Legal & General’s (L&G) master trust has passed £20bn in assets under management (AUM), making it the first commercial master trust in the UK to reach the milestone.

Established a decade ago as one of the first master trusts in the UK, the L&G Mastertrust supports 275 participating employers, looking after the retirement savings of over 1.8 million members. In the past two years alone, the master trust’s AUM has grown by 67%, the number of participating employers by 53% and the number of underlying members by 50%.

Since the introduction of auto-enrolment in 2012, the master trust market has continuously evolved to meet the investment, cost and governance needs of employers and employees, aiming to combine the benefits of scale and flexibility to help deliver the retirement outcomes that members deserve.

Stuart Murphy, co-head of defined contribution at Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) said: “We believe our scale enhances our potential to offer greater financial stability, further investment in services and economies of scale which can help to deliver value for members. Looking ahead, our ambition is to continue to build on our scale, improving retirement outcomes and financial wellbeing for members, while contributing to a better future through responsible investing.”

On behalf of the trustees and its membership, Dermot Courtier, independent chair of the L&G Mastertrust board, added: “This latest milestone follows significant announcements from the L&G Mastertrust trustees in recent years, including the launch of a member advisory panel, which invites a group of members to meet quarterly with trustees and provide feedback, as well as the Mastertrust’s public net zero commitment.”

The L&G Mastertrust’s investment proposition seeks to meet the changing requirements of members both up to and into retirement. Supported by LGIM, the master trust has prioritised sustainable returns, flexible decumulation options and increasing the role of private markets across its default funds to achieve greater diversification and potential sources of returns across asset classes.

Smart Pension achieves 50% cut in default growth fund emissions

Workplace pension scheme Smart Pension has halved the emissions of its default growth fund – over two years ahead of the 50% reduction target it announced in June 2022. This shows considerable progress towards the company’s pledge to make its default growth fund net zero by 2040.

This is also well ahead of the goals of the Paris Agreement, which called for emissions to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050, Smart Pension stated.

Smart Pension, which manages more than £2.5bn in assets on behalf of more than one million UK savers, continues to prioritise decarbonising over offsetting emissions.

The news comes after Smart Pension announced it had become the first UK pension scheme to offer customers a range of lifestyle strategies that are all sustainable, including the Smart Pension default fund, in January 2023.

All three growth funds fully invest in funds that positively contribute to the planet and society, including investing in areas such as renewable energy projects, clean water and healthcare.

All the components that Smart Pension now uses across the three growth funds are classified as Article 8 or higher through the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, a technical standard introduced last year by the European Commission.

Paul Bucksey, chief investment officer at Smart Pension, said: “The pension industry has a golden opportunity to drive faster decarbonisation, by investing in businesses that are serious about cutting their carbon emissions. This is exactly why we have an unwavering focus on achieving our 2040 net zero target. We want to help our members secure not just long-term financial growth but also a safer, healthier world in which they can retire.”

20-20 Trustees to merge with Punter Southall Governance Services

Punter Southall Governance Services (PSGS) and 20-20 Trustees (20-20) have announced they are merging to form Vidett. With a team of 120 and 475 clients, Vidett is now the UK’s largest professional trustee and pension governance firm by number of clients.

With the merger, the new business will be jointly led by co-chief executive officers Naomi L’Estrange (formerly managing director of 20-20) and Wayne Phelan (formerly CEO of PSGS). They’ll be supported by a senior leadership team drawn from across the predecessor businesses.

Commenting on the merger, both co-chiefs said: “We both independently concluded our businesses were complementary and combining them would add significant impetus to accelerate our growth plans. 20-20 and PSGS had different attributes but similar ambition and cultures, based on collaborative teamwork, sharing knowledge to drive progress for our clients and embracing innovation. As both firms have always been committed to delivering the best client service, this will be a key measure of Vidett’s success in the future.”

Vidett is a privately owned business, independent from any other provider of services to corporate pension and employee benefit schemes. Vidett currently looks after over 475 clients with total assets in excess of £142bn and over 2.5 million scheme members.

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