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Employer shift to DB schemes gathers pace

The number of defined-benefit pension schemes closed or restricted to new staff has doubled in the past two years, according to JP Morgan Fleming.

The JP Morgan Fleming annual defined-contribution survey reinforces the increasing trend for companies to move away from DB to definedcontribution schemes, with 60 per cent of respondents from the top 350 schemes now having a DC scheme in place.

However, 79 per cent of those surveyed continuing to offer a DB scheme have no plans to introduce a DC plan.

One in three employers say they give their staff access to financial planning advice but the survey reveals that employers running bigger firms are less keen to do so.

Of those offering advice, most used an IFA, with the rest using a web-based financial planning tool or pension consultant.

Forty per cent of DB schemes made significant asset allocation changes in the past year, mainly comprising a shift from equities to fixed income.

Six out of 10 DB schemes increased employer contributions and 27 per cent increased employee contributions.

Head of defined-contribution services Karen Robertson says: “The move from DB to DC is clearly indisputable and if this continues at around 12 per cent a year, DC schemes are likely to become the main means of pension provision for new members in the very near future.

“What is interesting, however, is this survey shows that intended Government legislation to simplify pensions is unlikely to have any bearing on the decision by schemes on whether they decide to remain a DB provider.

“If DC schemes are to provide a workable alternative to DB schemes, then the issue of member education needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency by all stakeholders in the industry.”

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