UK - Individual and corporate independent trustees wishing to apply to be placed on The Pension Regulator's (TPR) trustee register will now have to wait until updated assessment criteria is published in the second quarter of next year.

A 12-week consultation on how it assesses the conditions of registration for the register has been published by TPR following a regular review of its practices. It noted it had been operating the Trustee Register - which currently comprises 52 trustees - since 2005 and now believes "a number of revisions and refinements are necessary".

The register is used by the regulator for appointing independent trustees to pension schemes in circumstances where an employer becoming insolvent, to ensure the scheme is properly administered and the scheme members are protected.

TPR said most of the criteria remains unchanged although some of the 'judgement-based" assessments - rather than fact-based - are being "strengthened". This is designed to ensure "best practice and high standards are maintained across the pool of trustees from which the regulator may make an appointment".

Areas of focus include:

The interpretation of ‘overall management responsibility' and ‘significant influence' when considering who is a key person and officer; The applicant's ‘sufficient relevant experience'; Whether the applicant has ‘sound administrative and accounting procedures' and Whether the applicant has ‘adequate indemnity insurance cover'.

The body said while the consultation is underway and TPR is assessing the responses to the proposals, it "will not be considering any fresh applications to be on the Trustee Register" until the new criteria and application form is published.

This is not expected until 12 April 2010, at which point TPR noted the existing members of the trustee register would also be invited to resubmit their applications to be assessed against the new criteria if they wish to remain on the list.

Bill Galvin, executive director of strategic development at TPR, said: "We believe that the proposed changes are justified in respect of having additional safeguards in place to ensure that members' benefits are protected in the long term."

The closing date for submissions to the consultation document is 12 March 2010.

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