February 2012 The latest
elections are for the Member Nominated Directors of the Pensions Trust.
One of the retiree candidates has asked us to publish his
details so that any member who might like to contact him for a discussion before
casting their vote can do so:
STEVE GIBBS 02380 251127 07554 811078
This facility is also open to all the other candidates.
July 2009 The latest
election is for the Pensions Consultative Committee.
following was on the home page:
Some of the MND election results are now on the
Trust's website Notice Board.
The turnout was disappointing. Despite encouragement and reminders from
candidates, AMIPP, and the Trust, less than 1 in 5 of those who could vote
did so. (And the deferreds had no vote). This is less than in the 2005
election. There is no certainty about why so few voted, but factors
likely to have had an effect are:
- the poor design of the election, which alphabetically merged the
candidates in the two elections, and required voters to rank across
candidates who were not in competition with one another.
- the Trust's ultra-secrecy about what the Trust Board actually does in
practice, leading voters to doubt the potential effectiveness of MNDs.
following was on the home page:
You should by now have the
ballot papers, if you are eligible to vote. There are 2 retiree MNDs to
elect from 30 candidates. There are 2 employed MNDs to elect from 12
candidates. Follow the elections link in the column on the left for
the latest election news, opinion, and voting suggestions.
Any candidate can contact us with material they would like to go under
our elections link. Mike
Butcher, Mike Eacott and Brian Marks have expanded on their election statements. Also,
anybody can use our Forum to give information or opinion. Candidates Gavin Wilson,
Ian Duncan and Colin Boulain have made election
statements on the Forum. Andy Anderson has commented on his candidature.
John Roycroft notes that ERS Limited entered "Turning" on his election
statement, where he wrote "Turing".
are 2 retiree MNDs to elect from 30 candidates. There are 2 employed MNDs
to elect from 12 candidates. (The retirees have the word "retired" twice
in the second line of their page). Candidates in one category are not in
competition with the candidates in the other category, although you are
(spuriously) asked to rank them as if they were.
The number of candidates is more than twice the
number in the previous election. This is possibly because many potential
candidates were age-barred then. Also the new payments to MNDs could have
had an effect. (See our Forum for discussion of that.) Also the
sessions providing information to potential candidates were held at an earlier
stage than they were in previous elections.
The full list of candidates does not make a
compelling case for AMIPP adjusting what it said in
Newsletter 36. We mentioned there the
incumbents Gavin Wilson and Mike Butcher, and we suggested you
vote for Brian Marks, Bob Maddock, and Mike Eacott.
(Names are given in inverse alphabetical order here. The ballot paper is
in alphabetical order. Those named here are in the retiree election, apart from
Gavin who is in the employee election.)
One noteworthy candidate, not known earlier to be
a candidate, is David Livermore - the retiree with the most senior
experience in IBM management. Those who vote will form their own opinion
as to whether this is an electoral asset - such Corporate experience would help
the MND team gain respect from other trustee-directors and from IBM but voters
may feel there is already too much IBM management and ex-IBM management on the
Six of the twelve candidates for employed MNDs are in the M-Plan:
Eric Twigg, Christopher Taylor, Leigh Salkeld, Doug Moody, Geoff Flett, Neil
Baker. The Doug Moody
election statement suggests he is Enhanced M-Plan. The big majority of
M-Planners are in the basic M-Plan and it is desirable (for demographic balance)
that ordinary M-Plan employees should be represented by an MND.
Those who retired from the M-Plan have no part in
this election. (Unless of course they qualify by being also members of some
other IBM UK pensions plan that qualifies them.)
The instructions in the ballot paper say
"Postal votes should be returned to the Independent
Scrutineer, Electoral Reform Services, The Election Centre, 33 Clarendon Road,
London N8 0NW in the pre-paid envelope provided".
However, the pre-paid envelope has a different address on it! Actually,
either address will work. (There is no such person as the Independent Scrutineer.
The title is a bit of gloss invented by ERS Ltd, which judges for itself the
quality of its ballot administration.)
Mike Eacott expands his election statement:
Information is power. Yes I know it is an old cliché and it
may be self-evident to anyone who reads the AMIPP newsletters that IBM holds
power over the IBM UK Pensions Trust by ensuring that the Trustee has withheld
information that all pension plan holders should have access to.
The Trustee’s record; another old cliché is mushroom
management. Within the restrictions of confidentiality imposed by the Trustee I
will seek to improve the quality and flow of information from the Trustee to
plan members. There may be ways to do this without breaching confidentiality.
There could be a situation when one of the DB member MNDs
will be unable to carry out their duties due to long term illness. It is
important that DB MNDs have backup in depth so include in your voting not only
Brian Marks and Mike Butcher, but also Bob Maddock and me.
