Defined Contribution  

Employers are reviewing pension arrangements

Employers are reviewing pension arrangements

Master trusts could lead to poorer retirement outcomes than group personal pensions, as these schemes don’t allow for adviser charging, Royal London has claimed.

In its 24-page policy paper Group Personal Pension or Master Trust? – A guide for employers published last week (April 25), Royal London stated if employees are enrolled into a master trust they may be less likely to find the cash to pay for financial advice.

In the report the mutual insurer stated it is widely accepted that there is an advice gap in the UK, with too few workers taking financial advice when planning for their retirement and when making other key financial decisions.

One way to make advice more affordable is for the cost of ongoing financial advice to be deducted from a member’s pension, rather than having to be funded out of the member’s bank account.

However, while most GPPs will facilitate this, master trusts do not.

Royal London stated "a steadily growing secondary market is emerging" where employers consider whether to change the provider of their workplace pension.

This is due to the fact that all companies have passed their initial staging date for auto-enrolment, and many are now starting to review whether their existing workplace pension scheme is providing the best outcomes for their employees. 

The mutual insurer’s paper analysed the merits of group personal pensions and master trusts, the two main types of workplace pensions.

According to figures from The Pensions Regulator, by 2017/18 amongst those employing more than thirty employees, around 53,000 employers were using a master trust for auto-enrolment, and some 33,000 employers were using a group personal pension.

Sir Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London and former pensions ministers, noted that "it is a healthy sign" that employers are keeping their workplace pension arrangements under review, and looking to make sure that the scheme they used to fulfil their auto-enrolment duties is "still fit for purpose". 

He said: "Both master trusts and group personal pensions have important roles to play and there are examples of high quality in both types. 

"But employers need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each, and we hope that this guide will assist them in that choice. 

"Whether it is charging structures, governance, delivery of tax relief or options at retirement, employers and their advisers need to make sure that the features of their chosen scheme are helping workers to get the best pension outcomes."

maria.espadinha@ft.com