A quick guide to staying auto enrolment compliant – for UK employers

Think you have cracked auto enrolment? You may have chosen a pension scheme, enrolled the right people and notified The Pensions Regulator (TPR). What else can be left? Here are the top three things required to help you stay on track.

1. Re-enrolment and re-declaration

Every three years you must assess some of your staff again, even if they have previously opted out or reduced their contributions, as their situation may have changed. You may now need to auto enrol them. Importantly, you must also tell TPR that you have carried out your re-assessment or face penalties for non-compliance. Make sure you have read and followed TPR’s essential guide to re-enrolment and re-declaration. Continue Reading

End of Round One for TPR?

Red Boxing GLoves

The pension schemes bill has been issued, giving The Pensions Regulator (TPR) stronger powers, but its passage through parliament is far from over.

The new bill legislates for “collective money purchase benefits” and the pensions dashboard, it amends the scheme funding provisions of the Pensions Act 2004 and introduces changes to the individual transfer regime (in a bid to make pension liberation schemes less effective). It strengthens the powers of TPR and it also amends rules around the Pension Protection Fund to make retrospective the requirement that all of a member’s benefits in a scheme (including those transferred in) would be subject to the same cap. Continue Reading

An Ode to Pensions Risk Management

Two climbers on a rock face with bright blue sky

Risk management is tricky, as things move along so fast,
You think you have it covered, but that status doesn’t last.
In terms of regulations, you may be surprised to learn
Five hundred have been issued since the last decade did turn.
We’re close to Twenty Twenty, it’s a good time to reflect
On headlines from the last decade that we did not expect.

In Twenty Ten a statement caused plenty of vexation,
Some schemes could move to CPI for pensions indexation.
In April the year after, the chancellor took some action
The AA was the target, and he axed it to a fraction.

Continue Reading

Brisk Walks and Pensions Reports

Many people benefit from having a daily routine of some sort. Repetition takes away the stress of having to make lots of small decisions. For example, I take a brisk walk along the same route from the station to my office most days – I can judge whether I’m running early or late depending when I spot certain regular fellow commuters. But routine can also stifle perception. Some days I cannot really distinguish today’s walk from yesterday’s walk.

How is this relevant to pensions? Continue Reading

What’s the time, Mr Wolf?

Lone Wolf Howling

Dinner time! Or rather, it’s time for our near annual reminder of the perils of ignoring The Pensions Regulator (TPR). We know by now that it really does bite!

In 2017 we wrote about the first high profile uses by TPR of its power to prosecute individuals for failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with an order to provide information to TPR when required to do so under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004. In the first case, TPR secured convictions against a firm of solicitors and its managing partner; in the next, they secured a conviction against the Chief Executive of a charity. Continue Reading

Turkey and tinsel… and setting objectives for your investment consultants

Festive Dinner

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued its final order in relation to its investigation into the investment consultancy and fiduciary management market. The order comes into effect in two parts. Most provisions are effective from 10 December 2019, giving trustees and managers time to prepare for the changes. The monitoring and compliance provisions (more on these later) came into effect on the date of the order (10 June 2019).

The government has reacted quickly and has already issued for consultation draft regulations implementing the Order – for the most part with no changes. The proposal is that regulations will come into force in April 2020. Notwithstanding the lack of regulations, trustees should note that the Order is legally binding until the CMA confirms that appropriate regulations are in place or other conditions have been met.

The key provisions of the order, which require trustees to take action, relate to:

  • Mandatory tendering for fiduciary management services
  • Setting strategic objectives for investment consultants
  • Submitting a compliance statement on an annual basis

Continue Reading

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – The Diversity of Trustee Boards

Mad Hatters Tea Party

The Mad Hatter’s tea party would not have been as brilliantly bonkers if the characters were not so diverse. Could pension schemes be managed better if they were more diverse, or is the Pensions Regulator (TPR) just as mad for promoting the need for change? If it is your birthday, unbirthday or any other day of the week, please read on for a comment on trustee board diversity. Continue Reading

E-S-G…. (not as) easy as 1-2-3

Wind TurbinesIf you are a trustee of an occupational pension scheme, it is time to start preparing for the new ESG requirements, some of which kick-in on 1 October 2019.

What is ESG?

Environmental, social and governance considerations have come to the fore in recent years especially in the context of pension scheme investment. In its recently updated guidance, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) notes that many scheme members will be invested for a long time and will be exposed to longer term financial risks which potentially include risks that “could be financially significant, both over the short and longer term. When setting investment strategies, we expect trustee boards to take account of risks affecting the long-term financial sustainability of the investments.”

Actions trustees need to take Continue Reading

Pensions Administration Standards Association publishes guidance on cybersecurity

We have previously commented on how the cyber threat to every UK pension scheme must now be very firmly at the top of every trustee’s risk register. GDPR has only served to highlight a fundamental challenge to the cybersecurity of schemes, a challenge that seems to evolve and grow by the week.

PASA has just published some important guidance on cybersecurity risk and risk management to help trustees and their schemes manage the risks. That guidance covers five main areas: risk assessment, governance, risk management, controls and incident management.

Risk assessment. To carry out successful risk assessments, the guidance suggests that trustees must agree what they are trying to protect from cyber risks (e.g. member data), identify the threats, look at relevant controls in place and then assess the likely impact of the risk. They can then go on to consider risk management and the controls in place to assist with that. Continue Reading

Helping employers with their Plumbing Scheme debt challenges

Debt illustrations are starting to land on the desks of employers who have historically participated in the Plumbing & Mechanical Services (UK) Industry Pension Scheme (“the Plumbing Scheme”).

Together with Chris Hawley of Barnett Waddingham, we explore the arising issues and what challenges are open to these employers.


The challenges facing the Plumbing Scheme surrounding historic section 75 exit debts have been well publicised. Essentially, due to a lack of information in historic records regarding employment history, the Plumbing Scheme has not been able to calculate and issue debts to employers who have ceased to participate in the Scheme since September 2005.

The Trustee of the Plumbing Scheme has explained that it has spent a lot of time lobbying and communicating with the various regulatory powers about way the section 75 debt is applied. After several years – in 2014, the Trustee started work with its advisers on the process to begin calculating and recovering section 75 exit debts.

More recently, there has been multiple consultations with employers about the method for calculating the debts. The Plumbing Scheme has now started issuing indicative debt amounts, giving employers a period of 6 weeks to challenge the calculation and amounts, as well as opportunities to discuss payment options before a formal debt is issued to the employer. Continue Reading