The consolidation of the UK master trust market will see £1.5bn (€1.7bn) in assets shift between pension schemes, according to estimates by one provider.
Master trust Smart Pension predicted that the consolidation would occur among over 6,200 schemes with fewer than 100 members, which manage assets of £1.3bn according to figures from the Pensions Regulator (TPR).
It added that a further £400m could also shift as around 20 established master trusts struggle to cope with new capital requirements the UK government has pledged to impose on multi-employer defined contribution (DC) schemes in an effort to avoid the cost of disorderly wind-ups being met by savers.
Peter Walker, COO of Smart Pension, said the pensions market was set to see “unprecedented” movement within the market over the next two years as funds consolidate.
“The schemes involved are not simply going to be smaller master trusts set up to handle auto enrolment that will not meet upcoming capital adequacy requirements,” he said, “but will include many smaller employer-run DC schemes that will be looking to use the economies of scale and higher quality governance and administration available via a master trust in the face of rising compliance costs.”
Smart Pension is not the only provider hoping to absorb smaller-scale DC providers, and IPE understands at least one other master trust in the market is including mergers with existing DC schemes within its business plan as a means of growing its asset under management, in addition to attracting new inflows.
TPR is fully aware of the problems associated size of the UK master trust market, and its executive director for regulatory policy, Andrew Warwick-Thompson, has previously questioned how it should best prevent further growth in the number of providers in the market.
Nigel Waterson, the chair of trustees at master trust Now Pensions, has previously suggested TPR act as a “marriage broker” in bringing about consolidation in the market, which, as of April, had seen the launch of 100 master trusts, of which over 70 were active.
The regulator has championed the idea of consolidation since then, proposing it should be able to merge schemes it deems “sub-standard”.