I believe that employees in the M plan may be in a position
to have more immediate access to IBM UK pensions information than some retiree
I’ve not yet seen the list of candidates. However, my
voting will include M plan members as well as by name: Brian Marks, Gavin
Wilson, Bob Maddock and Mike Butcher.
Mike Butcher expands
his election statement:
Election Statement (career history at the end)
I am an experienced pension trustee serving both as
an independent trustee director of USS (the UK’s second largest pension fund
where I also chair their audit committee) and as a member elected director of
the IBM pension fund.
A pension board is very different from the
conventional teams we are used to at work. It is much more formalised and many
of its processes are determined by law. All pension fund trustee directors are
legally bound to put the members’ interests first - but the IBM executives on
our board are also paid to maximise profits for IBM. Given company profits can
be increased by cutting members’ benefits, there is an inherent conflict. For an
MND (member nominated director) arguing for better benefits, it’s sometimes like
planning a sales strategy whilst your competitor is in the room with you!
As an experienced trustee director, I am well versed in
how to use the rules about conflict of interest, good governance and pensions
law to address such problems. However, the MNDs can always be outvoted by the
IBM executives on the board, so knowing how to get your ideas accepted despite
being in a minority is a key skill for an MND. Direct attacks on the company’s
plans tend to fail; a more sophisticated approach works better.
Last year IBM Pension Trust agreed to set up a governance
committee. I am a founder member and the sole MND representative on it, and
believe it is a good step forward. The other members are our two independent
directors (one of whom chairs the meeting) and one IBM executive. Last year, as
a member of this committee, I used my experience to help IBM Pensions develop
new processes to reduce the risks to our funds and benefits. I believe we can
use this Governance Committee as a powerful force for improving the operation of
our pension scheme.
Although the 2006 benefit reductions were decided before I
took office, there will be more tough discussions ahead. If re-elected, I can
provide continuity in representing IBM members and help prevent critical
decisions escaping rigorous challenge immediately after this election. There is
no overlap period to allow new MNDs to observe the last Pension Board meeting
with the previous ones still in office. New MNDs will be starting from cold.
IBM has developed numerous different pension plans over
the years, C, I, M, DSL etc. which are all different from each other with
varying benefit structures. Similarly, active, deferred and retired members are
likely to have differing concerns. If re-elected, I will use my experience to
obtain the best possible pension deals for all of us.
1969: Engineering degree (Cambridge University). Joined
GEC as an electrical engineer.
1973: IBM Nottingham - sales, SE, services and management
positions. Then Software Group working in UK, La Gaude and Paris with product
and marketing roles
2003: Early Retirement (at age 55): Freelance marketing and
communications consultant. Member of the audit committee of Loughborough
2004: Independent director and trustee of the Universities
Superannuation Scheme (USS)
2006: Member Elected Director of IBM Pension Trust
2007: Chairman of the audit committee of the Universities
elaborates (in green) on his election statement:
If you are wondering whether it is worthwhile ranking
people you don’t know, please persevere. Deferreds are disenfranchised, and
many members who could vote don’t. Only 1 in 6 of those involved in our schemes
voted in 2005. This level will not give MNDs the mandate they deserve. The
‘elections’ link at
www.amipp.org.uk gives background.
Candidates are alphabetically listed so those who are
doubtful about voting may well not get as far as reading this statement.
However it is an important point. Ideally there would be a poll conducted
later about why members did not vote. Some will simply not want to be
bothered. Some will be conscientious but not want to rank without more
knowledge. Some will feel MNDs can have no influence anyway. For
those in the last category, the argument needs to be made that their not voting
contributes to the case for MNDs being treated as lesser trustees. For the
other categories, something that raised interest levels would help - publishing
the numeric results and perhaps the
introduction of a period between the election statements and the voting, to
allow candidates to comment on the thinking of other candidates.
My OPA activity involves responding to Government
consultations about pensions. AMIPP aims to keep you informed. I have also
been able help some individuals.
There is a
natural cynicism that says governments only consult when they have decided what
is to happen (in the manner IBM consults with the Employee Forum) but that is
not always the case. Feedback on consultations is seen by influential
all-party Parliamentary Committees as well as by the Department of Work and
I was not able to stand in the 2005 MED election because of
an ageist rule then.
ageist rule in 2005 was an IBM decision, not a Trustee decision. That age
discrimination has become unlawful since 2005 is something of a red herring -
everyone knew in 2005 that age discrimination was undesirable and about to be
Pensions are not charity. Recent legislation ensures
schemes are adequately funded. The risks to our members now are further cost
cutting (putting M-Plan quality at risk), inflation, uninformed decisions, and
There is a European Court of Justice ruling that says
pensions should be viewed as deferred wages. Pensions in payment increases
of less than inflation amount to a pay cut in the pay for work already done.
