One in four FTSE 350 companies have turned to multi-employer defined contribution (DC) scheme providers, with this likely to rise to 35% among the FTSE 250 over the next two years, according to a survey.
Willis Towers Watson’s (WTW) latest FTSE 350 DC pension survey also found that the share of FTSE 100 companies to have adopted master trusts would probably rise to 27% by the end of that same period.
The increased use of master trusts has been at the expense of own-trust-based DC schemes. In the FTSE 100, in the last two years there has been a seven percentage point increase in the number of companies using a master trust, while use of DC trust-based schemes fell from 45% to 39%, and contract-based schemes from 40% to 39%.
Gemma Burrows, director in Willis Towers Watson’s retirement business, said:
“As the COVID-19 crisis prompts employers to look more closely at efficiency savings, we are likely to see increased streamlining of trust-based processes as well as the continuing trend towards outsourcing of DC pension provision.”
Master trusts first entered the mainstream DC pensions market some seven years ago, and there are now 38 approved under the regulator’s relatively recent authorisation regime.
Hymans Robertson recently said enquiries into making the move to master trusts had doubled during the coronavirus, and that it expected a surge in adoption of the vehicles as lockdown eases.
WTW’s survey also found that 33% of FTSE 100 schemes and 20% of FTSE 250 pension schemes were very likely or extremely likely to enhance their at-retirement support.
More than half (57%) of DC schemes now offer access to drawdown options. The consultancy said that while most offered drawdown access ‘in-plan’ (28%), there was an increasing movement towards offering this via a third party (17%), with some schemes (12%) offering access via both via a third party provider and in-plan.
The consultancy said a notable change in this year’s survey was the growth in the number of own-trust schemes offering facilitated access to a nominated third-party drawdown provider, “perhaps in recognition of the continued popularity of this option for retirees”.
“We are seeing an increase in DC schemes offering drawdown access through master trusts, either as the existing pension provider or through a third-party partnership,” Burrows said.
Phoenix Group yesterday announced the introduction of in-scheme drawdown for its Standard Life DC master trust pension clients, and Michael Ambery, head of DC provider relations at Hymans Robertson, said more master trusts would be getting to the same position over the next few months.