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UK pensions regulator to take tougher approach to governance

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The UK’s pension regulator has launched a communications campaign to make clearer its expectations of pension fund governance and what it will do if its standards are not met.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a dedicated section of its website containing “specific and relevant content that sets out clear standards that TPR expects schemes to meet”.

The campaign does not involve new or higher standards being set, but the regulator being “clearer and more directive”, it said.

Anthony Raymond, acting executive director for regulatory policy at TPR, said: “We have set out our intention to be clearer, quicker and tougher. This campaign is one of the ways we are delivering this commitment and I would like to see all trustees visit the new campaign web page to ensure they are doing all they can to safeguard their members’ benefits.

“We are now communicating our expectations more clearly to trustees. Those who fail to respond to our more directive approach may face further regulatory action.”

The campaign follows a 2016 discussion paper from TPR looking at how standards could be raised among trustees and pension schemes’ governance improved.

Last week the regulator said it had found “major gaps” in pension fund governance, with many small and medium-sized pension schemes demonstrating disappointing shortcomings.

A week earlier, the UK pension scheme trade body said TPR needed to be less focused on processes and more on people in its approach to regulating pension fund governance.

Commenting on TPR’s new campaign, Darren Redmayne, CEO of Lincoln Pensions, said he anticipated it would increase the regulatory burden on schemes, with smaller schemes likely to feel this most.

“Perhaps obvious ‘winners’ from this campaign will include the professional trustee and covenant advisory firms who, I expect, will see even more work come their way as lay trustees respond to these reaffirmed expectations,” he added.

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