IRELAND - The Irish regulator has launched a consultation on regulation in the defined contribution (DC) sector, soliciting advice on ways to simplify the current framework.

The Pensions Board said it was "anxious" to gather the views of the industry, but ruled out any immediate review of defined benefit (DB) arrangements in light of the government's reinstatement of the funding standard, on which details are still forthcoming.

It urged the industry to address the necessity of all regulation, as well as its effectiveness and impact, and whether there were "smarter" ways of achieving goals.

"Simplification of regulation and of associated administrative procedures should be kept under ongoing review by a regulator," the Board's call for advice said.

"It is important from time to time to review the procedures in place for regulated entities to meet the requirements of the Pensions Act."

However, it acknowledged that regulation would at times be "unavoidably complex", adding that, if these were identified, the regulator could issue clearer guidance.

It noted that last year's National Pensions Framework had identified a number of the country's personal pension vehicles - such as Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA) and Retirement Annuity Contracts (RAC) - as being ready for re-examination.

It also said that while opinions on the topic would be welcome, the standalone review of these areas should not be confused with the current consultation.

The Board also highlighted the importance of examining buyout procedures, saying it would welcome input on procedures to buy out deferred members without consent.

Industry experts previously argued that the recent introduction of sovereign annuities could lead to an increase in such risk-transfer arrangements, as they would offer "much better value" than tools currently available.

It further noted that DB schemes would be subject to its own review in future, once government had agreed on the details of a new funding standard - with the only detail confirmed so far that it would be gradually introduced over an 11-year period, with the previous funding standard reinstated for the first three of those years.

The call for advice said: "It will be possible to revisit the area of DB provision to consider the potential for simplification at a later date when the various changes have been implemented and bedded down."

The consultation will close at the end of February next year, with submissions to be sent to the Pensions Board.