The Work and Pensions committee has approved the appointment of CMS partner Dominic Harris as the next Pensions Ombudsman.
In a report published on July 18, the MPs said they were satisfied that Harris “has the personal independence and professional competence” to take on the role.
WPC chair Stephen Timms noted that Harris “impressed the committee with his grasp of detail and understanding of the challenges facing the Pensions Ombudsman”.
“It is vital that people can trust that any complaints and disputes about their pension schemes are handled in a fair and impartial way, and we are confident that Mr Harris has the right skills and independence to lead the organisation in this important task.
“We wish him every success in his new position and look forward to working with him.”
In a hearing with the committee on July 13, Harris said he would look to improve customer satisfaction and the backlog that the ombudsman is currently facing if appointed to the position.
Harris will replace Anthony Arter, who saw his term extended by one year in July 2021 — which terminates on August 1 2022 — after no suitable candidates had been found for the role.
Pensions Expert reported in February that the DWP subsequently amended its hiring criteria for the role, removing the requirement that any candidate applying must be a legally qualified solicitor or barrister.
During Arter’s tenure, the Pensions Ombudsman has undergone significant growth in recent years and taken on new responsibilities, such as absorbing the dispute resolution function of the Pensions Advisory Service.
Besides being a partner at CMS’s pensions team, Harris also serves as chair of the Investment and Defined Contribution Committee of the Association of Pension Lawyers.
The role of Pensions Ombudsman is a public appointment made by the secretary of state for the DWP, and the position is a full-time role with an annual remuneration of £143,095, which is uprated annually.
Maria Espadinha is editor at Pensions Expert, FTAdviser's sister publication