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From January 2020 members of the Vodafone UK Defined Contribution Pension Plan (the DC Plan) started to contribute into LifeSight, a Master Trust run by Willis Towers Watson.

Vodafone closed the Vodafone DC Plan to all members, effective from 31 December 2019.

The Trustee of the DC Plan also decided to transfer everyone’s pension accounts from the DC Plan into LifeSight. This process will be carried out in early 2020.

What is a Master Trust?

A Master Trust is a type of trust-based pension arrangement used by employers to provide defined contribution pension benefits to their employees. Master Trusts offer advantages to employers and their employees as unrelated employers join together to increase the buying power and scale of the pension plan. This means that the cost of running the Master Trust is often lower for members and the quality of the communications and modelling tools are of a high industry standard.

Who is LifeSight?

LifeSight is one of the leading Master Trusts primarily catering for large employers. LifeSight has gained both the Pensions Quality Mark Ready (PQM Ready) and the Retirement Quality Mark (RQM) from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA). PQM Ready recognises high quality Master Trusts and requires high standards of governance and clear communications. The RQM recognises the quality of the options offered at retirement.

Do I need to do anything?

No, if you were an active member of the DC Plan, you will carry on contributing into your pension as normal but your contributions will now go into LifeSight.

In the early part of 2020, the DC Plan accounts of both active and deferred members will automatically move to LifeSight. Please note that your Plan value at the date of the transfer will be the same as the opening balance of your LifeSight Account.

LifeSight will manage the investment transition as efficiently as possible and will endeavour to minimise costs and mitigate any out of market exposure, meaning that your investments will broadly behave as though they had been invested throughout the transition.

Have my investment options changed?

Yes, there are a number of different investment options available. The new default investment strategy is the Medium Risk Drawdown Lifecycle, if you haven’t made an investment choice you will automatically be invested in this strategy. This strategy gives you more flexibility at retirement and better reflects the decisions pension savers are making.

If you already know how you want to take your money when you reach retirement you can change your investment strategy to fit your plans. You have a broader choice of lifestyle strategies in LifeSight with nine Lifecycle Strategies to choose from, compared to the three previously offered by the DC Plan.

If you want to make your own investment decisions you also have a broader choice of options, with 25 self-select funds to choose from (increasing from 11 in the DC Plan). This includes new ethical and Sharia funds.

Where can I get more information?

There are a variety of documents for you to read which provide more information about LifeSight and the new options available to you. Alternatively, you can watch the video for a quick tour of the LifeSight website.

  • Welcome Guide – an introduction to LifeSight, breaking down the different benefits of LifeSight and how it plays a part in building up savings for your retirement
  • Key Features – read about all the key features of LifeSight
  • Plan Guide – an overview of all the important things you need to know about LifeSight and the options you have
  • Investment Guide – up-to-date information on what investment options are available through LifeSight
  • Video – a short video to guide you through how to manage your account online. Other helpful videos are available in the My Resources section of your LifeSight Account.

Or take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions below.

General

Vodafone believes that a Master Trust is a suitable replacement for the previous DC Plan. Some of the benefits provided by a Master Trust arrangement include:

  • Well-developed member support, communications and online tools
  • A better range of options for how you receive your money upon retirement
  • Wider investment choice
  • Robust governance
  • Strong future proofing against future changes in the pension environment
  • Competitive costs for both you and Vodafone.

The security of your pension savings with LifeSight is subject to the regulatory protections for Master Trusts.

If anyone involved in providing services to LifeSight (for example, Willis Towers Watson) failed or was unable or unwilling to provide services, the Trustee would appoint new providers. LifeSight member assets are held by the LifeSight Trustee on your behalf.

In the unlikely event of the failure of the investment managers, the LifeSight Trustee may be able to make a claim for compensation under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This is because LifeSight funds are held in an insured, regulated pooled investment vehicle. For investments made through a life policy (all of the funds except the LifeSight Shariah Fund), the LifeSight Trustee in certain circumstances may be entitled to make a claim to the FSCS in relation to 100% of the value of the policy. The LifeSight Trustee receives annual reporting on the security of assets that takes into account all of the fund managers to ensure it remains comfortable with the security of the assets, this review includes the LifeSight Shariah Fund.

