The UK’s pension regulator is asking the trustee boards of 400 schemes to complete a data review within six months or risk facing action.
In a press release today, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) referred to trustees being “ordered to urgently review the data they hold as part of a crackdown on poor record-keeping”.
According to TPR, on the basis of scheme return data almost a quarter of schemes appeared not to have reviewed their data in the last three years.
The 400 schemes TPR has targeted, which include defined contribution, defined benefit and public service schemes, are being asked to report to the regulator the proportion of their members for whom they hold accurate common and scheme-specific data.
Schemes failing to do so could face action, such as an improvement notice about their inadequate controls, the regulator said. Failure to comply with such a notice carries a fine of up to £5,000 (€5,554) for an individual, or up to £50,000 in any other case, it noted.
TPR is also contacting 1,200 schemes to remind them to carry out data reviews, while more than 1,000 schemes will this year also receive communication from the regulator about issues such as dividend payments to shareholders and the length of recovery plans.
David Fairs, TPR’s executive director of regulatory policy, analysis and advice, said: “Accurate record-keeping is vital to good governance and administration – without it trustees cannot ensure that savers will get accurate information or receive the pensions they are entitled to.
“Requiring trustees to carry out reviews will force them to look closely at their data and administration and take appropriate action to bring their systems up to scratch.”
TPR also noted that accurate record-keeping would be crucial for the pensions dashboard.
The regulator has been taking a tougher stance on poorly run schemes in a bid to improve governance and administration standards.
The UK’s main pension fund trade group recently called on TPR to grant well-run schemes, large or small, “the space to continue to thrive”. The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association was responding to the TPR’s consultation on the Future of Trusteeship and Governance.
In August the regulator said its annual defined contribution (DC) survey showed that most smaller trust-based DC schemes fell short of governance and trusteeship standards and should leave the market.