Volatility in the stock markets will always mean that pension deficits/surpluses
on the "final salary" plans will vary much more rapidly than scheme members know
about but that is not a concern for members (unless you believe IBM Corporation will be in bankruptcy or bought by
another company within a few years) . If
there is a deficit the mechanisms will ensure IBM makes bigger contributions to
the fund, if there is a surplus IBM will make less or zero contributions.
Because of the
savage degradation of the "final salary" plans into "some fraction of final
salary plans", on top of increased employee contributions, the "final salary"
plans are no longer the obvious place for IBM to look for cost savings.
The government is sponsoring an occupational money purchase scheme ("Personal
Accounts") where the employer contribution is less than the norm for existing
money purchase schemes. There is concern that this will lead to companies
levelling down their schemes to the Personal Accounts level. In the past
IBM and the Trust have been quick to make changes that advantage IBM. (The
majority of final salary schemes are now closed to new members but when our
Trust did that in 1997 they were pioneering.) So potential reductions to the
employer contributions to the M-Plan have to be a concern.
be changed by the Trustee, but the Trustee's reaction to it can change.
The Trustee has responsibility for proposing increases to pensions in payment
and could propose changes to the parameters that determine increases.
(Actual inflation since parameters were last agreed has not dropped below the
"cap", demonstrating that the cap is not serving a purpose of reducing the
companies exposure to abnormally high inflation, instead it is a cap which
steadily reduces pension value.)
There have been
inadequately informed decisions made by the Trustee but the Trustee's very
minimal communications with scheme members (such as pages of legal opinion
reduced to one sentence, and detail negotiations reduced to a few words of
outcome) prevent that being discussed here.
regulator is concerned about trusts giving inadequate consideration to increases
in further longevity for those who reach a beyond average age. See
The Valuation Report for 2006 for our trust.
The Trust Board
could do more in providing facts, looking ahead, and analysing its options.
MNDs improve the prospects that it will.
MNDs are also
vital in worst-case scenarios. For example the
Thorn Pension Fund
is now owned by a subsidiary of a Guernsey based specialist pensions buy-out
company. When this happened, the new owner replaced the chairman and the
company trustees, but he could not replace the two MNDs.
Status January 2008
for the election need to be completed this month. Candidates are reminded
that although original signatures are needed on nominations, you can send ERS
the signatures on different copies of page 3 of the submission form. (And
thus perhaps be less dependent on serial use of the Royal Mail.)
Status August 2007
The Trust has presented a plan
for MND appointments, and asked for comment.
Newsletter 35 and the updated what the Code implies for our scheme
Status May 2007
Member Nominated Directors are a good
thing for scheme members. They have a role beyond that of mere
trustee-director. (The Minister who introduced them said they would
"give members more influence in the running of their schemes".)
They are empowered by regulation. (The other trustees
cannot decide MNDs are unsuitable for certain tasks.) They
are protected by regulation. (They cannot be dismissed by a
majority decision of the directors as a whole. The Company must make
allowances for their trustee work, and must not discriminate against them
because of it.)
We had trustee-directors with these regulated roles under a now obsolete
"Opt-out" arrangement. We will have them when appointments are made under
new arrangements. Meanwhile, we do not have
MNDs. (MEDs have no status in the
regulations - the term Member Elected Director was an invention of IBM's).
Of course, good things may happen, and bad things may be avoided, whoever the
trustees are. What the appointment of MNDs does is to guarantee some good
things and insure against some bad ones.
The appointment of MNDs as soon as possible is entirely a move in the interests
of the scheme members.
There is a
Code of Practice, issued by the Pensions Regulator and approved by Parliament,
for what constitutes good or bad practice in the timely appointment of MNDs.
Here is a discussion of what the Code implies for our scheme.
AMIPP has tried to discuss this with the
Trust. Our newsletters have
warned you about the impending problem.
What remains to be seen now is whether the
Trust cares about good or bad practice. What little it has said suggests
that it does not care, and could take a long time to make MND appointments - as
much as twice the time the Regulator regards as the maximum reasonable delay.
The Trust&Company, having established themselves as the worst of all comparable
schemes for providing protection against inflation, now seem set on establishing
themselves as the worst in respecting the Codes of Practice for good governance.
Below here relates to the 2005 and 2002 Elections
Retrospective view of trusteeship 5
Information for potential
trustee-directors 26 Aug 2005
Below here relates to the 2002 Election
18 March 2003 Brian Marks expands on
his election statement, to the Hursley Retirees AGM.
March 2003 Update Mike O'Sullivan not to
November 2002 update The elections results.
About the law on Elected Trustees
On voting tactics
About the Single Transferable Vote
AMIPP and the election
It is difficult to promote lively discussion of election issues when the
electorate does not know the names of the candidates until they are voting.
