market from industry experts. Several speakers took part, including Toby Nangle from the Financial Times and Barry Kenneth, Chief Investment Officer of the Pension Protection Fund.

Another item on the agenda, “Unravelling the Impact of the Cost-of-Living Crisis on Retirement Income Choices”, gave conference attendees a greater insight into the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and higher interest rates.

Paul Maynard, Minister for Pensions, delivered his speech on the third day of the conference: “A View from the Government: The Growth Agenda”. During his talk, he took attendees through the government’s ambitions for the future of pension scheme investment strategies.

Is the triple lock unsustainable?

Another key speaker at the event was economist Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). During his session “Economic Horizons: The UK's Macroeconomic Landscape and Implications for Pensions”, he argued that the State Pension triple lock commitment is ‘not very rational’.. 

Johnson explained that the triple lock State Pension increases would continue to "ratchet upwards" until they reach a point where they take up 100% of the national income.

However, he also said that triple lock could help the government to bring the State Pension up to a more acceptable level. He argued that it would be "the most politically acceptable way of getting [the State Pension to] a higher level again". 

He suggested that the State Pension should be a “particular fraction of average earnings, that might be 30 per cent, it might be 33 per cent, but that's a political decision.” He believes that the most rational course of action is to “keep the triple lock until we get it there” before reverting to earnings increases.

State Pension age increase seeing rise in pensioner poverty

Pensioner poverty was also addressed during the conference. Speaking earlier in the session, a discussion was had about State Pension cost concerns being addressed by changes in the State Pension age. Johnson stressed the need to balance this with the current issue of pensioner poverty levels increasing.

"I'm all in favour actually of increasing State Pension age gradually over time, I think we've got no option but to do that given what's been happening to longevity," he said. 

"But there's a big issue we need to sort out here, which is very big increases in poverty rates among people just below State Pension age as the pension age has increased."

It seems that there has been a particular gradual increase in the percentage of women aged 60-64 who are in poverty, following the State Pension age increase to 66.

Speaking of the State Pension age increases, Johnson said: "It's having quite a big effect on poverty at those ages in the 60s and we think this is something we do need to deal with.”

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