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PwC poaches head of defined benefit regulation at UK watchdog

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Stephen Soper, the UK pension regulator’s head of defined benefit (DB) regulation, is to join consultancy PwC.

Soper joined The Pensions Regulator (TPR) in 2009 as head of risk and funding, being named executive director of DB regulation in 2011.

He will leave TPR at the end of July, moving to his new role in September

His departure comes only a few months after Lesley Titcomb took over as the regulator’s new chief executive, bringing to an end Soper’s 20-month spell as interim chief executive in the wake of Bill Galvin’s move to the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

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IPE reported last year that the appointment of a chief executive was being delayed by the lack of a permanent head of private pensions at the Department for Work & Pensions, a position filled in July last year by Charlotte Clark, a former UK Treasury civil servant

Soper said he was “very excited” to be joining PwC, where he will be senior pensions adviser, leading its work with DB sponsors and scheme trustees.

“Companies and trustees have a great opportunity right now to fundamentally reshape the way retirement provision operates, for the benefit of all concerned,” he said.

TPR’s chairman Mark Boyle praised Soper’s work at the regulator, saying he had achieved “an immense amount” since 2009.

Boyle noted the “landmark” court rulings that had occurred under Soper’s tenure, including the £184m (€230m) settlement over the deficit in the Lehman Brothers Pension Scheme.

The settlement allowed the fund to complete a £675m bulk annuity deal with Rothesay Life, securing the full level of benefits for members that would have not been guaranteed on entry into the Pension Protection Fund.

Boyle added: “The regulator’s voice is now heard with much greater clarity as a result of Stephen’s championing transparent casework reports and publication of an annual guidance statement on the funding of DB schemes.”

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