However, this website will provide information on the candidates as we get
it, and the message board is being used to
comment on the candidates, and on
the usefulness of being part of the
trustee election process.
AMIPP recommends that you vote:
These endorsements were not arrived at
democratically, they are just be an opinion based on AMIPP knowledge and
principles - this is analogous to when a newspaper comes out with a voting
recommendation in a political election. You will find the reasoning behind
them in Newsletter 13 and below.
There were 69 names on the ballot in 1996, and 17
in 1999. There are 17 people nominated for 2002, 8 of them retirees and 9
employees, so declining interest has been halted. The names of the 17 will
not be formally known until the ballot. There was a period 30 Sept to 11 October
when the nominees could find out more about responsibilities and how the
trust operates. In this period any nominee might have withdrawn, for example
because they discovered that the procedures of the board would prevent them
performing trustee duties as they saw them. So it is possible for there to
be original nominees that you never know about and, in the case of late
withdrawal, for there to be candidates on the ballot paper who have withdrawn.
Any election statements shown were limited to 150
words by the nomination process. Some of the election statements in the
information below were acquired by optical character recognition; flaws may have
Note Jan 2006 - we have taken the ballot
information out of this page because it has become of historical interest only.
If you think there is now a good reason for you to see it, you can always ask
through the AMIPP contacts page.
Alan Bowker Ballot
John Downe Ballot
Robin D'Souza Ballot
Mike Eacott Ballot
Lennie Herd Ballot
Elaine Kirkwood Ballot
Frank Littler Ballot
Sue Maplesden Ballot
Brian Marks Ballot
Dave Mitchell Ballot
Rhys Morris Ballot
Mike O'Sullivan Ballot
Paul Seaman Ballot
Graham Smith Ballot
Heather Sneddon Ballot
Gavin Wilson Ballot
Webmaster is keen to hear more and will generally publish statements, links, etc. that nominees want published.
A notable absentee from the list above is Don
Milton, a current retiree director who is not standing again. Boardroom
confidentiality prevents us knowing with certainty what wisdom and perspective
Don has provided to the board, but it seems likely that some of the glimmerings
of enlightenment shown by the board in recent years, towards members' interests,
have involved him. AMIPP records its thanks for his efforts.
The historical and regulatory background to the
voting process has been on the website for a while. The document you received
describing the election is commented on here. The actual counting of votes
is done by Electoral Reform
Ballot Services Limited using the single transferable vote system
There are variations in this scheme, and the actual algorithm is complicated by
the requirement to reserve places for two employee trustees and one retiree trustee. No reason has been given for this lack of symmetry,
although at the end of 1996 when the decision was made employee members were a fraction ahead in numbers.
(9388 actives, 7142 pensioners, 5997 deferreds). The employee proportion
is nowadays higher so to that extent the demographics are matched.
The ballot paper may not say it, but it is obvious sense to read through all
the information before putting any numbers on the form - otherwise you might
find the preference you want is one you have already used and this could act
against a candidate just because of the alphabetical order of names.
(There is statistically significant evidence from Irish elections of the
alphabetical order influencing voting.)
The ballot paper will say something like "The elector is recommended to
express preferences until he/she is unable to differentiate between any
remaining candidates". This is not the same as "Stop when you
have covered everybody you know anything about who you want to vote for".
You may want to vote against somebody. (Perhaps because of their
performance when elected before.) In that case you should put a number
against everybody else on the form, even if you know nothing more than the
ballot information about them. If you prefer a retiree over an employee,
or vice-versa, for the position than can be filled by either, it will help if
you give your preferred category candidates the lowest numbers you haven't
There is no way to rank candidates as equal,
except that the ones you give no ranking to are equally disfavoured.
There are actually three elections combined by
this ballot. There is an election for the mandatory two employee
directors, an election for the mandatory one retiree director and an election
for a fourth director. If you care about maximising your influence on all
three then you should understand the tailoring of the STV
process to the IBM case. Generally speaking, if you have a list with all
its high rankings given to employee candidates, or all its high rankings given
to retiree candidates, then you (likely) wont have influence on all three
A note for employees
Although all trustees should act in the interests of all members, there will
be a natural tendency for employees to vote for employees, on the basis that
more likely to bring to any discussion wisdom about how employees think and are
affected. There are however, some risks in not voting
A note for deferreds
The trustees and IBM decided that you would be excluded from the process. The
reason given was that "these former employees have no direct link with IBM
and can transfer their accrued benefit out of the IBM Pension Plan while it is
in deferment." This is thin reasoning because the retirees don't
have a direct link to IBM either - the election is for the board of IBM UK Pensions Trust
Ltd, a different company from IBM UK. And on the second point, employees
can also choose to quit the IBM Pension Plan and transfer out their accrued benefit.