Master trusts given premium billing on TPR website

Now: Pensions and The People’s Pension have been placed ahead of Nest on The Pensions Regulator’s ‘how to find a pension scheme’ page for employers.

TPR has yielded to calls from master trust providers that it should publish a list of those master trusts that have been independently reviewed by under the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) master trust assurance framework. The framework was introduced following a spate of master trust launches, with more than 70 now available on the market.

The regulator has today published a list of the three master trusts that have received ICAEW accreditation – Now: Pensions, The People’s Pension and SEI Master Trust. SEI appears on the list but not on the ‘how to find a pension scheme’ page because it is not open to all employers.

Nest is described as a ‘Government scheme’ and is placed below Now and People’s on the TPR website.

Research by the regulator suggests one in five (290,000) employers will not seek advice when choosing a pension scheme, while one in ten (130,000) do not know how to select a scheme, or think it will be difficult.

Refreshed website content that has gone live today also includes a quick guide for small and micro employers on what to look out for when choosing a scheme suited to their needs, and updates to website pages for IFAs and accountants.

The regulator’s communications material will continue to signpost employers to Nest, the scheme established by the Government with a public service obligation to accept all employers, the National Association of Pension Funds’ PQM READY site and the Association of British Insurers’ list of automatic enrolment providers.

TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb says: “I strongly believe that the vast majority of the 1.3 million small and micro employers approaching automatic enrolment want to do the right thing. However, many will choose not to seek advice and will need additional support to meet their duties.

“We are committed to providing them with the information they need to make confident choices when it comes to choosing a quality scheme for their employees. My message to employers is clear: prepare early to make the most of the wealth of support available on our website. We are here to help.

“Our research shows that large multi-employer pension schemes such as master trusts and group personal pensions are better placed to meet the standards we believe are necessary for good outcomes for retirement savers. The list we have published today will help employers more easily identify master trusts that have demonstrated they can deliver quality standards, alongside other schemes including Nest.

“I strongly urge other master trust schemes to follow the lead of those which have already committed to the voluntary assurance framework so that the choice of quality schemes available for employers continues to grow.”

Now: Pensions CEO Morten Nilsson says: “Today’s announcement is big step in the right direction. It is also a much-needed vote of confidence in the assurance framework.

“A well-functioning market, is crucial to the continued success of auto enrolment and government, regulators and providers all need to work together to make sure small and micro firms are directed to the right places for the support they need.

“The next challenge will be to improve understanding and awareness of master trust assurance and the benefits to both employers and employees, otherwise there’s a danger its value will be overlooked.”

The People’s Pension director of policy and market engagement Darren Philp says: “It is good that The Pensions Regulator has listened and is now helping smaller employers chose a pension scheme by flagging providers other than the Government’s Nest scheme. Any employer, no matter what their size, deserves to have a good quality pension scheme for their employees and we welcome the Regulator’s announcement that it will signpost providers who have achieved its master trust assurance standard. 

“The market has changed dramatically since auto-enrolment was being developed and there are now a number of players who are active in providing auto-enrolment solutions to smaller employers. We encourage the Regulator to build on this announcement to ensure that from here on in it continues to promote choice of assured schemes at every step of the process.”