Yes. UK occupational pension schemes like the previous DC Plan and LifeSight are regulated by The Pensions Regulator (TPR). TPR also oversees the authorisation regime for Master Trust pension arrangements, such as LifeSight. See Useful links for TPR's contact details.

The LifeSight Trustee acts independently from Willis Towers Watson (WTW) and holds WTW and other advisers to account for their services. The LifeSight Trustee has the power, in certain circumstances, to replace WTW as pension Administrator and investment consultant. The LifeSight Trustee directors have never worked for WTW nor hold any other external Master Trust positions.

No. If you are off work due to illness or injury for a period of 26 weeks or more, you may be entitled to receive income replacement of 50% of your salary under Vodafone's Income Protection Plan.

Vodafone believes that LifeSight is a better offering for members and provides greater choice and flexibility. All your data will remain as secure as it is currently, and both the LifeSight Trustee and WTW will continue to abide by GDPR legislation. Vodafone will continue to review the information data security arrangements for both WTW and LifeSight.

LifeSight is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). As a trust-based scheme it falls under The Pensions Regulator’s supervision regime for Master Trusts. WTW is however regulated by the FCA, in particular in respect of the investment advice given to LifeSight.

The funds LifeSight offers are currently provided through Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM). The LifeSight Trustee’s policy with LGIM is currently covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). In the unlikely event that LGIM is unable to meet its financial obligations, the LifeSight Trustee would be able to make a claim to the FSCS for 100% of the value of the policy with LGIM.

The Pensions Regulator requires that all authorised Master Trusts, including LifeSight, maintain and evidence access to sufficient capital to ensure that in even a worst-case scenario, such as an insolvency event, capital would be available to support the ongoing operation of the Plan and associated project costs. Under law, members' funds cannot be used to meet arising costs in such an event. Should a significant continuity event occur, the LifeSight Trustee will seek to move member assets to an alternative provider in the market and minimise any disruption in service to members. No liability is attached to any participating employers above paying member contributions due.

Investments

The charges for the LifeSight funds are detailed in the LifeSight Charges Sheet which can be found by logging into your LifeSight Account and navigating to My Resources > My Bookshelf and then to Guides and Factsheets.

Yes. You can switch your investments within your LifeSight Account online via the My Investments tab. You can do this at any time, through your mobile device or computer.

The performance of the LifeSight funds can be found in the quarterly fund factsheets. More regular fund performance information is available to LifeSight members and can be accessed at any time via your LifeSight Account.

You can access the fund factsheets for each of the investment options by visiting LifeSight.

The total expenses that members pay are outlined in the list of funds. These charges include both the investment fund charges and the account management fee. In most cases, these charges will either be the same or lower than the charges you previously paid in the DC Plan.

The expense charges are deducted on the first of each month based on the fund value at the end of the previous month. You will be able to see these charges being deducted by viewing the My Transactions tab in your LifeSight Account.

If you are in one of the default strategies, then the charges that you pay will vary over time depending on your age and how close you are to your Target Retirement Age.

There are no charges for making online switches. In addition, there are no fees for changing lifestyle strategy.

The LifeSight Trustee keeps all charges under review, as it must make an annual assessment that members are receiving "value for money".

The LifeSight Trustee is legally required to keep the existing fund range under review at least once every three years.

See the fund charges for the LifeSight funds.

There is an Ethical Global Equity Fund on the platform. This Fund invests in shares of companies in developed countries around the world. It excludes companies that fail to demonstrate strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. In addition, the LifeSight Trustee has recently introduced a similar ESG approach to 50% of the LifeSight Equity Fund.

Yes, see the LifeSight 2020 booklet in the document library.

