China capital curbs reflect buyer’s remorse over market reforms

Last year the reformist head of China’s central bank convinced his Communist party bosses to give market forces a bigger say in setting the renminbi’s daily “reference rate” against the US dollar. In return, Zhou Xiaochuan assured his more conservative party colleagues that the redback would finally secure coveted recognition as an official reserve currency […]

Continue Reading


Carney: UK is ‘investment banker for Europe’

The governor of the Bank of England has repeated his calls for a “smooth and orderly” UK exit from the EU, saying that a transition out of the bloc will happen, it was just a case of “when and how”. Responding to the BoE’s latest bank stress tests, where lenders overall emerged with more resilient […]

Continue Reading


China stock market unfazed by falling renminbi

China’s renminbi slump has companies and individuals alike scrambling to move capital overseas, but it has not damped the enthusiasm of China’s equity investors. The Shanghai Composite, which tracks stocks on the mainland’s biggest exchange, has been gradually rising since May. That is the opposite of what happened in August 2015 after China’s surprise renminbi […]

Continue Reading

Capital Markets

Mnuchin expected to be Trump’s Treasury secretary

Donald Trump has chosen Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary, US media outlets reported on Tuesday, positioning the former Goldman Sachs banker to be the latest Wall Street veteran to receive a top administration post. Mr Mnuchin chairs both Dune Capital Management and Dune Entertainment Partners and has been a longtime business associate of Mr […]

Continue Reading


Financial system more vulnerable after Trump victory, says BoE

The US election outcome has “reinforced existing vulnerabilities” in the financial system, the Bank of England has warned, adding that the outlook for financial stability in the UK remains challenging. The BoE said on Wednesday that vulnerabilities that were already considered “elevated” have worsened since its last report on financial stability in July, in the […]

Continue Reading

Categorized | Financial

Wm Morrison bids to bolster staff saving

Posted on March 30, 2012

Wm Morrison, the UK supermarket chain, is set to offer its workers a novel pension savings scheme that will help them avoid the risk of fluctuating financial markets. The scheme comes alongside a comprehensive financial education effort which will run for the next three years, designed to promote what the company calls “a culture of saving”.

Norman Pickavance, group human resources director at Morrison, said the move to what are known as “cash balance” pension plans, and the drive to upgrade workers’ understanding of personal finance, are part of a move to improve customers’ shopping experience in an increasingly fierce fight for market share in the UK supermarkets industry.

“The business driver is that we want to be a different kind of supermarket,” Mr Pickavance said. “The service we provide depends on the skills of our workforce. Keeping people for the long term is a key part of that.”

Morrison also did not want to see older workers remain on the job solely because they do not have enough savings to retire, he said. “If they don’t want to keep working, they shouldn’t have to.” Last year the UK scrapped rules allowing employers to force workers into retirement at age 65, a practice known as the default retirement age.

Morrison has retained Alvin Hall, the personal finance specialist, to do “money makeovers” with staff to teach them how to manage their personal finances, in a campaign to be known as “Save Your Dough”.

Cash balance pension schemes promise to set aside a percentage of each worker’s pay every year and guarantee that it will rise in line with an indicator such as interest rates. In the UK, Barclays Bank is one of only a handful of employers that offers such pensions, although they are common in the US.

Morrison will ask workers to contribute 5 per cent of pay to the scheme, and it will contribute a notional 9 per cent of pay for each worker each year. But rather than rise and fall with markets, the sum will rise every year in line with inflation. Mr Pickavance said Morrison had not yet decided which inflation measure will be used.

The scheme offers less security than a defined benefit plan. At retirement, workers will take their lump sum and buy an annuity, with retirement income dependent on conditions in the annuities market at the time.

Although workers may lose out during years of bull markets, they will be protected through the sort of turmoil that has prevailed in the UK since 2008 and which has destroyed the retirement hopes of many older workers who now find they must remain at work.

Mr Pickavance said that Morrison had held focus groups to determine what type of benefit would best suit its staff and found widespread distrust of pensions because of recent stock market losses. Particularly among junior staff, he said, “there is a really negative emotion about [investment] losses.”

Fewer than 10 per cent of Morrison’s 132,000 employees are in the defined contribution scheme, which is open to new and existing workers and in which the supermarket matches each worker’s contribution of 5 per cent of pay with a similar sum of its own.