PTL Blog

Richard Butcher

Richard Butcher joined PTL in 2008, becoming Managing Director in 2010. He has responsibility for a wide and diverse range of clients with a specific focus on governance in both DB and DC pension schemes. Richard is a Fellow of the Pensions Management Institute (PMI) also sitting on the Council. He is Vice Chair of the National Association of Pensions Funds (NAPF) DC Council and sits on the NAPF board. Richard is a sought after speaker on the industry circuit and a regular key contributor to the industry press. He was Highly Commended in the 2010 & 2011 Engaged Investor Independent Trustee of the Year Awards and was also recently named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in Pensions 2014 by Pensions Insight. Richard is also a member of The Pensions Regulator DC Practitioner Panel, the Mastertrust Association, the DWP Trustee Panel and co-Founder of The Association of Member Nominated Trustees.
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Recent Posts

Counterparties come to the party

Posted by Richard Butcher on May 24, 2017 11:22:00 AM

First published in Engaged Investor, 24 May 2017

Richard Butcher, managing director of PTL talks about his bugbear in any investment mandate but particularly a fiduciary one, that it is rarely clear who is involved.

I’ve got teenage kids and as a consequence, one of my recurring nightmares is the “facebook party”. You’ll have heard about these. Your teenage child asks “can I have a few friends round while you’re out on Saturday?” You reply, “Sure, but not too many and behave yourselves.”

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Topics: investment, fiduciary management

Increasing Deficits: A time to panic?

Posted by Richard Butcher on May 15, 2017 3:57:52 PM

Barely a month goes by without one of the trade papers publishing the headline that the combined pension deficit of the U.K.s largest companies has shot up/dropped (delete as appropriate) by some incredibly large number. The sensationalism of the headline will directly correlate with the number. This month those headlines were augmented by comments from Mercer suggesting that the recent slowing down of life expectancy improvements had wiped £2.5bn off the combined deficit.

Hmmm. It's time to pause for a moment and reflect on all this excitement.

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Topics: investment, Deficits

The investment costs map: below-the-line costs

Posted by Richard Butcher on Feb 21, 2017 11:42:44 AM

In my blog The investment costs map: where costs can occur in the investment processI described where and when pension investment costs can occur. In this blog, the third in the mini series, I set out what costs can occur “below the line”.

Firstly, a few things to remember from the first blog. The “line” is where the unit price is calculated. Costs that are below the line are implicit in the unit price (i.e. they are deducted BEFORE the unit price is calculated and so they are invisible to the consumer) and will not be contractually specific. Also, costs have both quantum and duration – different amounts at different times.

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Topics: Transaction costs, investment, cost transparency

The day I used the Chair's casting vote

Posted by Richard Butcher on Feb 17, 2017 3:17:58 PM

I've been involved with trustees and trustee boards for 27 years, but the other day, I experienced a first.

Most trustee decisions are routine and nothing much to get excited about.

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Topics: governance, trusteeship

The investment costs map: above the line costs

Posted by Richard Butcher on Jan 31, 2017 8:54:35 AM

In my blog "The investment costs map: where costs can occur in the investment process" I described where and when pension investment costs can occur. In this blog, the second in the mini series, I will set out what costs can occur “above the line”.

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Topics: investment, cost transparency

The investment costs map: where costs can occur in the investment process

Posted by Richard Butcher on Jan 19, 2017 7:51:58 AM

Tim Harford, in his book The Under Cover Economist, makes the point that it is very difficult to out-perform the market over the long term, and concludes his argument by writing: “we should gently invest in a wide variety of shares, with no expectation of making a killing – we should diversify, keep charges low and avoid trying to be too clever”.

Good advice, although, in one respect at least, difficult to follow. We can all agree that investment costs should be low (although they should be low and optimal, as opposed to low for the sake of it) but how can we be certain they are when they are so opaque?

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Topics: investment, cost transparency

The cost of being too clever

Posted by Richard Butcher on Jan 12, 2017 11:19:28 AM

Richard Butcher says it's time to learn that complexity is generally costly

My school teachers were okay, but in a lifetime of learning since then I’ve come across so many other people who would have been better. Imagine Jonny Ball teaching you maths, Bill Bryson history, geography or science, or Brian Cox physics. 

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Topics: investment, FCA, asset management

Thank you, Mr Hammond

Posted by Richard Butcher on Nov 24, 2016 9:17:58 AM

A month or so ago I wrote a blog pleading with the Chancellor not to make changes to pension scheme reliefs (click here to read it).

Thanks, Mr Hammond, for listening.

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Topics: tax relief, autumn statement

FCA Asset management market study: an ice bath rather than a cold shower

Posted by Richard Butcher on Nov 21, 2016 3:18:59 PM

Late last year the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launched a consultation on the operation of the investment management industry (I wrote three blogs on it starting here They have now published their interim report (apparently it is still summer!) and it could be a game changer for the investment industry. A great big game changer.


Firstly the basics. This is an interim report (all 206 pages plus nine annexes of it) and, in effect, acts as a consultation. It flags some more work they plan to do, identifies some problems they don’t like and proposes a first set of solutions. The consultation closes in February and a final report will be published next year.


On the assumption that the final report sticks with the solutions included in the interim report (and perhaps adds to them) the full report will need changes in the FCA Code of Business Sourcebook (the “COBS”) and potentially also the law. In other words, no changes are likely to be mandated for at least a year although we’ll all have a clear feel for the direction of travel well before then.


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Topics: Pensions

Charge cap guidance brings significant uncertainty around property investment

Posted by Richard Butcher on Oct 25, 2016 5:16:35 PM

Late last Friday, as many in the pensions industry tried to doze quietly on their trains after an exhausting but great PLSA conference, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published some guidance on the charge cap that applies to qualifying DC schemes.  

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Topics: dc regulations, dc governance, investment, property

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