Transfers

Yes. However, this is subject to the country you wish to transfer your LifeSight Account to. Please note that this is a complex area and you should consider seeking independent financial advice both in the UK and in the country you wish to transfer to. You can find details of a local Independent Financial Adviser at unbiased.co.uk. Please also be vigilant for pension scams.

There is no cost to members for transferring your previous DC Plan account into LifeSight.

It is possible to transfer pension benefits from other UK approved pension arrangements into LifeSight. There are no charges within LifeSight for these transfers although members should take into account any charges that may be applied by the ceding plan before transferring. Note that if the proposed transfer is from a Defined Benefit arrangement then there is a legal requirement to obtain independent financial advice if the value of the transfer is greater than £30,000.

You can find an Independent Financial Adviser in your area by visiting unbiased.co.uk.

Options at retirement

Yes, currently from age 55 you can take all of your LifeSight Account as a cash lump sum. Please note that there may be tax implications in taking all of your LifeSight Account as cash. You can take up to 25% of a LifeSight Account tax free, the remaining 75% will be taxed at the appropriate rate of income tax in the year that the lump sum is taken. This may mean that tax would be paid at a higher rate than the basic 20% tax rate.

Yes. There is a ready-made income drawdown solution within LifeSight which will enable you to access your pension savings through drawdown at no additional cost.

You have access to the HUB Helpdesk, where you can speak to someone who is familiar with the choices available to members at retirement. The Helpdesk team will not provide individual advice but can help you better understand your options before proceeding to use the other HUB services.

The HUB services can be used in two main ways:

Retirement Advice Service – a dedicated team that can provide financial advice and personal recommendations on how you can use your LifeSight Account to meet your needs through retirement. This process involves a full fact find, but only provides advice on options available through LifeSight. It can help you to assess your future income needs and gives advice on how you could invest if you are advised to use LifeSight drawdown.

Guided Annuity Service – a team that will search the open market on your behalf, finding the highest annuity income available to suit your personal circumstances and needs.

Access your LifeSight Account and go to the My Future tab for further details.

LifeSight members can search the market to obtain the annuity that best suits their needs. You should take appropriate financial advice before taking this action.

Your existing DC Plan assets are mapped across to the LifeSight Medium Risk Cash Lifecycle investment strategy. However, LifeSight will introduce transitional arrangements to protect your existing cash allocation. The intention is that you will see no difference to the percentage of funds that you have allocated to cash. New contributions into LifeSight are automatically invested in the new default investment strategy, Medium Risk Drawdown Lifecycle. You will be able to amend this approach by selecting an alternative investment strategy in your LifeSight Account.

Members have a right to transfer their Vodafone Group Pension Scheme (VGPS) benefits to another authorised pension arrangement including LifeSight. However, you are required to take independent financial advice if your transfer value is more than £30,000. Vodafone does not offer access to independent financial advice and cannot make any recommendations to members. You are encouraged, when seeking financial advice, to ensure that the advice you are receiving is from an independent qualified financial adviser. You can find an Independent Financial Adviser by visiting unbiased.co.uk.

Additional questions

Yes, there is a charge for a pension sharing order as there was with the DC Plan. The amount varies depending on whether an internal or external transfer is taken by your ex-spouse.

Yes. There is no change to the way you pay AVCs (i.e. via salary sacrifice). You can invest AVCs in any of the nine Lifecycle Strategies or 25 self-select funds available from LifeSight.

If you don't make an investment choice, your AVCs will be invested in the default investment strategy, Medium Risk Drawdown Lifecycle.

Employees continue to receive the same level of life assurance on death in service, but this is payable from a separate discretionary life assurance scheme set up by Vodafone. On death in service or in deferment, LifeSight would pay a refund of your Account value as a lump sum, at the Trustee’s discretion. The LifeSight nomination of beneficiaries can be updated by visiting your LifeSight Account. The Life Assurance nomination of beneficiaries can be updated in your MyChoices profile.

If you are an employee, you will need to complete two different nomination of beneficiaries forms, one for LifeSight and one for your Vodafone life cover.