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Chaos within the operations team of Shell Pensions Trustees office

Lightning never strikes Twice?

Always a pleasure to see Tim Morrison, now a Shell retiree, leading from the in front in the 2023 Shell Pensions video. Tim was Shell Group Controller – an oxymoron? – during the Reserves scandal in 2004 – 2005. Surviving that, he now Chairs the Shell Pension Trust, based in London.

Other contributors have shared views on how badly the Shell Pension Trust is managed and how poorly Shell has treated its pensioners during the recent period of excess inflation at the time of concurrent excess profits. What current employees and recent retirees may also want to know is the chaos within the operations team of Pensions Trustees office during the last few years.

Inexplicably high levels of staff turnover coupled with the transfer of operations out to Poland seems to have wreaked chaos within the administration processes of this critical part of Shell. A new manager was appointed in 2022 but the emphasis, in a typical Shell fashion not unlike the Reserves scandal, remains to be pretending there were, and are, no issues. Apparently though:

  • For two years, Shell were unable to produce ANY accurate AVC projections for current employees, even to the extent that the third-party provider could not create letters that had any names and addressed attached. Bizarre though this sounds, this was verified directly by the new management although they have elected not to tell the people being affected
  • Even once this shambles was identified, Shell and their third-party provider were unable to accurately provide this AVC information. In at least one case producing an estimate 200% of the real AVC value, significantly affecting pension planning of the person affected. Again, inability of Shell to provide accurate AVC statements is worrying if not downright negligent. 
  • Through the last eighteen months, probably longer, the Pension Trustees office were unable to produce accurate projections of retirement outcomes. In one case a deferred Shell pensioner received five separate, all incorrect, statements for their pension up to and even beyond normal retirement date.

Shell also seem to be applying some dubious treatments of the split between the SCPF (onshore) and SOCPF (offshore) pension funds and retirees consequent entitlements. Again, chaos reigns here as all Shell employees and deferred pensioners receive annual statements of their benefits. Imagine then that after, say, fifteen years of projections Shell trustees turn around and say ‘er… no, that is not what you will receive’!!

Instead, there seems to be a retrospective recalculation taking place literally ONLY a few weeks before reaching pensionable age. Entitlements guaranteed in annual letters are shifted back to the SCPF from the SOCPF based on a spurious suggestion this is recent  ‘actuarial guidance’. 

One view of this more familiar with the financial approaches that Shell adopts behind closed doors is that Shell realised in 2008 – from when this change applies, except they don’t tell you! – that the SCPF was severely underfunded and hence Shell have implicitly transferred liabilities from the SOCPF to the SCPF. What is the problem with that you ask? 

Anyone approaching retirement age in the last ten years close to the Lifetime Allowance would have faced a last-minute increase in the value of their UK pension. Again, at least one case of this added a £s0,000 liability – and near five figure tax charge – to someone due to retire in 2022.

We’d suggest all recent retirees and those nearing retirement check VERY carefully!

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