Pensions - Articles - TPRs strategic shift in oversight of workplace pensions

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) tannounced organisational changes to reinforce its strategic shift in overseeing the workplace pensions market.

 The pensions landscape is rapidly evolving towards a competitive marketplace of fewer, larger schemes. This presents different risks and opportunities for savers and the economy.

 Faced with a new regulatory environment, TPR is taking steps to make sure pensions continue to deliver good outcomes for savers while strengthening its regulatory grip. This will mean that TPR will engage differently with the market, and, from April, will create three new regulatory functions which protect, enhance and innovate in savers’ interests:

 Regulatory Compliance – protecting pension savers' interests through the effective and efficient delivery of regulatory compliance services, targeting schemes and employers.

 Market Oversight – enhancing the market through strategic engagement with schemes and others who influence pension savers’ outcomes, with a strong focus on delivering value for money and trusteeship.

 Strategy, Policy and Analysis – using insights from our regulatory approach and elsewhere to evolve the regulatory framework and support market innovation in savers’ interests.

 These will be supported and enabled by essential functions: Operations, Digital, Data and Technology, and People.

 Chair of TPR, Sarah Smart, said: “We are moving from a fragmented pensions landscape of thousands of small schemes to an environment of fewer, larger schemes. That means we need to change our regulatory approach to protect savers in the future.

 “The market should expect us to engage with it differently from now on. Our new structure means we will be swifter to address compliance failures and market-wide risks while being more dynamic in our industry engagement and bringing innovation to the fore.”

 Chief Executive of TPR, Nausicaa Delfas, said: “We have to make sure that workplace pensions work for savers. Our organisational changes are about bringing our talented and capable colleagues together to protect, enhance and innovate in savers’ interests.”

 How pensions are changing
 Over the last decade, pensions have undergone a radical transformation. Automatic enrolment has made saving the norm for millions of workers and shifted the balance towards defined contribution (DC) saving. Master trusts are the vehicle of choice for most employers and account for 90% of DC memberships, with 82% of savers concentrated in the largest five schemes by assets under management.

 At the same time, employers have moved away from defined benefit pensions, with just 4% of schemes fully open, with schemes considering their options in how they make good their promises to savers including the new wave of consolidation vehicles hitting the market like superfunds.

 This means pensions have changed from a landscape of one employer, one scheme, to a competitive marketplace of competing master trusts and consolidation vehicles.

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