NOW: Pensions, one of the UK’s largest master trusts, has been authorised by the country’s regulator.

The £1.3bn (€1.5bn) multi-employer defined contribution (DC) fund’s authorisation was announced this morning by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) along with that of three other master trusts.

Joanne Segars, chair of trustees at NOW: Pensions, said: “The master trust authorisation regime ensures high standards are upheld, giving workers enrolled into a workplace pension the confidence that their employers have chosen their pension provider wisely. 

“We want workers to feel reassured that their hard-earned pension savings are being regulated and are in responsible hands. As the number of people enrolled is only set to rise, it is important that the industry is held accountable.”

NOW: Pensions was launched in 2011 by Danish pension giant ATP. Despite growing into one of the largest auto-enrolment providers, it has faced a number of issues.

A change of administration provider in 2014-15 led to problems processing and investing contributions. The provider removed itself from TPR’s list of approved master trusts in 2017 and was fined £70,000 by TPR in 2018 in connection with the problems.

The provider has also been criticised by rivals for its charging structure, with some arguing that it is possible for smaller pots to be eroded down to zero over time. 

ATP sold NOW: Pensions to Cardano earlier this year, with Patrick Luthi subsequently replacing Troy Clutterbuck as CEO.

NOW: Pensions is the pension provider for IPE International Publishers.

Other trusts authorised

The other trusts signed off by TPR today were Scottish Widows’ multi-employer DC fund, Punter Southall’s Aspire Savings Trust, and the ITB Pension Funds, which runs £1.3bn worth of defined benefit and DC pensions for the construction industry.

Steve Butler, CEO of Punter Southall Aspire, said: “The authorisation process has been rigorous. It involved a complete examination of our scheme’s capabilities, including our systems, processes and technology, our governance and financial sustainability. We are delighted to have met the standards, which was an important last step for us being ready to welcome new members.” 

Today’s announcement brought the total number of authorised auto-enrolment providers to 31. TPR received 38 applications in total. No master trust has failed the authorisation process so far.

DC master trusts were required to apply for authorisation by 31 March this year as part of the UK’s efforts to improve standards in the auto-enrolment market. It included new capital requirements, formalised processes and higher governance standards.

As of today, the full list of authorised trusts is as follows:

Authorised master trusts
 Master trust 
 Aegon Master Trust  
 The Aon Master Trust  
 Aspire Savings Trust  Run by Punter Southall
 Atlas Master Trust  Run by Capita Master Trust  Run by Smart Pension
 Aviva Master Trust  
 The Baptist Pension Scheme  Oversees pensions for the UK’s Baptist churches
 The Bluesky Pension Scheme  Run by Evolve
 The Cheviot Pension  Run by the Cheviot Trust
 Creative Pension Trust  Run by HS Admin
 Ensign Retirement Plan  DC section of the Merchant Navy Officers’ Pension Fund
 Fidelity Master Trust  
 Industry-Wide DC Section  DC section of RPMI Railpen
 The ITB Pension Funds  Construction sector scheme
 Legal & General Worksave Master Trust  
 Legal & General Worksave Master Trust (RAS)  
 The Lewis Workplace Pension Trust  Run by financial advice firm Lewis Investments
 LifeSight  Run by Willis Towers Watson
 Mercer Master Trust  
 National Pension Trust  Run by XPS Pensions Group
 NOW: Pensions  Run by Cardano
 The Pensions Trust (TPT Retirement Solutions)  
 The People’s Pension  
 Scottish Widows Master Trust  
 The SEI Master Trust  
 Standard Life DC Master Trust  
 Stanplan A  Run by Standard Life
 Universities Superannuation Scheme  DC section of USS, the UK’s largest pension fund
 Workers Pension Trust  Northern Ireland-based provider