Pensions  

Regulator warns of more intervention

Regulator warns of more intervention

The Pensions Regulator has promised to "intervene more frequently and act quicker" in struggling defined benefit pension schemes, as part of a new eight-point, three-year plan.

The new plan will see the regulator spend an additional £7.9m in 2017-18, compared to the previous year. 

The plan sets out priorities for the regulation of defined benefit schemes and auto-enrolment master trusts.

It focuses on data standards, consumer protections, governance standards, and helping businesses meet their auto-enrolment obligations.

Alongside its intention to intervene more regularly, the regulator put special emphasis on its plan to drive up standards of trusteeship across all schemes, "with a particular focus on chairs and professional trustees".

TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb, a former Financial Conduct Authority official,  said the TPR was "evolving to become a bolder, more effective regulator".

"Going forward we will be intervening more frequently and acting faster," she said. 

"Workplace pension schemes play a vital role in the retirement plans of millions of people and we have an important role in protecting their benefits.

"Effective regulation is essential to protect the benefits of members of occupational pension schemes and in recent months we have demonstrated we will use the powers available to us.

"Elsewhere, our corporate plan clearly sets out the importance we place on the quality of trusteeship and how we will work to simplify the guidance and codes we provide to the industry.

"In addition, the continued successful implementation of automatic enrolment and the increased protection for consumers in master trust schemes remain top priorities," she said. 

Alongside the eight-point plan, the regulator also identified five key risk areas: poor outcomes for members and sponsors of smaller schemes; standards of governance and administration not increasing at the pace required to meet expectations; potential scheme failures; the impact of poor record-keeping in both public and private sectors; and investment risk conditions arising from political and market uncertainty.

james.fernyhough@ft.com