NEST, the UK’s largest pension scheme by members, has announced that Helen Dean will step down as chief executive officer in 2024 after nearly eight years in the role.

Dean has been with the pension fund since it was founded in 2008, and in the first eight years she led its product, marketing and operations departments before her appointment as CEO in September 2016.

Before joining NEST, Dean was one of the architects of automatic enrolment policy at the Department for Work and Pensions. Her team was tasked with coming up with a solution to the UK’s chronic pensions under-saving scenario. The auto-enrolment solution has helped millions of UK workers start contributing into a pension, many for the first time.

During her time as CEO, NEST grew into one of the largest UK pension scheme by members, with 12 million, and responsible for investing around £450m a month on their behalf.

In the past eight years, Dean has also signed the Women in Finance Charter on behalf of NEST, overseen the creation of the fund’s first diversity groups and published NEST’s gender and ethnicity pay reports.

Dean said: “It’s important for the continuity of NEST that the board has plenty of time to run a competitive and thorough recruitment process, as the priority will be finding the right person for the role. I’m therefore confirming that I’ll be leaving NEST next year to allow someone else the honour and privilege of this wonderful job.”

She added: “With the new scheme administrator contract in place, I feel confident now is the right time to step down and allow my successor to continue driving forward the digital transformation of NEST’s platform.”

Brendan McCafferty, the fund’s chair, added: “Helen has helped revolutionise workplace saving, and the fantastic position NEST finds itself in is down to her excellent leadership. I deeply value her energy, expertise, and passion for ensuring the NEST project she started all those years ago remains a success.”

The search for Dean’s successor will be led by the NEST board. The scheme said it will work closely with the Department for Work and Pensions through the recruitment process.

“I wish Helen all the best for whatever challenge she chooses to take on next,” McCafferty concluded.

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