The effectiveness of OPRA's new strategy to name and shame offenders is being questioned.
Currently OPRA only lists criminal cases but under its new policy – which was announced at the beginning of May – it intends to list all employers and trustees in breach of the Pensions Act.
But Buck Consultants consulting actuary David Kershaw felt that as most of the matters OPRA deals with are of a trivial nature and are quickly rectified, there is no need to resort to naming and shaming.
He said: “I know of very few trustees or companies that have not immediately rectified issues on which they have been in breach. If those kind of companies are going to be named and shamed then just about every decent-sized pension scheme is going to be named and shamed sooner or later. I think you will have a lot of very unhappy people as a result.”Kershaw also wondered how the association could cope with the added volume of information that this policy would have.
Kershaw’s comments were echoed by PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Andrew Evans (pictured) who was concerned that naming and shaming would become a potential barrier to the current close liaison between OPRA and the company or people in breach.
He said: “It may be a little premature to be thinking of naming and shaming. There is still a very significant opportunity for OPRA to ensure that trustees are encouraged to report matters.”
Evans added: “ I would be concerned if OPRA were to embark of naming culprits without the appropriate care and attention that must be given to ensure that it doesn’t misrepresent the facts or deter the other entity to comment fully.”
Barnett Waddingham partner Colin Richardson was concerned that OPRA would remain appropriately staffed to deal with its burgeoning workload – including involvement in the MFR replacement and stakeholder compliance.
But Richardson was more optimistic of the move to name and shame.
He said: “OPRA have flagged the fact that there will come a time when they name and shame more frequently. Most of the pensions industry trusts OPRA to use its discretion when naming and shaming.”
OPRA announced that accountants, scheme auditors and scheme actuaries would not be included in the new strategy and their own professional bodies would deal with any regulation breaches.
By Alistair Graham
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