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Pension providers concerned about impact of contribution ‘holiday’

Pension providers say they’re concerned about Government’s plan to offer employees and employers a voluntary break from making contributions.

BF&M and Freisenbruch-Meyer Group said it’s not clear how widespread opt-outs would be, but they would likely impact their bottom lines in some way.

“We know a fair amount about businesses in Bermuda and there will be some organisations for whom this will be a huge and significant deal,” said William Madeiros, general manager of Freisenbruch-Meyer Group.

“Organisations out there are stressed, make no mistake. This is a direct savings to their bottom line as an employer, so absolutely I can see some people taking it.”

BF&M CEO John Wight said there’s no clear consensus on whether people will take up the pension break, but he’s optimistic people will continue paying into the scheme.

“I do believe that most people and companies that are financially able to continue to make contributions, will do so,” he said.

Both companies are still assessing how the potential shortfall of pension contributions will hurt their bottom lines.

“It depends, if there was a wholesale migration to non-payment on pension contribution then yes, it would have negative impact on us from an income perspective,” said Mr Madeiros. “Are the vast amount of employees and employers going to ask themselves ‘between the two of us we can save ten percent’? Is it going to be a wholesale acceptance of that? I don’t know.”

Mr Wight said that the one-year break would impact their bottom line but it was still early days into assessing the potential affect on their business.

“We’re in the investment advisory business and we’re also in the pension administration business so certainly this will affect our bottom line,” he said. “Will it affect us materially? We don’t believe so but yes, even if one person chooses not to contribute that’s a pool of money that we would otherwise be administering for someone.”

Mr Wight added: “While taking a holiday for one year may not seem that important now, in reality the numbers may show that those contributions are more meaningful than they might have considered.”

He pointed out that missing one year of savings for someone earning $50,000 over 20 years would be $13,266, assuming a five percent return and both the employer and employee opted out. The savings loss would be $21,610 over a 30-year period.

“I see the benefit later in life when people access their pension funds and say ‘wow, thank heavens I did this 20 years ago if I hadn’t done it, I would not have this money now’,” added Mr Madeiros.

Meanwhile, both companies, as well as the Pension Commission, were encouraging individuals to choose to continue paying into their accounts.

“We encourage individuals to continue to make the required contribution, if they can,” said Peter Sousa, CEO of the Pension Commission.

Long-term impact: This graph shows the loss of retirement savings from missing one year if a employee earns $50,000 over different time spans until retirement, assuming a five percent return. This assumes both the employer (five percent) and employee (five percent) opt out. (Graph provided by BF&M)

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Published March 01, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated March 01, 2012 at 7:47 am)

Pension providers concerned about impact of contribution ‘holiday’

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