The UK Pensions Regulator (TPR) has set out its vision for a changing regulatory landscape, voicing its determination to assert its influence at the European level.
The watchdog also confirmed it would publish new guidance on defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) pension funds early next year, after 2014 saw significant changes to both approaches.
TPR’s new chairman, Mark Boyle, who took the reins earlier this year, said once the UK government provided details on announced DC reforms, the regulator would work quickly to publish guidance for trustees.
Speaking at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) Annual Conference in Liverpool, Boyle said the regulator was working with the government and other regulatory bodies to facilitate the reform.
Earlier in the conference, the government was criticised over a lack of clarity on what the reforms meant for the industry despite a fast-approaching deadline.
“What this means in practice is providing the government with an idea of what the implementation of these policies might look like from a regulatory perspective,” Boyle said.
“I am acutely aware of the amount of change the industry is dealing with. For our part, we will be providing guidance to trustees in the new year to help trustees once the detail of the new provisions is certain.”
In the interim, the regulator will continue to work off its existing DC Code of Practice, unveiled only last year.
Boyle also said TPR would be working to ensure changes in the DB landscape translated into meaningful regulation, particularly around its new Funding Code finalised in June.
“The new code strengthens what schemes are already doing,” he said. “We are aware some schemes take inappropriate risk while some take too little.
“Our case teams have undergone extensive training so the Code and its principles are translated into consistent working practices.”
Regarding the IORP II Directive’s effect on UK pension schemes, Boyle said it was much too early to assess any potential impact, but he did say TPR would work with the government to support any negotiation decisions.
“As an active member of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), we should be in a position to provide direct input and technical expertise reflective of the UK pensions regime,” he said.
However, on the holistic balance sheet consultation launched on Monday, Boyle was more determined about the UK’s involvement in discussions.
“We want to work as closely with EIOPA as we can and sitting round the table when these issues are being discussed,” he said.
“We want to know where these ideas are coming from and their implications on UK pension schemes.”