With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continuing to disrupt industry and economy, it is understandable that members of the North East Scotland Pension Fund (NESPF) may be concerned about the effects on their finances, including their pension.
Despite the fact that our office remains closed to visitors and delays in service may occur as we prioritise key services, the Fund will continue paying pensions as a priority and is still available to assist with any queries our members may have.
Due to the nature of our scheme, our members’ pensions will remain unaffected by any market instability affecting investments, so we can assure members that their NESPF pension with us remains safe. The NESPF, like all Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) Funds, operates a defined benefit scheme meaning pensions are set out in statute and are not impacted by stock market performance. Your pension is based purely on how much you earn and how long you have paid in - investments are not included in the calculation of your pension value.
The exception to this applies to members who top up their pension by paying AVCs (Additional Voluntary Contributions) which could potentially be affected depending on which Funds they are invested in and their performance. In this case it is advisable to contact your AVC provider to find out more.
Another benefit for the NESPF is the fact that our investment strategy is one of diversified investment, which means that investments are spread across different investment asset types and different countries, sectors and companies, in order to reduce the overall risk.
The NESPF is a long-term investor and our investment strategy is designed to address any short-term disruptions to the market. For the best part of year 2019/20 investment returns were very strong. However, towards the end of the period the unforeseeable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic struck and investment performance turned significantly, ending negatively across most asset classes.
Fortunately, the Fund is well diversified and has a range of assets in the portfolio to provide defensive support therefore despite operating during these unprecedented times, the Fund has outperformed its benchmarks.
If you are experiencing financial hardship during these unprecedented times and are considering stopping your pension payments, the 50/50 option can be a helpful solution to allow you to continue topping up your pension. 50/50 offers you the opportunity to pay half the contributions and build up half the pension. This way, instead of opting out and saving nothing, you can continue to save for your retirement. For more information on 50/50 please visit here.
It is important to have a heightened awareness of any scams that might present themselves during the pandemic. Scammers are experts at using convincing tactics to persuade people into giving up large sums of money and it is estimated that since the start of the outbreak more than £7million has been misappropriated from pension savers through scams. For more information on the common warning signs of a scam visit here.
For more information about our current service offering visit here.