Defined Contribution  

Now: Pensions fixes issues flagged by regulator

Now: Pensions fixes issues flagged by regulator

Workplace pension provider Now: Pensions has resolved its historic administration issues, according to a report published today (February 1) by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

A year ago, the master trust, with almost 2 million members, received a £70,000 fine from the watchdog due to administrative issues with collecting contributions, and failing to communicate these problems to members.

In April 2016, the pension contributions of almost one in three of the master trust's members – an estimated £18m affecting over 265,000 people – had not been collected, and there were ongoing problems both with the collection of contributions and with ensuring the correct amounts were invested for members.

The provider’s trustee and the trust manager, Now: Pensions Ltd (NPL), was directed by TPR to correct this problem.

As a result, NPL has worked closely with employers to collect outstanding contributions. It has moved all of its members onto an in-house platform, called Gateway, while it improved the member data it holds and has rebuilt the data records of more than 350,000 of its members, TPR said.

All of the contributions due to these members have now been collected and invested, it added.

TPR is now satisfied that all reasonable steps have been taken to comply with the notices. While there are still some cases of outstanding contributions, these largely relate to instances when employers have become insolvent, and the provider is working proactively to address these cases, the regulator said.

According to Nicola Parish, TPR's executive director of frontline regulation, when the watchdog launched its investigation of the provider, the master trust had significant administration problems in the way it was handling data.

She said: "In particular, its failure to collect contributions was causing problems for employers and the pension pots of members were not growing as they should have been. This was unacceptable.

"Pension schemes, including master trusts, should be in no doubt that we will act if we become concerned about the way they are being run. We will not accept failings that put members' savings at risk."

Troy Clutterbuck, chief executive of Now: Pensions, said he was "grateful to employers for their help and co-operation, as NPL has carried out this complex work".

He said: "I’m sorry for the length of time it’s taken to put things right. As one of the largest auto enrolment providers, I am acutely aware of the important role we play in supporting people with their retirement savings. 

"We have made fundamental changes throughout our business to improve our operations and remain fully committed to the auto enrolment market.

"We will continue to play a key role in safeguarding the success of the policy so that it delivers on its promise of providing millions more people with a better retirement."

maria.espadinha@ft.com