UK - The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has initiated the procurement process for a number of contracts needed to develop the employer compliance regime required for personal accounts from 2012.

TPR confirmed it intends to hold a "market sounding" event at the beginning of December, where interested parties can register their interest to take part in the exercise and receive an information pack by emailing the regulator.

The organisation revealed it will be offering around 11 separate contracts for the development of the compliance and enforcement regime including:

Penalty debt management services Contribution late payment services Marketing and identity services Monitoring and investigation services

From 2012 all eligible employees will be auto-enrolled into a workplace scheme or personal accounts, and employers will be obligated to administer and contribute to a pension scheme including the auto-enrolment process.

Earlier this year the government confirmed that TPR would take responsibility for ensuring employers meet these requirements, although it highlighted the contract award procedure for the IT, consulting, software development and internet support side of the compliance project would not begin until 20 January 2009.

However TPR is not the only organisation actively recruiting for projects, as the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA) is advertising a range of roles - including finance director, investment operations specialist, financial modeller and technical requirements specialist - ahead of the current Pensions Bill coming into effect, as the body will no longer play just an advisory role and instead will have full executive powers.

Although speaking at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) annual conference last month Tim Jones, chief executive of PADA, revealed the priority is to get the corporate trustee board up and running as quickly as possible so it can "start making some decisions", particularly on investment strategy. (See earlier IPE article: PADA reveals more on personal accounts future)

And PADA is not the only financial services and pension related organisation to seek staff, despite research from specialist recruitment firm Morgan McKinley that suggested hiring activity in the financial services sector in London is continuing to "slow significantly".

The firm's employment monitor for October showed the number of new job vacancies fell by 48% in the month compared to the same period in 2007, resulting in a fourth consecutive month of decline in new job opportunities following a 9% drop between September and October.

Morgan McKinley claimed the decline reinforced the fact that the financial services industry and the recruitment sector "continue to face extraordinarily difficult conditions", as it said 7% less candidates registered their interest for new job opportunities between September and October as "many decided not to proactively venture into the jobs market".

The research highlighted it also took financial service professionals "considerably longer" to secure a new role in the month with an average of 56 days, compared to just 44.7 days a year earlier.

In addition, the average city salary has dropped by 4% over the year to £48,021, as the firm pointed out "there are now significantly more individuals looking for a role than there are available opportunities and this is having a deflationary effect on the average salary".

Robert Thesiger, chief executive of Morgan McKinley's parent company Imprint, said: "Given that there has been no significant level of confidence restored to the financial markets at this time and as we move into what is typically considered the slowest period of the year for recruitment, it is expected that hiring volumes will not pick up over the next couple of months."

Despite the research a glance at recent vacancies listed in the financial sector or by institutions include a senior legal adviser for the £29bn Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), and a head of finance and facilities at SAUL Trustee Company, which acts as trustee to the £1.1bn Superannuation Arrangements of the University of London (SAUL).

Meanwhile, Edinburgh City Council has reiterated its search for a new transition manager for the Lothian pensions Fund, the Lothian Buses Pension Fund and the Scottish Homes pension fund, following the expiry of its existing contract with Goldman Sachs, with a tender notice that confirms the contract will begin in April 2009 and that applications should be submitted by 15 December 2008. (See earlier IPE article: Lothian re-tenders transition management)

Thesiger added: "Visibility on the future health of the financial services sector and how quickly it will recover is virtually zero at present and so making any concrete predictions as to hiring patterns within the industry going into next year is nigh on impossible."

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Nyree Stewart on + 44 (0)20 7261 4618 or email